The above picture was published in The Print on 28th November 2020 when farmers had reached the borders of Delhi by breaking barricades in Haryana to protest against the three farming Bills. It shows Indian Prime Minister Narinder Modi and the Home Minister Amit Shah on the left side, and farmers on the right. What made me curious about the picture is that the confrontation is shown essentially between Sikhs and the Central Government. My article is an attempt to understand this confrontation through the role of Sikh memory in the protest.
Author: Dr. Amardeep Kaur Lecturer, Canadian Studies Program, University of Toronto The Sikh street practice of nagar kirtan – consisting of musical processions, political assemblies, and langar distribution – have grown phenomenally during April’s Vaisakhi season. With that have come challenges as celebrators, often male elites, carve out a place and spotlight for their own…
Author: Kumool Abbi (firstname.lastname@example.org) Professor at Punjab University, Chandigarh The participation of women in the farmers’ agitation had added a unique dimension to the movement. The statistics have shown that women have been actively participating in the agitation and have become the symbolic face of the protest. The agitation brought out the invisibility of the…
The fifth players who have recently entered the political arena are the 22 farmers unions which spearheaded the year-long agricultural protest symbolized by the “discipline of the states left and the Sikh fighting spirit” (India Today Dec 28, 2021). This includes the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha under the leadership of Balbir Singh Rajewal. While “transforming itself into a political group” the morcha avoided the word “party” in its “political nomenclature” instead making an “attempt to preserve the character of the movement where it stemmed off” (India Today Dec. 28, 2021).
A very interesting and sociologically significant development during the Punjab election was the sudden death of actor turned activist Deep Sidhu in a car accident. In his death he acquired cult status among the Sikhs and almost attained the glory of a ‘martyr’ for the community. In a surreal reversal of events his untimely death redeemed him before the guilty community which venerated him to the status of a ‘Yodha’ (saint soldier), who gained nothing but staked all for the sake of the community and single handedly carried forward ‘the hond di ladai’ (fight for existence). A series of tributes from artists, religious and political personalities as well as fans have been flooding the internet.
As the major factors that dominate the Punjab election this time emerge, the core arenas of concern for Punjab perennially deal with “panthic issues” as well as “the ever present issue of regional autonomy and identity” (Jodhka 2022, 20). Thus the triumvirate of “caste, religion and region” are significant “indicators” to grapple the “political realities and trends in Punjab” (Judge 2022, 62).
The Punjab consists of three prominent geographical, cultural and political regions comprising Majha between the rivers Beas and Ravi, Doaba between the Sutlej and Beas rivers and the Malwa beyond the left bank of the Sutlej River.
While political analysts are conducting surveys and opinion polls to gauge the public mood on how Punjab will vote. I will use popular culture as a medium to feel the pulse of the people. In fact, popular culture indicates a different mood, wary and circumspect about the reality of the politicians. The sampled popular songs are more skeptical, reflecting a deep cynicism and disillusionment with mainstream political parties and a general apprehension of the intent and dubious ways of the political leaders. Here Kanwar Grewal, the voice of the farmers’ protest who had warned the simple farmers about the misdeeds of the politicians, continues playing his vanguard role. In his latest song “Hoka” released February 13th, 2022 he almost laments the state of affairs and pleads to the people to vote in such a judicious way that Punjab is saved from dying. Here are some selections from October 2020 to the present.
The 2022 Punjab assembly elections are till now characterized by a sense of anticipation, uniqueness and hope. As Narayan has pointed out “Every election In India appears as a new text, asking to be read differently, but most times we end up reading them in conventional ways. Social reality and people’s aspirations are changing continuously” (Times Of India Jan. 9, 2022).
Although there is hardly any media attention on the role of ex-PM Dr. Manmohan Singh at this critical contemporary moment, he continues to provide us with exemplary lessons to follow. Firstly, as the Covid-19 crisis continues in India, Dr. Singh has been dedicated to continually making visionary administrative decisions that, unfortunately, finds no space in the ‘oppositional’ form of today’s governance.