RSS-linked body BMS scuttles GM tries, hurts seed industry

RSS bodies like Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and Swadeshi Jagran Manch have become the bane of sound economic and agricultural policies

Mahesh Anand |

Bharatiya Kisan Sangh

During the 1974-75 Ashes series, when Australian speedsters Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson were at their peak, a newspaper came up with a ditty, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; if Thommo don’t get ya, then Lillee must.” We can paraphrase the second line as ‘if the Left doesn’t get you, the Right must.’ This time, the RSS activists have got the seed industry.

The Narendra Modi government, buckling under pressure from primarily the RSS-linked Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), disallowed scientific field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops, including Bt Brinjal. In response reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on March 22, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had said, “It has been decided that proposals of field trials of GM crops, including Bt Brinjal, will not be taken for consideration in the GEAC [Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee] without recommendation of the concerned state/UT government.”

This upset the seed industry so much that it officially slammed the government for what it called a “regressive decision.” Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) executive director Shivendra Bajaj said, “This [the decision] further complicates the already cumbersome process of conducting field trials of transgenic crops in India”

The GEAC, Bajaj reportedly said, is the only body by law to review the safety of the submitted data and grant final approval for field trials. “It is not possible for the states to review the data and make decisions. GM crops undergo rigorous safety assessment and conducting scientific research trials is a crucial part of this safety assessment.”

PTI reported FSII and Alliance for Agri Innovation director general Ram Kaundinya as saying, “This will jeopardize the huge investments made by the Indian private sector companies in this space as well as the investments being made by the government through public institutions.”

RSS grandees, however, are not worried about such mundane matters as investment, economic growth, development, employment generation. They have little regard for these Western (and thus immoral) concepts. Having made a tryst with obscurantism and obduracy, they don’t rely on science. The upshot is that bodies like BKS and Swadeshi Jagran Manch, another RSS affiliate, have become the bane of sound economic and agricultural policies.

When Sonia Gandhi ruled the country, with the instrumentality of former prime minister Manmohan Singh, policy was often shaped by a circus of Left-leaning intellectuals and activists which formed the National Advisory Council. Now, those throwing their weight around are myriad RSS outfits. Thankfully, Modi doesn’t listen to many people, otherwise saffron apparatchiks would have been running amok.

Despite that, saffron commissars are capable of doing harm. Scuttling scientific field trials of GM crops is an example.

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