At a time when farmers in the country are reeling under the pressure of insurmountable debts and demanding farm loan waivers, a 60-year-old farmer, Naga Kushwaha, from a remote village in Uttar Pradesh, has refused his loan waiver.
Hailing from the village of Prithvipur, Naga is a small-time farmer who took a loan of ₹1, 06,000 in 2013, which he repays in installments timely.
Speaking to Gaon Connection, Naga said, “I spoke to the bank manager and told him I will repay my own loan. I don’t need the government loan waiver. I appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CM Yogi Adityanath to use my share for the welfare and progress of the nation.”
Naga earns his living by farming on a 2.5 acre land with the help of his three sons, and looks after his family of 13 members. He studied up till class 10. While one of his sons has completed his MA, another just cleared his class 12 exams.
“We work on the field together and grow fresh sugarcane and potatoes, in addition to other crops. Whatever is left after consumption from our daily use, is sold at the nearby market which runs our household needs,” said Naga.
His oldest son, 35-year-old Harilala Kushwaha, said, “My father has managed to repay most of his loan barring ₹20-25,000, which we will manage. By the grace of God, we’ve had a good harvest and there has been no loss. Then why should we unnecessarily rely on the government for money?”
The Purvanchal Gramin Bank in Kushinagar falls under the most remote and backward district divisions in UP. For days and months at end, this bank is crowded with farmers enquiring about farm loans and whether their ₹157 LPG subsidy has been granted. And here is a farmer, who has decided to give up the loan. he could have easily repaid using his Kisan Credit Card (KCC) issued by the government.
“It was one of the crowded days at the bank, when a man walked up to the counter and said, ‘I don’t want the loan waiver. I am capable of repaying my debt, and I will do it myself,’” Rakesh Kumar Gupta, Branch Manager, of Purvanchal Gramin Bank in Dudhai of Kushinagar district said.
“Initially we found it extremely difficult to believe, but a long discussion with him about his conscious decision convinced us,” Rakesh added.
Harilal says his father lives by the principles that his grandfather passed on to him. He used to say, never rely on any free help, work hard to earn your living. “The fact that the government pays us for our hard work on time is more than enough for our survival,” said Harilal.
Over 1,913 farmers at the Purvanchal Gramin Bank of Kushinagar have Kisan Credit Cards, Out of which, only 200-300 farmers under the KCC scheme repay their loans. The rest wait for a loan waiver. In a scenario like this, Naga Kushwaha has become a local hero, impacting change.. Inspired by his initiative, a number of farmers are following suit.
Feature Image Credit: Gaon Connection.