Freedom from Debt Day observed across Country
Lakhs of women across the country responded to AIPWA's call for Freedom from Debt Day on 13 August 2020 and came out on the streets with their demands which are as follows:
Freedom from Debt Day
13 August 2020
1. Waive group loans of all women in Self Help Groups.
2. Waive all Lockdown period installments of individual loans up to Rs 1 lakh, whether they are loans taken from government, micro-finance companies or private banks.
3. Stay debt collection on all small loans till 31 March 2021.
4. Ensure employment for women in Self Help Groups and procurement of their products.
5. Make loans up to Rs 1 lakh interest-free.
6. Make education loans interest-free.
7. Form a State level Regulatory Authority for group loans.
8. Interest rate for loans for self-employment up to Rs 10 lakhs should be 0-4%.
9. All small loans for which interest has been paid equal to or more than the loan amount should be closed.
Lakhs of women across the country protested for the above demands wearing masks, observing physical distancing and other Corona prevention protocol. Through Freedom from Debt Day large numbers of women protested at villages, Panchayats and Block HQs in various States including Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puduchery, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh.
Speaking on the occasion, AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari said that we remember 15 August as our Independence Day for which people from all religions and communities gave the supreme sacrifice. Our ancestors must have dreamed that independent India would be free from the clutches of the Zamindari and Moneylender systems. But today 73 years after independence our government is patronising the new usurious Moneylender system comprising micro-finance companies and private banks which give loans to poor and needy women at willful and exorbitant interest rates and collect the installments forcibly even during this Pandemic period. They are not obeying the Reserve Bank's orders banning installment-collection till 31 August. At one place a woman who could not pay was asked to sell her body and arrange for the payment! At other places women's household goods and furniture were forcibly carried away. Meena Tiwari said that in some places our consistent agitation has forced the companies to back down and stop debt collection till 31 August. These are Pandemic times and poor families have no source of income. In such a situation debt collection must be stopped till 31 March 2021.
AIPWA National President Rati Rao and National Secretary Kavita Krishnan said that all collective loans taken by Self Help Groups which run under the National Livelihood Scheme should be waived and the government should ensure employment for the women and guarantee procurement of their products.
Meena Tiwari (General Secretary)
Rati Rao (President)
Kavita Krishnan (Secretary)