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When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Badanavalu sathyagraha..


It is about sustainable living, fair and dignified livelihoods, reviving our traditional arts and bettering the lives of artisans and farmers..
That was Badanavalu sathyagraha, planned at the famous Gandhian (Khadi) Institute in Badanvad,  some 7kms from Nanjangud a town half hour from Mysore.
The great Gandhiji had visited Badanvad in the 30's and that history is enough, I would think..
To this day there is a hand spinning centre that’s functional and in those glorious days Badanvad and thagadoor spun so many yarn, lives, livelihoods and value..

Now that is more or less a dead town, with very minimal activity..
When Gandhiji visited this centre, it was a great functional place with 1000s involved in
Like every other town of the famous cotton value chain of yester years, it is dwindling in activities, and with the last of the practitioners..
Oh man, when I visited this centre some 6 months back to try and give more business for the hand spinners on behalf of Tula, it was a different world..so closed and talking so much ‘typical’ bureaucracy!  And when I was interacting with the women (all old) who were spinning,  and happened to show all those photos hanging on the top wall, and questioned them on who they were, the women identified only Gandhi!  They knew none of the others! Vinobha, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Nehru, Patel, all were unknown
So a sustainable and meaningful live and livelihood also was forgotten along with the colorful history..so not only minds, the buildings are dilapidated..so Prasannaji and co are also up to reviving and restoring the buildings and look and feel of the place as much as the sustainable and dignified living.

Prasanna, a great Gandhian and popular writer & kannada theatre artist, who founded Desi and Charaka brands that have spun so many sustainable  livelihoods in todays context and been touching many lives sustainably, started this struggle- to take the fight to the governments which are trying so hard to kill the handloom sector.
The governments are trying to  help the power loom lobby at the cost of handloom sector.

As usual the paradigm of development sought after by the Manmohans and Modis alike, is being questioned too. These are bunch of sathyagrahis who question the very fundamentals of GDP and the neo- development paradigm..these are socialites who believe in promoting alternate modes of development and sustainable simple living in villages to ensure continuity of traditional indigenous employment modes instead of measuring growth by comparing GDP! also demanding dignity and fair compensation for those who struggle with more labour esp of hand..
The Badanavalu sathyagraha is to protect the livelihoods, food, farms, forest thus bringing together all those organisations and people working on these areas..

There were many youngsters, lots of farmers from all over Karnataka..there were urbans and some foreigners too..
Many social activists like Medha patkar, Kavitha Kuruganti, Belgaum Gopi,  supported this as much as stars of the karanataka film and litterateurs, theatre personalities and even Bollywood..
Santosh Koulagi, Aneel hedge, Sumanas,  ‘Nesara’Bala and many others were active for weeks before the event..
There were padayatras promoting sustainable living, talking of environment, ecology, farming, protecting livelihoods and also to save the handloom sector. Many groups started off from various parts of Karnataka (from mysore, bagalkot, HDKote, heggodu etc) few days before and interacted with and educated people all the way..such was the response that so many 1000s assembled from these villages that the padayatris touched..
They all had talks, discussions, street theatres all the way..
It was very interesting to note more than 5000 were present on the D day – 19th April at Badanvad..
There were so many farmer groups that had come to display their seeds..the “amruth bhoomi” group from chamarajnagar has come in a beautifully decorated bullock cart with seeds on display..Sahaja Samrudha had displayed their seed diversity and even had good organic tasty food served made from traditional varieties!
The attractions were many..
Very simple big structures –pandals, stalls, water and eating points and lotsa people – most from near by villages..
The very striking thing was that there were many youngsters- urban & rural!
Just a few volunteers and mostly people taking leads and cue on themselves and doing very many things..
One could see even Prasannaji happily calmly walking around and casually talking to many of us rather than being the ‘tensed organiser’..
There were simultaneous talks/ debates happening at 2 big halls and there were the exhibition stalls too..
There was an organic farmer with a tractor load full of water melon, selling them happily on a hot day to all these people who had assembled..
Whether it is ‘sustainable’ or not, there were the rural India’s attraction- pepsicolas and the ice sticks walas..
Sadly there also a local ‘shop keeper’ who thought selling his plastic packaged biscuits and cokes was ‘sustainable’ until one of the organizers saw him and shoo-ed him away:-) but that is the reality..Samanvaya Ram  once surveyed in some south TN villages and found some 300 plastic (SKUs) packets on an average in small village shops too (how true and sad)
There was a exhibition and sale of charaka products..
The Badanwad womens group were showcasing the hand spinning the whole day..
Some looms were also set up to sho case hand weaving..
A bunch of students from Dheenabandhu school, enacted a street play on “colas” “fair and lovely whitener” and “seed business/loss of sovereignty”. they really freaked out..
The best part infact was the potter showing live his skills with a big wheel..that attracted lots of people..
Then there was the “ Kadkolaa” mat that was on display. 3 weavers had set up a simple cool open loom on the road side where they wud display the simple ways of weaving a mat..there was the plant (reed) from which the mats were being woven..the aloe vera fibres were extracted live and spun with “thakli” – the spindles used to spin yarn so easily and efficiently.. this aloe fibre was used in the loom to weave the mat and also to tie the various strands..this was such a big attraction..sadly these were the last 3 men who will be weaving mats..and soon this will die:-(
It’s the case with many other weaving and spinning communities too..
So are many arts..

So a movement has begun..the Badanvalu sathyahgraha  is just the beginning..know more about it..participate in it..initiate such gathering in ur localities/cities/state..
And let us take the sustainable living forward and let our demands be heard by the politicos.


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