They’ve wounds on their feet, unflinching resolve in their eyes, and chants of Charhdi Kala on their lips. With their crops caught in a political hailstorm, India’s farmers are now sowing the seeds of a long-due revolution.
After having braved the wrath of weather, have had comrades die in their arms, having labeled as terrorists, one would expect these thick-skinned men and women to turn bitter, right? That’s what is different about this protest. Rather than resorting to violence or crime, they’re sheltering the homeless and feeding the policemen. They’re persevering through the exile. Because on all other days, to help humanity thrive, is what their day-job looks like.
In political parlance, I can not tell you who is right. Are the farm laws that they’re revolting against, really that bad? I’d suggest you listen to Rihana or Greta, or the newly-elect Biden administration for that. The best will still be if you listen to your own conscience.
What I can do tell you about is how India’s farmer protest is an epic display of solidarity. Not marred by the venom of hate, but painted in the true colors of humanity. Quoting the farmer protest in 10 examples.
1. 250,000,000 Humans United
Business Insider reported in January that around 250 million people are part of the ongoing farmer protest in India. This includes the farmers and their supporters who have taken to the streets in India and protesting citizens across the world.
The number is seven times the population of Canada. The last time these many people got involved in a collective activity, was World War II. It was ugly and inhuman then. But this protest is bringing humanity together with decency and responsibility.
You don’t see ravenous men with rifles preparing for a coup, but peaceful civilians sitting on the streets with placards. “No Farmers, No Food”, “Mazdoor Kisan Ekta Zindabaad” (Hail the Labourer-Farmer Unity) is what these placards say. There are no signs of negativity or hatred, only pure rebellion.
2. 100 Days Strong
For how long can you forbid your cozy and safe indoors, to bite the dust in the streets and sleep on the footpaths? What’s your physical and psychological limit? I bet 80-year-olds with aged bodies have it harder. But they refuse to go back without a conclusive decision.
In most farmer protest images circulating around the internet, you will see men and women who resemble your grandparents. We usually expect the elderly to lay low when it gets rough outside, and not partake in a roof-less commotion.
But here in, they’re not only protesting with their heads held high but are doing it with a smile. That’s what Charhdi Kala is all about — it means to be joyous, no matter what life throws at you. They’re smiling in the face of hardship, bearing it all.
They’ve been doing this for more than 100 days, and they have made it clear that they’re in for the long-haul.
3. Trolley Times — The Farmer’s Newspaper
A farmer’s trolley carries the load of the harvest from the fields to the market. Now, it has been called to carry the plight of the fields to the people’s conscience.
Trolley Times is an independent newspaper put-together by Bir Singh and his team who are a part of the farmer protest. Ravish Kumar, an eminent Indian journalist, remarked it as “shame for Indian journalism” because Trolley Times is a result of the rampant misreporting being done by mainstream Indian media to defame the farmer protest.
That’s where the labels of “terrorists” and “anti-nationals” were coming from — Indian media. News channel after news channel kept on invalidating the farmer’s movement. And so, to spread the ground report as it is, Trolley Times a 2-page Newspaper was released.
One of the essays published in the first edition of Trolley Times, “Parhan di Taangh” (Inability of Reading) describes one of the many stories from the protest site. Read it here in English and Punjabi.
4. Sahitya Chaupal — The Protest Library
The protest that bustles with aggression and enthusiasm, is also home to forward-looking thoughts and ideas. The Sahitya Chaupal library set up at the Singhu Border (protest site) is an example of this.
The library which is a 30x30 sitting space contains books from literary idols such as Paash, Fidel Castro, the legendary Khushwant Singh, and many more.
It’s worth noting that there are several children at the protest site. Many from the neighboring villages and many from homeless families that dwell in the locality. In this library, they are often found sitting with volunteers, who teach them how to read and write.
The elderly share stories, the youth recite poetry and everyone spends their time constructively in this little makeshift community center. As of March 2021, several such libraries have come up. The books are sourced by young volunteers who are using Whatsapp groups to manage donations.
The library nurtures the visitors with revolutionary thoughts and also acts as a symbol of resistance.
5. The Women on the Frontlines
One of the most defining characteristics of the farmer protest is the strong participation of women. They’re not just a part of the protest, they’re on the frontlines.
So much so that the Time Magazine’s cover has featured the women of the protest — “On the Frontlines of India’s Farmer Protest” for their March 2021 edition.
Be it the fierce Psychologist, and Social Activist Ritu Singh who has been a leading voice for news channels, Navkiran Natt — the dentist from Chandigarh who runs another library at the protest site and also edits Trolley Times weekly, or Nodeep Kaur, the activist who underwent extreme hardship after being arrested (now released) and is still head-strong to participate in the protest — the women are setting examples.
On Social Media, Noor Chahal, a YouTuber, and singer has been bringing attention to the protest, while, Mahinder Kaur who is 80 years old was seen carrying the green protest flag with a crooked back but a head held high in pride. She was mentioned in a tweet by Diljit Dosanjh.
Likewise, 41-year-old Gursharan Kaur and 55-year-old Shanti Dhillon are among thousands of women who cook food, watch children, manage the crowd, and help in keeping the site clean.
The article continues in part 2.
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