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Massive change in economic path planned, small is beautiful – the new mantra

By Shivaji Sarkar

The country may be awaiting a change in the economic pattern. The Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh is making an effort to transform the economy junking Manmohanomics and take Indian economy back to basics.

The villages and the kisan are its focus. It is keen on creating the new economy based on self-reliant village, key to the country’s self reliance in all respects including water harvesting, power generation and low prices.

The farmland has to be protected and the farming has to be based on organic system. The new economy wants to refocus on protecting farmland and stop commercialization of land that benefits the land sharks and large houses. Without protecting land resources and developing the village economy, the country’s progress would be lopsided. It also promotes cattle rearing particularly cows to increase milk production and less dependence on imported milk powder as Amul and Mother Dairy are doing now.

The new economy has been given the name of Gram Sankul Yojana (GSY) and was launched at Farah, Mathura, the birthplace of its ideologue and former president of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, precursor to Bharatiya Janata Party, Late Deendayal Upadhyay, who gave the concept of integral humanism. The concept paper quotes Upadhyay saying, “Decentralised agro-industrial society be the backbone of our economy”.

The transforming system would have the support of many other likeminded organizations – Ramakrishna Mission, Patanjali Pith, Gayatri Parivar and Sarvodaya Samaj. Experts from different fields including many from foreign universities, IITs and IIMs are associated with the programme. Its national coordinator Dr Mahesh Sharma is an IIT alumnus.

A massive capital intensive economy like the Manmahonomics would never be able to provide jobs to all. An economic model away from reality could not be successful or make the country strong. The propounders of Gram Sankul are not opposed to liberalization. That is the bedrock of Upadhyay’s concept. But the way it has been done to empower only the big operators is not acceptable. The Manmohanomics has harmed the Indian economy, devastated its rural base, damaged its water resources and merely created cheap labour for the industry.

The new concept does not accept the agriculture GDP figure as well. In villages lots of services and goods are still not monetized. They work on the basis of personal cooperation on the basis of exchangeable economy. These cannot be represented in terms of GDP figures. As such it believes that farm GDP is much more than about 14 to 16 per cent that statisticians enumerate. It calls for a new prism to assess the strength of rural economy.

The India Rural Development Report (IRDR) 2013 surprisingly supports many of the contentions. It says that commercialisation of agriculture has helped some big farmers but ignored the small holders. It says that rural people away from farms get only casual jobs. It also says that the rural development is more on paper and the people in the villages have not gained owing to prolonged negligence of the farm sector.

The RSS also believes that Manmahanomics has ignored rural development, agriculture and needs of the over 75 crore people, 54 to 58 per cent of population, dependent on agriculture. It is not concerned about the penury of the villagers. The massive migration from villages because of lack of opportunities leading to creation of urban ghettos and poor quality of life has to change, the thinker and innovator of the GSY, economist Prof Bajranglal Gupta says. The IRDR surprisingly on many counts supports the contention.

The GSY aim is to create an economy that would be sustainable and provide gainful employment. Each Sankul would be a cluster of 8 to 10 self-sufficient villages, which would be almost complete in catering to its own needs from food grain to any other need through a chain of linked up industries. It could buy such needs that it would not be producing from any other Sankul, clusters.

RSS sahkaryavah Bahiayaaji Joshi says that for long villages meant dilapidated structures with little facility. The villages should be as smart as cities in terms of facilities.

India does not accept centralization of economy. India is culturally, physically and every way diverse and accepts diversity. “We can see this in agriculture to literature”.

There could not be monoculture the way soyabean introduction from foreign sources have created. Mustard or any other oilseed could be expelled at home but not soyabean. These kinds of practices strengthened centralization and eroded diversity. This has caused a number of problems including price volatility. The new farming would not be just wheat or rice centric but would also produce pulses, oilseeds and other needs that are in short supply making the country free from imports.

Rural development is the system for strengthening decentralization. Gram sankul would create all needs in villages. “Why do you need to have a soap manufactured by large producers? You would have to ensure that production cost remains in check. That is possible with local manufacturing”. This would be key to checking migration, Bhaiyyaji says.

The Sankul would have eight-fold path, says Gupta, considered the prime mover of the new economy. The eight points of self-sufficiency are water; energy; cow-based organic farming;  village industry – gramodyog; gainful 365-day employment; education steeped in cultural value and Swasthya – health – preventive health system. It begins with end to use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. “You cannot monetize it. But if you do it would be in trillions of rupees”, says Gupta

It will harness alternative energy –solar, water, wind – in a massive way to end dependence of villages on grids that are known for poor quality and high prices. The clusters thus would have uninterrupted power supply. Similarly, the health system would stress on preventive and quality aspects at local level. The IRDR also lays stress on harnessing natural resources as also its preservation.

In some areas like Vankhedi in Chhattisgarh, parts of Maharashtra, Gonda in UP, Chitrakoot in MP, the experiment has started yielding results.

The new concept, the national coordinator says, is not in conflict with the overall government policy. It is only to supplement the efforts in a better way. A better managed village with rich farmland and local industry would usher in a better economy.

It is a difficult task but it is being promoted as beginning of the change and transformation. It aims at reducing the rich-poor gap, if not eliminate it. The small beginning is intended for a massive policy change.

 

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