MUMBAI - This story focuses on the suicide epidemic of Indian farmers related to over-indebtedness. For the first time the names of the lenders and their donors involved in the farmers' suicides due to overindebeteness are uncovered.

With the help of MoneyTrail, this team of investigative journalists was able to visit nearly 40 families of farmers who committed suicide related to over-indebtedness. The team compiled a list of the number of loans, loan amounts and lenders in each suicide case. The four major lenders were further investigated including their international donors and investors. The journalists uncovered that the World Bank, HSBC and Morgan Stanley funded, some part, of the lenders involved (DCC Banks, Central Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra and Mahindra Finance). 

This is the first time that the name of the lenders and their donors, involved in the farmers' suicides due to overindebeteness are uncovered. Over-indebtedness is not the single cause for these suicides, as are droughts, stigma, substance abuse, e.g., but they are part of the toxic mix that drive these farmers to these drastic actions. The three-part series also shows that many farmers have multiple loans from different lenders at the same time.

In response to this investigation a separate opinion piece was published, which investigates the stability of the microfinance sector in India. Microfinance institutes bundle and sell off loans as securities, which keeps the actual risk involved with the loans off the books (similar like what happened during the housing crisis in the USA in 2009). Experts warn of an economic bubble and unsustainable growth rates.

The featured articles about this investigation are published in English, Hindi, Marathi, Spanish, French, German and Dutch.

Team members

Anrike Visser

Anrike Visser is the founder of Global Ground Media and former financial crime investigator at the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets.

Anrike Visser

Urvashi Sarkar

Urvashi Sarkar has a long history of reporting social issues in India for amongst other Al Jazeera and The Wire. 

Urvashi Sarkar

Peter Allen Clark

Peter Allen Clark is a data journalist and has worked for Vice and TIME on some amazing data journalism stories.

Peter Allen Clark

Varsha Torgalkar

Varsha Torgalkar (India) covers climate change, public health, and rural economy.

Varsha Torgalkar
€13,000 allocated on 25.03.2019



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