On June 11, 2010, 35-year-old cotton farmer Sanjay Avbhutrao Sarate, stumbled to the doorstep of his home and fell on the ground. "I’ve taken pesticide … I’m going to die,” he told his wife. “This is the end of my life.” Sanjay hugged his then-six-year-old son, Sameer, as he journeyed from life to death with his last breath.
Over the past 21 years, nearly 300,000 farmers have committed suicide in India. Many had borrowed money through government lending schemes or private lenders to plant more efficient crops, but could not pay off their debts. Because of the fast transition India has undergone — from a rural to an industrial, urban economy with an open market, farmers have been confronted by immense social and economic problems. Most farmers, like Sanjay, consumed pesticide, others set themselves on fire or hung themselves. Some threw themselves down a well.