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Five Degrees

India, Tamil Nadu, May 2018. One of the skulls claimed to be the skull of a farmer who committed suicide, held by Mr Premkumar, a member of the South Indian Farmers Association. This skull was also used during a protest in Delhi in 2017, where farmers demanded a drought relief package and loan waiver for peasants from the state. But what leads farmers to this extreme act? They run into debt to invest in production, agriculture-related activities, machinery maintenance, and to repay previous loans. Despite these efforts, harvests damaged by adverse weather, economic factors, and short-sighted water management lead to debt repayment failure. Thus, a kernel of slow and gradual mental agony sneaks into these land workers’ minds and grows into the shame they feel towards their family and society.

Series Name: Five Degrees

Could the dramatic increase in Indian farmers who take their own lives be closely connected to climate change and rising temperatures? A study from Berkeley University, found a correlation between climate change and suicide among Indian farmers. It is estimated that 59,300 farmer suicides over the last 30 years are attributable to climate change. According to experts, temperatures in India could increase by another 5°F by 2050. Without focused government intervention, global warming will lead to more suicides all over India. But what leads farmers to this extreme act? They run into debt through investing in production, and repaying previous loans. Despite these efforts, harvests damaged by adverse weather, and short-sighted water management lead to debt repayment failure. The impact of climate change affects global wellbeing, going beyond India and threatening mankind as a whole. This project is located in Tamil Nadu, the southernmost state of India, which is facing the worst drought for 140 years.

Copyright: © Federico Borella, Italy, Photographer of the Year, Professional, Documentary (Professional), 2019 Sony World Photography Awards

In pictures: Stunning winning images from prestigious Sony World Photography Awards

The Sony World Photography Awards are one of the world’s largest and most prestigious photography competitions.

The 12th edition saw a record breaking 326,997 submissions by photographers from 195 countries, presenting the world’s finest contemporary photography captured over the past year.

The coveted Photographer of the Year title was presented at a London ceremony to the Italian artist Federico Borella for his series Five Degrees – which focuses on male suicide in the farming community of Tamil Nadu, Southern India.

Upon winning the award, which includes a $25,000 (£19,235) prize, Mr Borella said: “This award is one of the most important things for my career and my life.

“This kind of visibility is amazing because it allows me and my work to reach a global audience, it is a ‘golden ticket’ that happens once in a lifetime.”

Our gallery features the winning images from the 10 professional categories, as well as the overall winner.