New Delhi: The 2020 pandemic year saw more suicides among businessmen in India, than even among farmers, according to data released by the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB).
The latest report on accidental deaths and suicides in India, released by the NCRB, notes that 11,716 businessmen died by suicide in 2020, an increase of 29% from 2019, when 9,052 male business had died from the same cause.
Farmer suicides stood at 10,677 for 2020, about 1,039 fewer cases than among businessmen.
This is one of the first examples of what is happening. NCRB data shows that between 2014 and 2019, farmer suicides outnumbered businessmen.
At least 2,000 to 3,000 cases on average.
But the numbers for both categories have increased over the years.
In 2017, more than 7,800 businessmen took their own lives, a figure that rose to over 9,000 in 2019 and 11,700 in 2020.
During the same period, farmer suicides rose from nearly 10,700 in 2017 to more than 10,300 in 2018 and 2019 before rising to 10,700 in 2020 (see graph).
Who were these businessmen?
A detailed breakdown of businessmen reveals that most of the people who died by suicide were men (93%) and were predominantly vendors (36%) and traders (37%) and were from highly developed states.
Karnataka recorded the highest number (1,772) of business man suicides in 2020. This is a 103% jump from 2019 – when only 875 businessmen died by suicide in the state.
After Karnataka, around 1,610 businessmen died by suicide in Maharashtra (25% jump) and 1,447 died in Tamil Nadu (36% jump).
About 40 percent of the total number of business man suicides were recorded in these three states alone.
However, the number of suicides of businessmen is much lower than that of the unemployed (15,652) and day workers (37,666).
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Why the numbers?
Although the NCRB does not provide the breakdown by cause of the number of suicides, one of the main factors is the pandemic.
The NCRB shows that in 2020, in the pandemic year, farmer suicides increased by 3% while those of businessmen increased by 29%.
Experts believe that the Covid has done more harm to the non-agricultural sector than to agriculture this time.
âMost of India’s business community is in micro-small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) which are extremely vulnerable to shocks and Covid has hurt them the most,â said Professor Praveen Jha of the Center JNU economic and planning studies.
“These small businessmen were not assured of support during the crisis and the Indian government helped them with too little and too late – too much mainly of a monetary nature (in the form of loans) and not of fiscal support ( stimulus checks), âJha told ThePrint. âThey had to endure the most reckless confinement in the world in no time. The lack of a support system during the crisis could have pushed many of them to suicide, âJha added.
According to Arun Kumar, an economist and professor at the Delhi Institute of Social Sciences, reviving MSMEs after the Covid lockdown had become extremely difficult as consumer demand shifted to the organized sector.
âWhen people stopped going to stores and markets and ordered everything online, it hurt local traders,â Kumar said. âMost of these micro-entities work with very little capital; so, if they miss work for a long time, they run out of money very soon. Not making any money at all but still having to take care of families pushes them into depression. “
Experts also believe that the aftermath of demonetization and the implementation of the GST has been exacerbated during the pandemic.
In 2018, two years after demonetization and one year after the introduction of the GST, entrepreneur suicide increased by 3%. The following year, the number of suicides of businessmen increased by 13 percent compared.
“Our GDP does not capture the trends of the unorganized sector, which has been steadily declining since the demonetization and implementation of the GST,” said Professor Kumar. “The small business community, which employs 94% of the workforce, suffered the most and had not fully recovered from the pains of both, when Covid landed,” added Professor Kumar.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)
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