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New book by journalist Jaideep Hardikar puts a face to farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha

'Ramrao: The Story of India’s Farm Crisis' by Jaideep Hardikar, published by HarperCollins India, will be released on 20 August on ‘SoftCover’.

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New Delhi: Nagpur-based rural journalist Jaideep Hardikar’s new book ‘Ramrao: The Story of India’s Farm Crisis’ aims to contextualise India’s ongoing farmers’ agitation and farm suicides by centring it around the experience of an individual.

Published by HarperCollins India, the book will be released on 20 August on ‘SoftCover’, ThePrint’s e-venue to launch select non-fiction books.

The face of Hardikar’s book is Ramrao Panchleniwar, a farmer from Vidarbha who, in 2014, attempted suicide by drinking pesticide but survived.

However, the starting point behind the focus on Ramrao is the case of Shrikrishna Kalamb, a 50-year-old farmer from Vidarbha who had written his own six-line eulogy before committing suicide in March 2008.

Hardikar spends most of the book’s prologue on Kalamb’s story, providing context on how Vidarbha became associated with farmer suicides, before stating that the book is not meant “to recount the deaths or the grim statistics” or solely focus on Kalamb and the “thousands of other farmers” who have passed away.

Rather, through Ramrao, Hardikar aims to inform readers about “the everyday life of an everyday farmer”. Ramrao’s story is intended to be “the story of life in an unequal world” riding on “perpetual hope” that “hangs like a mirage”.

A major figure in the People’s Archive of Rural India, Jaideep Hardikar has more than a decade’s worth of experience reporting on Vidarbha’s farmer suicides and cotton crises.

He has previously written A Village Awaits Doomsday, which was released in 2013 and focused on the displacement of people from their homes by public and private-funded development schemes and construction projects.

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