Protest for Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression – A Report
Mahatma Gandhi Statue, M G Road, Bengaluru | 12th Mar 2019, 5:0 PM
Under the banner of Grama Seva Sangha, well known activists, writers, and artists did a protest opposing the ongoing assault of Freedom of Speech on individuals, community and the groups who speak about Government actions, plans and wrong doings. Freedom fighter H.S.Doreswamy, writer Bolwar Mohammed Kunhi, poet Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy, actor and director B.Suresh, journalist Suguta Sreenivasraju, Actor Prakash Raj, Artist Gouri Dutt, Mentors of Gram Seva Sangha G.K.Suresh, Shamala Devi, G.S.R .Krishnan, Sanath Kumar, Secretary Abhilash, Phaneesh and others participated in the protest.
On this occasion, dignitaries have shared their opinions as follows.
B.Suresh: What we are facing in the last few days is the situation of 1975 emergency. Blocking social media accounts and sending people jail if they analyze the plus & minus of government policies or if artists wrote cartoons indicates that a country is caught with cancer disease. The assault on cartoonist P.Mohammed, sufferings of Ravi Kumar and the words spoken by the government in the case of N.Ram of The Hindu newspaper shows that all these incidents are similar to the assault made on various political parties at the time of 1975 emergency. Public should became aware and continuously oppose these to save our fundamental Right of Freedom of Speech. We might be jailed for talking like this, and then our next generation should say these words. This should happen as a continuous movement.
Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy: Voltaire has said that “I might not agree your words but I respect the Right of Freedom to say your words, that is your lifelong Right” which is very relevant now. Recently the literature award given to the Dalit Professor Ravikant of Lucknow has been taken back for writing against the government in social media. All government employees have opposed this decision. We have reached such a low situation. State which doesn’t have Press Freedom and Freedom of Speech is not democratic.
H.S.Doreswamy: Government is behaving like we are doing wrong if we oppose government by making a group, organizing a meeting or sharing information to people. When certain individuals or government makes mistakes, it is necessary to unfold secret information. That is Press Dharma. It is very necessary from Public interest. If the press information is true, then it is the Press Dharma to keep the source of information secret. The Hindu newspaper has done a big job. There is no need to reveal the source of information if it is true.
Suguta Sreenivasaraju: In recent days, many laws against journalists have been misused. It is an effort to suppress journalist voice. All of us know how the Official Secrets Act has been misused in the case of The Hindu newspaper. The National Security Act has been misused on Imphal Manipur journalist Kishorechandra and he has been not released from jail. In the recent meeting held at Editor Guilds where I was also present, A resolution was made on “Decriminalizing content”. Recently, we could see this on how Shillong Times editor was penalized by High Court on account of Contempt of Court. Colonial Laws has been removed in many countries. But in our country such laws has been used against journalist & activists for harassing.
Prakash Raj: We have reached such a situation where we could easily identify which political it belongs if we switch on a channel or read a newspaper. In Vikram-Bethala stories, it was said that if we say a lie our head would cut into thousand pieces. But now if we say a lie, it is behaved like thousand votes would come. The government which is not able to protect Rafale documents is saying criminal to people who are following Press Dharma. It is like saying “fence itself is gazing the land”. But people would be observing. When it crosses a limit, we have seen in history that progressive people, artists have stood up and will stand up. People consciousness is still alive. This might be a small voice but it is the voice of truth. Hence it would be heard loudly.
ಪತ್ರಿಕಾ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ ಮತ್ತು ಅಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರಕ್ಕಾಗಿ
12 ನೇ ಮಾರ್ಚ್2019 ಸಂಜೆ5:0 ಕ್ಕೆ | ಮಹಾತ್ಮ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ಪ್ರತಿಮೆ ಮುಂಭಾಗ, ಎಂ ಜಿ ರಸ್ತೆ, ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು
ಸರಕಾರದ ಕಾರ್ಯವೈಖರಿ, ಯೋಜನೆಗಳು ಮತ್ತು ತಪ್ಪುಗಳನ್ನು ಚರ್ಚಿಸುವ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ, ಸಮುದಾಯ ಮತ್ತು ಗುಂಪುಗಳ ಅಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ್ಯದ ಮೇಲೆ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತಿರುವ ತೀವ್ರವಾದ ಆಕ್ರಮಣವನ್ನು ವಿರೋಧಿಸಿ ನಾಡಿನ ಹೋರಾಟಗಾರರು, ಕಲಾವಿದರು, ಲೇಖಕರು ಗ್ರಾಮ ಸೇವಾ ಸಂಘದ ಅಡಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರತಿಭಟನೆಯನ್ನು ನಡೆಸಿದರು. ಪ್ರತಿಭಟನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ್ಯ ಹೋರಾಟಗಾರರಾದ ಹೆಚ್ ಎಸ್ ದೊರೆಸ್ವಾಮಿ ಅಯ್ಯಂಗಾರ್, ಲೇಖಕ ಬೋಳುವಾರು ಮೊಹಮ್ಮದ್ ಕುಂಞ, ಕವಿ ಮೂಡ್ನಾಕೂಡು ಚಿನ್ನಸ್ವಾಮಿ, ಚಿತ್ರನಟ ಹಾಗೂ ನಿರ್ದೇಶಕ ಬಿ ಸುರೇಶ್, ಪತ್ರಕರ್ತರಾದ ಸುಗತ ಶ್ರೀನಿವಾಸರಾಜು, ಚಿತ್ರ ನಟ ಪ್ರಕಾಶ್ ರೈ, ಕಲಾವಿದೆ ಗೌರಿ ದತ್, ಗ್ರಾಮ ಸೇವಾ ಸಂಘದ ಮಾರ್ಗದರ್ಶಕರಾದ ಜೆ ಕೆ ಸುರೇಶ್, ಶಾಮಲಾ ದೇವಿ, ಜಿ.ಎಸ್.ಆರ್. ಕೃಷ್ಣನ್, ಸನತ್ ಕುಮಾರ್ ಹಾಗೂ ಕಾರ್ಯದರ್ಶಿ ಅಭಿಲಾಷ್ ಹಾಗೂ ಫಣೀಶ್ ಇನ್ನಿತರ ಹೋರಾಟಗಾರರು ಭಾಗಿಯಾಗಿದ್ದರು.
ಈ ಸಂಧರ್ಭದಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಳಗಿನಂತೆ ಗಣ್ಯರು ಮಾತನಾಡಿದರು:
ಬಿ.ಸುರೇಶ್ : ಕಳೆದ ಕೆಲವು ದಿನಗಳಿಂದ ಏನನ್ನು ಎದುರಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆವೆಯೋ ಅದು 1975ರ ತುರ್ತು ಪರಿಸ್ಥಿತಿಯ ನಡವಳಿಕೆ. ಸರ್ಕಾರದ ನೀತಿ, ಕಾಯಿದೆಗಳನ್ನು ಅದರ ಒಳಿತು ಕೆಡಕುಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಿಸಿದರೆ, ಕಲಾವಿದರು ವ್ಯಂಗ್ಯಚಿತ್ರ ಬರೆದರೆ, ಅವರ ಸಾಮಾಜಿಕ ಜಾಲತಾಣಗಳನ್ನು ಬ್ಲಾಕ್ ಮಾಡುವುದು, ಅವರನ್ನು ಜೈಲಿಗೆ ಹಾಕುವ ಸಂಗತಿ, ಆ ದೇಶಕ್ಕೆ ಬಂದಿರುವ ಖಾಯಿಲೆಯ ಸೂಚನೆ. ಈ ದೇಶಕ್ಕೆ ಒಂದು ಕ್ಯಾನ್ಸರ್ ಕಾಯಿಲೆ ಬಂದು ಬಡೆದಿದೆ!
ವ್ಯಂಗ್ಯಚಿತ್ರಕಾರ ಪಿ ಮೊಹಮ್ಮದ್ ಅವರ ಮೇಲೆ ಮುಗಿಬಿದ್ದ ರೀತಿ, ರವಿಕುಮಾರ್ ಅವರು ಅನುಭವಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವುದು, ಹಿಂದೂ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಯ ಎನ್. ರಾಮ್ ಅವರ ವಿಷಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಸರ್ಕಾರ ಆಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಮಾತು ಇವೆಲ್ಲವೂ 1975 ರ ತುರ್ತು ಪರಿಸ್ಥಿತಿ ಸಮಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಬೇರೆ ಬೇರೆ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಪಕ್ಷಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ನಡೆದ ದಾಳಿಯ ರೀತಿಯದಾಗಿವೆ.
ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕರು ಈಗ ಎಚ್ಚೆತ್ತುಕೊಂಡು ಇದನ್ನು ಸತತವಾಗಿ ವಿರೋಧಿಸುವ ಮೂಲಕ ನಮ್ಮ ಮೂಲಭೂತ ಹಕ್ಕಾದ ಅಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ್ಯವನ್ನು ಕಾಪಾಡಿ ಉಳಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕಾಗಿದೆ. ಈ ರೀತಿಯಾಗಿ ಮಾತನಾಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ನಮ್ಮನ್ನು ಬಂಧಿಸಿ ಕೂರಿಸಬಹುದು, ಆಗ ನಮ್ಮ ನಂತರದ ಜನ ಈ ಮಾತನ್ನು ಹೇಳಬೇಕು. ಇದು ನಿರಂತರವಾಗಿ ನಡೆಯ ಬೇಕಾದ ಹೋರಾಟ.
ಮೂಡ್ನಾಕೂಡು ಚಿನ್ನಸ್ವಾಮಿ: ವೋಲ್ಟೇರ್ ಅಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ್ಯದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಹೇಳಿದ ಮಾತು ಇಂದಿಗೆ ಅತ್ಯಂತ ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತ. ನಾನು ನಿಮ್ಮ ಮಾತನ್ನು ಒಪ್ಪದೇ ಇರಬಹುದು, ಅದನ್ನು ಹೇಳುವ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ್ಯವನ್ನು ನಾನು ಗೌರವಿಸುತ್ತೇನೆ, ಅದು ನಿನ್ನ ಜೀವಮಾನದ ಹಕ್ಕು. ಇತೀಚೆಗೆ ಲಖನೌನ ದಲಿತ ಪ್ರೊಫೆಸರ್ ರವಿಕಾಂತ್ ತನ್ನ ಸಾಮಾಜಿಕ ಜಾಲತಾಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಸರ್ಕಾರದ ವಿರುದ್ಧ ಆಡಿದ ಮಾತಿಗೆ, ಅವರಿಗೆ ನೀಡಿದ್ದ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯದ ಪ್ರಶಸ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ಹಿಂಪಡೆಯಲಾಗಿದೆ. ಅಲ್ಲಿನ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಸರ್ಕಾರಿ ನೌಕರರು ಸರ್ಕಾರದ ಈ ನಡೆಯ ವಿರುದ್ಧ ಪ್ರತಿಭಟಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಈ ರೀತಿಯ ಶೋಚನೀಯ ಸ್ಥಿತಿಗೆ ನಾವು ತಲುಪ್ಪಿದ್ದೇವೆ ನಾವು. ಪತ್ರಿಕಾ ಸ್ವತಂತ್ರ ಅಭಿವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ ಸ್ವತಂತ್ರ ಗಳು ಇರದೇ ಇರುವ ಪ್ರಭುತ್ವ ಪ್ರಜಾಪ್ರಭುತ್ವ ಅಲ್ಲ!
ಹೆಚ್ ಎಸ್ ದೊರೆಸ್ವಾಮಿ: ಈಗ ಒಂದು ಸಂಘಟನೆ ಮಾಡಿದರೆ, ಒಂದು ವಿಚಾರ ಜನರಿಗೆ ಹೇಳಿದರೆ, ಒಂದು ಸಭೆ ಸಮಾರಂಭದ ಮೂಲಕ ಸರಕಾರವನ್ನು ವಿರೋಧಿಸಿದರೆ ಅದು ತಪ್ಪು ಎಂದು ಸರಕಾರಗಳು ವರ್ತಿಸುತ್ತಿವೆ.
ಪತ್ರಿಕಾ ರಂಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಇನ್ವೆಸ್ಟಿಗೇಷನ್ ಜರ್ನಲಿಸಂ (ತನಿಖಾ ಪತ್ರಿಕೋದ್ಯಮ) ಮುಖಾಂತರ ಕೆಲವು ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ ಅಥವಾ ಸರ್ಕಾರಗಳು ಲೋಪಗಳನ್ನು ಎಸಗಿದ ಸಂಧರ್ಭದಲ್ಲಿ ಅದನ್ನು ಬಯಲಿಗೆಳೆಯಲು ರಹಸ್ಯ ದಾಖಲೆಗಳನ್ನು ಬಯಲಿಗೆಳೆಯ ಬೇಕಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಅದು ಪತ್ರಿಕಾ ಧರ್ಮ, ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕ ಹಿತಾಸಕ್ತಿಯ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಯಿಂದ ಅದು ಅತ್ಯಗತ್ಯ. ಮಾಹಿತಿಯು ಸತ್ಯ ವಾಗಿದ್ದಲ್ಲಿ ಅದನ್ನು ಅವರ ಪತ್ರಿಕಾ ಧರ್ಮದ ಪ್ರಕಾರ ಪಡೆದಿದ್ದಲ್ಲಿ, ಮೂಲವನ್ನು ಗೌಪ್ಯವಾಗಿಡುವುದು ಪತ್ರಿಕಾ ವೃತ್ತಿಯ ಧರ್ಮ.
ದಿ ಹಿಂದೂ The Hindu ಪತ್ರಿಕೆ ಯವರು ಒಂದು ದೊಡ್ಡ ಕೆಲಸ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದಾರೆ, ಅವರು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿರುವುದು ಸತ್ಯವಾಗಿದಲ್ಲಿ ಅವರು ತಮ್ಮ ಮಾಹಿತಿಯ ಮೂಲವನ್ನು ಬಹಿರಂಗ ಪಡಿಸಬೇಕಾಗಿಲ್ಲ.
ಸುಗತ ಶ್ರೀನಿವಾಸರಾಜು: ಪತ್ರಕರ್ತರ ವಿರುದ್ಧ ಅನೇಕ ಕಾನೂನುಗಳನ್ನು ಇತೀಚಿನ ದಿನಗಳಲ್ಲಿ
ದುರುಪಯೋಗಗೊಳಿಸಲಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಇದು ಪತ್ರಕರ್ತರ ಧ್ವನಿಯನ್ನು ಹತ್ತಿಕುವ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ, ಅಫೀಷಿಯಲ್ ಸೀಕ್ರೆಟ್ ಆಕ್ಟ್ ಅನ್ನು ದಿ ಹಿಂದೂ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಯ ಪ್ರಕರಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಸರ್ಕಾರ ದುರುಪಯೋಗ ಪಡಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಯತ್ನಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವುದು ನಮಗೆ ತಿಳಿದೇ ಇದೇ. ಆದರೆ ನ್ಯಾಷನಲ್ ಸೆಕ್ಯೂರಿಟಿ ಆಕ್ಟ್ ಅನ್ನೂ ಮಣಿಪುರ್ ನ ಇಂಫಾಲ್ ದ ಪತ್ರಕರ್ತನ ಮೇಲೆ ದುರುಪಯೋಗ ಮಾಡಿ ಇನ್ನು ಸಹ ಕಿಶೋರೆಚಂದ್ರ ವನ್ಗ್ಖೆಮ್ ಅವರನ್ನು ಜೈಲಿನಿಂದ ಬಿಡುಗಡೆಮಾಡಿಲ್ಲ, ಅಲ್ಲದೆ ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರ ದ್ರೋಹದ ಕಾಯಿದೆಯನ್ನು ಇತೀಚೆಗೆ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ದುರುಪಯೋಗ ಮಾಡಲಾಗಿದೆ.
ಇತೀಚೆಗೆ ನಡೆದ ಎಡಿಟರ್ಸ್ ಗಿಲ್ಡ್ ಮೀಟಿಂಗ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ನಾನಿದ್ದೆ ಅಲ್ಲಿ ನಾವು Decriminalizing content ನ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ರೆಸಲ್ಯೂಷನ್ ತೆಗೆದು ಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದೇವೆ. ಶಿಲಾಂಗ್ ಟೈಮ್ಸ್ ನ ಎಡಿಟರ್ ಅನ್ನು ಇತೀಚೆಗೆ ಈ ರೀತಿಯಾಗಿ ಅಲ್ಲಿನ ಹೈ ಕೋರ್ಟ್ ಅವರಿಗೆ ಕ್ರಿಮಿನಲ್ ಕಂಟೆಂಪ್ಟ್ ಆಫ್ ಕೋರ್ಟ್ ನ ಪ್ರಕಾರ ಜುಲುಮಾನವನ್ನು ಹಾಕಿರುವುದನ್ನು ನಾವು ನೋಡಬಹುದು. ಅಲ್ಲಿನ ನ್ಯಾಯಮೂರ್ತಿಗಳು ನಿವೃತ್ತರಾದ ಮೇಲೆ ಅವರಿಗೆ ನೀಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಸೌಲಭ್ಯಗಳನ್ನು ಪ್ರಶ್ನಿಸಿದರೆ ಅವರ ವಿಷಯವೇ ಅವಿಧೇಯತೆ ಎಂದು ಅವರ ಮೇಲೆ ಕ್ರಮ ಕೈಗೊಳ್ಳಲಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ.
ಅನೇಕ ದೇಶಗಲ್ಲಿ ಈ ರೀತಿಯ ಕಾಲೋನಿಯಲ್ ಕಾನೂನುಗಳನ್ನು ತೆಗೆದು ಹಾಕಲಾಗಿದೆ ಆದರೆ ನಮ್ಮ ದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿ ಅದನ್ನು ಪತ್ರಕರ್ತರು ಹಾಗೂ ಹೋರಾಟಗಾರರನ್ನು ಹಿಂಸಿಸಲು ಬಳಸಲಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ.
ಯಾವುದೇ ಸರ್ಕಾರ ಬಂದಾಗಲೂ ಈ ರೀತಿಯ ಅಚಾತುರ್ಯಗಳು ನಡೆದಿವೆ. ಇದು ಚುನಾವಣೆಯ ಸಮಯವಾದ್ದರಿಂದ ನಾವು ಈ ರೀತಿಯ ದುರುಪಯೋಗದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಮತ್ತಷ್ಟು ಮಾತನಾಡಿ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಪಕ್ಷಗಳು ತಮ್ಮ ಪ್ರಣಾಳಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಈ ರೀತಿಯ ಕಾನೂನುಗಳಿಂದ ನಮ್ಮ ಹಕ್ಕುಗಳಿಗೆ ರಕ್ಷಣೆ ಒದಗಿಸುವ ಪ್ರಸ್ತಾವಗಳನ್ನು ಮುಂದಿಡಬೇಕಾಗಿ ನಾವು ಕೇಳಬೇಕಿದೆ.
ಪ್ರಕಾಶ್ ರೈ: ನಾವು ಇಂದು ಯಾವ ಪರಿಸ್ಥಿತಿಗೆ ತಲುಪ್ಪಿದ್ದೇವೆ ಎಂದರೆ, ಯಾವ ಚಾನೆಲ್ ಹಾಕಿದರೆ ಅದು ಯಾವ ಪಕ್ಷವೆಂದು ತಿಳಿಯುತ್ತದೆ, ಯಾವ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆ ಅಂತ ಹೇಳಿದರೆ ಅದು ಯಾವ ಪಕ್ಷವೆಂದು ತಿಳಿಯುತ್ತದೆ. ಸುಳ್ಳು ಸಾರ ಸಗಟಾಗಿ ಹೇಳಲಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ, ವಿಕ್ರಮ್ ಬೇತಾಳನ ಕಥೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು ಸುಳ್ಳು ಹೇಳಿದರೆ ತಲೆ ಸಾವಿರ ಹೋಳಾಗುತ್ತದೆ ಎಂದು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆವು. ಆದರೆ ಈಗ ಒಂದು ಸುಳ್ಳು ಹೇಳಿದರೆ ಸಾವಿರ ವೋಟ್ ಆಗುತ್ತದೆ ಎಂಬ ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ವರ್ತಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ.
ರಫೆಲ್ ಪ್ರಕರಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಖಡತಗಳನ್ನು ಕಾಪಾಡಿಕೊಳಲಾಗದ ಸರ್ಕಾರ, ಪತ್ರಿಕಾ ಧರ್ಮ ಪಾಲಿಸಿ ಕೆಲಸ ಮಾಡುವವರನ್ನು ಕ್ರಿಮಿನಲ್ ಗಳು ಎಂದು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಬೇಲಿಯೇ ಎದ್ದು ಹೊಲ ಮೇಯುವುದು ಎಂದರೆ ಇದೇ. ಆದರೆ ಜನ ನೋಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಈ ರೀತಿಯ ಶಕ್ತಿಗಳು ಮೀತಿ ಮೀರಿದಾಗ ಪ್ರಗತಿಪರರು, ಕಲಾವಿದರು ಇತಿಹಾಸದಲ್ಲಿ ಎದ್ದು ನಿಂತಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಹಾಗೂ ನಿಲ್ಲುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಜನರ ಮನಃಸಾಕ್ಷಿ ಇನ್ನೂ ಜೀವಂತವಾಗಿದೆ, ಇದು ಸಣ್ಣ ಧ್ವನಿಯಾಗಿದ್ದರೂ ಸತ್ಯದ ಧ್ವನಿಯಾಗಿದೆ ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ ಇದು ಜೋರಾಗಿ ಕೇಳಲಿದೆ.
The freedom of expression of individuals, communities and groups which constitutes the basic means for providing corrective feedback to our governments is under severe attack all across India. It is in this situation writers, artists, activists of Karnataka came together under Gram Seva Sangh and likeminded organization to held this protest. Some of the well know people joining the protest includes, Freedom Fighter H.S.Doreswamy, Theatre Person and Film Maker M.S.Sathyu, Writer Bolwar Mohammad Kunhi, Poet Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy, Film Director B.Suresh, Theatre Person and Activist Prasanna.
The press is being muzzled through colonial laws including the Official Secrets Act drafted by the British to suppress India’s freedom fighters during our struggle for independence.Our rulers have been able to completely ignore the burning problems of the society only because they have succeeded in curtailing our freedom and misrepresenting our expectations and opinions.
In such an environment, it is our primary duty to come together and publicly proclaim that “Silence is not an Option”. We protest the attacks on the fundamental rights of the citizens of India, and the suppression of the freedom of expression of the Press, individuals and communities and groups.
Join us to oppose the attack on the Press and freedom of expression of citizens!
Let us work towards building a new India that allows exemplary freedom of expression and tolerance for different opinions.
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 Kariannaof 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
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