By Bindu Priya*
Mr Kiran Kumar Vissa is a social activist at the Association for India’s Development and Rythu Swarajya Vedika. An IIT- Madras graduate, Mr Kiran returned to India after completing his PhD in the United States of America. Through this article, I would like to introduce our readers to Mr Kiran and his work as part of RSV.
A self-motivated person Mr Kiran is exceptionally passionate about empowering the farmers. In my hour-long interaction with Mr Kiran, this passion was evident. He was excited to talk about his work and what Rythu Swarajya was doing for the farmers in the states of Andhra and Telangana and equally concerned about various other farmer issues that aren’t being sufficiently addressed.
Mr Kiran first got involved in social activities while studying in the USA. He and his friends used to work with student chapters based out of the USA. The chapters are spread across 35+ colleges in the states and spread awareness about the issues back home. These associations addressed various issues faced by the underprivileged families back in their home state, then the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. They used to visit India regularly, and during each visit, spend at least ten days visiting various villages and organizations. It was during these visits that they identified various issues plaguing our society- social inequality, caste system, gender discrimination, and economic inequality.
This passion motivated him to leave behind lucrative opportunities in the US and come back to India. From his social impact work in the US, he had two key takeaways- the need to identify an umbrella issue that will help in the upliftment of the farmers and on-ground proximity to bring about any substantial impact. Hence, he shifted to India and decided to work for the well-being and rights of the farming community. Kiran then goes on to talk about how literacy and health pave the development path. But they’re just the symptoms of the illness and not the root issue. However, he and his friends wanted to focus on the underlying root issue – lifestyle empowerment and not just the symptoms of health and education issues.
Mr Kiran believes that farmers don’t need a one-time bailout; instead, they need to be encouraged to adopt a sustainable form of farming. He further says that it is a common misconception that Indian farmers don’t know the right way of farming. The so-called modern revolutions of agriculture are unsustainable compared to the old methods of agriculture. And that’s precisely what Rythu Swarajya Vedika plans to achieve. This organization focuses on the following four issues- income security, ecological sustainability, people’s control over agricultural resources, and access to safe and nutritious food for all.
The on-ground volunteers work closely with the farmers to understand the soil, resources available and financial requirements to plan the harvesting reason. The organization’s critical contribution is that it helps farmers plan for the long term while protecting the ecological environment.
RSV acts as a platform where they connect farmers. It’s not just volunteers disseminating information. Staying true to its vision, RSV encourages farmers to share best practices at regular sessions. The long-term aim is that RSV will eventually only act as facilitators while the farmers are self-equipped with the expertise to make the right decision. When asked what makes RSV unique, Kiran mentions that “RSV isn’t another NGO or think tank. It is an action group that works with farmers. A platform that helps farmers help each other.”
Mr Kiran, along with RSV, wants to go on to focus on policy issues. They’re already in talks to address the various problems and plan to expand to other neighbouring states going forward. RSV is genuinely doing some fantastic work with the farmers, and it will be interesting to see how they tackle policy issues.
*Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad | PGP in Management, Class of ’22