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Food & Hunger

This Bollywood Actor Donated $560,000 to Pay Off Farmers' Debts

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Why Global Citizens Should Care
Climate issues and rising fuel prices have taken a toll on India’s agriculture industry, forcing farmers into extreme poverty. Without the resources to pay their debts, farmers have struggled with hunger and thousands have committed suicide. You can help end poverty and improve access to food by taking action here.

Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan paid over $560,000 to clear the debt of farmers in India who face extreme poverty he revealed in a blog post on Tuesday.  The agricultural industry in India has recently suffered due to monsoons damaging crops, the high cost of fuel, and a lack government support, according to CNN.

This economic pitfall has caused thousands of farmers to fall into debt, leaving them without income to back loans from the government. 

Last year, farmers protested by taking graphic pictures of live rodents between their teeth.

"I and my fellow farmers were trying to convey the message that we will be forced to eat mice if things don't improve," Chinnagodangy Palanisamy, one of the protesters, told BBC.

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Some demonstrators also sought to draw attention to their plight by shaving half their heads, slashing their hands, and holding human skulls, meant to represent the remains of farmers who have died by suicide. The striking images, shared in the news and on social media, helped raise awareness of their struggles.

Thousands of farmers have died by suicide over the past two decades. This trend has been linked to extreme poverty. Recent government data shows that in 2013, 11,772 farmers died by suicide.

Over half of India’s population is involved in the agriculture industry, and it contributes to 15% of India’s GDP according to BBC. And Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to improve the country’s agriculture sector, aiming to double the farmers’ incomes by 2022. 

Bachchan, better known as his stage name “Big B,” said that he’s helping 1,398 farmers in his home state of Uttar Pradesh.

"Gratitude leans across to the desire of removing some of the burdens that farmers continue to suffer from,” said Bachchan. “The inner peace it generates when the desired is completed."

Read More: Why agriculture matters in fighting poverty

Bachchan has starred in over 190 films and is the host of the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, one of the most watched shows on Indian television according to the BBC.

"I would urge people to understand the plight of our 'anna-data' (farmers) and the kind of hardships they are facing,” wrote Bachchan. “I want everyone to help our farmers who face the shortage of even having basic necessities."