‘When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.’
– Benjamin Franklin
India woke up to a spate of farmer suicides through Everybody Loves a Good Drought by P Sainath, and the first State where suicides were reported was Maharashtra. Two decades after that book, Landscapes of Loss: The Story of an Indian Drought informs that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The unremitting hardship of the farmers and people of Marathwada, located at about 400 kilometres from the thriving financial capital of India is no different than that of the cotton farmers of Vidarbha. The author of the book, Kavitha Iyer, calls for empathy from the unperturbed urban reader to the urgent and pressing case of agriculture crisis and farmer distress. Based on solid and extensive research, each chapter is dedicated to deep analysis of one of the issues afflicting agriculture today. From the plight of animals and farmers in the fodder camps to the severely depleting water tables in the region to the lack of understanding of rural mental issues, Iyer has tried to comprehensively handle the complexity of the issue.
The heartbreaking account of unforgiving drought, farmer suicides, crippled families and helpless communities introduces readers to the bleakness of rural life in India. The complex voices of rural men, women and children are captured by Iyer through accounts of the toil endured by them, the hardships of agrarian life weighed down by erratic monsoon, depleted water table, poor procurement rate of crops, low crop yield or crop failure, outstanding debts, farmer suicides and the unmindful policies among other woes.