Witnessing India unite for our unsung heroesKey moments from our telethon on NDTV as the country united to raise eight figures in interest free loans.
“Farmers are the foundation of our society. Every kitchen, every household runs on their hard work” – Kavish Seth
In our endeavour to raise awareness about the brewing farmer’s crisis, we partnered with NDTV, one of the leading news broadcasters in India for a two-hour live broadcast.
The telethon was hosted by none other than the veteran journalist Prannoy Roy and co-anchors Vishnu Som and Nidhi Kulpati. A panel of well known and renowned panellists including experts and celebrities were the guests of the day. The discussion of the evening was the crisis, the result of the COVID-19 pandemic that took its toll on the sector that employs the largest workforce in India.
- Watch the full telethon here as broadcasted on NDTV.
During the broadcast, experts from the industry were quick to point out the major and existent challenges of small scale farmers. “About 54.6% of the population is dependent on agriculture”, said Dr Ramanjaneyulu, Founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, a Rang De impact partner. He went on to elaborate; “Average income of farmers in India is around Rs. 8,931 per month. Our study showed that lockdown affected to an extent of about 60%.”
The gravity of the situation was further expounded by Mr Vijay Mahajan, the founder of Basix who threw light on the lack of institutional credit for rural farmers. “Farmers who could not sell their crops have no money to buy inputs for the next crop. Small loans will help them a lot”, he said.
- Check out the blog of our interview with Mr Vijay Mahajan here.
Nobel Laureate, Abhijit Banerjee also stresses the economic impact of the crisis. He had this to say: “A lot of people who rely on agriculture are not recognised as farmers. So, identifying only farmers for relief measures will not be enough.” Mr Banerjee also talked about middle-class rural India falling into poverty and stressed providing social support to a large number of migrants.
Scott Theisen, CEO, Optum Care Services, who also made a significant contribution to the campaign pointed out the need for the promotion of healthy living through financial backing. “The biggest contribution of Rang De is that it will inspire many other organisations to make efforts in a similar direction”. This was also a major chain effect that was noted by Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj.
In addition to these, key players from the fin-tech and social start-up sectors in the panel who also work closely with Rang De shared their views on the concept of social investing and the growing peer to peer lending sector. Here is a round up of what was said:
- “In peer-to-peer lending, you are helping not just with money but also with an idea or skill” – Dr Nachiket Mor, Visiting Scientist at the Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health.
- “The biggest attractive feature of social investment is that it is not impersonal, it is very personal and you can put a face to the situation you want to change.” – Vinita Bali, Former CEO & MD, Britannia Industries Ltd. She also talked about how Social investing is a brilliant way of connecting civil society to the act of contributing.
- “Banking the unbanked has been Finastra’s highest goal” – Mehjabeen Poonawala, Country Head, India.
- “Rang De has done a brilliant job by using technology to help farmers” – Shradha Sharma, Founder & CEO, YourStory Media.
- “At times like this, we need to figure ways to help those not as privileged as us” – Nithin Kamath, Founder and CEO, @zerodhaonline
- “Challenges like access to markets, procuring inputs need to solved for farmers” – Lakshmi Narayanan, Co-founder, Cognizant Technology Solution
- “Peer-to-peer lending ensures a fantastic multiplier effect where the money you give always comes back” – Giri Giridhar, Executive Vice President, CFO, The Indian Hotels Company
- “Their technology connects the entire ecosystem by bringing together farmers, investees together on one platform” – Ashok Pal Singh, MD & CEO, India Post Payments Bank
Aside from these, the plight of our farmers was further emphasized by influencers and celebrities in a bid to raise awareness among citizens from all walks of life. Chef, Restaurateur, and Cookbook Writer, Vikas Khanna put the spotlight on us, by saying “We are buying rations directly from farmers, this is the direct relief as they are getting the money directly which is very essential at this point of time as they are not able to sell their produce because of the lockdown.”
Actor Adil Hussein reflected on the worrying farmer suicides while stressing on the fact that farmers are the real heroes and that we are all dependent on them. Actors Shruti Hassan and Pankaj Tripathi also called for united action to help all those in need, farmers and migrant workers. Similarly Kavish Seth, who opened the telethon with a heartwarming poem for the farmers spoke of getting to know farmers personally through Rang De despite being miles away from them.
Of the 120 minutes live broadcast, the underlying sentiment was that of the urgency of the need for credit for our farmers. This, along with raising awareness about the impending crisis and the concept of social investing and peer to peer lending. The interest-free loans campaign comes at a time when thousands of marginal farmers in the hinterlands are faced with an unfulfilled harvest and a grave cash deficiency to prepare for the next sowing season. Unlike traditional microfinance institutions, Rang De strives to tackle a much bigger problem, to promote financial inclusion in the most dignified manner.
We are grateful to all those who have been a part of this great and wonderful initiative. So far, and with the support of our Social Investors, we have raised more than seven crores in interest-free loans. However, the crisis is still far from over. We hope to garner even more support during the final leg of the campaign as the fight still continues!
- Start social investing on Rang De and invest in farmers during the last leg of the campaign. Visit http://rangde.in/india