Singhu is King - A Desi Tadka All Its Own
An inconclusive marathon 'Kabaddi' match between the farmers and the Sarkar is playing in full view of the Indian nation! And now it is the cynosure of global eyes too. With families of Punjabi farmers spread across the world, the moral support is brimming from California to Canada and from Manchester to Melbourne. The tiller's connection with the good earth can never be sundered.
The peaceful protests at the borders of our capital city refuse to be washed or wished away with water cannons. It will not be 'contained' with a blockade of 'containers'.
The Punjab farmers are out in full strength at the borders braving the winter chill at Singhu, Tikri and Chilla, and many more entry points to Delhi. So Haryana, Rajasthan and U.P. farmers along with some from Tamil Nadu are all standing united in their protest against the new farm laws. Maharashtra farmers have called for ' Chalo Dilli '.
Sleeping in their tractor trolleys or under the trucks or in mushroomed tents on the roads, the protestors are unfazed. They are the true salt of the earth. Sadly some have even died because of intense cold or accidents on the way, but all this is borne without any rancour.
So intense is the empathy for the cause that a Sikh preacher from Karnal shot himself dead unable to bear the pain at Singhu. This is 'Udta Punjab', not of drugs and degradation, but an Udta Punjab flying high with solidarity and determination.
There is a unique flavour to the farmers' protest. A 'Desi Tadka' all its own, that can never be replicated anywhere in the world. No rural-urban divide here. Sharing food without class consciousness and a steely resolve to carry on no matter what is overwhelming. Women and children have also threaded together a support system by pitching in to help whichever way they can. All this has earned them huge respect.
Now even the non- tillers from diverse fields are joining the protests in open admiration. Poets, artists, national awardees in sports, actors and just common people are lending their support. The golden tenet of Sikhs to volunteer help, kar seva, is in full play. Volunteers run laundromats, clinics and foot and back massaging services for the old.
Even a 4-page bi-weekly newsletter in Gurmukhi/Hindi called 'Trolley Times' and the constant sustenance of langars carries on with clock-work precision. Humanity at its best!
People-power pitted against State-power in our vibrant democracy needs a dialogue to be scripted anew. All that the farmer wants is a sympathetic ear to assuage his fears. Speak to him without condescension and he will understand.
It is the robust and hardworking Punjabi farmers who rid us of the image of India sustaining itself on ship-to-mouth wheat imported from America under PL-480 until the sixties. Being branded as Khalistanis at these protests is indeed an unkind cut. To add insult to injury, the social media trolls bemoan the fact that the farmers were served a pizza langar by some volunteers not in keeping with the farmer's image, whatever that means. Unbeknownst to these uninformed trolls, pizza, with a wheat base, originated in Naples, Italy as a quick food for the poor working class there.
The negotiations with the Centre in a logjam so far, we may just have a new referee to blow the whistle on this tied tug-of-war. The Supreme Court has stepped in to resolve this impasse by suggesting an experts' panel to examine the demands on both sides. The farmers are earthy, tough and call a spade a spade. So any obfuscation and a rigid stand will not work. Reaching out, will.
Singh was always King but 'Singhu' is a close competitor now!
Cover Photograph Mohit Dock