One morning in 2014, Ramrao Panchleniwar, a cotton grower in Maharashtra’s infamous Vidarbha region, consumed two bottles of pesticide. Had he succeeded in his bid to commit suicide, he would have been reduced to a statistic. After all, a farmer ends his life every thirty minutes in India; in Maharashtra alone, close to 60,000 such suicides have taken place over the past two decades.
But Ramrao miraculously survived. In this book, rural journalist Jaideep Hardikar attempts to put a face to the country’s unending farm crisis with his story. He takes the reader on a journey of the everyday life of an Indian farmer, his struggles and many failings, the quagmire of issues he faces, and how he comes to a pass where he chooses to put an end to it all.
The result of years of committed reportage, Ramrao turns an ordinary life into an essential biography for our times.
About the Author
Jaideep Hardikar is a Nagpur-based senior journalist, writer, researcher and a core member of the People’s Archive of Rural India. He has reported extensively from Vidarbha on farmer suicides and the cotton crisis for more than a decade. He has worked with DNA and The Telegraph among other publications.
Jaideep is the winner of several journalism fellowships and awards, including the Sanskriti Award for young journalists, which he received in 2003 for his reportage on rural issues. In 2009, he travelled to the US under the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship programme and worked with Sun Sentinel in South Florida.
He is also the author of A Village Awaits Doomsday (2013) on the lives of people displaced by government and private projects across the country. It was born of his travels under the K.K. Birla Foundation Media Fellowship in 2001. He won the prestigious New India Foundation fellowship in 2021 for research for his next book.