To, The Prime Minister
Government of India
New Delhi –110 001
Narendra Modi Ji,
We would like to invite you, as also Arun Jaitley Ji, The Chairperson of GST Council, to come and watch a Kannada musical, Taayavva. We are performing this play at ADA Theatre, Bengaluru, on 21st Nov 2017, at 07:00 PM. This play is about a mother. She is a young cobbler’s mother. This cobbler, as all cobblers are, is a producer of handmade footwear. He is also a member of a youth group that is leading a struggle demanding zero GST on all handmade Products. The mother, already unable to give a decent meal to her son, is further distressed by police brutality unleashed on her son. She gets involved in the youth movement only to protect her son. The son gets killed. The mother becomes a full blown activist for the cause of toiling people, a routine story in this country.
Now, Sir, let me tell you why we want you to watch the play. You are the Prime Minister of our welfare state. Unfortunately, our state is unable to tap the enterprise of 70% of its predominantly rural population in our Gross Domestic Production. Instead, our state is doling out alms. The mother in the play is suggesting a better solution. She wants you to treat the vast population as a group of entrepreneurs producing handmade products.
Handmade production makes sense environmentally. It makes sense ideologically as well. It is Swadeshi. After all, before the British came, handmade products constituted 100% of our GDP. As late as 1947, it was 60% of our GDP. Today, sadly, it is less than 8%. Come and watch the play, Sir.
However you may have to punish us for doing the play. For, we are staging this play as part of The Tax Denial Satyagraha. The GST Council is taxing all handmade products heavily, which includes cultural performances as well. They are treating live performances, a handmade product, in the same way as a machine made entertainment. This is wrong.
Hence we are selling the tickets for the play without either collecting or paying GST, as a symbol of protest. We shall be happy to face punishment for doing so. Hoping to see you at the Theatre.
Gram Seva Sangh
CC: Arun Jaitely, Chairman, GST Council
Prasanna , is a major Indian theatre director and playwright from Karnataka. He is one of the pioneers of modern Kannada theatre. He graduated from the National School of Drama (NSD). He founded Samudaya and gave a creative direction to Kannada theatre in the 1970s with other activists. Prasanna lives in Heggodu in Karnataka. He is known for his organisational skills and new ideas and innovations in theatre. He is a Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee. He has directed plays for National School of Drama (Repertory Company, NSD), Ninasam, Rangamandal-Bhopal, Rangayana and worked with many theatre organizations of India. He is critical of modernity and has been working on finding ways of sidestepping modernity and also making it work practically. He has founded a movement of self-employed women called Charaka, has written two books on the subject and has delivered speeches on the issue.