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Budget expectations: RSS offshoots want more money for farmers, small businesses

These offshoots, which work with labour unions, small enterprises and farmers, have demanded monies for strengthening indigenous production, public health and education.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2018 22:20 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
The RSS’s ideology forms the bedrock of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party but its offshoots have not demurred from taking on the BJP-led government for some its economic and labour policies.
The RSS’s ideology forms the bedrock of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party but its offshoots have not demurred from taking on the BJP-led government for some its economic and labour policies.(HT File Photo)

The offshoots of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) want the government to increase budgetary allocation for sectors such as agriculture and the small and medium enterprises and focus on removing inequalities and creating jobs.

In their wish-list ahead of the budget that will be presented on February 1, these offshoots that work with labour unions, small enterprises and farmers, have demanded monies for strengthening indigenous production, public health and education.

The RSS’s ideology forms the bedrock of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party but its offshoots have not demurred from taking on the BJP-led government for some its economic and labour policies.

Outfits such as the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), which have criticised the government for trying to amend the labour laws by replacing permanent jobs with contractual engagement, want the “mismatch between spending on social sector versus focussing on growth indicators” to be erased.

“The thrust is on growth and we are getting carried away by rating agencies, while what we need is spending more on farmers, labour sector and the common man,” CK Saji Narayanan, president of the BMS, said.

He said successive governments have reduced spending on the social sector, which does not bode well for the masses.

“We are not against the government for focussing more on banks and helping them with issues such as NPAs, but it must also assess why 73% of the total wealth is still concerned by 1% of the population,” he said.

Agrarian crisis, manifested through farmer suicides and protests, are areas of concern that call for attention, the RSS has noted.

It has cautioned the government that unless it makes amends, farmer’s discontent could impact the electoral outcome in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh just as it was perceived to have done in Gujarat where the ruling BJP’s seat share came down from 115 to 99.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat made a pointed reference to farm crisis in his annual Dusshera speech last year.

“Farmers are in pain today. He is depressed after facing the onslaught of floods and droughts, export-import policy, meagre pricing, mounting loans…,” he said.

Bhagwat also dubbed writing off bank loans to farmers a temporary measure that won’t solve the problem.

The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) wants the government to have a separate “rural budget” that will have a component which can be allocated to gram sabhas.

“Rural budget should have provisions for irrigation, power, animal rearing, cooperatives etc because when money is allocated separately there is a little account of where it is spent,” general secretary of the BKS Badri Narayan Chaudhary said.

“The government should also incentivise animal and cattle rearing as it creates employment and reduces dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” he added.

The BKS also demanded an allocation to create storage facilities for produce in each of the 127 small agro-climatic zones, increase the ratio of the central government’s share in schemes where both the state as well as the Union government are required to chip in, and preventing lapsed funds from being returned.

The farmers’ body also wants agriculturists to be able to decide the price of their produce through auction at markets.

“If a farmer’s produce is of a certain quality that is assessed to be better than the rest, they should not have to sell it the minimum support price; there should be a system of an auction,” Chaudhary said.

The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), another Sangh affiliate which ran a campaign against the import of Chinese goods, wants the government to create an enabling environment for the small and medium sectors.

Incentives for the micro, small and medium enterprises sector and sunrise sectors such as the solar and telecom industry, that it says create employment.

“India focusses too much on a GDP-centric growth model, even though inequality and poverty are major problems. Even at Davos, the question of inclusive growth was raised. The focus should be on incentivising job creation. Just as corporates get concessions, MSMEs should be incentivised to create employment,” Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convenor of the SJM, said.