Covid impact? Nearly 12,000 vendors, traders, other businessespersons committed suicide in 2020: NCRB

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Updated: November 08, 2021 5:48 PM

Sustainability for MSMEs: The majority of suicides committed by persons engaged in business activities were reported by Karnataka (15.1 per cent), Maharashtra (13.7 per cent) Tamil Nadu (12.4 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (7.8 per cent), and Odisha (6.4 per cent).

Suicides by self-employed persons were higher at 17,332 during the Covid year, up 7.6 per cent from 16,098 in 2019. (Image: 

Sustainability for MSMEs: 11,716 businesspersons had committed suicide in 2020 — the year when Covid hammered the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector excruciatingly. The figure included 4,226 vendors, 4,356 tradesmen, and 3,134 other businesses, according to the latest report on Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Ministry of Home Affairs. The annual jump in the number of suicides by businesspersons was 29.4 per cent including a 26 per cent increase in vendor suicides, and nearly 50 per cent growth in suicides by tradesmen. Moreover, suicides by self-employed persons were higher at 17,332 during the Covid year, up 7.6 per cent from 16,098 in 2019. 

States with the highest number of suicides of businesspersons were Karnataka (1,772), Maharashtra (1,610), Tamil Nadu (1,447), Madhya Pradesh (913), etc. Delhi reported 142 suicides during 2020. Moreover, 10,963 (93 per cent) of these businesspersons were male, 762 were female, and one was transgender. 

“The problem is there is many a slip between the cup and the lip in the system. Banks are still shy in lending to businesses while corruption is endemic that hits small businesses for six. While PM Modi does a lot of good things but this is a point of concern. There are multiple reasons for suicides while Covid impacted big time. The system to provide succour is so weak currently for small businesses. While the government’s intentions are great to help businesses but they were already suffering from after-effects of demonetisation that impacted them very badly,” Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International told Financial Express Online.

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Comments from NCRB for this story weren’t immediately available.

Even as small businesses were hit hardest due to the Covid induced lockdown, there is no official record maintained by the government with respect to Covid-related shutdown of businesses. While multiple schemes were announced by the Centre to help Covid-hit MSMEs recover, “however, as MSMEs are there in both formal and informal sector, data regarding temporary or permanent closure of the units are not maintained by the Government of India in Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME),” former MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari had said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha in February this year.

The total number of suicides in 2020 stood at 1,53,052 with an increase of 10 per cent from the preceding year. This was also the all-time high number of suicides since 1967 in the country. Family problems and illness were the major causes of suicides that accounted for 33.6 per cent and 18.0 per cent of total suicides in 2020. other reasons were drug abuse/addiction, marriage-related issues, love affairs, bankruptcy or indebtedness, unemployment, failure in examination, professional/career problems, and poverty. 

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