Budget 2018: RSS affiliates want Modi govt to shun ‘pro-corporate’ mindset
The Budget to be presented on 1 February is significant not just for the economy but also for the political fortunes of the Narendra Modi government. BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) hopes the government in its last Budget, shuns it pro-corporate mindset to focus on the welfare of the masses.
For some time now, RSS affiliates have been critical of the economic policies of the Modi government and their impact - particularly over the economic slowdown, rising agrarian distress and growing unemployment. But they are now hoping that the government will address their concerns in its last Budget.
The RSS’ labour union, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) expressed alarm over growing inequality and warned the government to focus on the “orphaned” social sector.
“Since the UPA, social sector has been neglected and it has continued under the present regime. Particularly the last few Budgets, there has been an alarming reduction in spending on social sectors.
“Thanks to the policies by successive governments, the social sector has now been rendered an orphan,” said BMS President CK Saji Narayanan who had called the Modi regime an extension of the Congress led UPA.
Focus on social sector
“India badly needs development and the inequality is there for all to see. Reports have pointed out how one percent of the population amassed 73% of the national income generated in 2017,” said Narayanan citing a report by the anti-poverty charity Oxfam.
“This is an alarming report and the situation has to change. Those who are starving cannot wait for years hoping for development. There has to be immediate change at the ground level,” he stressed.
He criticised, “When the Budget focus should on developmental aspects, it is being directed towards mitigating NPAs and majority of these NPAs are due to a few corporate houses. When then amount was to spend for the welfare of the poor, it is being diverted for the benefits of the rich”.
“This situation is due to the system that is prevalent in the country for the last decades after globalisation. The team of advisors, policy makers, and bureaucrats, they all have been working with the same mindset. We have told the government that unless and until this pro-corporate mindset changes, direction of the economy will not change,” Naryanan said, stressing that this pro-corporate mindset should change.
“There should be thrust on social sector, farmers, labourers, tribal and backward communities. Also the Budget needs to focus on the welfare of workers in the unorganised sectors, we hope there will be something for anganwadi workers and contract labourers,” he added.
FDI versus Make in India
The RSS economic wing Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM), questioned the government’s intent over easing FDI norms in key sectors and said the thrust of the Budget should be on employment generation.
“The biggest crisis that the country is facing is unemployment and the need is to change the economic policies that we are pursuing,” said SJM convener Ashwani Mahajan.
“It is ironical that we are constantly opening up sectors to FDI when the focus should be Make in India. We are not opposed to foreign investments but then they should on our terms and not the investors.
“China too invites foreign investors but on its own terms and conditions and we need to follow that model. Foreign investment should not come at the cost of our own industries,” Mahajan added.Sops to industry subject to job creation
Mahajan said the sops to industry should largely be subject to the quantum of jobs created.
“This year Budget should mostly focus on creating jobs. For long our focus has been on securing investment for which we spend a lot in form of sops to the industry. That needs to be changed.
We continuously gloat about this much of investments have come but do they actually yield the benefits that we expect. Of course we need investment but generation of employment should be the major basis. The sops to the industry should be subject to the quantum of job created. The Budget should have provisions to that effect.
Therefore, the need is budgetary provisions to ensure more and more jobs are created.
Job creation will get a major fillip when indigenous industry flourishes and we expect that the Budget will ensure protection from foreign competitors.
We have been discussing with the government and we expect this Budget will look towards strengthening the Swadeshi movement by imposing anti-dumping duties, enhancing import duties,” he added.
Redress agrarian crisis
The growing agrarian crisis has been a major issue for the BJP. While its electoral fortunes have continued to rise, the farmer discontent was evident in the recent Gujarat elections where the saffron party conceded ground to the Congress in rural areas.
The RSS farmers wing Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) is expecting the government will use the Budget to woo back the far community especially with 2019 in mind.
“Farmer distress is now a major issue and unless tackled immediately it will become a full grown crisis. The need is to overhaul the entire system of procurement of farm produce to weed out middlemen who have been the bane for the entire system.
“We have in discussions with the government over launching a nationwide scheme for the farmers based on the MP government’s Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana (BBY),” said BKS organisational secretary Dinesh Kulkarni.
Launched by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government the BBY or the price deficit compensation scheme ensures farmers are paid the difference between the market price and the minimum support price.
“The BBY has been a great success both for the farmers and the consumers as well as eliminating middlemen. We are certain the government will address the issue faced by the farmers and the Budget will have sufficient provisions including the BBY like scheme,” he added.