"The emerging farmer suicide capital of India" isn't a qualifier which any region in the world would ever want to allude to itself. Sadly Marathwada, a historically backward region of Maharashtra has been a helpless witness, falling prey to a yet another vicious phenomenon of farmer suicides over last few years. It is no wonder then that Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS), a leading nonprofit organization with an extensive experience in disaster response has felt the urge to extend its maximum contribution to alleviate the woes of the bereaved families. The rapidly spreading problem of farmer suicides is nothing short of a disaster and BJS aims to address a potentially bigger problem emanating from this scenario in a manner which holds the promise of having a long lasting impact on the lives of the survivors of the suicide victims.

The loss of a loved one and especially an earning member always deals a cruel blow to the kith and kin of the victim. Matters become worse for the impoverished and the marginalized sections of the society; the economic impact of the tragedy gets compounded by the psychological impact on the traumatized family members. At such times children belonging to such families become the most vulnerable of the lot and nothing can prepare them enough for the multitude of challenges that come in the wake of such a tragedy. It is extremely crucial to provide a conducive psychosocial environment to such children in order to prevent them from succumbing to cycles of trauma, depression and loss of purpose in their early lives. The hard hitting reality of the loss of income and life often leaves very little choice for the surviving elders in the family, but to go out and work (especially for sugarcane cutting as in Marathwada)to keep the hearth running. Very often the children are left alone at home to fend for themselves. In the absence of proper care and timely attention to such children, myriad social problems could surface in the long run for them. Thus it is critical to constructively engage them and channelize their minds in the proper direction when tragedy strikes. Education is by far, the only means to shape the lives of such children and keep them from going astray.

It is with this intent and after looking at the grim picture of the Marathwada region, that the project of the educational rehabilitation of the children (boys and girls) from  the households of farmers who have committed suicides across Beed, Latur and Osmanabad districts has been undertaken by BJS. BJS would do so by relocating the children, identified through a planned mechanism and moving them to its state-of-the-art Wagholi Educational Rehabilitation Centre (WERC) in Pune. WERC is a facility established by BJS specifically for such purpose since the 1993 Latur earthquake. BJS has a successful history and a proven track record of rehabilitating over 3000 disaster affected children since then.

BJS believes that for a crisis so acute, the intervention has to be long term and is therefore ready to invest close to a decade on every child who will thus be brought to WERC. This project will entail that the responsibility of the holistic education, food, accommodation, daily needs, counseling, healthcare and nutrition of all these children would be entirely borne by BJS from Std V- XII.  We are hopeful that this project will bring a ray of hope in the lives of the families of these children as much as it will be a life changing experience for the children themselves.

About WERC

The Wagholi Educational Rehabilitation Centre (WERC), a sprawling 10 acre campus had been established to cater to the educational, psychological, social and other needs of around 1000   earthquake- hit children from Latur & Osmanabad in 1993. Over the years this facility has grown to be a learning ground for thousands of children from other disaster affected areas and also from the malnourished tribal belts of Melghat and Dahanu in Maharashtra. The vision is to integrate these children with the mainstream social scenario so that they are capable of contributing to the nation building process in future. This infrastructure consists of a residential facility along with a school from Std V-XII affiliated to the State Board and a senior college affiliated to the University of Pune. The premises also house the hostel staff quarters, a huge dining area, playground and sports facilities and a 24X7 medical centre.

Project Scope:

a) The children currently studying from Std V onwards would be moved to WERC. The reason behind this is that the WERC co-education school in Pune currently operates from Std V-XII.

b) The households that have been identified for this project belong to the districts of Beed, Latur and Osmanabad where suicides have occured between 1st Jan 2015-31st Oct 2015. These districts have been chosen primarily for the following reasons:

  • Latur & Osmanabad- BJS has a record of  successful educational rehabilitation of 1000 earthquake affected children of Latur and Osmanabad who were brought to WERC, Pune in 1993 and went on to complete their schooling and higher education before settling down comfortably in their professional lives. These WERC alumni from Latur and Osmananbad, now regularly volunteer in several disaster response initiatives of BJS. Hence they would also serve as a strong guiding force for the new students being brought in from these districts and help boost the morale of the families. 


  • Beed- BJS also commands a goodwill in Beed as it has been running a values education program 'Mulyavardhan' in around 350 Zilla Parishad schools of Beed district with the help of its own staff of 180 local teachers since 2009.  Familiarity with the demographic landscape of Beed and a functional active local staff were important grounds for consideration of Beed as a project area.


      BJS was also instrumental in the restoration of 115 water bodies within a span of one month from May-June 2013, one of the worst drought years in the history of Maharashtra. 20 lakh cubic meters of the fertile silt was excavated and spread over 2500 acres of farmlands to increase their productivity.  As a part of that project, BJS had undertaken a detailed survey of the topography and the demography of the Beed district. This information was an added advantage during the planning of the current project.


Project Objectives

The project has been envisaged with multiple objectives in mind which cater to some immediate as well as several long term needs of the families of the victims:


  • providing a conducive psycho social environment to the children from the affected households through a well developed curriculum of WERC
  • sharing the responsibility with the affected families of the education and wellbeing of their children
  • nurturing attitudes and life skills in these children for creating productive and responsible members of the society
  • empowering children to be the change agents for bettering the socio-economic prospects of their own families by availing and leveraging the opportunities that  good education can provide

Project Plan and Management

Against the prevailing backdrop, Shri Shantilal Muttha- founder BJS, conceptualized the entire project and a decision to go ahead was collectively taken by the BJS Prabandh Samiti on 25th October 2015. Moving with great alacrity in view of the growing urgency of the situation, a project management team was formed headed by BJS district office bearers in the respective districts and senior staff from Pune WERC as follows:


  • Pune WERC-  Shri Ashok Pawar and Shri Salunkhe
  • Beed district- Shri Rajendra Munot and Shri Kishor Pagariya
  • Latur district- Shri Sunil Kocheta and Shri Kishor Jain
  • Osmanabad district-Shri Vijay Bedmuttha and Shri Sunil Dungerwal

 That was followed by the formation of survey teams who were to conduct a detailed survey of the affected households. For the first time female surveyors were being sent out to be able to easily establish an emotional connect with the women survivors from the affected households who had lost their male member. 13 such teams were formed with each comprising a female teacher from the BJS Wagholi or Pimpri school, a local female Mulyavardhan teacher and 2-3 local BJS volunteers to assist in the logistic arrangements. A comprehensive training of the surveyor teams was held on 30th Oct at the BJS Head Office, Pune. The actual survey of around 450 households across the three districts culminated on 3rd November, the findings of which have been presented later. The children from Std V-Std XII will be brought to Pune on 21st November and their classes will commence on 23rd Nov.

 After processing the formalities of school and hostel admissions by seeking the necessary permissions from the concerned authorities, the children will be provided specialized care in several ways for which the WERC school and hostel staff will be specially trained. Proper records of the health (physical and psychological) of every child will be maintained after a thorough check up followed by counseling sessions by seasoned psychologists and diet plans drawn up by nutritionists for the children. At WERC the children will also undergo a baseline assessment to gauge their academic levels and a remedial support will be provided for the children to catch up on the academic front.

All for Smiles

 For the causes behind this agrarian crisis to cease to exist, it will take a concerted effort from a legislative, executive and social standpoint. However given the status quo, with this project BJS hopes to be the silver lining for every dark cloud that has descended upon these families. It is a determined attempt to save and secure the future of an entire generation in these villages for which a conscious effort is being made to provide a long term support to the children. For all those children who stand at the threshold of a new horizon BJS is eager to embrace them with open arms.