The Hindu

My art is as much ‘handmade’ as that of an artisan: Irrfan Khan

“I am an actor. The product I make is as much handmade as what an artisan makes. I act by using my own hands, feet, emotions and speech. In this sense, people who make things out of their hands are my brothers and sisters,” said noted actor Irrfan Khan, expressing his solidarity with the ongoing Tax-Denial Satyagraha by Grama Seva Sangha, demanding zero tax on handmade products.

 

Report of the National Symposium on “The Handmade”

 

 

0L0A7270
Inaugural session of the symposium. From left: M S Satyu, Irrfan Khan, Neelkanth Mama, Uzramma

A story in song from West-Bengal accompanying the depiction on the Patta Chitra resounds from the auditorium of St. Joseph’s Institute of Management, Bangalore, the venue for the National Symposium on The HANDMADE.

The handmade holds and embodies the continuity of tradition and culture and bestows identity to communities within their homes, and their natural environment, through time. The crisis inflicted on artisans producing by hand in India, calls for redefining our understanding of work, of work relationships, consumer habits and tax regimes.

The symposium conceived and led by Gram Seva Sangha is a part of the ongoing Tax-denial Sathyagraha on the handmade. The demand is simple and historic: that there is a crying need to acknowledge, accommodate and support the skill and craft of the artisan, farmer, fisherfolk, Adivasi, labourer, homemaker, industrial worker, et al, and to fundamentally acknowledge the due role of such handmade livelihoods in sustaining and contributing to global productivity, creativity and sustainability. Keeping this in mind, the symposium proposed the following resolutions to be adopted:

  • The GST council should make all handmade products zero taxed
  • The central and the various state governments in India should take measures to get a better price for the handmade
  • Since 60% of the Indian population still depend, for their livelihood, on producing products with their own hands, a separate ministry be setup for the handmade, with budgetary allocations equivalent to that of the population size
  • The government and the other concerned agencies should adopt the definition, as given below, of the handmade: Any product that uses not less than two thirds of the hand process and not more than one thirds of the machine process be treated as handmade

Prasanna Heggodu explained that handmade systems are the enterprise of the future. It is a far better alternative to neo-liberal economy in addressing prevailing environmental, economic and social concerns and in advancing equality, morality, and in tackling alienation of individuals of society. This demands a shift in production to the hand/making from machine-making, and not merely the tinkering of the existing systems which are extractive and destructive.  He submitted that hand-making is slow, but is holistic and closer to the nature. It may appear economically inefficient, but is ecologically sustainable and can be made socially just. Machine-making is faster and appears economically more efficient, but causes extensive social and ecological damage whilst also depriving large sections of society of their wealth. Machine-making is also a natural ally of neo-liberal economic systems whose methods entail appropriation and aggregation of wealth and essentially is an antithesis to cooperation and empowerment.

Renowned film-maker M S Sathyu questioned the need for taxing everything that is produced. He wondered why theatre is taxed 18% GST when artistes rarely make any money and find it difficult to survive in this highly commercialised and taxed world.  The Government which must step in and support such the handmade sector is instead taxing it out of existence. Sathyu also recalled that displacement of the handmade produce is increasingly larger now, as we have entered an era where” every thing under the sun is taxed”.  Why should culture and education be taxed? He explained how the tax involved in renting venues, advance booking and tickets are all taxed that too under commercial categories. For example, a theatre as a venue is nested under the category of Kalyana Mantapa for taxation. He called for an active refusal to accept such a tax regime and called upon artistes and audiences to come together against imposition of GST on the handmade.

Uzramma wished the new year to be one of a different kind of industrial revolution that is democratic, equitable and promises and delivers a sustainable future. She elaborated how the current system had been put in place through violence and that it was being held up by employing violence. Such a system of production has its roots in slave labour in the US and in India, and recalled that it was through such violence that the textile industry was displaced. The conversation dwelled further into bridging the gap between the poor artisans producing with the hand-looms and the rich elite buying the textile. Uzramma pointed towards inherent structures of traders and middle-men that promote this gap and how her organisation was attempting to open rural shops for the economically weaker sections to have access to the handmade.

Celebrated actor Irrfan Khan in solidarity embraced all artisans as his brothers and sister, as said his art too is handmade. Acting comes from body, soul and heart, he said. He imagined how beautiful it would be to be contented with a hand-making system, with fair and right prices for products and the erasure of exploitation.  Irrfan Khan alluded to prevailing mass-escapism through cinema defies value-driven cinema and does not reflect any reality of the lived experience in society. This discrepancy promotes worshipping film actors and sportsmen, while any work calls for worship. Handmade doesn’t stop at making by hand.

Mind is contemplative, a rhythm which is harmonious with nature. It doesn’t remain with products, it goes deeper – Irrfan Khan explained. The depth that comes along with the handmade also relates to ecological questions, where the human is depleting the planet’s resources.

Wellknown theatre artiste and singer M D Pallavi discussed the use of technology in the music where it is primarily used to preserve; to produce; to create. However, technology of producing or replicating music through “sampling techniques” is forcing artists to abandon music and switch to other livelihoods. She bemoaned how violinists and percussionists have been displaced by the overemphatic presence of musical machines, and that they are now forced to become taxi drivers to eke out a living.

Mohan Rao, of Rashtriya Chenetha Janasamakhya, who has worked extensively with handloom weavers in Chirala, AP and rest of the country, said that handloom weaving is a green industry. Through export alone Rs. 20,000 crores of income is generated through handloom and handicrafts. However, the annual budget allotted to the sector is a meagre Rs 219 crores. The regressive policies followed by tax regimes since independence have forced handloom weavers from being entrepreneurs to low-waged labourers.

Yatiraju C, Environmentalist from Tumkur and recently given the Rajyotsava award by Karnataka Government discussed the importance of agriculture for India’s economy, where it constitutes the maximum share of country’s exports. Despite this, marginal farmers are being labelled as “economically unviable” in a bid to make way for industrial farming methods. This is leading to the food chain being poisoned and human health jeopardised through lifestyle diseases. Natural farming is the only hope for future.

V. Gayathri of Inter Cultural Research and Action (ICRA) argued that agriculture is primarily handmade, where all the activities, except ploughing, involves manual labour. Despite this, the Minimum Support Price announced by the governments does not do justice to the work input, forcing them to prefer being labourers than farmers – as there is more assured income and lower liability. On the other hand, Governments are obsessed with the idea precision farming by using imported technology. However, women who practice traditional farming have the such super skills as an intrinsic part of their activity, and one example is how they sow seeds with extreme precision and transplant and raise crop with great geometric rhythm. She also emphasised the need to educate consumers on why food crops grown with traditional methods, which are more nutritious, are also more expensive.

Next, Magline Philomina, an activist from “The Eradesha Maheelaveedhi” of Kerala, who works with the fisher communities, spoke about who women contribute significantly to the fishing activity and yet are not recognised for their work, which is about 90% of the work. On the one hand, the coastal community is increasingly facing threats and on the other, their lands are being siphoned-off for ports, petrochemical complexes and for tourism, urban and industrial developments. “We need the sea. We need the beach to survive. Where should be go to fish if we are not allowed to live and work on the coast?”, she painfully asked. She also shared how despite all the satellite technology to assist in establishing early warning systems, they have not helped save lives of fisherfolk  and at least 2200 are known to have perished  in the recent cyclone Ockhi. “Thousands are still missing” she said.

Leo Saldhana of Environment Support Group drew attention to a recent World Bank report reviewing key events of 2017, in which it is said that two-third of world’s wealth is made with people’s power – handmade.  Yet, most of the world’s wealth is aggregated in an handful of individuals, and the situation is no different in India. He also threw light on how the poor are subsidising the rich. The rich are essentially extracting money and resources from the poor and yet are being incentivised by tax writeoffs, loan waivers, and subsidies.

Neelkanth Mama, a shepherd and social activist, distinguished intelligence of the educated that relies on technology from wisdom among the shepherds who rely on nature for their knowledge. He said we have knowledge, which we employ every day to make complex decisions. But that is not considered ‘knowledge’ unless it comes from a computer. He also spoke about human wellbeing interlinked with traditional sheep rearing methods which involved grazing them on diverse herbs in diverse habitats.

Doddaullarthi Karianna of Amrit Mahal Kaval Horata Samiti of Challakere, Chitradurga said his people do not need the government’s support as long as they have access to their grazing lands and are allowed to grow food that has a viable price. He asked why there is  emphasis on enforcing a single tax regime on everyone, rich and poor, when the poor don’t get any support in the form of health, education and housing, whereas those with wealth continue to enjoy benefits and sops.  He bemoaned the Constitutional values of equity and justice for all is being destroyed every time a new economic policy is brought in.

Dr. Shamala Devi, Sociologist and Dr JK Suresh, activist from Lokavidya Vedike looked at homemaking as handmade. Despite an important role homemakers play of nation building through homemaking, they are not paid and their work is unrecognised, said Dr. Shamala. We are trapped in age-old notions of separating the physical and mental labour which has its roots in the industrial revolution. Science has further objectified this notion, Dr. Suresh said.

Gopi Krishna, designer and social activist from Belgaum, spoke about the nuances of traditional methods of nomadic shepherding. Their approach to productivity does not depend on the number of sheep but on the health and quality of each sheep, and of their capacity to live in a paradigm that is not extractive but supportive of humanity and nature. Their harmonious way of living with nature is such that they ever revere predators which prey on their sheep, saying it is their due.

Sreekumar, farmer from the Sangatya Commune in Karkala, said that we have enough science and technology to move ahead but unless we correct our value system, no amount of science can save humans. He emphasised the need to nurture cooperation, value our commons; competition, exploitation and accumulation.

Fr. Francis Guntipilly of Ashirwad, paid a glowing tribute to Fr. Ambrose Pinto who passed away on 3rd January, and said he was a social activist who always worked for the rights of the poor, in particular Dalits. Fr. Manoj, Director of the St. Joseph’s Institue of Management was present and supported the entire event with great generosity and the support of his staff.

Towards the end of a great day of intense deliberations, the Resolutions proposed were adopted and accepted by all delegates, unanimously.


This report has been prepared for the organisers by
Jahnavi Pai, Namrata Kabra, Asha S, Apoorva Patil, Harsh Vardhan Bhati, Swetha Rao Dhananka, Kanishka.

Contact:
Abilash C. A.
Gram Seva Sangh
Flat 102, Shesha Nivas, 1st Block, 1st Main
Thyagarajanagar, Bangalore 560028
Email: gramsevasanghindia@gmail.com
Facebook: gramsevasanghindia Twitter: @gramasevasangha

The Sathyagraha demanding 0% GST on hand made sector is a movement to realise a promise made in the Indian Constitution

Statement : Bangalore : 19th October 2019

Shri. Prasanna breaks his indefinite hunger strike on assurance of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah that the State will support Sathyagraha’s demands in GST Council


Image may contain: 11 people, people smiling, people standing

 

With the assurance of the Chief Minister of Karnataka Shri. Siddaramaiah that the Karnataka Government will support the Sathyagraha’s demand that 0% GST is introduced on hand made products, Shri. Prasanna has broken his 6 days indefinite fast today in the presence of various elders and supporters by accepting tender coconut water from Shri. Veerabhadra Chennamalla Swamiji of Nidumaamidi Mata. The Chief Minister in his 19th October letter to Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that “imposition of GST on (handmade) products has had an adverse effect on the livelihood of such artisans engaged in producing such products”. He also said that the demands of the Sathyagraha “requires serious & urgent consideration and a positive resolution. This would not only benefit a large segment of our rural population but would also give a boost to rural employment and sustainability. I, therefore, urge you to take this issue on a priority basis in the next GST Council and decide favourably benefiting a large segment of rural artisans. I assure you of the Government of Karnataka’s full support in this regard.” (A copy of the letter is attached.)

Noted theatre and social activist Prasanna of Gram Seva Sangh has been on an indefinite fast –since 14th October 2017 demanding “Zero Tax” on handmade products. He took the decision of an indefinite fast as several actions nation-wide as part of the Sathyagraha demanding “zero tax” were not responded to by the GST Council of India.

The Sathyagraha has captured the imaginations of millions nation-wide and brought in a new awakening in the consumer. There is a growing collective demand to ensure India’s governance keeps the promises made in the Constitution of India and the Freedom Movement that there is active and willing support to sustain crafts people and such others who depend on their hands and skills in building the nation.

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar spoke extensively about the need for positive discrimination favouring handcrafting artisans and communities who are essentially rural, fisherfolk, pastoral, artisanal, tribal and such other natural resource dependent communities. This was also in acknowledgment of the State’s role in correcting a major historical wrong committed against craftspeople who had been violently suppressed during British regime.

Gandhiji promoted the Charaka as the praxis of producing one’s own essentials as the most profound act of sovereign existence, and that without damaging the Earth or causing injustices to others in one’s life. The idea was to build a just economic system that was both ecologically sustainable and ethical. As a part of this movement for fundamental reform, the State was called upon to enable and empower communities who provided us with our daily needs with a wide range of hand made products, and which were produced without damaging the earth. Positive discrimination favouring handmade products by not taxing them would be the most fundamental support the State can extend to provide these highly marginalised communities with a chance to secure a dignified existence, all with their own labour, craft and skill.

In introducing GST on handmade products, the GST Council of India, which is a negotiated process of all States and the Union Government, has comprehensively ignored the critical importance of such positive discrimination favouring the handicraft sector. Instead, handmade products have been heavily taxed, ranging between 5% and 28% (the highest tax bracket). The result of this will be mass impoverishment of the rural and informal sectors that support millions of livelihoods by making handmade products. Further, it will result in hand made products having no chance whatsoever of competing with mass-produced consumer goods, which are supported with a whole range of sops: such as easy credit supply, handsome tax breaks, easy and cheap access to natural resources, infrastructure, and also cheap labour. This discrimination favouring the industrialised class is producing an economy that is highly divisive, where a miniscule percentage are hoarding all profits, while the costs are borne by the rest of us. Besides, the impacts are being passed on to future generations as well. Such an economy is unsustainable.

Shri. Prasanna’s Sathyagraha is a reminder to the State, and the public at large, that we must now stop hurting the handcrafting sector any further. His indefinite fast is a protest against such deliberate negligence and injustice, a movement in civil disobedience against our own elected Government that has become insensitive to the very people that placed them in power. This is a call to awaken the humanism in those who are now in power, and in all consumers, to ensure a just and ecologically sustainable society is made possible. This is also a call to refuse to pay unjust GST when buying handmade products and demand the GST Council introduces ‘zero tax’ on all handmade products in keeping with our Constitutional promise, especially that which is enshrined in Article 39:
“(a) that the citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means to livelihood;

(b) that the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to subserve the common good;

(c) that the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment”.

Background of the Satyagraha

The indefinite fast by Shri Prasanna is an outcome of the Sathyagraha that was formally launched by Grama Seva Sangha at Bangalore Town Hall on 7th September 2017. In full public view, hand made products were sold without conforming to the GST regime, practicing civil disobedience against an unjust tax. Noted film maker and theatre director M. S. Sathyu, veteran freedom fighter and Gandhian H. S. Doreswamy, journalist Dr.Vijayamma, poet Mudnakodu Chinaswamy, singer M.D.Pallavi, Shashidhar Adapa, film actor Kishore, artist S.G.Vasudev and hundreds of others participated.

This civil disobedience movement continued from Hyderabad on 9th September, when activists of Gram Seva Sangh, Rashtriya Chenetha Jana Samakya and Dastkar Andhra were arrested. Undeterred by such police action, the movement spread.In subsequent weeks, the movement spread across various centres of south India. This gained the support from Sri Panditaradhya Swamiji, Sanehalli Matt at Sirigere (Karnataka). The

In subsequent weeks, the movement spread across various centres of south India. This gained the support from Sri Panditaradhya Swamiji, Sanehalli Matt at Sirigere (Karnataka). The Sathyagraha was supported in Tumkur and Sira towns by Yatiraju, Ramakrishnappa, Indiramma, Pandit Javahar, Tundoti Narasimaiah, Freedom Fighter Revanna, SIGNA and CMCA Volunteers and other likeminded people in.

On 24th September, a Padyatra was taken from Junajappana Gudde (shrine of pastoral God Junjappa) to Arsikere Kasturba Ashram, a distance of 120 Kms. All along there were several exhaustive meetings with the farmers, artisans, jogappa’s, Traditional medicine practitioners, etc.

At Arsikere, Sri. Panditaradhya Swamiji of Sanehalli Matt, Sree Kumar social Activist, Kulkarni, Weavers Union President, Poornima, Shivalinge Gowda MLA and various others joined the struggle which included blocking the Arsikere-Mysore road as an act of civil disobedience. Activists were arrested, an FIR was filed and then they were released. The movement continued its march.

From Mysore, writer Devanuru Mahadeva, and various others joined the Satyagraha. From Challakere, Doddaullarthi Karianna of the Amrit Mahal Kaval Hitarakshana Horata Samithi and All India Kisan Sabha endorsed the struggle.

Meanwhile, hundreds of letters and petitions were sent to various Chief Ministers, Union Finance Minister and the GST Council of India. On 9th October, a Gram Seva Sangh letter addressed to the Shri. Siddaramaiah, Chief Minister of Karnataka, and endorsed by various luminaries, explaining that “Zero tax on Handmade products would enable village producers to establish themselves in the urban market. It would liberate the poor from the debt trap and help them to lead a honourable material life.” Extending the support to the Sathyagraha, Federation of Indian Handloom Organisations President Smt. Uzramma wrote to the Chief Minister in which she said said: “Shri. Arun Jaitely has announced small concessions to handmade products. These concessions are highly inadequate”. She then urged the CM to get a resolution passed in the Karnataka Assembly “asking the GST Council to make all handmade products zero-taxed”.

Endorsing the Sathyagraha, the Rashtriya Chenetha Jana Samakya stated in a letter to Shri. Arun Jaitely, Finance Minister of India that the Sathyagraha is “to protect the fruits of the labor of the rural poor. Their products have been taxed, while the machine products have been made attractive, by the Goods and Services Tax regime, (GST). To put it simply, good things have been made expensive and the bad attractive….By selling the Handmade, without either collecting or paying tax, we are protesting. This is a “Satyagraha”. We shall gladly face punishment. But shall resist the unjust Law” imposing GST on handmade products.”

Renowned social scientist Shri. Ashish Nandy has led a panel of interdisciplinary experts from across India, at the request of Gram Seva Sangh, and prepared a detailed report on why 0% GST on hand made products is necessarily a just step. A list of over 200 products that deserve this support has also been provided to the Government and the GST Council. The committee includes noted film maker Shri. Shyam Benegal, handicrafts proponent Smt. Uzramma, social scientist Dr. A. R. Vasavi, Karnataka’s former DGP Shri. Ajay Kumar Singh, and others.

Despite all these efforts, neither the Union Finance Minister nor the GST Council has made any commitment to accept this just demand. As a mark of protest against their silence, Shri. Prasanna launched an indefinite fast.

Overwhelming Support

Sri.Veerabadhra Chanamalla Swamiji of Nidumamidi Matt, Bengaluru, blessed and launched the indefinite fast on 14th October as part of the Sathyagraha. He warned that a “great divide exists today in the country, between India and Bharat” and that “India is living at the cost of Bharat”. Sri. Shivakumara Swamiji of Tumkur Siddaganga Matt has also extended unconditional support for the satyagraha.

Shri. H. D. Devegowda, former Prime Minister of India, visited Prasanna, endorsed his struggle, and requested him to break the fast saying “everyone’s heart and mind has now been opened by this just struggle”. Prof. M.V. Rajeev Gowda, Rajyasabha MP and National Spokesperson of Indian National Congress met with Prasanna during the hunger strike, extended his solidarity and promised that he would raise the need for the Congress party to support this just demand with the party’s Vice president Shri. Rahul Gandhi. He was then joined by Shri. Krishna Byregowda, Karnataka’s Agriculture Minister, and both assured that the Government of Karnataka would take a supportive stand on the issue. Shri. Brijesh Kalappa, Congress spokesperson and Shri. Tanveer Ahmed, Janata Dal (S) spokesperson also joined the fast in support.

These solidarity actions were followed by a tweet from the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri. Siddaramaiah: “CMO is working with Prasanna to prepare the list of hand made products for advocating zero GST at the Council”.

Supporting the Sathyagraha and the Hunger Strike by spending a day with Prasanna, noted film actor Shri. Prakash Rai said: ““This is a Satyagraha not only for making rural life sustainable but also for restoring their belief in our governments. In line with this, our duty as producers and consumers is to give an impetus to the development of a healthy society that is environmentally responsible by encouraging the consumption of handmade products.”

Sri. S. G. Siddaramaiha, Chairman Kannada Development Board called on Prasanna and expressed strong views on the crippling GST on Handmade products of toiling rural people. He added that after Gandhiji’s Salt Satyagraha, Shri Prasanna’s campaign for the handmade products is a powerful moral stand in public domain.

Shri. T. M. Krishna, renowned musician and author has also supported the Sathyagraha saying: “While the capitalist world is always supported through huge sops and benefits, those working in the hand-made sector are ignored and relegated to the last pages of any economic initiative. They do not have the financial might to fight such unjust imposition of tax by successive governments. We speak of Swarajya and Swadesh but we are aggressively following a policy that will destroy the lives of those who have for generations lived in its spirit. We need to collectively oppose GST on handmade goods. This has to be STOPPED NOW.”

Farmers leader Shri. Kadidal Shamanna, writer Prof. K Marulla Siddappa, Shri. Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India, Smt. K. S. Vimala of Janvaadi Mahila Sangha, renowned actress Smt. Mallika Ganesh, social activist Shri. S. R. Hiremath , Smt.Saroja Chandrashekar (Wife of Late M Chandrashekar, Karnataka State Minister), and various political leaders, social activists, writers and artists have come forward and joined the the Satyagraha by meeting with Prasanna during his indefinite fast. They have been joined by Shri Abhay from the Grameena Kulikarmikara Sanghatane (Grakoos), Raichur, former Central minister and veteran Congress leader Shri. M.V. Rajashekar, Shri. S. G. Siddaramaiah, Chairman Kannada Development Board, sociologist Dr. Chandan Gowda, Shri. H.V. Anantha Subba Rao, State General Secretary, AITUC, Shri. Sirimane Nagaraju, Shri. G.R.Manjesh, Secretary (G), Karnataka State Devanga Employees Association, Shri. Sathi Sundaresh, Secretary, Communist Party of India, Smt. Jyothi A., State Convener, National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), Shri. D. M. Trimurthy, Karnataka Komu Sauharda Vedhike, writer Smt. Nemichandra, Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) Shri. M.D. Lakshminarayana, noted theatre personality and film maker Shri. B. Suresha, environmental expert Shri Yellappa Reddy, writer Vitappa Gorantli, MLCs Shri C. R. Manohar and Shri. Ramesh Babu, Shri. Doddaullarthi Karianna of All India Kisan Sabha and Amrit Kaval Hitarakshane Horata Samithi and social activists from Tumkur Shri. Ugama Srinivas, Shri. R.V. Puttakamanna, Shri. P. Manjunath, Shri. Murali and Shri. Srinivas of the All Indian Bank Officers Confederation visited the Sathyagraha

The Sathyagraha has been endorsed by several mass organisations, federations, cooperatives, political movements, etc. They include Janapada Seva Trust, Karnataka, Komu Sovharda Vedhike, Karnataka Rajya Devanga Naukara Sangha, Lancha Mukta Karnataka, Dalit Student Federation, Karnataka Janashakthi, Karnataka Vidhyarthi Sangatane, National Hawkers Federation, National Fishworkers Federation, National Alliance of Peoples Movement, Grameena Cooli Karmikara sangatane, Samudaya, Janata Dal (U), Janata Dal (S), Samajvaadi Party, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Congress (I), Rashtriya Swabhimani Andolan, Karnataka Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi, Karnataka Jyana vijyana samiti, SUCI, Sampoorna Kranti, Corruption-free Karnataka, Gandhi Bhavan, Jana Vadhi Mahila Sangha, All India Trade Union Congress, National Federation of Indian Women, Karnataka Rajya Devanga Naukarara Sangha, All Indian Bank Officers Confederation, Lancha Mukta Karnataka, Praja Science Vedhike, Ekta Parishad, Rashtriya Cheneta Jana Samakya, and several several more.


–Video Messages–

Shri. T M Krishna

Shri. H. D. Devegowda

Smt. M D Pallavi

Shri. Prakash Rai

Shri. Prasanna

See also: https://www.facebook.com/prasannaheggodu/videos/1835795223397881/

-Short Videos of the Satyagraha-

Why doesn’t 20 Lakh exemption work for Handmade Products

Impact of GST regime on Handmade products at rural India

The Tax-Denial Satyagraha

For the first time since independence, a tax has been imposed on all handmade products. Khadi, handloom, handicrafts, all are taxed under the new Goods And Services Tax (GST) regime. Rural sector, already distressed, will take a turn for the worse with this regime. It is a topsy-turvy regime. Under this regime, Luxury products have become cheaper, while handmade has become expensive. Cars and cigarettes cost less, while a Khadi saree, a handloom kurta, a mat, pot and plough will cost more! We demand that all handmade products be made tax-free. Why? Read more about the Tax Denial Satyagraha to find out.

Study Circle : Session 002

Introduction

We announce with pride that the second “Study Circle” session for Graama Seva Sangha was held on the 23rd of April, 2016 at GoodEarth Enclave, Kengeri. The session overall was successful in bringing together the registered GSS members and providing a forum to discuss and debate on various topics. We focussed predominantly on the topic of the study circle itself which was the reading of “Hind Swaraj” by Mahatma Gandhi.

Detailed Minutes

The session commenced at 4.20pm after initial introductions. A short welcome and stage-setting was provided after which we proceeded to the reading of two chapters from “Hind Swaraj”, namely “What is true civilization?” and “How can India become free?”

After this session, we followed it up with discussions based on the chapters, the contexts in which they were written and their practical application or possibility of application in today’s context.

We also spent a few minutes discussing the cause, effect and potential actionable items for us regarding the spontaneous rebellion that Bangalore witnessed in the previous week, where Garment Industry workers took to the street to oppose the provident fund related move from the government.

We discussed the tendencies of peaceful protests to turn violent and the unfortunate situation that seem to be encouraging only violent protests to get attention.

The discussion also touched upon the topic of local and grassroots work that we all need to do (and continue doing in some cases) to uphold the spirit of Hind Swaraj. This included both the social and political movements which are closer to the people and ensures that the beneficiaries are the poorest of the poor.

Some of the challenges faced today by the members as well as other like-minded folks also was brought on the table; challenges that have their root in populist culture as well as an inherent cynicism that exists in the society. The discussions concluded yet again with the ever present hopes that groups such as Graama Seva Sangha would remain the platforms to overcome the challenges.

We closed the session with snacks and refreshments.

Study Circle : Session 001 : Kickoff!

Introduction

We announce with pride that the first ever “Study Circle” session for Graama Seva Sangha commenced on the 26th of March, 2016 at GoodEarth Enclave, Kengeri. The session overall was successful in bringing together the registered Graama Seva Sangha members and providing a forum to discuss and debate on various topics. We focussed predominantly on the topic of the study circle itself which was the reading of “Hind Swaraj” by Mahatma Gandhi.

Detailed Minutes

The session commenced at 4.15pm after initial introductions. A short welcome and stage-setting was provided after which we proceeded to a “Purpose and Introduction” by Mr.Prasanna.

After a quick revisit on the genesis of Graama Seva Sangha, Mr.Prasanna talked about the current affairs that we face today such as growing intolerance and a general lack of social purpose. He also discussed the interconnectedness between the social issues we face today and the environmental impact. He recollected how the Badanavalu Satyagraha, through its emphasis on sustainable lifestyle embodied values that transcend personal and social growth and touch upon equity issues.

After this session, we proceeded to read two chapters from Hind Swaraj. We followed it up with discussions based on the chapters themselves constantly reminding oneself and each other about the foresightedness of Gandhiji and his ability to imagine a world that was distant to him at that point but would eventually turn out to be.

We closed the session with a demonstration of a “Book Charaka” by one of the members and a short introduction to the art and skill of spinning.

Mr.Prasanna then volunteered to read an additional chapter from Hind Swaraj and we closed the day with snacks and refreshments.

Photograph

unnamed