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RSS affiliates seek 51 cow-centric varsities, revival of old pension scheme in Budget 2023-24

CNBCTV18 logo CNBCTV18 06-12-2022 Sudarsanan Mani

Fifty-one cow-centric universities, more jobs for the youth, an increase in the minimum support income for farmers as per the inflation rate and measures to curb Chinese imports are some of the demands tabled by various affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for Budget 2023-24.

Sitharaman, who will present the Budget 2023 on February 1 next year, recently concluded pre-Budget consultation meetings with various stakeholders. The meetings were held in virtual mode from November 21 to 28. The finance minister participated in eight sessions and interacted with over 110 guests representing seven stakeholder groups. Apart from economists, the stakeholder groups included representatives from the agriculture and agro-processing sector, financial sector and capital markets, services and trade sectors, social sector, trade unions and labour organisations.

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In a meeting with the finance minister on November 22, the agriculture body Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) sought measures to reduce farmers’ distress and boost agrarian entrepreneurship.

BKS informed the union finance minister that even though farmers were producers of food, they were being taxed under GST for a number of inputs without getting any input tax credit. The agriculture body has asked the government to make provisions such as providing an input tax credit for farmers and the removal of GST for agricultural inputs.

BKS has also asked the government to link the Rs 6,000 per year minimum income support for farmers under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme with inflation and increase it accordingly.

“It is a highly popular scheme, but it was started in 2018-19. Since then, input costs of agriculture have increased due to inflation; its ceiling should be increased to de-stress small farmers,” The Print quoted BKS general secretary Mohini Mohan Mishra as saying.

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To boost organic farming, the Sangh farmers’ body has proposed setting up 51 universities for building research and knowledge on “cow-based” organic farming. This would also facilitate entrepreneurship in the villages.

On the other hand, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the labour wing of the RSS, demanded that the government bring back the old pension scheme (OPS) for government employees, which was replaced by the National Pension Scheme (NPS) in 2004.

The pre-Budget meeting of the finance minister with stakeholders of labour organisations on November 28 was attended by only three trade unions, including the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, National Front of Indian Trade Unions (NFITU) and Trade Union Co-ordination Centre (TUCC). As many as 10 central trade unions boycotted the meeting as it was clubbed with NGOs and employers’ organisations and each speaker got only three minutes time to present their views.

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BMS strongly demanded an increase in the minimum pension from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000, Financial Express quoted the trade union as saying. More funds for the unorganised sector and enhanced monthly honorarium for scheme workers such as Anganwadi, ASHA workers, and mid-day meals workers, were some of the other demands of the trade union body.

Another RSS affiliate, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM), which promotes the interests of local traders and small-scale industries, demanded that the government raise customs duties on Chinese products to discourage their imports.

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