It has been four months since the implementation of the Goods and Services tax, and the magnitude of its repercussions is becoming increasingly evident. As protests gather momentum, music has also become a vehicle for them.

Even though the common tax code has been both praised and criticised across the political spectrum, its impact on the already troubled rural economy is being met with strong resistance in Karnataka.

The movement, dubbed “Tax Denial Satyagraha”, aims to achieve a zero percent charge on handmade goods like handloom yarn and cloth, pottery, mats, baskets and many others under the new GST regime. Due to the hike in prices, artisans and craftsmen have to spend a lot more just to procure raw material, because of which their livelihoods face a new risk.

The protest is now taking shape in the form of music, with MD Pallavi Arun’s support of the movement. In her song (above), a tayavva (mother) in rural Karnataka cries out for help. She is a symbol of a mother-like figure for all the unemployed young men and women of the village, including many groups of labourers, from potters to farmers. In the song, tayavva pleads:

“How do I cook some stew?
Tell me, how do I cook?
Without a few lentils?
Without a spoon of oil?
Without a small portion of meat?
Tell me how?
How do I give fresh mudde to the hungry?    

Support for the protests has poured in from all sides. Theatre veteran Prasanna is staging a five-day hunger strike. He had previously undertaken a 150-km padayatra from Junjappanagudde in Sira taluk of Tumakuru district to Arsikere in Hassan district to create awareness of the impact of the GST on the rural economy. The video below presents more details of the movement.