On October 6th, activist and theatre personality Prasanna, along with other Gandhians, began an indefinite fast for ‘sacred economy’ in Bengaluru. According to the Gram Seva Sangh, ‘sacred economy’ is a system of production in which the maximum number of jobs are created through minimum investment in capital and the least damage to the natural environment.
The hunger strike, which they term as a satyagraha in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, is an “introspection and an expression of social intent”, as the Gram Seva Sangh website puts it. A sacred economy, in their view, would rejuvenate both the economy and nature itself. “It revives community, revives love,” the website says. “Today’s system is the opposite of the sacred. It is a monster economy in nature and size.” At an event on September 15th, Prasanna said, “Gandhi was killed by ignorance, we will revive him through action.”
The satyagraha is to fight for workers in garment factories, anganwadis, municipal corporation, and small traders and vendors, manufacturers, and service sector workers. The Gram Seva Sangh, which is an organization with aims to bridge the urban-village divide, is a supporter of the satyagraha.
In a statement on the website, Prasanna argues that the current economic crisis is a sign that we must shift to a sacred economy. The unprecedented scale of consumption as well as government policies which prioritize bailing out banks mean that the poor and the rural people are neglected. A sacred economy would not afford as much growth as the current system, but it would be a healthier system to live in.
The satyagraha has garnered much attention, with former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and former Prime Minister H.D. Devegowda paying a visit to the hunger strikers at Gandhi Bhavan. The non-violent method of protest for the sacred economy is meant to draw attention from industrialists, government officials, and other influential personalities.
Yesterday, Union Minister Sadananda Gowda visited the protesters and assured Prasanna that he would arrange a meeting with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. On this assurance, Prasanna and the other activists broke their fast.
“The government should give tax discounts to small sectors and producers of handicrafts, not corporates or India Inc. alone,” Prasanna told Indo Asian News Service. In an interview with The Hindu, he argued that Gandhi not only provided political solutions but economic ones. Bringing up Greta Thunberg’s climate change activism, he said that that India still had a chance to be redeemed. “The problem is that the heads are in the city while the hands are in the village,” he pointed out, “We need to integrate the two, bringing discipline and the concepts of the 21st century to villages while making cities sustainable.”
The satyagraha began on October 2nd with relay fasting, and then changed to an indefinite fast, which continued for about a week. The satyagrahis were fasting outside Gandhi Bhavan, Kumara Krupa Road.