The decisions on economic policy taken by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance Government at the Centre in the second half of its rule has hit the rural economy in a hard way, said theatre personality and Gandhian Prasanna here on Sunday.

During his interaction with a group of people at the University College auditorium, Mr. Prasanna said that while the BJP is being discussed for its hardline religious agenda not much is being said about its economic policy that has caused serious damage to the rural economy.

Mr. Prasanna said that handloom products in the State have always generated good revenue for rural artisans and there was never a drop in business in the last 25 years. But, this year, the artisans have been hit hard by the economic policy of the NDA government that has brought down the business by 30 %, he said.

Dastakar, a Society of Crafts and Crafts of people from Andhra Pradesh, and craftsmen across the country have been affected, he said.

“The government says that there will be zero Goods and Services Tax (GST) on handicrafts and then asks craftsmen to file returns on a regular basis. It also asks them to computerise their operations and take services of chartered accountants,” Mr. Prasanna said.

He said that the condition of handloom weavers have come to such a pass that their material were not being loaded onto lorries.

Mr. Prasanna said that he, along with other activists, are fighting for the rights of these rural artisans. They are planning to broad-base their fight with “Hey Ram” campaign against the hardline agenda of a section of Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

Mr. Prasanna said that the fundamentalist attitude of the hardliners from the three communities can only be tackled by a mellowed voice to be provided in this campaign.

Under this campaign, people will be shown the real face of Lord Ram in the epic, the Ramayana. People largely have an image of Lord Ram as shown in the television serial on the Ramayana, while there was not much awareness about Lord Ram’s compassion for the poor and his commitment to social justice.

Not only the Ramayana, Mr. Prasanna said, similar values present in the Bible and Quran should also reach the people. “Such an exercise is much needed in Dakshina Kannada where Dalits and Mogaveeras are falling prey to the agenda of fundamentalist forces,” he said.

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