Charting the Progress of the Padayatra for Withdrawal of Tax on Handmade Products

What is the impact of GST on handmade products? How are people in rural areas affected by the implications of this tax? What are the reactions of ordinary people to the imposition of the tax?

Given below are the links to videos summarizing each day’s progress while answering the questions above, as the Padayatra progresses from Junjappana Gudde, Tumakuru district towards the Kasturba Ashram in Arasikere, Hassana district. The Padayatra is expected to reach Arasikere on the Gandhi Jayanthi Day, October 2, 2017. After reaching Arasikere, further programs will be announced.

Please also note the link to the Gram Seva Sangh channel on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClpxulefoyburjpqglzMLDw

Day 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkuAKlQXTSs

Day 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApkpbE_jK4E&t=8s

Day 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rvaI-g7izU

Day 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjQ8gYLnew4

Day 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f2UYB7jzvs

PS: We continue to face issues with sending mails from the Lokavidya Vedike email account. We are working on the problem and will reach out to you through other means meanwhile.

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Resolutions of the National Convention of Green Socialists held at Junjappana Gudde, Sira, Tumakuru on 24 Sep 2017

The National Convention of Green Socialists held at Junjappana Gudde, Sira, Tumakuru on 24 Sep 2017, as part of the ongoing tax denial Satyagraha against the imposition of G.S.T. on handmade products, among other things, resolved as below:

Resolution 1

Introduce zero-tax on natural products, grown through natural farming, such as natural foods, natural cotton, etc, by treating them as handmade products.

Resolution 2

Introduce punitive tax on polluting industrial products and/or carbon intensive industrial products.

Resolution 3

Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’ be included in the preamble of the constitution. We further demand that steps be taken on a war footing to protect the climate, nature, animals and the poor people.

Yogendra Yadav, A.N. Yelllappa Reddy, K.S. Vimala, S.R. Hiremath, Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy, Poornima, Chandan Gowda and others participated in the convention.

Later in the evening, the Padayatra (foot march) began with a few dozen Satyagrahis walking towards their destination, the Kasturba Gandhi Ashram at Arasikere which is around 120 km away from Junjappana Gudde. The Padayatra is expected to reach Arasikere on 2nd October, 2017, after which further measures of the Satyagraha will be decided in consultation with the people at large.

Summary of the proceedings of the convention

“We need to establish Swaraj of Gandhi’s imagination, that is the rule of the self and the rule over the self, in an age where its meaning is being distorted. Swaraj also includes the discharge of one’s duty towards ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’. We need to refrain from destroying the relationship between Nature and Man through taxes or laws”, stated Prof. Yogendra Yadav from Swaraj India Abhiyaan.

Theatre artist and activist Prasanna said, “The term ‘handmade product’ does not merely mean Khadi and handicrafts. The weaver’s cloth, the potter’s pot, the basketmaster’s basket, the cobbler’s footwear, etc are all included in the term handmade. We have forgotten that these handmade goods are handicrafts and vice versa. In fact, all products of the poor are handmade and therefore are handicrafts,” he further added.

“The cow-herd Junjappa’s temple is an unbounded and open yard. Its ceiling is the sky itself. Therefore, its boundaries can encompass India entirely, and even perhaps the world. As socialist, we were hesitant in the past to enter temples. The hesitation was not due to disbelief in the divinity in the temple, but because of the priestly class. However, the hesitancy has vanished now, and we bow our heads down in devotion to Junjappa, the deity of the poor cowherds, artisans and natural farmers. Junjappa’s presence inspires us to stand up with our heads held high and take our next steps with great courage and conviction” he stated.

He ended his remarks by saying, “’The Tax Denial’ Satyagraha will actually be led by Junjappa himself. We merely follow the instructions of Junjappa. Let us liberate our commons, forests, artisanship and natural farming etc. from the vice like grip of profiteering industrialists. Let us enable handmade products to become zero-tax. We demand that the government impose punitive taxes on industries that pollute the environment.”

Environmentalist A.N. Yellappa Reddy spoke on the occasion saying, “The government is duty bound to protect the well being of its citizens and not surrender to the dictates of profiteering of industries or multinationals as it has been consistently doing. For example, whenever environmental degradation by industries poses public health problems such as in the Endosulphon issue, the government continues to violate Supreme Court judgments against its use. Producer responsibility certification should not only be made mandatory, its implementation ought to be strict too.”

 

 

Lokavidya Vedike Supports Zero-Tax on Handmade Products

PRESS NOTE

Lokavidya Vedike Supports Zero-Tax on Handmade Products

 22 Sep 2017

Bengaluru

The Lokavidya Vedike fully supports the call for intensification of the ongoing struggle against GST on handmade products by the Gram Seva Sangh, Bengaluru. The Vedike decides to extend all possible assistance to the campaign for zero tax on handmade products. The Vedike believes that handmade products are essential expressions of Lokavidya, that is, the knowledge, skills and beliefs of our craftsmen, artisans, peasants and other ordinary people in the society. The imposition of GST on handmade products is a direct assault on both the lives of ordinary people and Lokavidya.

The Vedike strongly urges the government to withdraw GST on all handmade products without any delay. Moreover, we urge the government to take immediate steps to support and multiply the value and volumes of handmade production in the country, because this alone is capable of providing livelihoods and dignity to the vast majority of Indians.

Regards,

Prof. G.S.R. Krishnan

Dr. J.K. Suresh

Prof. Amit Basole

Conveners

Lokavidya Vedike, Bengaluru

Contact: 8026762404, lokavidyavedike@gmail.com

 

Posters, Demands and Calendar of Events for the Satyagraha

SatyagrahaCalenderOfEventsENG.jpgWhy the Tax Denial Satyagraha?

Make Handmade Products Tax Free

For the first time in free India a tax has been imposed on handmade products under a new regime called Goods and Services Tax (GST). With this tax the rural enterprise, already in distress, is going to be hit further. We had fought the British against an inhuman tax on salt nearly a century ago through a Tax Denial Satyagraha. It has become necessary to wage another Satyagraha, and that too against our own government, because GST has dealt a death blow to rural enterprise.

We believe that this Satyagraha shall restore the moral leadership of India as well. For, morality is made by toiling hands. Sant Sabhyata the saintly civilization of India is handmade. Sant Ravidas, Sant Kabir, Sant Kanakadasa and Vachanakara Sants were all handcrafting people. Handmade production, equitable society and spirituality of simple living formed the three tenets of that Sabhyata. Today the Sabhyata is in danger. This campaign, for making handmade products tax free is a major step towards the rejuvenation of that Sabhyata.

British enslaved India not so much through the gun as through capitalist industry; not so much through politics as through commerce. They came as merchants. Remained as merchants. Plundered natural resources, brought machine made products, and managed to sell the millmade. They did so through tax manipulations. Handmade was taxed heavily while the British machine was given concessions. It was a standard trick. The same trick is being used by our governments now. GST, created jointly by all state governments and the central government is wrong in many other ways. The machine made that is spreading death across the globe and destroying nature environment and society is made cheaper while the poor rural product, which is nearly carbon neutral, is made dearer by this regime.

There was a time when we obtained everything, clothing transport food utensils everything, handmade. These products were exported. They earned gold. We were not poor. British came to India not seeking poverty, but gold.

This is a consumer atonement movement. We shall atone for our sins by supporting the handmade. We shall become Gram Sewaks slowly and systematically through this struggle.

Swadeshi is not mere border counting. Nor is Swadeshi Hindu ism, nor is it Islam ism. Swadeshi means governing the self. Uniting all the self governed is true Swadeshi. But, Swadeshi got distorted somewhere on the way. The distortion began with partition. Politicians who partitioned this country, on the basis of religion were responsible for this distortion. But merely because they were muslim we should not look at the Indian muslim as an outsider. For, it will create a second distortion. Nor should we use muslims as a mere vote bank.

The poor Hindu and the poor Muslim are both, predominantly, craftspersons. They built this nation through hand production.

We committed a mistake. We, the Hindus, the Muslims and the Christians, all jointly became slaves of automation. We all became irreligious in the process. The whole world committed this mistake. Congress committed this mistake. BJP is now, committing the mistake. There is no point in blaming each other. Let us join hands and correct the mistake.

We shall protest by selling handmade products publicly, without either paying or collecting tax. This is civil disobedience. We are willing to face the law, but shall not give up the Satyagraha until the tax is rescinded.

We demand:

  1. Handmade products be made tax free, and,
  2. Vasudaiva Kutumbakam be made a guiding principle of the Constitution of India

Come and join us. Be a part of the campaign to restore the livelihoods, of the village poor in their own ‘natural’ environment.

 

Abhilash C.A

Convener, Graama Seva Sangha, No. 12, First Floor, 5th Cross, Near Seetha Circle, Giri Nagar Road, Banshankari 1st Stage, Bengaluru -560050

Ph: 080-26422118 | Mobile: 9008484880 / 9844659141 Email: graamasevasangha@gmail.com

Tax Denial Satyagraha in Support of Handmade Products: A Report

For the first time since independence, a tax has been imposed on all handmade products in India. As a result, Khadi, handloom, handicrafts and the like are taxed under the new Goods And Services Tax (GST) regime. Under GST, luxury products have become cheaper, while handmade products have become expensive. Cars and cigarettes cost less, while a Khadi saree, a handloom kurta, a mat, pot and plough will cost more. Across India, producers of handmade goods who are already in distress will face even more hardship as a consequence of the imposition of the tax.

The Satyagraha thus far

In response to the imposition of GST on handmade products, the Graama Seva Sangha, Bangalore, announced a nationwide movement to Free Hand Made Products from GST by launching a Tax Denial Satyagraha on 27-Aug-2017 at Bangalore. The Satyagraha was inaugurated by Theater Director and Social Activist Prasanna Heggodu, well known for his efforts to build co-operatives such as Charaka and Desi that promote a sustainable livelihood for handloom workers.

Following the launch of the Tax Denial Satyagraha, a rally was organized on 7th September at the Town Hall in Bangalore to unite consumers, activists, producers of handmade products, eminent artistes and writers against the tax. Following the clarion call given by the Graama Seva Sangha, “Don’t collect and don’t pay tax,” the rally witnessed a sale of handmade footwear, fabric, mats and pots without tax.

A second Satyagraha was observed in Hyderabad on September 9, spearheaded by the All-India Federation of Handloom Organizations and Dastkar Andhra, demanding the withdrawal of tax by the GST Council which had its meeting in the Telangana capital on the day. The march to the GST Council meeting for submitting the memorandum of demands was interrupted by the police who arrested the protestors and released them later in the day.

On 10th September, the noted handloom activist Uzramma arrived in Bangalore to participate in the Tax Denial Satyagraha and serve a joint petition with the Graama Seva Sangha to the Karnataka Legislature to debate and agree across party lines to pass a resolution requesting the union government to withdraw tax on handmade products.

Continuance of the Satyagraha

Graama Seva Sangha invites likeminded organizations and movements across the country to come together to fight for the abolition of tax on handmade goods as well as  for the creation of policy initiatives that recognize handmade products as the foundation of true Swadeshi manufacture in the country. This struggle involves radical changes to the organization, ethos and economics of the society and cannot be undertaken without support from all sections of the society across India. The Sangha resolves to continue its efforts until these goals are achieved. It appeals for help to make it a large scale struggle for change by persuading others and purifying the self through public acts of Satyagraha.

The Satyagraha will be observed in other parts of the country too, including Chennai, Kolkata and Jaipur from September 11 to 24. A padayatra (walkathon) will begin from Junjappana Gudde in Sira taluk in Tumkur district of Karnataka on September 24 and the march will reach Kasturba Gandhi Ashram at Arasikere on October 2, after covering 120 km by foot. A hunger Satyagraha will begin at Arasikere on October 2, on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.

A booklet that provides a detailed background for the Satyagraha and easily re-usable posters and content for organizations in different parts of India will be presented in the next edition of the blog.

If you wish to participate in the Satyagraha or know more details, please contact Abhilash C A, convener of Graama Seva Sangha. The Sangha’s details are given as below

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Graama Seva Sangha, #12, 5th Cross, Near Seetha Circle, Bengaluru-560 050.

Phone: 080 26422118 / 9008484880 / 9844659141. graamasevasangha@gmail.com | graamasevasangha.wordpress.com | facebook.com/graamasevasangha | @gramasevasangha

Newspaper Reporting on the Satyagraha

Sep 5, 2017

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/satyagraha-against-gst-on-handloom-handicraft/article19626223.ece

Sep 5, 2017

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/artisans-gear-up-for-satyagraha-against-gst/articleshow/60379600.cms

Sep 5, 2017

http://m.timesofindia.com/city/bengaluru/handloom-workers-to-protest-gst-regime/articleshow/60371848.cms

Sep 5, 2017

http://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/opinion/views/a-second-freedom-struggle/articleshow/60367027.cms

Sep 11, 2017

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/gst-on-handmade-products-activists-seek-karnataka-legislatures-intervention/article19657181.ece

Sep 11, 2017

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/gst-on-handmade-products-opposed/article19657623.ece