21
Feb

Farmers Protest: International Language Day

   Posted by: aman   in Other, Punjab

Day 88

Toll 250

Missing 16

Arrested 143 – 23 got bail yesterday, earlier bails too, many still in prison.

#FarmersProtest

International Language Day

For a long time now, the Panjabi language is in crises. Each year on this day language activists talk about the actions we must take to keep the language alive, help it grow. These actions are to include Panjabi in schools – many schools in Panjab, especially convent ones encourage Hindi over Panjabi – better writing and translations for children and adult readers, encouraging women to learn the language and keep the tradition of mother tongue, and so on.

The crises in Panjabi is not unlike other non-English languages in this increasingly globalised world or non-state promoted languages such as Hindi which for some reason many assume to be India’s national language when the Constitution states all languages in India are of equal status.

However, there are also reasons why Panjabi suffers in particular: it goes back to Partition of 1947 when speakers of the same language were divided, like in Bengal; to the reasons why Panjabi Suba movement (1956-66) took place when the National Commission of Languages did not accept the 900-year old Panjabi language as an independent language and in East Panjab the Hindu and the Sikh communities, instigated by the Hind Samachar group of newspapers, divided themselves over language which led to another tri-furcation of East Panjab into Haryana, parts of Himachal Pradesh and drastically reduced the Panjab region.

However, I believe the ongoing farmers protests this year presents a few language related facts which must be highlighted. It also poses questions to the government.

1. The brilliant bridging of the gap between Haryana and Panjab which had separated over language issues.

2. Initially in the protests, almost every communication, verbal or written, was in Panjabi. As the protests grew, this created an environment where non-Panjabis sought to know or even learn some Panjabi. Best exemplified by the twitter spat between Diljit Dosanjh and Kangana Ranaut.

3. So much new Panjabi protest music came out of the protests. At one count around 500 songs in three months that took Panjabi in very native but unfamiliar ways into the world. I say native because resistance is part of Panjab’s DNA. Unfamiliar because this music threw off the tropes of music popular until recently.

Personally, I believe, any language can thrive when it is associated with markets, when it helps people make a living. Else, people move to other languages which they believe will help them earn a living. The neglect and apathy towards Panjabi language in Panjab itself is mostly because it is difficult to make a living in Panjabi language alone which points to the economy of the state.

Here we need to notice that Panjabi is not the language of India Panjab alone, of around 3 crore people. It is actually the language of over 10 crore people, including Panjabi speakers in Pakistan Panjab, and the very vibrant Diaspora from both East and West Panjab. Panjabi is the 10th largest language in the world. Nation states with far fewer language speakers are able to help their languages thrive. Why should then Panjabi languish?

This is where Farm laws come in. Right from the beginning, the government has been saying ‘farmers are now free to sell their produce anywhere’. If that be the case, are farmers allowed to sell across the border? To Pakistan, to Afghanistan, to Iran and Balkans and East Europe? That is what will help create a market. This will truly benefit Panjabi language and its speakers. Panjab’s rice travels 3,000 kms to Kerala but can’t travel a few kilometers neighbouring countries! Just because a foreign lawyer drew a line and the current government is well served by stoking fires with the neighbours?

Sad to say, we know what the government intends. Today, is the 100th anniversary of the historic Nankana Sahib Massacre that took place in 1921 as part of the Akali led Gurdwara Movement. A movement, which when it succeeded through non-violent means and after hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries, Gandhi christened as the ‘first fight of India’s freedom’. Yet, the government has not allowed groups from Panjab to travel to Nanakana Sahib in Pakistan to pay respect and homage. The government has still not re-opened the Kartarpur Sahib corridor.

This is how the nation state curtails its own people, hampers the growth of the language of its people. This is why the farmers protest – for rights to farm land and produce, for rights to language and culture, for rights to life itself.

17
Feb

Farmers Protest: Disha – Direction

   Posted by: aman   in Other, Punjab

Day 84

Toll 236

Missing 16

Jailed 132 (including veterans. Some out on bail. Lawyers pursuing other cases)

#FarmersProtest

Disha – Direction

Now that quite justifiably urban middle class is outraged over Disha Ravi’s improper arrest from Bangalore by a special police force from Delhi, where are we on the original farmers protest?

Note the chronology. In that note how each event was a further distraction from the issue of Farm Laws. Timeline:

- 22nd January: 11th round of farmers talks with government fail. Farmers reject the government’s proposal to postpone implementation of Farm Laws by 18 months. Insist on repeal.

- 23rd January: Samyukt Kisan Morcha, in consultation with Delhi police, uni-laterally decides to change route for Tractor March.

- 25th January: Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee announces it will march on original announced route – on Delhi’s Ring Road.

- 26th January: chaos, Nishan Sahib on Red Fort, major false allegations of Khalistan Flag hoisted. Tricolour untouched, no desecration of historical premises, even in FIRs lodged by police 17 hours after incident.

- 27th January: 31 January: SMK on backfoot, major blame game on, debate on whether Navreet was shot or not, sedition charges on journalists, cases on farmer union leaders. Hundreds arrested comes to light. Singhu protest site wobbly.

- 28th January: Rakesh Tikait holds forth in Ghazipur. Thousands of farmers from Haryana and UP respond to his late-night call, reach Delhi. Sikhs saved from another 1984.

- 29th January: Goons attack KMSC stage, 40-50 injured. Cracks between SKM and KMSC apparent. Hundreds still missing.

- 1st February: Police barricades Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur. Internet intermittent on sites. Electricity and water cut. Food shortages.

- 2nd February: Rihanna, Greta, Meena, other celebrities and activists tweet. Indian film stars and sportspeople respond though boiler plate tweets. MEA issues notice, calls world outrage an ‘internal matter’ for India.

- 3rd-8th February: Farce debate in Parliament. Laws are already passed. PM labels protesters, government declares it is firm on Laws. Nodeep issue rises. Meanwhile Greta tweets ‘toolkit’ – a high school level template for action that government calls seditious, files an FIR. ‘Chakka Jam’ call by unions hugely successful at 3000 places around country.

- 9th February: Deep Sidhu arrested as ‘main instigator’ behind Red Fort flag fracas. Reward for Lakha Sidhana.

- 12 February: Rajasthan Toll Tax boycott successful, ongoing.

- 13 February night: Disha Ravi picked up over tool-kit.

- 14 February: Major middle-class outrage. Candle Light March in honour of Pulwama martyrs meets tepid response in cities.

- 30th January – ongoing: Protests sites back in strength. Major mahapanchayats in northern states, lakhs commit to oppose Laws.

I understand urban middle class are finally now waking up that if Disha can be arrested, their children or they themselves also can be arrested. As I said earlier, anyone, coming from any side in solidarity with farmers protests is welcome. But do notice how many distractions the government threw in since January 26th – Hindu vs Sikh, Sikh vs Left, Union vs Union, Politicians vs People, BJP vs others, twitter battles, MEA stepping in, FIRs, arrests … If the protests are a game of cards, each distraction is a Joker. Each distraction can spin the core protests.

Ask yourselves how we could have avoided these distractions if we were together from the beginning? You see the vortex of all issues is the same – arrogance and apathy of the government and the structural and direct violence it has unleashed. Many, many of us have suffered it. Some think they are immune, but actually it will come into each of our homes – sooner or later. Most likely, sooner.

That is exactly why we must join together else each of us will be individually minced. Imagine, just imagine, if we were to force a repeal on laws, what space that would open, how much more we will be able to achieve. What would it do to the arrogance of the regime? But for that, we need to be together. After all, whichever suffering group we might be, we all eat food.

PS: the timeline I provided is from recent memory, before we lose count. Apologies for any errors. Please suggest corrections.

12
Feb

Farmers Protest: Pulwama Martyrs

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Day 78

Toll 227

Missing 123 (official, estimates 300+)

Jailed 131 (including veterans, not reconciled with above 123. Some out on bail.)

#FarmersProtest

Pulwama Martyrs

A few days back we pointed at structural violence. Last few days, show us exactly how such violence is enacted from the Parliament – through apathy and banality. When some speeches like that of Jha, Abdulla, Moitra, et al went viral, we need to ask ourselves why we liked them. Is it because those thoughts are in our minds as well and we were happy to see these leaders voice them? That is quite understandable. But the question still is: have those speeches undone the horrors mentioned? Basically, is language all or should it not change

The PM’s response settled it all when he said the Laws will not be forced down on farmers but will open an option for them – they can choose to take it or reject the changes envisaged. He claimed, the Laws will help a lot of farmers, they could not help some too, but they are the need of the hour and must be implemented.

The speech showed that not only does authority understand structural violence, it is also deliberately inflicting such violence on the masses. The PM said, those who do not benefit from the laws are free to discuss their difficulties with the government. Well, those who will not benefit are standing at Delhi’s door for last two and a half months. They are repeatedly thwarted. 11 rounds of talks – of which first three rounds were clause by clause discussion – have failed. When the farmers bring up issues, their concerns are denied mostly on two basis:

- Laws do not say the 7,000 odd government APMCs (Mandis) will be closed down. Yes, Laws do not say that, but when 40,000 private Mandis come up through tax holidays, they will invert the system. Just like it happened in the Health and Education sector. This is structural violence.

- Minimum Support Price will stay. Then why not give it in writing, make it a Law? Because when government says MSP will stay, it means for 6% farmers on 2-3 crops. When system is collapsing, initially private players will pay more, MSP too will collapse. The demand is: MSP stays not for 6% farmers but all farmers, all over the nation, on 23 crops. Unless the government agrees to this demand, it continues to perpetuate structural violence.

This is the myth of the Free Market. The fact is these Laws are meant to benefit two major players: one for storage, another for retail of farm produce. This will not create a free market but a duopoly – rule of two big business houses.

The question really is to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. Soon RSS is completing a century. In this century it has held an alternative model of India. Its model of India started with apologies to the British, then ban by the Indian government, then hijacking the Emergency struggle, and finally executing electoral victories. Their so called crowning glory was last seven years. We all know the duo who rule India are a populist dictator face of the RSS. Yet, now they have moved away from the RSS agenda to benefit their sponsors – the big businesses. Is this what RSS envisaged? A crony capitalist takeover of India? RSS being used to further the sell out of India?

Finally, in all this is our urban middle class. A few weeks back when experiencing the Delhi cold, the wash away and resurrection of Ghazipur in early January brutal winter rains, I simply posted: where are the candle marchers? For a simple question I was trolled in liberal circles. I know right wingers troll me, but even liberals?

Okay, dear middle class, here is your opportunity. Samyukt Kissan Morcha and AIKSCC have given a call for a candle light march on February 14 for the Pulwama martyrs. Yes, the same martyrs whose death stunned us because there should have been much greater security. How did 80 kg RDX that caused the blast reach the sepoy convoy is still an open question. Later, we learnt Arnab Goswami gloated on the deaths because he sensed the gruesome tragedy leading to a Hindutva win in 2019 general elections.

It is time to mourn those jawans. Would middle class come out? Will we help change reality or just appreciate these brilliant speeches in Parliament that finally amount to nothing?

Your call.

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12
Feb

Farmers Protest: 99 ZU EINS, Berlin

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Dear Friends,

in the absence of mainstream media covering the #FarmersProtest adequately, I am thankful that Nadim Sarrouh from 99 ZU EINS, Berlin talked in detail with me on the Farmers Protest.

Please see here …

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12
Feb

Farmers Protest: TRT World, Turkey

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Dear Friends,

Sometimes, head nods speak louder than words.

Last night, on a TRT World, Turkey TV panel discussion, a BJP spokesman Gopal Krishna Agarwal said the government is ‘ready to legalise MSP, give it in writing’! All our ears went up. What? What is this claim on foreign TV? Why has it never been stated in Indian media, in official statements?

It took Ali Mustafa, the host, a little probing for the spokesman to quickly shift from ‘give in writing’ to ‘discussion’ to ‘as MSP stands today’ which as you know is at 6 per cent of all India farmers. Not wanting to say so on foreign TV, but in the larger interest of world learning the BJP government’s flip flop, I had to state it up front.

Please listen to Prof Ashok Swain, Mr Aggarwal and me. 26.25 minutes.

Please listen here …

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12
Feb

Farmers Protest: A News, Turkey

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Dear Friends,

a few days back, A News, Turkey interviewed me briefly on the ongoing #FarmersProtest in India.
Here is what I spoke. 8 mins.

Please see here …

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This was a news story that appeared on January 27, a day after the Red Fort flag fracas. I am posting it late because I discovered it late. The Mint had asked me my opinion and has reproduced it here.

Please read here …

12
Feb

Boom Live: On Flag Controversy

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Dear Friends,

Boom Live also tweeted my comments on the flag controversy on Republic Day. I am not a theologian so feels odd to have to comment on religious symbolism. Yet, the need was to keep up the narrative.

Please see here …

Tags:

9
Feb

Farmers Protest: Tikri’s Andolanjeevis

   Posted by: aman   in Other, Punjab

Day 76

Toll 219

Missing 123 (official, could be 300-500)

Jailed 128 (not reconciled with above 123)

#FarmersProtest

Tikri’s Andolanjeevis

In all the hullabaloo from Singhu and Ghazipur – Samyukt Kisan Morcha and Rakesh Tikait – news of all these Mahapanchayats, communities across religious and caste lines rising, just remember the third vertex of the protests – Tikri.

Farmers at Tikri are mostly from BKU Ekta Ugrahan, BKU Chaduni, Haryana Khaps, and others. While tenacity, resourcefulness and fatalism are defining characteristics of farmers in general, the Tikri ones are shaped through long years of struggle against various state policies and atrocities. They know that instead of expending energy on daily newsy stuff, they need to conserve energy for the long haul.

In BKU EU’s view, this protest – ghol in Panjabi – is not just about Laws and MSP or Human Rights violations, but stands in opposition to the entire structure of the neo-liberal state apparatus. That is why the struggle is not until October 2nd as Tikait said, or 2024 as Pandher said. The real struggle is much longer though it will keep changing tactics and strategies. For now, BKU EU has dug in its heels and when all this hullabaloo settles you will still see it standing – pahad warge honsle, said Kanwar Grewal in a song. Courage like mountains!

Grewal’s song Ailaan, which had garnered 13 million hits, seems to have been taken off YouTube. It has again been uploaded by the producers. I feel such pity for those who believe they can control the voice of those struggling. Not only have they not learnt anything from history, they also suffer the worst delusion – invincibility. Ailaan or other songs have sunk into public consciousness, they live in the hearts of protesters. What will the powers do? Remove the hearts? Decimate memory? Just like they have done to themselves?

It was the same approach in Parliament yesterday when Modi coined a new term Andolanjeevi. Overnight the term has been spoofed so much. It is amazing how since BJP was formed in 1980, has been in power in the Centre for nearly 15 years (Congress has been in power 22 years) suddenly BJP now labels any Opposition to itself in the same trope as anti-national. Whether it was its parent organisation RSS or Jana Sangh, they were always in Opposition to the Congress view of India. They did not even adopt the Tricolour until Vajpayee convinced them to use it early 2000s. Now suddenly those who oppose your sell-out of India to corporates have to be labelled?

During the Freedom Struggle, the freedom fighters were andolanjeevi while BJP parent organization leaders were writing mercy petitions to British; during Emergency the Janata Parivar, from which BJP split – along with Akalis whose contribution they do not acknowledge – were andolanjeevi. 40,000 out of above 1 lakh arrested and jailed during Emergency were Akalis. Unlike RSS who wrote pardon letters to Indira Gandhi, the Akalis refused any compromise and Panjab suffered greatly as a consequence in 1980s-90s. Yet, Modi has the gall to term the farmers who sustain the nation as andolanjeevi.

The core issue, as revealed by 7 years of mis-rule, is that Hindutva has no talent except clever usage of language. Now the earth on which they stand has challenged them and they are clueless on what do with the burgeoning voice rising against them. Hence, these silly language games. That is all they know, inversion of language. But truth is beyond language. They can maul history, create new terms, but the earth speaks, the winds are blowing. Sadly, their arrogance does not allow them to feel or listen.

These language games won’t work. This censoring never worked. It just shows the obstinacy of those in power. The more rigid they get, the greater will be their fall. We shall all watch that happen.

8
Feb

Farmers Protest: Meo Rising

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 75

Toll 214

Missing 123 (official, could be more)

Jailed 120 (not reconciled with above 123)

#FarmersProtest

Meo Rising

Yesterday, the Mewat region, south Haryana, rose in defiance to the Farm Laws. At a huge gathering in Nuh, the Muslims, Rajputs, and Jats came together in lakhs. This is significant because the easy and simplistic Hindu-Muslim binary through which Hindutva has tried to divide society for the last many years is now thoroughly challenged.

From Babur to the British, the Meo Muslims have a long history of resistance. In 1947, during the Partition of India, despite pressure by the princely states of Alwar and Bharatpur, who ruled in the region, the Meo community decided not to migrate to Pakistan. In practice, the Meo Muslims follow many Hindu customs such as not marrying within the same gotra, naming conventions, celebrating Diwali and Holi alongside two Eids (Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha).

In spite of such a rich syncretic culture, in 2017, under the present dispensation’s covert encouragement, Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer and Meo Muslim was lynched in Alwar by self-styled cow vigilantes. Pehlu Khan’s real name was Pappu Khan. His father’s name was Roop Singh, his grandfather was Bhoop Singh and his great grandfather’s was Chand Singh. This lynching had sent a worry across the 60 lakh strong Meo Muslim community who had always considered this land as home and had gloriously risen in the past many centuries to defend it.

The huge presence of women in yesterday’s gathering addressed by Chaduni and AIKSCC leaders is an assertion of the fact that divisive politics will fail, the masses have seen through the attempts to divide them. Farmers who till the land are also uniting this land.

After all, as Rahat Indori Sa’ab said, in translation:

All our blood is mixed in this earth

Hindustan does not belong to any one (community)