Times of India raises its voice for the plight of farmers


The situation in India is such that every half an hour a farmer commits suicide since he cannot pay back his debt, or because of crop failures or drought. At last count, over 300,000 resigned to their fate and decided to end their lives. However, the reality is worse for those left behind. Millions of women, children and dependent parents are left with no income and little hope. The government undertook measures to prevent this epidemic, albeit a little too late. And the rest of the country either did not know enough about the issue, or just couldn’t care less. While nothing could bring back the dead, the living surely deserved a chance. The Times of India, known for its awakening campaigns, be it the Lead India campaign or Teach India, have come out with the second phase of its campaign which highlights the plight of farmers’ families as a result of farmer suicides. The campaign has been designed by Taproot India.

The digital part of the campaign has been executed by Webchutney. The exhibition pictures and prints ads can be viewed on the campaign’s Facebook page and a website has also been created for the campaign.

“The objective of this campaign is to raise awareness of this issue so that steps are taken to support the farmers. In addition, the campaign will also attempt to provide an alternative source of income to the farmers’ families which have been affected,” said Rahul Kansal, Executive President, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.

TOI had first launched an awareness campaign in April 2013 to sensitise citizens to the issue of farmers’ suicides and the fallout if that. An exhibition was put up in which 12 portraits of dead farmers were created using dry, burnt hay. These portraits were displayed and auctioned and the proceeds from each portrait were given to the families of the deceased.

“One Indian farmer committing suicide every 30 minutes is indeed a shocking piece of news. Our attempt is to make people realise the seriousness of the issue and request them to donate money or spread the message. The more we spread the message the higher our chances of saving a few lives,” pointed out Santosh Padhi, Chief Creative Officer and Co-founder, Taproot India.

The TVC will be accompanied by a digital campaign, innovative hoardings, print ads and a second round of exhibition in February. The agenda of the campaign is to have more and more people wake up to the issue and generate sufficient funds for the hugely affected farmer community.

“It was a challenging concept to execute, as we did not want to overdo or make it too subtle. The casting and acting were very crucial and we spent enough time to get the right ones, everything you see is the film is real, right from the people to the props to the house,” said Razneesh Ghai, of Asylum Films who directed the film.

All proceeds go towards helping the community learn alternative means of livelihood and to support the families of the bereaved. The initiative has been carried out with support from Samaj Sevak Charitable Trust, an NGO working for several years for this cause, thereby ensuring the funds reach those rightfully in need. The initiative has also gained support from NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) to ensure effective implementation of all its programmes.

“India’s economic strength comes from the farmers and all that they produce. Close to 60 per cent of people are still directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture. For centuries, the entire nation has been heavily reliant on the farmers. So it’s only right that now, when they are suffering, we try and do everything from donations to awareness programmes to ease their pain and put an end to their suffering,” said Vivek Khilare, Secretary and Division Head, Samaj Sevak Charitable Trust, Mumbai.

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