#38 Indian Farmers and the Sikh Community

TW: mentions of genocide, suicide, abuse and rape. 

This episode is in response to the ongoing farmer protest in India where farmers, and allies, are protesting against the new agricultural bills proposed by the Indian government which seeks to privatise the sector in a bid to boost income from agriculture. The protests are important because they depict two issues: 1) the economy and profits constantly being put before farmer livelihoods and 2) the usage of undemocratic measures by the Indian government in response to public backlash, highly ironic to India’s title of being the “largest democracy in the world”.

However, these series of events are not just about farmers and the Indian agrarian crisis, these events have shone a light on the prolonged oppression and marginalisation of the Sikh community, particularly because Sikhs have been leading the protests and are being brutalised, by the police, for it. It’s evident that the Indian government is still bigoted to the Sikh community, as well as farmers, despite the dark history of Sikh genocide that the Indian government fails to be held accountable to.

Therefore, it’s crucial that every Indian and non-Indian helps support Indian farmers, particularly Sikh farmers, by raising awareness, supporting farmer/Sikh organisations and doing their own research to understand the history of conflict between people and bodies of power in India. This episode aims to help to do this by looking at the history of farmer neglect and Sikh persecution by the Indian government, and shares some additional resources for the listener to help support farmers/Sikhs.

Episode Structure:

  • The 3 Agriculture Bills and what they entail
  • The importance of the MSP and mandi system that these bills undermine
  • The damaging impacts of the Green Revolution on Indian farmers which led to the 1990s ‘suicide epidemic’ (its effects are still prevalent today)
  • Discussion of climate change and poor governance being leading factors pushing farmers to take their own lives
  • Using the infamous example of Monsanto and farmer suicides to demonstrate the dangers of free/privatised trade
  • Government’s usage of undemocratic measures in response to protests mirrors historic usage of violence used against marginalised communities, especially Sikhs
  • 1984 anti-Sikh violence examples that demonstrate government bigotry against Sikhs
  • My mum’s eyewitness account of the 1984 pogroms including hiding Sikh neighbours in their house to prevent them from being killed
  • Inability of Indian government to be held accountable for anti-Sikh violence, despite the fact other countries have accepted ethnic cleansing events to prevent repeating of history
  • Importance of not putting Indian politics at the face of India

Episode Resources:

Ways to help:

If you know of any more key resources and/or organisations, please feel free to reach out to me by email or social media.

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