From a Shivering Republic to a True People’s Republic

Today in the shivering republic, people have come together and it is not the loud claps that is keeping them warm but the fire in their belly and hearts.

New Delhi, Dec 01 (ANI): Members of Bhartiya Kisan union stage a protest against farm laws at the Delhi-Ghaziabad border, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

This article is first part of the two-part story based on the on-ground reportage by Dr. Swati Shukla on the Farmers’ Protest at Delhi Border. The second part can be read here.

Harishankar Parsai, a famous satirist from Madhya Pradesh had written a short essay on Republic day titled Thithurta Gantantra aur Bheegti Swatantrata, where he says, Swatantrata Diwas Bheegta Hai Aur Gantantra Diwas Thithurta Hai (our Republic Day is shivering and Independence Day is drenched).

The piece was Parsai’s satire on the facade that these national and official holidays are. Here, Parsai describes the atmosphere at the Republic Day Parade at 26th Jan in Delhi. He hears the radio announcer describe loud claps and applause but Parsai is not able to see where those claps are coming from. It is not coming from the audience seated on chairs in overcoats. It is coming from the fast and continuous claps of people who are sitting on the ground who do not have overcoat pockets to warm their hands. It seems that the Ganatantra is also holding on to the claps of these shivering hands .

Parsai, known for his sharp satire and commentary of social and political system of India is not only incisive but also true.  He does not even spare the people who are fooled again and again by the electoral parties and their repeated promises. Perhaps as Parsai says they have nothing but the heat of their clapping hands!

Harishankar Parsai. Credits: Lokmat News

The Kindered flame of the People’s Movement

Behind every cynic there is a disappointed idealist- George Carlin

Parsai’s satire arose from the promises of JP movement, failure and people’s disillusionment with the Lohia movement.

How i wish he was alive to see this Farmers Movement!

It would have turned a cynic like him also into a believer of people’s power.

I landed in Delhi on 24th night. I was warned by friends and family about Delhi cold weather and the farmer protests and the unrelenting central government. Delhi winters have gotten extra chilly in the last decade with every year breaking last year’s record. I came fully prepared mentally and physically. The morning at Singhu border the cold weather was further intensified by the fog. Heavy deployment of Delhi Police and CRPF at the entry point of the Singhu border brought back visuals of water canons, batons and lathis beating the protesters that Delhi Police is famous for.

With mild fear I entered the area, but as i went further the fear and winter chill was very quickly replaced with the warmth of the farmers who have camped there for more than 60 days.

Also Read: India Stands United With the Protesting Farmers: Chakka Jam Across the Country

A Movement That Has Possibility to Trigger More Events

We make our first impression on stereotypes and Punjab had loads of them, both good and bad. Punjabi music has dominated Bollywood for decades and has given many a hummable tunes along  with a romanticised version of Sarson ke Khet and Punjab di Mitti. Lately there has been a shift towards rap songs about Punjabi swag, Punjabi Mundeya and Punjabi Kudiya highlighting a shift from the people of the land to commodification of its culture. This movement will show you why the farmers of the state are fighting for their right to the land that grows sarson, wheat and rice for the country. The Punjabi swag is not in dancing to the tunes of Badshah but in coming to the streets to reclaim what Punjab was, but its youth got lost in the mist of green revolution, lack of job opportunities, drugs and consumerism.

Here, one can see most families with at-least one member abroad but also one member who is doing farming .The movement has awakened the Punjab’s past and people are hoping those who have gone way from the path of righteousness will come back and fight for betterment of their people.

There is help at every corner, be it langars, boot polish, foot massage, blankets, tents, camps. People are even more happy to hear that you have come from so far of a place to support the struggle.

Here, Farmers who have become like families, friends and comrades in struggle and most of them had no experience of ever being part of any earlier struggle. They are becoming new persons in this struggle together. Families bonding together on an issue that has given them a new purpose in life than going to Canada. Without any sociological discourse, the gender roles are being slowly reversed. Men and women are cooking together, talking about issues affecting the country. Students are talking about privatisation of universities and no jobs in Punjab and Haryana and hoping this struggle will lead to more struggles for their rights that have been taken away from them. Farmers are given books for free to read in their free time. They are reading books of Che, Castro, Hitler’s biography and also Chetan Bhagat. It is for them to read and see and make their own opinion. The library person said- We should also read Hitler so that we can understand Che! 

Evening tea, lunch late night discussions are about what ails the country and the state and how to break the shackles of inequality, caste, gender and get what is rightfully theirs!

Today in the shivering republic, people have come together and it is not the loud claps that is keeping them warm but the fire in their belly and hearts that is keeping them warm in this shivering republic.

Also Read: Trade Union Leaders Detained in Delhi in the Day of Chakka Jam


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May 2024


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