Indian Press Coverage of Farmers’ Suicides in Andhra Pradesh: A Content Analysis

J. Madhu Babu, S. Raja Rao

Abstract

India, consisting of 16 percent of world population subsists only on 2.4 percent land resources.  Agriculture is the only source of livelihood to the two third of the population which gives employment to 57 percent of the workforce. Agriculture in India is often regarded as gambling with monsoons, because of its almost exclusive dependency on precipitation from monsoons. The failure of monsoons leading to a series of droughts, lack of better prices, exploitation by middlemen, and Gene Modified (GM) seed companies who are selling expensive cotton seeds and fertilizers, all of which have led to a series of suicides committed by farmers across India. Farmers' suicides are a complex phenomenon. Since the 1990s farmer suicides in India have made headlines.  The journalist   Palagummi Sainath highlighted that 17,500 farmers were suicides between 2002 to 2006. The government figures show 14,000 farmers took their own lives in 2011. The total number of farmers’ suicides crossed 3 lakh mark till in 2014.  That most suicides occurred in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Punjab. This study seeks to investigate news items on farmers’ suicides in the Indian newspapers. A quantitative content analysis was adopted in this research. This study used two English dailies i.e. The Hindu and The New Indian Express and two Telugu dailies i.e. Eenadu and Andhrajyothi were taken for analysis. It is not a random sample.  In this, a purposive sample method was adopted. The selection time period was one year i.e. from January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2015. Keeping in view ten subject categories have been mainly identified for this research. All the data collected were analyzed simple percentage and mean, standard deviation, ANOVA, Chi-square have been used for analysis. 

Keywords

Farmers suicides, Newspapers, News coverage

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