A take on Farmers’ protest

It is a difficult topic to write about so I am just going to jot down some thoughts that come to mind when I think about this whole movement. Our generation hasn’t really seen anything like this in their lives. The scale, the way it was organised and sustained is an example in itself. Now when their demands have been met and they are going back, it is also a lesson on how to organise a protest and put your point of view across without resorting to any unconstitutional ways or means. Lakhs of people came together to protest with a single agenda; asking for rollback of laws and a law on MSP. It went on for an year and it is not easy to sustain a protest for that long. Imagine lakhs of people living on the roads and to arrange for all their daily needs. It takes some spirit to be able to sustain it. Few things that i think have been unique with this protest:

  • I think for me the biggest take away is the fact that there exists a huge, huge disconnect between urban class’s understanding of rural issues and the ground reality. Taking example of this protest, most of the folks who are into agriculture were with the protest and the new era desh bhagts were calling them terrorists and so on. They claim to understand the farmers’ problem better than farmers themselves. That is simply ridiculous.
  • Most of the people who were supporting the farm laws were basically BJP supporters and they were supporting BJP, not these laws. When they support BJP, support automatically comes for anything being done by BJP, irrespective of the fact that it is worth supporting or not. That is the sad part of politics in this country. No issues based support or opposition.
  • Taking advantage of the pandemic and the majority that they have, they bulldozed these laws through the parliament. But it is for the first time that the government was challenged like this. They may have expected some resistance but I don’t think they expected anything of this scale. The way the resistance was organised was unique. The scale of it created tremendous pressure on the government.
  • People stayed united throughout the movement. There were no talk of where you come from and what religion you have. Everyone made sure to support each other at every point in the movement.
  • Govt used all kinds of means to defame the movement especially on social media. Farmers gave it back wherever there was a propaganda being done. Daily there used to be a Twitter trend about farmers’ concerns. So by being active on social media, not only they were able to put and end to the propaganda being run by the trolls, they also successfully put their own point of view forward.
  • It started from Punjab but soon gathered support from other states especially Haryana when they were trying to enter Delhi. Then the support from other states like UP, Uttrakhand and Rajasthan proved to be critical to sustain the protest.
  • A lot of people from outside Punjab couldn’t figure how can they provide free meals for so many people for an year. I am not surprised. Everyone would feel like that unless you know about the concept of langar. In Punjab and in India, tens of thousands of people eat for free at different Gurudwaras/temples daily and that continues for the whole year. All of this comes from the ration/money given by sangat (folks who give money and ration). Simply put, this was another langar they had to run and they did it. No rocket science there.
  • Sewa bhaav (the will to serve/help the needy) can make you do wonders. There were thousands of people who helped in this movement but one name that comes to my mind is Dr Swaiman Singh. He spent a full year here and helped the movement in multiple ways right from treating the sick to keeping everyone in high spirits. People like him are our pride.

In the end, the sad part about this whole thing is that it does no wonders for making the farmers’ situation better. At the expense of an year of protest and loss of hundreds of lives, it just restores the status quo and saves them from corporate exploitation. Also, these laws may come back in some shape and form in the future. Specifically Punjab may have to pay the price for holding this resistance but then that’s what we have been doing for ages; standing against the wrong. Reminds me of Gurbhajan Gill’s lines

ਗਰਦਨ ਸਿੱਧੀ ਰੱਖਣ ਦਾ ਮੁੱਲ ਤਾਰ ਰਹੇ ਹਾਂ,
ਬੇਸ਼ਰਮਾਂ ਦਾ ਨੀਵੀਂ ਪਾ ਕੇ ਸਰ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ।

gardan sidhi rakhaN da mull taar rahe haan,
besharma’n da neevi’n paa ke sar janda hai.

Featured image taken from here

mitti da bawa isn’t written by Shiv

Folk songs can be centuries old. They are passed from one generation to another. Many times, the areas of origin are known but who wrote it remains unknown. Yesterday I was in a ClubHouse room and someone sang mitti da bawa (Originally sung by Jagjit Singh & Chitra Singh). She also mentioned that it is written by Shiv. I had my doubts as Shiv was a recent poet and such a thing would of course be documented somewhere. I checked his complete poetry collection and as expected it was not there. That led me to turn to Google and all over the internet it was the same information that it has been written by Shiv.

Today I got a chance to spend some more time on this and came to know that it was originally recorded for a movie called Diva Bale Sari Raat. The movie was made by Harpal Tiwana and Chitra Singh sung it for that movie. The music was done by Jagjit Singh. The movie audio album covers attribute the lyrics to Harpal Tiwana. But it is well known that these lines are part of a lori and they are very old. This video by Deepti Naval mentions that it is a Balochistan folk song. So it could have been a omission on their part to not accurately attribute it. I put the same question to Amardeep Gill (Punjabi lyricist, poet and filmmaker) and he also confirmed that it is almost a century old folk. So it is very much a part of Punjabi Folk and most definitely not written by Shiv.

What I couldn’t understand is how could it have been attributed to Shiv in the first place. Shiv did write a poem with a similar title but it is different and goes like “sajjan ji asi’b mittRi de baawe”

Heer Waris Shah – PaRchol te Visthaar

If you are familiar with Heer Waris Shah you would know that in an attempt to make it the “biggest” Heer, many publishers got new verses written in the name of Waris Shah and completely spoiled the original text. This continued for decades till the research work dedicated to cleaning the text of this garbage was undertaken in both Punjabs and an authentic version was published. To give you an example, a very famous band, sung by many singers ਡੋਲੀ ਚੜ੍ਹਦਿਆਂ ਮਾਰੀਆਂ ਹੀਰ ਚੀਕਾਂ ਮੈਨੂੰ ਲੈ ਚਲੇ ਬਾਬਲਾ ਲੈ ਚਲੇ ਵੇ isn’t written by Waris Shah. Even Gulzar fell for it when he included it in the album called “Heer by Abida” he did with Abida Parveen

Now coming to why I am posting this, I got this book by Bakhshish Singh Nijjar a decade ago but never really got a chance to read it. This is a book of 500 pages and that was the reason I got it as I wanted to understand Heer Waris Shah in detail.

Finally, now, for a week or so, it was on my desk and I spent some time reading some random pages and it seems to be based on one such “sab ton waddi” edition of Heer. It contains such surprisingly vahiyaat stuff. See, for example this band supposedly about a dialogue between Ranjha turned Jogi and Sehti:

Same author has also published Heer Waris Shah text in a separate book and here is a look at the first band:

We all know that first band in original text is just this much:

ਅੱਵਲ ਹਮਦ ਖ਼ੁਦਾਇ ਦਾ ਵਿਰਦ ਕੀਜੇ, ਇਸ਼ਕ ਕੀਤਾ ਸੂ ਜੱਗ ਦਾ ਮੂਲ ਮੀਆਂ ।
ਪਹਿਲੇ ਆਪ ਹੈ ਰਬ ਨੇ ਇਸ਼ਕ ਕੀਤਾ, ਮਾਸ਼ੂਕ ਹੈ ਨਬੀ ਰਸੂਲ ਮੀਆਂ ।
ਇਸ਼ਕ ਪੀਰ ਫ਼ਕੀਰ ਦਾ ਮਰਤਬਾ ਹੈ, ਮਰਦ ਇਸ਼ਕ ਦਾ ਭਲਾ ਰੰਜੂਲ ਮੀਆਂ ।
ਖਿਲੇ ਤਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੇ ਬਾਗ਼ ਕਲੂਬ ਅੰਦਰ, ਜਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਕੀਤਾ ਹੈ ਇਸ਼ਕ ਕਬੂਲ ਮੀਆਂ ।

Now this book “PaRchol te Visthaar” does explain in detail about a lot of aspects of Heer Waris Shah but since it is based on a text that isn’t authentic, I don’t know how much sense it makes to rely on those explanations. If you want to read an authentic text in Gurmukhi, pls get the one edited by Dr Jeet Singh Seetal. He was the one who lead the work on finding the original text of Heer. It is available on Amazon. If you want to read it online, you can read on punjabi-kavita.com.

aur ye khat humko likha hai…

This is from the Facebook memories of 2014.

2-3 days ago I was listening to AIR FM Gold channel and there was a letter from someone from some remote place in Kashmir. The gentleman insisted in the letter that DO read the name of the place from where I am writing.

I couldn’t stop myself from noticing the difference. On one side we in the metros are living this always-on-run life and on the other side there was someone who wanted his place’s name to be read loudly so that people know about it ! How simple life must be at that place !

Folks who have been radio fans before this FM channels attack era came would be able to relate to it.

If you have been a radio fan in those days, you would be able to relate to it so much. The happiness when names from the letters you sent were read on radio; it was so blissful. Such simple joys. It was TV that killed the radio listening in India. As TV kept coming to more and more households, Radio started getting ignored. TV was more entertaining and “new”. Only the older generation tuned to BBC News & All India Radio for news. Then came the FM era. The FM channels in small cities were more like an extension of AM/SW channels, covering local stuff etc. But this burst of FM channels in Metros spoiled it all. Almost all of them broadcast trash day and night. They can’t really be called radio channels.

(Image from here)

With the number of listeners going down many radio channels all over the world have started shutting down their services. Also the companies stopped making Radios. At least in India, if you go to market to buy a radio, there are very very few options available. Phillips is making one or two models & same thing Sony is doing. Then there could be some low quality stuff made locally. Western countries especially USA is going good in this area. You search for a radio on Amazon.com and you have hundreds of options to choose from. Also if you YouTube for a DIY radio antenna, you will see thousands of videos posted by people from Western counties describing how to make you own antenna for AM or SW. It is so beautiful and nostalgic stuff.

This fast paced life and new means of entertainment and getting information has replaced this simple part of our lives called radio. I don’t think that era is gonna come back but we at least can cherish those memories.

Re-plugging a post i did few years ago – Best of online Ghazal radio stations.

India Lockdown – Day 21

Read day 20

So the lockdown has been extended till 3rd May. There are going to be some relaxations area wise, starting from 20th Apr depending upon if there have been no new cases in the area and many other conditions. But still we need to be careful. Countries all over the world are struggling with it. Once it gets out of hands, it will become impossible to control the spread.

The people who have suffered the most due to lockdown are the poor and daily wagers. A lot of them are stuck at places away from their hometowns and because of no public transport running, they aren’t able to reach their hometowns. There is no daily income for them, so it is becoming increasingly difficult to survive. Govt and many social organizations are putting their efforts to make it better for them but given the big population we have, that is not easy to manage. Hope the situation gets better. We need to fight it together.

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