Over the past 25 years, Vidarbha has become the epicentre of farmers' suicide. As farmers grapple with the agrarian crisis, there have been several attempts to explain as well as improve the circumstances. However, despite extensive studies in the region, there is limited understanding of how the technological change in cotton cultivation can be reconciled with economic, ecological, and socio-political realities. This talk argues for the need for longitudinal research studies in village India by critically assessing three important dimensions of such endeavours: (i) methodological (ii) theoretical, and (iii) practical. It will also present a case for engaging with the history of the region from a long durée approach to make sense of the agrarian crisis in Vidarbha.
Sarthak Gaurav is an Associate Professor in the Economics area at SJMSOM, IIT-B. He is also affiliated with ADCPS and Nutrition Group at IIT Bombay. He co-founded the Behavioural Lab at SJMSOM and Geospatial Information Science and Engineering (GISE) Hub at IIT Bombay. In 2009, he began his doctoral research at IGIDR, Mumbai. He has been conducting a longitudinal study in Vidarbha villages. His post-doctoral research at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH) was on a longitudinal study of Palanpur village in Uttar Pradesh. His forthcoming book, 'Accidental Gamblers: Risk and Vulnerability in Vidarbha Cotton', published by Cambridge University Press, and co-authored with IIT-B alumnus and Associate Professor at CDS, Thiruvananthapuram, Thiagu Ranganathan; presents novel insights into how historical and contemporary events have influenced Vidarbha's cotton economy.