* A fictional story.

In a small village not very far from us, lived a family. A joint household living in a place built to last generations.

This modest-looking building had three floors. The ground floor had 8 even-sized rooms surrounding the central courtyard. The first floor had living rooms, spacious kitchen, and storage rooms. The second floor had bedrooms, washrooms, a place for printing and a common area where families could get together. The terrace is where the entire family had dinners every full moon day.

This home housed three generations. The first generation of 3 brothers, Gurunandanji, Ghanshyamji, and Rambabuji married to Lathaji, Gangaji, and Janakiji respectively. These three brothers had 5 children amongst them, all boys, now grown up and married. The second generation of these 5 married men had 7 children amongst them, again all boys. This home was full of people, 23 to be precise and anywhere between 6 months to 65 years old. The sadness which the first generation felt of not having a girl child was fulfilled when they welcomed 5 daughters-in-law to their home and heart.

The first-generation men had retired making way to their children to aspire for something great. Amongst the 5 young earning adults, 2 of them were block printers, one was a textile merchant, the 4th creative one could understand design and have learned block carving, and the youngest educated, a 12th fail, and talkative was good at marketing. They all worked cohesively.

Rambabu the eldest, took all the financial decisions. Though he was strict with the boys, he spoilt all his daughters-in-law with gifts and affection. The 5 men worked hard from their ground floor individual quarters and earned a decent living. Rambabu's 2 younger brothers maintained everyday accounts and were very disciplined. After all the expenditure, a small amount of savings went to a heavy locker meant for rainy days. Everyone in the house had accepted this system and were happy and respectful towards Rambabu and his decisions.

Then came GST.

The customers working with this family started demanding the GST bill and if not they threatened to take their business to a better organized big businessman in town. In spite of not coming under the bracket of GST and to hold on to the already dwindling craft economy, they had to comply with this new rule.

The family hired a chartered accountant to do the needful. He too, with a limited understanding of the overnight imposed rule, registered 5 different businesses under one roof, resulting in all 5 brothers getting different GSTs. Various bank accounts followed this tragedy. Accountants were hired to file nil returns for a price.

A small placard with the family name was replaced by GST numbers, clear demarcation on the ground floor business was drawn, individual doors were greased, new locks were bought. Rambabu lost control on many decision making, his brothers could not maintain accounts anymore, women in the family kept to themselves, and children became silent.

The youngest of all the brothers, apart from selling his in-house production, also started selling fabrics produced by others. As per the market demand, many of the fabrics which he sold were screen-printed and in chemical colors, but he did well for himself. After all, he had to prove his worth and have a better life, like the ones he had seen on TV.

The 4th brother who did the designing was sidelined and hence he helplessly took the decision of working under a design company in a nearby town. Also, there were better schools for his son. He took his parents along and introduced them to western toilets.

The 3rd brother did well in his business and found a new market with cheap fabric, which was not conducive for the other 2 brothers to print. But, he accumulated enough wealth to buy a new house with the help of a bank loan. After all, he didn't want his parents to climb up & down in the old house.

The other 2 brothers, block printers, sailed along without much help from the rest of the family. One of them turned to alcohol and the other took a loan and rented a better place to do retail business. After all, being the eldest he had to show that the family was doing well, at least in front of their relatives.

Rambabu missed his grandchildren and his dinner on a full moon day. His eldest son is thinking of selling the house as its difficult to maintain.

Rambabu's world collapsed. RamRajya had come crashing down.

Disclaimer: All characters, architecture and events, even those based on real people are fictional. Any similarity to an almost dead person or economy is coincidental. This story, as always, is my opinion and meant only for entertainment purposes and the policymakers need not get insulted.

PS: The ones who don't understand the problems of rural craft, challenges of small businesses and wrong policy implementation will always find many stories fictional.


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