Bhagwat criticises Niti Aayog, says need to protect informal sector, farmers | india news | Hindustan Times
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Bhagwat criticises Niti Aayog, says need to protect informal sector, farmers

india Updated: Oct 01, 2017 08:33 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran and Pradeep Kumar Maitra
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses during Vijayadashami function at RSS headquater in Nagpur on Saturday.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses during Vijayadashami function at RSS headquater in Nagpur on Saturday.(Sunny Shende/HT Photo)

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat criticised the NITI Aayog on Saturday, saying the Centre’s think tank and state economic advisers should abandon the “same old economic isms” and present solutions based on reality on the ground for India’s growth.

He termed gross domestic product (GDP) figures as “a faulty parameter” still used to measure the economy’s health and progress.

“Our Niti Aayog and economic advisers of the states will have to … integrate the most up-to-date economic experiences with the ground reality of our nation,” he said at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s annual Dussehra event in Nagpur.

“All policies and standards need rethinking, unique models of development based on the needs of our nation.”

His remarks came amid a raging debate on the economy, triggered by former finance minister Yashwant Sinha’s criticism of the NDA government’s policies. Senior ministers rebutted Sinha’s argument, saying India has the world’s fastest-growing economy.

The chief of the RSS, the ruling BJP’s ideological fount, touched a range of issues that political observers interpreted as expression of dissatisfaction over the state of the nation’s economy.

“Our 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, addressing a substantial portion of India’s population that depends solely on agriculture.

Bhagwat called announcements by Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab to write of bank loans of farmers a temporary measure. He said farm loan waivers won’t solve the problem.

The 67-year-old leader made a pitch for jobs, saying that’s a “major consideration for us”.

He underlined that the biggest contribution toward employment comes from the small and medium industry, retail businesses, and cooperative and agriculture sectors.

“They are our security net during ups and downs in the global trade and economic earthquakes ... Crores of people get jobs or employments through these sectors,” he said.

His comments are viewed as an oblique criticism of two major economic reforms — demonetisation of Rs 500- and 1,000-rupee banknotes last November and the goods and services tax (GST) launched in July. Both are accused of triggering business losses, especially in small and medium segments.

Bhagwat called for protection to small and medium sectors from economic “earthquakes”.

“While reforming and cleaning the economic systems, although some tremors and instability is expected, it should be kept in mind that these sectors should feel the minimum heat and ultimately they should get the maximum strength,” he advised.

Before him, RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Laghu Udyog Bharti and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh criticized the NITI Aayog for “lopsided” policies, calling it anti-labour and out of sync with reality.

The RSS chief backed the NDA government for its handling of foreign policy and internal security and applauded welfare schemes such as Jan Dhan and gas subsidy.

Bhagwat appreciated the government’s zero-tolerance policy on terrorism and border intrusions.

The resolution of the standoff at Doklam with China was praised, as was steps to flush out of militants from Kashmir by choking funding outlets and exposing cross-border terrorism.

Bhagwat made pointed references to refugees from West Pakistan being denied voting rights in states and the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits.

The RSS chief said conditions have to be created for allowing happy, dignified and secure life to all.

“For this just work, necessary constitutional amendments will have to be made and old provisions will have to be changed.”

The remarks are viewed as the organisation’s stand on a demand for abrogation of Article 35(A) and Article 370, constitutional provisions that guarantee special privileges to the restive state of Jammu and Kashmir.