10 years of Telangana: KCR’s Rythu Bandhu, Rythu Bima inspire India in farmers welfare

KCR's flagship schemes Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Bima are neighbours’ envy and Telangana’s pride,’ quite literally

10 years of Telangana: KCR’s Rythu Bandhu, Rythu Bima inspire India in farmers welfare

HYDERABAD: As Telangana rang in a 21-day-long decennial revelry of its Formation Day, the state is set to reminisce the myriad accomplishments of K Chandrashekar Rao in the last nine years of his chief-ministership in an imaginary flipbook of heartening memories.

His flagship schemes Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Bima are neighbours’ envy and Telangana’s pride,’ quite literally…! While the hapless farmers of the neighbouring Maharashtra and Karnataka hanker for these schemes to be replicated in their states, the highly-acclaimed welfare initiatives are also making their politicians go green with envy. Such is the lasting impact of the two schemes, widely seen as ‘game-changers’ in Telangana’s post-bifurcation flourish. What’s more, they are touted to be among KCR’s ‘arsenal of X factors’ to help him sail smoothly into a third consecutive term in the saddle.

Since Independence, the country has seen a flurry of populist schemes, mostly used for mere tokenism or as disguised conduits for smart pilferage of vote banks. Barring a few, most remained either sugar-coated or crumbled under their own weight of inefficacy.

Then, what makes Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Bima of Telangana – the brainchild of KCR – worthy of nationwide critical acclaim and global appreciation? What was that quintessential magnetic pull that stirred up the ‘merge-us-in-Telangana’ demand in some border pockets of the two neighbouring states? How did Rythu Bandhu emerge as pathbreaking to make the United Nations sit up and take notice as a meaningful agricultural reform? Why does the entire country, including some of the BJP-ruled states, see a role model in ‘KCR twins’ and is keen on aping them with some amount of camouflaging?

Well, the secret lies in the BRS chief’s deep-rooted vision that did not merely sprout with the Telangana slogan and dissipate after attaining statehood. With Rythu Bandhu, he chose a solution over a sop and a scalpel over a soothing balm to treat an age-old malice plaguing the farming community. Unlike many of his political predecessors – some of whom were India’s iconic stalwarts – he addressed the core of farming distress with timely financial aid to save them from the downward spiral of a money-lending trap.

Rythu Bima, as the very name is self-explanatory, flaunts KCR’s template to provide succour and help families stand back on their feet in the unfortunate cases of farmers’ death. These schemes, together with many pro-agrarian reforms including the construction of world’s largest lift irrigation project Kaleshwaram, have ostensibly reversed the fortunes of the farmers and there is no dearth of statistical wealth to prove this fact.

According to an assessment, as many as nine schemes namely, Rythu Bandhu, Rythu Bima, free power to agriculture, Aasara pensions, Kalyana Lakshmi, Shaadi Mubarak, KCR Kits, 2BHK housing schemes and Rs 1 per kg ration rice — contributed their bit in guaranteeing a second term for the BRS government in the 2018 Assembly polls.

For the uninitiated, Rythu Bandhu is a novel farmers’ investment support scheme and its twin sibling, Rythu Bima, comes across as a comprehensive insurance coverage scheme.

Under Rythu Bandhu, which turned 5 years old in its implementation only in May, 2023, a staggering 70 lakh farmers received the benefit of about Rs 65,000 crores, disbursed in 10 instalments. In a reflection of its righteous commitment, the KCR regime, during Yasangi of 2023, released an assistance of Rs 7,217.54 crore covering 144.35 lakh acres and benefiting 63.97 lakh farmers.

As part of Rythu Bima, the KCR Government provides a life insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh to peasants. So far, families of 99,297 farmers who died at various times received the compensation amounting to Rs 4,965 crores in Telangana under the first-of-its-kind scheme in the country. The Rythu Bima, otherwise called the Farmers’ Group Life Insurance Scheme in English, was brought under implementation with the sublime intention of providing fiscal relief and social security to the bereaved families and dependents in the event of the farmers’ death irrespective of the reason.

Unlike other prominent welfare schemes of the KCR government, which were implemented soon after the TRS came to power, the twin pro-farmer initiatives were launched on May 10, 2018. The idea of the two schemes stemmed from a deep churning within, triggered by the plight of farmers who had no option but to live at the mercy of the moneylenders. In a monumental decision to shake up this sorry state and rid them of financial turmoil and the moneylending predators, KCR decided to bestow the benefits of the schemes directly on the beneficiaries, the farmers.

After several days of brainstorming with his think-tank, the Chief Minister announced Rythu Bandhu at a conference organised by the Rythu Samanvaya Samiti at the Prof Jayashankar Telangana State Agriculture University on February 25, 2018. Walking the talk, KCR subsequently made a budgetary allocation of Rs 12,000 crore before formally launching the scheme at Dharmaraj Palli in Karimnagar district on May 10, 2018.

Thanks to an overwhelming response from the farmers, Rythu Bandhu was soon hailed as a trailblazing initiative. The scheme captured the imagination of the entire country and began hogging national limelight. KCR’s steadfast commitment brought even the BJP-ruled states on their knees in their desperation to consolidate a major chunk of the vote bank.

While some BJP-governed states preferred camouflaged means to ensure copying the Telangana model without being exposed, its own Narendra Modi (NDA) government at the Centre unveiled PM Kisan Yojana, with no qualms in emulating the KCR brainchild. The inspiration for this, and the Kalia initiative launched by the BJD’s Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha, are largely believed to have been drawn from the success story of Rythu Bandhu.

Though the BJP bickers and dickers in conceding the credit to the BRS government, global recognition of the highest order for KCR’s pet project came in as the icing on the cake. Rythu Bandhu was hailed by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations as one of the top 20 schemes that are highly beneficial for farmers across the globe.

Himself a farmer at heart, KCR never shies away from expressing his fondness for agriculture and his unflinching support for the farming community. Marking the decennial celebrations of Telangana Formation Day, the BRS government has dedicated June 3 for rejoicing the progress made on the agriculture front. Already basking under new-found national and global recognition, Rythu Bandhu, and its twin Rythu Bima, are certain to add sheen to KCR’s unparalleled accomplishments as Telangana Chief Minister over the last nine years.

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