The first “star” to arrive at Badanavalu village in Mysuru district, once a prominent centre for khadi and village industries, was Mahatma Gandhi, back in 1932.
He was pleasantly surprised by the success of the khadi centre here run on a 7.5-acre campus. Badanavalu Khadi and Gramodyog Centre was established in 1927 with only four Dalit women, with the intention to uplift the economy of Dalits. Their number increased gradually and the centre introduced other trades. More than 300 women were working during its heydays.
Over a period of time, however, the place saw a decline, with work sheds falling into disuse.
Now, led by theatre personality Prasanna, a group of volunteers have been living in the village and rebuilding the sheds besides holding meetings, workshops, street performances, and visual art campaigns since March 21.
Six padayatras will begin on April 12 from various parts of the State and culminate at Badanavalu for the National Convention for Sustainable Living on April 19. According to Mr. Prasanna, panchayats will be held on different aspects of sustainability throughout that day and there will be exhibitions, sale, demonstrations and prayer meetings at the convention.
Artistes, activists and leaders of various people’s movements are now camping with Mr. Prasanna and joining their hands in temporarily resurrecting the centre which is in a shambles.
“We don’t demand anything from the government, as successive governments have failed in sustainable development. Equally blaming the people for the situation, we want to create awareness among them on the need for sustainable development,” Mr. Prasanna said.
The plan is to expand the movement across the country, using Badanavalu as a symbol. Redesigning Badanavalu, without harming the original design of the existing structure, and making the village a “pilgrimage place” for people who believe in sustainable living were all part of the plan, he explained.