Amitabh Bachchan clears £450,000 debt of 1,398 farmers
Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, easily considered to be India’s greatest actor of all time, has just carried out an act that has simply wowed the globe.
76-year-old bollywood legend has cleared more than 40 million rupees, that’s $560,000, worth of debt owed by farmers, amid a wider agricultural crisis that has forced many rural workers into extreme poverty.
He wrote in his online blog that he had "taken care" of 1,398 farmers in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where Bachchan was born, by paying off their debt.
"Gratitude leans across to the desire of removing some of the burdens that farmers continue to suffer from...and the inner peace it generates when the desired is completed," Bachchan wrote.
For decades now, India’s farming industry has been blighted by drought, the depletion of the water table, declining productivity and a lack of modernisation. More than 50% of India's population is involved in the agricultural and allied sector, which contributes 18% of the country's GDP.
In his blog, Bachchan added that banks had issued the farmers with a one-time settlement document and certificate. He cleared loans that were owed to the government-owned Bank of India paying due worth over 40 million rupees.
Considered a national institution, "Big B" as he is fondly called, has starred in over 200 movies. He also hosts the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and recently spoke on air about his intentions to help farmers in Uttar Pradesh after a farmer appeared as a contestant.
Indian farmers have battled against a variety of hardships in recent years, brought about by a combination of monsoon-damaged crops, rising fuel costs and lack of adequate state support. As a result, thousands of farmers have fallen into debt.
In 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to boost the country's agriculture sector with a target of doubling the income of farmers by 2022.