In the last 12 months alone, two poll-bound states, Karnataka and Rajasthan, have announced loan waivers, as have Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab.
New Delhi: BJP-ruled states may believe writing off loans of farmers is a good solution to their distress and also politically beneficial but the ideological parent of the party, the RSS, thinks loan waivers do not help farmers.
Farmers, RSS general secretary (sarkaryavah) Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi said, should instead be helped to emerge as self-reliant entities that don’t require loans at all.
In the past 12 months alone, two poll-bound states, Karnataka and Rajasthan, have announced loan waivers, as have Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab. Tamil Nadu had announced one in 2016, and Andhra Pradesh and Telangana the year before.
They have long been a trusted populist tool of political leaders across party lines, but farm loan waivers have been criticised as short-sighted and an exercise in fiscal imprudence. From the RBI to renowned agricultural economists such as M.S. Swaminathan and S.S. Johl, many experts have questioned the efficacy of waivers in helping India’s farmers.
“We should strive for a situation where farmers should not have to take a loan for farming and if he has to then he should have the potential to repay it,” Joshi told ThePrint on Sunday.
“We should make the farming sector robust so that farmers should have the financial health to repay the loan. Loan waiver is not a solution to farmers’ plight,” he added.
The world over, there is a growing chorus to encourage a return to the roots of farming, i.e. organic cultivation that doesn’t involve the use of chemicals to protect crops or bolster produce.
Joshi is a votary of organic farming as well, saying the majority of health problems arose from food crops grown with the help of pesticides.
“People want organic products. Our health problems are related to pesticide-sprayed products,” he added.
The new rush has spawned a demand for organic products even in India, but it is a niche market that remains out of the common man’s reach. The problem, Joshi said, can be resolved by encouraging organic farming in a big way.
“Organic is not available in quantity, which is why it is expensive. But we need to go back to organic farming. People are getting aware of the fact and are attracted towards organic products,” Joshi said.
On the RSS agenda
According to Joshi, the biggest drawback for farmers today was their dependence on other agencies. He said what was needed was a return to scientific farming.
“Today, farmers have to buy everything from the market – from seeds to fertilisers. Farmers should be able to get the seeds from farming and not buy them from market. For this, the government should extend all support possible,” he added.
“If farmers do not get the reward of their labour, why should they slog? The majority of farmers are resorting to cash crops and leaving utility product farming. We need to ensure that farmers get their due,” he said.
He also urged the need to equip villages with the facilities available in cities.
On the BJP’s treatment of farmers
Asked his opinion about measures taken by the BJP to help farmers, Joshi said the system in place often proved a hurdle to the best of plans.
“Being a minister I can hope to straighten things out for the welfare of farmers, but my schemes may not be implemented soon. The established system makes it hard to achieve that objective,” he added.
On ‘saffron terror’
Joshi said the NIA court’s acquittal of Swami Aseemanand and others in the 2007 Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast case proved there was no such thing as ‘saffron terror’.
“Hindus were unnecessarily associated with terror. We believe the Hindu samaj can never become terrorists,” said Joshi.
The RSS general secretary, elected to the post for a record fourth time last month, also weighed in on allegations that the Modi government was “anti-Dalit”, saying they were the result of a political conspiracy.
“We go among the people, and the common man doesn’t believe them. They trust us,” he added.