The spoon-fed lot
Bankers in Rajasthan seem to be perpetually confused about the implementation of the loan waiver package.
First, they were at their wits end over where to display the list of names of the farmers who have qualified for the waiver and relief schemes—inside the bank or on the outside wall. “We didn’t want to take chances because for every small detail we are instructed by the head office,” said a banker in Rajasthan who finally put up the list on the outside wall.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s letter in this connection, too, offered scope for confusion. “There was considerable anxiety over to when we will get the hard copies of the letter,” said a regional head of a bank in Rajasthan. “Now that we have got some hard copies of the letter from the head office, we are sending them to various branches for photocopying. However, we have still not got instructions on when the letter should be distributed.”Sangeeta Singh/Bharatpur, Rajasthan
In a fix: A farmer awaits his turn at a bank in Bayana, Bharatpur. (Photo: Harikrishna Katragadda/Mint)
While they were quizzed in the presence of each other, two farmers from Datia who had land holdings of different sizes, were of the view that the loan waiver scheme was good for the entire fraternity.
Later, when one of the farmers, who owns less than 2ha, walked away, the other farmer, who owns almost 50 acres, said the waiver for small farmers was meaningless. “He (the other farmer) spends most of his loan on consumption (liquor) and works in my field. Later, he migrates to the city for some time to work. I am the one stuck to land and farming,” the big farmer said.
Later, when the small farmer was able to speak in private, he wondered why banks gave big farmers loans. “They are able to borrow from banks because they have the strength to always repay. But they use the money the banks gives them to lend to us at a higher interest rate,” he said.Sanjiv Shankaran/Datia, Madhya Pradesh
Living it up, differently
Farmers of Mandya in Karnataka have a penchant for spending a great part of their earnings on weddings, funerals and religious celebrations. This means, most often, they have to live beyond their means and in constant debt. A few activists, who took pity, tried to reason with them and goad them into spending less, with some amount of success.
Says a local banker: “They (farmers) used to borrow from private moneylenders and pawnbrokers each time they had to conduct a funeral ritual or a wedding.”
“A lot of money goes into small issues,” says Sunanda Jayaram, a member of the Raitha Sangha, a farmer’s body in Mandya.
But, some habits die very hard.
While they still hold simple weddings, they can’t resist throwing lavish engagement parties.
Says Sunanda Jayaram: “What is the use! They were only saving money on one thing and spending it on another.”
If only activists instructed them to spend less on engagements as well …Ajay Sukumaran/Mandya, Karnataka