Ammanur Puraskaram 2019

Prasanna, theatre director, writer, and activist, is one of the pioneers of modern Kannada theatre. He co-founded the influential theatre group, Samudaya, in the 1970s. He has directed plays in Kannada, Hindi, Punjabi, and English for various theatre repertories including National School of Drama, New Delhi, Rangmandal, Bhopal and Rangayana, Mysore. He has written several plays in Kannada including Tadroopi and Haddu Meerida Haadi and has recently adapted Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj for Kannada theatre. He has also written Desiya Jeevana Paddati (The Practices of Desi Life, 2005), Yantragalannu Kalachona Banni (Unclasping Ourselves from Machines, 2009), Desiya Aaahara Paddati (The Traditions of Desi Food, 2013) and Indian Method in Acting (2013), a pioneering effort at interpreting the methods of modern Indian theatre. Prasanna is also the founder of Charaka, a women’s co-operative in Bhimanakone, Sagara Taluk.

Now Charaka is the largest naturally dyed handloom fabric producer in India. Which gives employment for around 600 people in Shivmogga and North Karnataka region whose products are found at Desi outlets in Bengaluru and elsewhere in Karnataka.

On dilution of Handloom Reservation act 1985 and the pathetic condition of Weavers in Karnataka and Across India, he coordinated the handloom satyagraha movement in India from 2013 Jan till 2014 Feb. Later He again started Handloom Satyagraha as State won’t fulfill the promises made on 2014 Oct. After all the successive struggle to save handloom weavers on the realization that as sectarians we cannot make the Govt’s to consider the alternative Gram Swaraj movements seriously, he led a consolidation of all rural constructive movements and workers across Karnataka.

Which in 2015 resulted as “Badanval Satyagraha” the Satyagraha convened a “National Convention of Sustainable Living” where thousands of people gathered and many constructive movements came together and understood the need of fighting together.;

Badanval Satyagaraha later meetings and interaction to revive the Rural clusters became the origin for the organization called Gram Seva Sangh, Prasanna Mentored this organization aiming to bridge the urban youths to rural constructive work. This experiment made Bangalore chapter to start a Rural Weekend Market called “Ragi Kana” to voluntarily construct and run by Gram Seva Sangh in collaboration with Hulkul Muniswamappa and Munivenkattappa Charitable Trust, Near Gottigere, Bengaluru. It became the place to convey even the idea of the village along with helping rural producer organizations to provide marketplace. It’s been more than a year this Ragi Kana is running successfully.

Later as GST implemented across India, he realized its insensitive implementation and not considered the process of making any products, made a huge bad impact on all the Handmade products still produced in larger parts of rural India. This led to start a movement called “Tax Denial Satyagraha” by selling the Handmade products in public without paying and collect GST on handmade products as protest demanding to withdraw GST implementation on all the Handmade Products in 2017. Protest, Padayatra’s, Play, Cultural Protest been organized over year by Gram Seva Sangh under the mentorship of him. Later Prasanna sat on Hunger Satyagraha on the 6th Day State responded to movement agreeing to write to Central Finance minister. Later Central Govt agreed to lift GST on 29 Handmade products but it is yet not implemented.

As due to the political context in the country which is creating more violence in the name of religion, to bring Religious tolerance and Gram Swaraj now Prasanna is leading the SocioculturalMovement called Hey Ram! (last word uttered by Gandhi). Through which we are organizing cultural programmes and recently done a National level “Literary Meet for Tolerance” in Bengaluru, later planning to take it the same across Karnataka. It is based on the realization that Gram Swaraj as been set aside by pushing the Religious extremism by political establishments and it is aggravated now. He also led recently in Aug 2018 a Handloom Satyagrha again when the KHDC(Karnataka Handloom Development Corporation) is under the great neglect of State Govt in the current budget and this leading to already neglected North Karnataka region poor to loss his livelihood resources like Agriculture and Handloom production. Now debates on the Agriculture and Handloom should lead the North Karnataka Development he is trying to attempt. Last Oct 2nd, 2018 on 150th Kasturba and Mahatma Gandhi anniversary organized a “Mass Youth Satyagaraha” by hundreds of youth, where they fasted one day to send the loud message of Gram Swaraj and Religious Tolerance in Ravindra Kalakshetra campus, Bengaluru. Recently Karnataka Government has awarded him by Mahatma Gandhi Seva for the year 2018 recognizing his rural constructive work and activism.

The 2019 Ammannur Award presented in association with the International Theatre Festival of Kerala is the artistic community of Kerala paying homage to this theatrical luminary.

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