Protests against the Goods and Services Tax (GST) intensified on Monday with several groups of small-scale businesspersons registering their displeasure of the tax reform. One such group in Karnataka, the Grama Seva Sangha, has turned to music with singer Pallavi Arun supporting a movement labelled “Tax Denial Satyagraha” which aims to achieve a zero-percentage tax on handmade goods including pottery, mats and baskets under the new tax regime.
In the song, tayavva, a symbol of motherly figure for groups of youth workers residing in villages, makes a plea,
“How do I cook some stew?
Tell me, how do I cook?
Without spoon of oil?
Without a portion of meat?
How do I give fresh mudde to the hungry?
The three-part song was released on Facebook highlighting rural distress over the inclusion of 5% tax on handcrafted products. In tandem with the release of the song on Facebook, theatre personality Prasanna commenced a five-day hunger strike following a padayatra from Junjappanagudde in Sira Taluk of Tumakuru district to Arsikere in Hassan district to spread awareness of the impact of GST on businesses in rural areas.
Shyamala Devi of the Grama Seva Sangha reiterated that they want all handmade products to be taxed at zero percent to encourage rural artisans. “We appeal to the Karnataka Chief Minister to take this issue up with the GST council,” she said. “If we do not get positive answer, we are prepared to take this further because if handmade products are taxed, it will encourage artisans to migrate from rural areas to cities in search of jobs,” Shyamala Devi added.
Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is the only leader to advocate for full GST exemption on handicraft products so far.