The All-India Nabard Employees Association (AINBEA) has called for a ‘serious introspection’ on the part of policymakers to consider a reverse merger of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) with the Reserve Bank of India to ‘strengthen and save the basic mandate ’ of the former.  

This has become inevitable in the light of the dilution of the Nabard mandate through its own fault as well as by the Centre, Rana Mitra, General Secretary, AINBEA, said while speaking at a meeting of the AINBEA central executive committee at Bhubaneswar recently convened to finalise a charter of demands on wage revision, among others. 

Choking of Nabard funds

Mitra said the agrarian crisis is multifaceted marked as it is by suicide of nearly four lakh farmers; efforts at corporatisation of agriculture; non-withdrawal of the Central Electricity Bill; non- implementation of the Swaminathan Commission Report on Minimum Support Price for agricultural produce; privatisation of public sector banks and RRBs; and dilution of mandate of cooperative banks as well as the Nabard.

Focus on agrarian issues

Privatisation of bank jobs by the private sector MFIs, their fleecing interest rates and coercive practices of recoveries especially against helpless poor women borrowers and closure of rural bank branches are other issues that need to be addressed immediately. Pradip Sarangi of the Bank Employees Federation of India, who also spoke on the occasion, strongly defended Institutions like Nabard, public sector banks, RRBs and cooperatives for the sake of the vast rural masses and agriculturists. 

Meanwhile, speaking at a seminar on ‘Crisis in Indian agriculture and the role of Nabard’ conducted as part of the AINBEA meeting, Kishor C Samal, Honorary Professor of Economics at the Development Research Institute, Bhubaneswar and an economist, dissected various aspects of agrarian problems. 

Mass labour migration

These ranged from lack of institutional credit and remunerative prices for farmers, especially small, marginal, landless agricultural labourers; conversion of vast tracts of agricultural land for non- agricultural purposes; forced transfer of nearly 15 lakh acres of agricultural land in Odisha alone to corporates since the New Economic Policy was unveiled in 1991; the ‘unbridled and disastrous activities’ by the micro-finance sector in Odisha; to poor access to canal irrigation for small farmers.  Samal said that migration in large numbers of agricultural workers from villages to cities such as Surat, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and states such as Kerala also posed serious challenges,