Chennai techies raise Rs 43 lakh to help families of farmers’ suicide

Chennai: Farmers’ suicides has always been a pressing issue in India. And most urban middle-class families feel a sense of helplessness when confronted with the realities that their fellow countrymen face. But, today with the help of crowd-sourcing, techies are now stepping forward and raised up to Rs 43 lakh for the educational needs of children from farming communities in Wardha, Maharashtra — whose parents committed suicide.
About 35 IT professionals have raised more than Rs 1 lakh each to fund education through crowdsourcing platform Fueladream and NGO Agrindus. Chennai techies are literally stepping into the shoes of their late fathers by helping them learn scientific farming through a 12-month residential program — each of them gets 2 acres of land and 80% of the revenue they generate goes back to the children.
Agrindus, started by former IIT-Delhi professor Dr T Karunakaran, is a story of how life comes full circle. “Many decades ago, Polaris Software Labs’ cofounders Visnhu Prasad and Abhishek Jain (Arun Jain’s brother) were my students at IIT-Delhi. Now it is touching that they should help me continue teaching children in Wardha, Maharashtra — given the really pressing needs of our debt-ridden farming communities,” says T Karunakaran.
Social reformer and agricultural expert Karunakaran decided to start Agrindus two years ago for children after he visited a small village in Kallam Thaluk, Maharashtra, where 45 of 200 families had seen one or two members committing suicide. “The place was virtually like a graveyard – so many deaths; so much misery. Then I read in a newspaper that an entire village had taken a vow never to take up agriculture. The suicides of farmers was turning the tide towards the death of agriculture itself. I vowed to do something,” he says.
Many of the students at Agrindus are school dropouts. “Forget drip irrigation or bio-fertilizers, some of our kids found it difficult to do basic math. Now how will they be able to stave off usurious money lenders or negotiate interest rates with a bank? So its holistic education we are looking at. Equip them with knowledge of the plants, better farming methods.”
“For instance, if the market demand for raw cotton is tepid, then we tell students to process it to gin. So that their profits increase and they can wait for demand to pick-up. We teach them best methods to cultivate ground-nut, soya, bean, vegetables. And how to hedge risk, by diversifying crops grown,” says Prof Karunakaran, who taught 35 students in the first two batches and now hopes to teach 40-60 students depending on the amount raised.
And trying to get more students in the fold are people like Arun Jain, chairman and managing director, Intellect Design Arena Ltd, who himself has raised Rs 1.65 lakh, “About 34 leaders came together to help educate the next batch of Agrindus students at MSS Datapur, Wardha. We reached 105% of the target in just 11 days.” The fund raised crossed 130% of target amount.
“It is heart warming to observe the sensitivity in the people of our society when a cause is aligned towards a larger purpose. This experiment/ Project prove that ‘money is not a constraint for genuine social project,” he added.
“This is a very unique format that Fueladream has pioneered. We designed this campaign in partnership with the amazing team from Mission Samriddhi and Intellect Design Arena. It has delivered extraordinary results for Agrindus and reinforces how crowdfunding can be a game changer,” said Ranganath Thota, founder,

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