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Corona kills but why die before death?

Corona kills but why die before death?

How did the lockdown hysteria fuddle and muddle the world, especially India? To understand that, we have to scrutinize something entirely different—the mythology of farmer suicides. This will give us an insight into the trickery that top intellectuals and vested interests employ to distort public perception and policy perspective. It is the activist version of magic realism, the Latin-American literary style which blended the fantastic with the real.

A large number of farmers are killing themselves because of rural distress, we were told by ‘serious’ journalists and professional revolutionaries. Nothing wrong with the facts stated: many farmers indeed committed suicide in different states; and agriculture is also in bad shape because its share in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has come down to about 17 per cent, while it supports over half the population.

But facts can blend beautifully with lies and half-truths, with fantasies and fallacies to give birth to myths. The above-mentioned illusionists used a lie and a half-truth (something like ‘Ashwatthama is dead’) as pillars on which they built a narrative of smoke and mirrors—the mythology of farmer suicides.

The lie: there is a correlation between economic misery and suicides. The truth is that there is none. According to the World Health Organization data, the suicide rate in India was 16.5 per cent per lakh, whereas it was 25.7 per cent in Lithuania, 26.5 per cent in Russia, and 18.5 per cent in the Ukraine. Yet, the three countries are more prosperous than India. Per capita incomes in these countries are $19,153.4, $11,288.9, and $3,095.2 against India’s $2,010.

India’s statewise data also show that there is no correspondence between poverty and suicides. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics, in 2015 the suicide rate was 0.5 per cent in Bihar and 1.8 per cent in Uttar Pradesh, whereas it was 14.2 per cent and 11.6 per cent in more prosperous Maharashtra and Gujarat, respectively.

The half-truth pertained to actual farmer suicides. Thousands of agriculturists do kill themselves every year. In 2014, according to NCRB data, 12,360 committed suicide, whereas in 2015 the number was 12,602. What the illusionists don’t tell us is the fact that in 2014, total suicides in the country were 131,666, which came down slightly to 133,623 in 2015.

That is, the proportion of farmer suicides to total suicides was around 9.4 per cent for both years. But more than half of our population is engaged in agriculture. Therefore, on no account suicides by farmers could be said to be disproportionate to their share in the population.

Besides, as we mentioned earlier, there is little connection between economic hardships and suicides. It evident that the linking of farmer suicides with rural distress is a myth.

Yet, the mythology of farmer suicides has not only dominated the public discourse on agriculture but also shaped government policy and political strategy. The Congress-led government in 2008 announced a farm loan waiver over Rs 70,000 crore, which is said to have benefited the ruling coalition in the general election in 2009.

This is not to suggest that there is no farm distress. But the distress is because of the statist policies—of which loan remission is a prime example—that are actually touted as the panacea for agriculture.

Like every stage magician, the farmer suicides mythologists, in order to create an illusion, conceal more than they reveal. The suicide statistics actually prove that it is not the agricultural class but some other class or classes of where suicidal tendencies are rampant. The reason is simple: if out of 100 suicides, there are fewer than 10 from the farm sector, it is evident that some class(es) with much small numbers has/have higher rates of suicides.

There certainly are groups—may be of drivers, electricians, plumbers, journalists, lawyers, shopkeepers, any group—in which the suicide rate is very high. But the mirage that the farmer suicides mythology has created veils that reality.

Just like the mirage of imminent apocalypse veiled certain facts about the coronavirus. It began with wild, unsound, and irresponsible projections made by Neil Ferguson, director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College, London. He prepared a report which said that five lakh Britons and 2.2 million Americans would die because of the novel coronavirus. This goaded Prime Minister Boris Johnson to opt for the lockdown on March 23.

Fear is an emotion that, if kindled properly, can eclipse reason and subdue the noble dispositions of courage and fortitude. It certainly did in Ferguson’s case. His report was taken seriously despite the fact that his past predictions were widely of the mark. In 2005, he had said that bird flu could kill up to 150 million; in the period between 2003 and 2009 the global toll was just 282. In 2009, his forecast was 65,000 British deaths from the swine flu; just 457 people died in the country.

His report on half-a-millions deaths in the UK also proved to be inaccurate. On March 25, he himself brought down the number to 20,000. But the damage was done, not just to the UK but also the entire world, including India where Covid-19 had caused little damage at the time the nationwide lockdown was imposed. India still is an outlier.

If the mythologists of farmer suicides played on the emotions of compassion, the purveyors of lockdown were able to ignite fear at a mass level. The thread of big state belief system runs through both groups. Both play on emotions; they are so adept that they are able conjure up vivid scenarios that look real; the scenarios turn fear into fear psychosis and then into mass hysteria. In one case, farms in India start looking like killing fields; in the other, the entire mankind seems to be on the verge of extinction.

And it is not the characteristic feature of the hysterical to employ reason or even recall indubitable truths. For instance, disease kills. Another truth: disease is a fact of life. Yet another truth: we are alive till we die. As Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar said, “Cowards die many times before their deaths;/The valiant never taste of death but once./Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,/It seems to me most strange that men should fear;/Seeing that death, a necessary end,/Will come when it will come.”

Another truth: about a crore people die every year in India, millions of whom die of various diseases. Tuberculosis alone killed 4.5 lakh people in 2018—which meant more than 1,200 people every day. Why is it that this is not news but every corona death is?

The smoke-and-mirrors fantasies of public health activists have generated such a miasma of doom and helplessness that we have turned our backs on simple facts and banished reason out of our minds. The fantasists—Ferguson, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the medical journal Lancet’s editor-in-chief Richard Horton, Pulitzer Award-winning science journalist and activist Laurie Garrett, et al—are all Left-leaning activists who want the size and scope of the state to increase and the liberties and rights of individuals to decrease. The same motivation as that of the farmer suicide mythologists..