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The Covid-19 pandemic caused serious economic strain and the distress faced by business was greater than that faced by the farm sector in 2020, government data showed. The Centre on Tuesday informed Parliament that a total of 11,716 businesspersons died by suicide in 2020. This amounts to a jump of over 29% of the figure reported for the section in 2019 or the pre-Covid times.

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The home ministry, citing data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau on accidents and suicides in its publication ‘Accidents and Suicides in India’, said that 9,052 businesspersons died by suicide in 2019 while 11,716 businesspersons died by suicide in 2020.

Since the NCRB report does not categorise the suicide data separately for any category of businessmen, the Centre said that it could not confirm if the majority of the suicides were by businesspersons from micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

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The 11,716 suicides by Indian businesspeople in 2020 was more than the cases of farmers’ suicide, which was pegged at 10,677 as per the NCRB data. This is a complete reversal of figures as in 2015, for every one suicide by a businessman there were 1.44 suicides in the farm sector. In 2020, the figures showed that for every farmer’s suicide there were 1.1 suicides by businessmen.

While businessmen’s suicides rose by 29.4%, suicides in the farm sector grew by 3.9%. Experts, however, junked the data as the suicides by women in the farm sector were categorised as deaths of “housewives”.

The NCRB data further showed that of the 11,716 businesspersons who died by suicide in 2020, 4,226 were vendors, 4,356 were traders, and 3,134 were engaged in other business activities.

The worrying factor is that the pandemic is far from over and the crippling impact of the second wave might have had a similar impact in 2021.

A study by PubMed Central (PMC) is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the US National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM) titled ‘Forecasting suicide rates in India: An empirical exposition’ indicates a relatively consistent pattern of suicides in future in India.

It delves into the past NCRB data to indicate that suicides due to bankruptcy/debts had increased from 1.6% in 19891998 to 2.6% in 19992008.

The study projected that the suicide rate over the next 2-3 years may rise, before declining.

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India today

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