RSS to Farmers: Change Mindset ….and, Go for Cow Based Farming

March 13, 2018

The three-day meeting of Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (all India representatives’ meet), the top collective body of the RSS held its annual session on 9-11 March in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Even as the 1300-odd members of the body – all top RSS functionaries from different parts of the country - were discussing the state of RSS’ growth and its activities, a historic Long March of 50,000 farmers was sweeping up to Mumbai. Bizarrely, the Sabha passed no resolution on the farmers’ plight, considering that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis himself attended part of the meet, and BJP President Amit Shah was also in attendance.

Normally, the Sabha passes various resolutions touching upon economic or social issues. But this time round there was a deafening silence. Prompted by this silence, media persons asked newly reelected general secretary Suresh ‘Bhaiyyaji’ Joshi at the press meet after the meeting ended what he thought of the farmers’ march.

Bhaiyyaji responded cursorily by saying that agrarian policy needs to change and govt. has to ensure that farmers get proper prices. Then he added two things that made no sense.

The first was that “It is their (government’s) job to think and find a solution”. And the second was that “the farmers also need to change their mindset and while farming, they must keep government policies in mind”. He also “advised farmers to take a holistic view of the scenario instead of agitation on streets”, according to reports.

RSS is the ideological mentor of the BJP. It has advice to offer on all kinds of issues from reservation for dalits and adivasis to language policy to economic policy to guarding the borders and tackling insurgencies. Even on agriculture, RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat had a whole lot to say at the last Vijayadashmi address he gave on 30 September 2017 (more on that later). RSS leaders are now running the govt. at the centre and in several states. PM Modi and party president Amit Shah are avowed members. So is Devendra Fadnavis.

Yet, the RSS is saying that it’s the govt.’s job to think about farmers? It has no advice or direction to offer?

Perhaps this reticence is explained by Bhaiyyaji’s other statement that farmers need to change their mindset and take a holistic view rather than agitate on streets. What he probably means is that a Hindu Rashtra friendly govt. is ruling at the Centre, and farmers should not rock the boat too much, especially if they are holding red flags. This interpretation is confirmed by the statement of Mohini Mohan Mishra, national secretary of RSS affliated farmers’ organization, the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh.

Mishra told a media outlet that “This type of protest will not lead to anything. Last time also they created ruckus on the roads. This is not the way.” He added that “The government of India wants to implement policies for the benefit of farmers. If the government has started something in favour of farmers then it will take time. They [agitating farmers] should wait.”

What is unsaid in all this beating around the bush is the RSS hostility to the fact that the farmers were organized and led by the Communist led All India Kisan Sabha. It is that which RSS bigwigs are unable to swallow.

But there is more to this. What exactly is the RSS view on the agrarian crisis that is sweeping across rural India with farmers on the streets indozens of states over the past two years? Some light on this is shed by none other than RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat, who is above the Pratinidhi Sabha in the RSS hierarchy and whose word is like a brahm-vakya.

In his last Vijayadashmi speech, which is considered as an occasion for spelling out authoritative RSS policy, Bhagwat spoke at length about the agrarian crisis and said that farmers should get better prices, more technology should be made available, and he appreciated schemes like the crop insurance scheme and soil testing, etc. Then he came to the nub of his thinking.

“…large number of farmers in our country are small land holders, without any irrigation facility. For such farmers, cow-based farming is the easiest way out for poison free and less capital intensive agriculture. Therefore, Sangh Swayamsevaks, Saints of all sects, other voluntary organisations and individuals are running the activity of cow protection and promotion,” he declared.

So, in the RSS view, which is rooted in a now extinct pastoral society, small farmers which make up two thirds of all farmers, operate 85% of all holdings and 45% of land area should simply adopt cow based farming – use of cow urine, cow dung, cow-horn, etc. – and all their problems will vanish. Then he goes into details of how necessary it is to protect cows and how trouble should not be created for those working towards this. Bhagwat also talks of irrigation being necessary but has words of appreciation for existing initiatives of govt. and also for ‘societal efforts’ like those initiated by Sadhguru (Jaggi Vasudev).

If you look at Bhaiyyaji Joshi’s non-sequiturs about the farmers’ Long March and the Sabha’s silence, this RSS view explains a lot. No agitations, no demands, change your mindset to work with govt., and most importantly, adopt cow based agriculture. This is the package deal RSS – the ideological mentor of BJP – has to offer to struggling farmers in India.