What would you do if restaurants in your neighbourhood increase the rates of tea and refreshments out of the blue and cite no reason in particular?
Would you go about sloganeering, declare a strike or hold a fast as part of remonstration or would you let the matter rest and let it be?
In the sylvan town of Koodaranhi in Kozhikode district, Kerala, the farmers were enraged with the sudden rise in prices. However, they came up with a simple idea which should serve as an inspiration to the most intolerant and volatile remonstrators in the country.
To showcase their dissent, these farmers partook in the movement, Janakeeya Prathishedha Chaaya Kada, under which they erected a makeshift teashop on High School Road in the town, which sells tea and a snack for a paltry sum of ₹10!
With the motto ‘Oru Chaayakku Oru Kadi’ (a snack for a tea), the new shop, which is just a week old, already has packs of people flocking to the area and enjoying the customary tea and snacks in the evening.
“Who doesn’t like to have a sizzling cup of tea and fresh snacks served in the evening at a nominal price? The idea of protest struck us when the restaurant owners insulted us, saying ‘take it or leave, we fix the rates.’ We farmers can’t tolerate such insults,” Varghese Karottayil told The Hindu.
Brought into effect by restaurants on December 1, the farmers found that the price of a cup of tea was ₹9 and that of snacks between ₹9 and ₹12, while earlier these were sold for ₹8. For farmers, each rupee was earned at the price of their blood and sweat and the sudden hike felt like a rip in their pockets.
The new stall has been heartily welcomed by labourers and passers-by, who have found this mode of protest quite appealing. Initially, the farmers prepared the tea and snack at their homes after finishing with their farming chores. Now, they have engaged a person to manage the vending, which begins at 4 pm and goes on till the tea and snacks last.
Their peaceful protest brought the issue to Koodaranhi Gram Panchayat’s notice, which advised the restaurants to revert to the old rates.
“The restaurants may have to oblige. We have told them we will not stop the protest. Restaurants and bakeries in neighbouring towns at Mukkom, Karamoola, and Kodencherry sell tea and snacks at old rates. Even a tea and a snack together at a Palayam bus station in Kozhikode city cost only ₹15,” Varghese added.