General Insecurity

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According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways data,

• The total number of road accidents has increased by nearly four times from 1,14,100 in 1970 to 4,29,910 in 2004

• The total number of persons killed due to road accidents has increased by nearly six times from 14,500 in 1970 to 92,618 in 2004

• The total number of accidents per thousand vehicles has actually reduced from 814.42 in 1970 to 59.12 in 2004

• The total number of persons killed by motor vehicles in 2005 stood out be highest in the states of Andhra Pradesh (10,534), to be followed by Maharastra (10,259) and Uttar Pradesh (9,955)

According to National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector--NCEUS (2007), Report on Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihoods in the Unorganised Sector,

• Since the farming sector is unorganized in character, there is an absence of statistics on farm related accidents and injuries. The tractor incidents (overturning, falling from the tractor, etc.) were the highest (27.7 per cent), followed by thresher (14.6 per cent), sprayer/duster (12.2 per cent), sugarcane crusher (8.1 per cent), and chaff cutter accidents (7.8 per cent). Most of the fatal accidents resulted from the powered machinery, with the annual fatality rate estimated at 22 per 100,000 farmers. The hand tools related injuries (8 per cent of the total accidents) were non-fatal in nature. In spite of the enactment of legislation, the shortcomings in production and monitoring of the machinery in field use may be responsible for the high rate of accidents (e.g., 42 thresher accidents/ 1,000 mechanical threshers/year in Southern India).

• A field study surveyed power thresher accidents in Punjab (Northern India) and reported that about 73 per cent of the accidents were due to human factors, 13 per cent due to machine factors, and the remaining 14 per cent were due to crop and other factors. The All India Coordinated Research Projects (AICRP) on human engineering and safety in agriculture reported accident and injury data (1995-1999) from forty-four sample villages of Eastern, Southern, Central and Northern regions points out that while farm mechanization is more in the Northern India, accidents were more in the villages in Southern India. Tractor and tractor implements, thresher, sprayer, sugar cane crusher and chaff cutters accidents accounted for 70 per cent of the total farm accidents.

• Besides the normal health problems, agricultural workers, in general, suffer from certain specific health hazards due to extensive use of fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides and mechanization.

• The increasing use of chemicals and biological agents with hazard potential unknown to people; the indiscriminate use of agrochemicals including pesticides, agricultural machineries and equipment, and their impact on health and safety of exposed population; pose serious safety and health risks for agricultural workers.

• Since the occupational safety and health services are out of the reach of this group their vulnerability is further accentuated. Pesticides are usually sprayed and it has been observed that the sprayer operators experience fatigue mainly due to carrying the sprayer load. The vibration arising out of powered sprayers also causes discomfort to the operator. The pesticide applicators, mixers and loaders are at the risk of exposure to toxic chemicals.

• It is not uncommon that the farmers broadcast pesticides or prepare pesticide solutions with bare hands. Improper handling of pesticides, spraying without wearing personal protective devises, oral poisoning of pesticides, etc. led to many sprayer related accidents. Also due to low education and awareness levels among the group they are subject to greater health and occupational hazards.

• The risks to life of agricultural workers are greatly increased due to low levels of health security. Low-income levels and consequent low nutritional intake and constant physical labour increase health problems. Poor health status further affects their productivity and forces them to spend their limited earnings on expensive health care. In most cases, the workers in the informal sector do not obtain any support for meeting the medical cost. Lack of resources to pay for the health care often forces the poor workers either to forego it or become indebted or improvised while trying to pay for it.


According to the Summary Report on Causes of Death in India (2001-2003),

• Overall non-communicable diseases are the leading causes of death in the country, constituting 42% of all deaths. Communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions constitute another 38% of deaths. Injuries and ill-defined causes constitute 10% of deaths each. However, majority of ill-defined causes are at older ages (70 or higher years) and most of ill-defined deaths are likely to be from non-communicable diseases.

• Rural areas report more deaths due to communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions (41%). The urban areas have a lower number of deaths from communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions but a higher proportion from non-communicable diseases (56%). Their proportion is less in rural areas (40%). Injuries constitute about the same proportion in both rural and urban areas; however, the specific causes of injury vary.

• Overall, the leading cause of death is cardiovascular disease (19%), followed by respiratory diseases (namely chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, asthma, other respiratory diseases; 9%), diarrhoeal diseases (8%), perinatal conditions (6.3%), respiratory infections such as acute pneumonia (6.2%), tuberculosis (6%), malignant and other neoplasms (5.7%), senility (5.1% – which is concentrated at ages 70 and higher), unintentional injuries: other (4.9%), and symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions (4.8%).

• Notable differences by gender are seen in the case of diarrhoeal diseases with 10% of female deaths against 7% of male deaths, tuberculosis with 5% of female deaths vis-à-vis 7% male deaths, and cardiovascular diseases with 17% female deaths versus 20% male deaths.

• Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among males as well as females. The male-female patterns are similar, except for a notably higher proportion of female deaths from cancer (12%) vis-à-vis males (8%). In contrast, males have higher number of deaths from tuberculosis (11%) versus females (8%) and digestive diseases (6%) versus females (4%).

• HIV/AIDS is a direct cause of death in about 2.4% of deaths at ages 15-59 in the states with higher HIV prevalence namely Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland. It is responsible for only 0.3% in the remaining lower prevalence states. These ratios are comparable to those observed differences in the antenatal clinic data from the National AIDS Control Organisation.

• In Eastern and Northeastern regions, deaths due to malaria are notably higher at 6% and 5% respectively, of deaths due to all causes. In the Southern region, suicide constitutes nearly 5% of all deaths at all ages. Senility and ill-defined symptoms and signs constitute 8% to 12% of deaths across different regions with the highest (12%) in Southern region. The results are influenced by the age at death, with the States having higher proportion of older populations showing more deaths due to ill-defined causes


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