Disentangling Sikh Issues

Lets see how this one goes.

Now first off, I love the Sikh Activist Network. On the cutting edge of engagement, culture, and arts, they are one of the most fascinating, experimental, and exciting Sikh organizations. Driven by the youth, they have created venues, places for conversation, and new levels of engagement that have energized the Sikh youth, throughout Canada (especially in the GTA), and have inspired many of us in the US, UK, and beyond. They were part of the leaders in the protests against Kamal Nath, increasing the awareness of the case of Prof. Bhullar, in the push towards the genocide recognition in the Canadian Parliament, and even in exposing politicians that do not serve the community.

So my criticism here is not about the organization or even one of the most exciting events in the diaspora When Lions Roar. These have been featured in The Langar Hall over the years and have generated plenty of praise and enthusiasm. This years third annual WLR was an absolute success, with nearly 4000 attendees. You can read about it at our sister blog Kaurista.

My focus for this post is much more limited. It is on the promo. It is for this reason that I waited well until the program was over to write this post. In some ways the promo provides a springboard for a conversation and a framework for tackling it that is often used in the community, so in that way it is much bigger than the promo. Before reading the rest, watch it here and then continue below the fold.

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As a piece of art, the promo is extremely successful. I have been part of productions in the past and know the type of time, emotional commitment, and feeling generated in creating an original and powerful form of art. In this way, no matter what the metric – it has been extremely successful – it is stunning, visually powerful, purposefully provocative, and has generated a lot of reactions (as of the writing of this post, 300+ people had commented about it on Youtube). Still, it left me a bit troubled.

It brings up a number of issues in our community, some that manifest in Punjab, but others that go beyond our homeland. The focus in presentation is on farmer suicide as a narrative frame, but touches upon sex-selective abortion, and even the issue of the extra-judicial state repression in Punjab, following the occupation of Darbar Sahib in 1984.

The promo (and granted it only has 2 minutes to talk about extremely complex issues) gives the impression that everything falls into the lap of violent government policies. Now, I am hardly an apologist for the Government of India and its genocidal tendencies, but with a frame of only us v. them, do we lose our own agency and forget to see our own roles? The social issue of sex-selective abortion and farmer suicides is much more complex and requires more nuance. Does the MSP (minimum support price) and its insufficiency have a role in the outcomes? YES! But as a previous writer had demonstrated, it is not that alone. Farmer suicide is not equally geographically distributed throughout Punjab. Frequency is much higher in Malwa, especially amongst cotton growers. Urbanization, increased material expectations, consumerism, and global capital, along with state mercantilism are all factors and cannot be simplified as merely the Indian Government. I guess this is just what didnt sit easy with me.

Regardless, as mentioned, it is a beautifully captured work of art. Works of art is meant to spark conversation and reaction. It did that with me as I hope it does with you. What were your thoughts when seeing it?


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37 Responses to “Disentangling Sikh Issues”

  1. bobby says:

    "but with a frame of only “us” v. “them”, do we lose our own agency and forget to see our own roles?"

    +++++

    Good point, well made. This tendency blights us.

  2. I also found this promo to be a bit troubling and agree that all of these issues are far more complicated and nuanced than the argument presented in this video. The other thing I found troubling was because it was attempting to frame these issues using "1984," it made farmer suicides a "Sikh" issue, rather than a societal one.

    I do think that the government is responsible for not regulating a lot of things, including Monsanto and money lenders (not that the U.S. government is doing that bang-up of a job either), so don't have a problem in blaming specific policies the government isn't enforcing or vice-versa. But to level all of the blame on the government and to liken it to 1984 is a stretch and doesn't really empower people to do much other than protest on the streets or be really indignant in their status updates on FaceBook.

    It reminds me of how the issue of water rights in Punjab got turned into a "Sikh" issue, rather than a communal one. And we saw how well that worked out.

    Aesthetically, I also thought this promo looked pretty, and was produced/shot very professionally. Dramatically, I think the reality of how many farmers in India commit suicide would have been more powerful than a gun (quietly consuming the same Monsanto pesticides they spray on their crops). But a gun to the head is a metaphor easily understood.

  3. DeepH says:

    Though I have no issue with the discourse in regards to the correct/incorrect framing of all relevant issues facing Sikhs and Panjabis as being a by-product of 1984, I believe that before this article was written a private discourse have occurred between the writers of the Langar Hall and the organizers of the Sikh Activist Network to discuss these issues.

    As it stands, the Sikh Activist Network stands accused of manipulation and intellectual dishonesty. Perhaps, a bit of ignorance on both sides exists on all sides but there's a time and place to discuss those instead of publicly calling out an organization that has strove to empower the meager and oppressed and give voice to the same.

    I would like to add that during the event, When Lions Roar, these issues were not necessarily framed around 1984 yet around the onerous policies of the green revolution – this in regards to farmer suicides. I can go on, but what I mean to say is that the promo video was successful in its capacity to tug at our hearts and implore individuals to come to the event, and further more, reflect on issues facing our community.

  4. Simple Mind says:

    The “us” vs “them” is indeed a very dangerous trap to fall into, but I do not believe SAN has fallen victim to this, rather the author of this article is showing clear signs of it.

    The author believes that the discriminated party in India, or the “us”, is only Sikhs and the “them” is all of India. Through this view point, because other states in India also have problem with farmer suicide, this isn’t only a Sikh issue but a national issue.

    This narrative is false, the “us” is not only Sikhs, but rather all minorities or groupings of people who fall victim to discrimination within India.

    The fact is, because farmer suicide happens in other states does not mean that this is not an intentional self created problem by India to deal with those segments of Indian society considered unwanted or dangerous.

    Many solutions have been put forward, yet none are given the go ahead. Independent bodies like the UN have also written reports on the dangerous policies put in place by India in regards to farming practices in

    If people still believe that this is not a artificial problem, but simply a result of a nation to big to be governed affectively, then we should all agree that maybe its time to break up this artificial nation and allow the innocent farmers of all states to finally have the freedom to set affective policies without the approval of Delhi.

  5. Sim Nona says:

    Wow I always thought that SAN was fighting an information war against the Indian lobby, I guess sometimes the ones you really have to watch are in your own backyard. This attempt at public humiliation is not a first for the Langar Hall.

    When organizations or individuals start to bring a real change to the community that does not fit the "Langar Hall" narrative, the langarhall and individuals that it's composed of get all "Dogra Sikh." (Check the historical reference)

    Just like this article, they begin praising the organization and individual trying to make a change. Followed by this praise is a big butttttt…but what you ask? But they suck! Ohh and then they like to finish off with this wasn't personal, no definitely not personal.

    I think SAN and Jagmeet Singh can be added to the victims that the Langar Hall has tried to publicly lynch as of recently.

    Imagine if this article had been critiquing Seva Food Bank about something, anything! I mean that's probably not likely (I think we all know why) but let's use our imagination. Would that be something productive to do? Could the resources, time and effort we use to do that be utilized for something more productive for our kaum?

    Please Please as Educated Sikh Professional consider the platform you use to convey your messages and larger implications of it. Unity should be the key goal of all Sikh organizations and all efforts should be made to preserve this.

    Ohh I forgot to add this wasn't personal, of course not. And the Langar Hall is the best thing to happen to the Sikh community since AK 47s.

  6. Jodha says:

    @DeepH – I think you may be reading my post very selectively. I am a HUGE fan of the work of the Sikh Activist Network – the people, the events, and their work.

    I reacted to a piece of art they produced, as was probably the point of the piece of art. I merely stated that "Still, it left me a bit troubled."

    To take this small comment and see this as an accusation of "manipulation and intellectual dishonesty" or an attempt to "publicly call out an organization" is a huge distortion and misrepresentation of the post.

    The video as an excellent artistic piece was put into the public sphere (youtube) and I commented on it as a consumer of that art. I made no accusations about the organizations and will continue to write on the wonderful work that they do. That is the purpose of this blog. It is to be able to have community conversations and dialogues where we can all come together and grow. Your voice is appreciated.

  7. Jodha says:

    @SimpleMind – I, too, do NOT believe that SAN has “fallen victim” to this frame. I do believe that is the frame of THE PROMO. That is the only claim I made. Even having said that I understand the constraints of trying to make any point within 2 minutes. It can be harrowing!

    No where in my post did I set up an "us" v. "them" discussion. Even your categories of minorities v. the state (for this and only this particular topic) are weak. Other states outside of Punjab that have recorded large numbers of farmer suicides include: Andra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and even RSS-bastion Maharastra. The farmers are not "minorities" in any religious or ethnic sense within these states.

    As I DID state in the post – better culprits may have more to do with "Urbanization, increased material expectations, consumerism, global capital, and mercantilism."

  8. Mohinder Singh says:

    A person walking in a hallway and then in a field,if this is art ,then JODHA u should take some art 101 classes.Orgnisations like SAN and others,instead of providing any answers,rely on sentimentality and show farmers/sikhs as wusses/fools.

  9. Amneet says:

    There is positive discourse and negative, as well as private and public. It is important to always consider these in the context of what may be progressive and fruitful for the Panth as a whole.

    The contextualization of what the video meant was very clearly articulated during the event. I was there. It is viewed as one of many variables, but a serious one regardless. Further, connections drawn between these issues and 1984 were very sophisticated but logically sound. It included the Green Revolution, Anandpur Sahib Resolution, the systematic destruction of Sikh institutions, etc.

    I think the writers should always be mindful that their intentions and the perception of the common reader can be quite different. That is the case here.

    I agree with DeepH in his analysis that the post appears to question the integrity and credibility of the arguments and ideas put forth by SAN, unfortunately without actually knowing what they are. That I think is unfair and counterproductive.

    Based on assumption, I gather that the writer did not attend the event. At the end of the day, this sort of discourse is great, but the context and space that it is facilitated via is something that should be given serious consideration. Witnessed by the comments, the writer is has created a negative space, not a progressive one.

  10. Jodha says:

    @MohinderSingh – You have no point; you deserve no comment.

    @Amneet – You are right; I was not at the event. My post makes no comment about the event or the organization, other than commending both!!!! Read it again. My only comment, bhaaji, was about the video promo.

    Commenting about the video (as is done on Youtube and other forums) should not be stifled. This is rather an unfair attempt to silence. I commended the video as a piece of art. No where in the post can one say that there was an attempt to 'question the integrity and credibility' of the organization. Quote the ACTUAL post where this was articulated.

    You are making accusations against me based on the comments of people that desire to beat their own dream. The SAN website has plenty of haters that visit and make stupid comments. Is the solution for SAN not to post?

    I understand that the production of the video probably involved a lot of time, sweat, dedication, and love. That shines through. I can also understand that such productions are intimate and personal. Still saying that, one can still comment on it alone (and not about the organization or event), since more people viewed it than probably attended the event.

    The movie Glut engendered much critical commentary. That was great. That was it's point. Is one not suppose to comment on it, because of the 'broader' concerns that many of us were also in sympathy with? Of course not!

    This is a space where we can all come together and discuss.

  11. Rajinder Singh says:

    Suicide is a terrible waste of life. The act itself is not even consistent with high level sikhi. It should not be taken lightly. I am not sure if SAN has suicide experts that connected the dots, or it was done lightly for maximum viewer impact. Personally, I would not have gone with this theme… Still, Kudos and Thanks are due to SAN for trying.

    I have questions for the filmmakers, about the role of endemic corruption in the govt. and our society. Is corruption misallocating resources away from the already marginalized sections? What is the negative drag on development when funds for rural development are directed to foreign banks? Surely the economic victims are the marginalized sections of society who have no alternate recourse. The film has a point in a sense that the govt. is party to corruption and therefore involved. Do Sikhs take an exemption from bribes due to religious reasons? Why is there a community silence on this issue ? Can we be Khalsa (pure) and also corrupt ?
    contd….

  12. Amneet says:

    @Jodha, at no point have I said you do not have the right to engage in discourse.

    Of course, you may exercise freedom of speech. My point however, is intent. If you intended to raise concern about the messaging of the video, then this was not the best approach in my opinion. If you have quarrel with the links drawn in the video, then, again perhaps you should have sought clarification. At the very least you should be aware of the consequences of such action, including how such writings can be perceived by a reader that knows nothing of SAN as DeepH pointed out.

    Many of the issues our community faces is driven by a sever lack of communication. This is a clear cut example.

    Instead of publicly attempting to undermine an artistic piece, because you were unsure of it (and I say unsure, because the video alone does not give enough information to draw the conclusions you have) then it would been most productive to seek greater context from its creators. Instead, here in a public "punking", there has been a failure to communicate.

    Now, before I end. I want to share with you the description under the video. Again, I feel as though you may have neglected to read it.

    "Everyday in Punjab, farmers are haunted by the memories of the past, while they are faced with struggles of today. The traumatic experiences of state violence from 1984 are fresh in the minds of many, as justice is continuously denied.

    Today, Punjabi Farmers are increasingly turning to suicide as a method to cope with government policies that have robbed them of their land, wealth, heritage and way of life.

    This is just one example of the many communities in Punjab that continue to suffer as a result of 1984, coupled with current day policies.

    The Genocide continues…"

  13. Jodha says:

    @Amneet – Thank you for your reply. I had no intention to 'punk' anybody. If the Sikh Coalition, SALDEF, United Sikhs, Jakara Movement, Sikh Research Institute, Seva Food Bank, Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia, SGPC, Akali Dal, Punjab People's Party, etc. produces a a pamphlet, video, or notice that enters the public sphere and I, or any other blogger, have a difference with it (for any reason), we will write about. If I or any other blogger on TLH writes something that enters the public discourse and others take issue with it, you better believe we get criticized as well (that's the point!). Activists of SAN have written in the past for TLH; we have even invited them to be permanent bloggers. Hopefully some of them will join the team.

    I don't think the links people will draw are as severe as DeepH has pointed out. At the end of the day, I am only in charge of what I write. I can stand by it firmly that is fosters fraternity and even promotes the organization, its work, and its events. If I find one particular point of a promo video troubling, then so be it.

    I appreciate you sending me greater context and description of the video. I would take issue that government policies are a mono-causal explanation for farmer suicide. It is more complex than that. Introspection is needed. I stated this within my post in a single paragraph. Even within this 1 paragraph, my so-called "criticism" is limited to 3 sentences in a 7 paragraph post. Allegations of a "hit piece" as alleged by Nona and DeepH are almost laughable. My first 2 paragraphs give a greater context of the work of SAN far beyond one mere video. Why is this being divorced from the conversation?

    Maybe in the spirit of introspection, there is a lesson for me too – have thicker skin. We should be able to constructively criticize one another without feeling it is a personal attack and reacting to it as such. Of course, at the end of the day, we are all on the same team – the promotion of the Panth. Differences will arise and should be encouraged. Even here on TLH, I take 'quibbles' and issues with a number of my fellow Langa(w)riters on some posts. I have learned from them all and in some ways it is through those challenges and exchanges that I feel I have grown the most.

    Regardless Amneet Bhaaji, I love the work that all the activists in SAN do and will continue to feature it here. I appreciate our exchange. In eternal optimism!

  14. Jodha says:

    @Sim – Bhaaji thank you for the thoughtful post. I completely agree with you that the policies of the Indian Government did/continue play a role in the promotion of the so-called "Green Revolution". The role though does go beyond only the Indian Government. The Ford Foundation in particular, as well as the United States government, were fearful of Chinese-style agrarian revolutions and communist-influenced insurrections (as we saw in Vietnam) and promoted HYV seeds in the 1960s to increase food production. Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Ludhiana had an important role in its promotion in Punjab. Vandana Shiva, in her book – Violence of the Green Revolution – masterfully raises these issues and ties them to the increasing violence seen in Punjab during the 1970s and 1980s. See information for the book here – http://books.google.com/books?id=i5eMFU4r5usC&amp

    However, Punjab was hardly the only place where "green revolution" policies were promoted. In fact the example most often cited is actually Mexico. In Mexico, the phenomenon of farmer suicide is not as manifest as it is in South Asia. Labor migration – especially northwards in Mexico – has been one of the largest effects. In South Asia, it is labor migration towards the west. Still to come back, why should 'suicide' be more prevalent in one place and not in another? It must be more than ONLY government policies. So let us battle the government and expose their lies, deceptions, and hypocrisies, but in addition let us also introspect and find solutions to our own problems in our community – including rampant consumerism, patriarchy, a declining work ethic amongst our youth in Punjab, etc. This is not a 0-sum game. We can do both! Continue to write brother!

  15. justsikh says:

    @Navdeep-you are right that issues in Punjab become ''Sikh'' centered because it is only the Sikhs who are most vociferous for these causes….as for the rest they start abandoning them as soon as Sikhs speak up or haven't really taken any cause….you have number of issues starting from the creation of Punjab….doesn't mean Sikhs are communal…

  16. RKS says:

    Being a promo video, the purpose of it was to make sure that hundreds of people came out, and in that it was successfull. Correct me if im wrong, but the purpose was not, however, to educate or inform, that is the job of a documentary. The different issues that WLR3 outlined are definitely issues in other states, but it was not wrong for SAN to highlight them in such a fashion. This is because in Punjab today, they are running rampant, basically becoming an epidemic.
    cont..

  17. Baani k says:

    As someone who attended When Lions Roar only AFTER reading about it on Langar Hall, it is pretty sad that SAN members are being so hostile to a website, which in the past, has covered and supportive the group’s events and activities continuously. This blogger is not attacking the organization but is opening up a conversation around art – something which has been done for thousands of years!! I think these commenters above are doing SAN more harm than good by attacking this blog and conversation.

    But who am I – other than the sole Kaur voice?

  18. Blighty Singh says:

    I'll be honest…..I do find the constant Canadian obsession with farmer suicide as the main 'Sikh' issue both strange and frankly hypocritical.. People discuss 'Sikh' issues in England. There are 3 Sikh TV channels that do nothing but. But, to date, I have never once seen or heard any of them even mention farmer suicide. There are 2 reasons for this :
    1) It's not a 'Sikh' issue.
    2) Like Canada, the majority of the England Sikhs also come from rural areas. In our personal experiences……with farmers in our villages that have committed suicide. 100% of the time was because of the debt they got themselves into after getting either their daughter or EVEN THEIR SON married to a visiting Canadian. They (the visiting Canadians) pimp themselves and their children to the highest bidder. Whoever can borrow the most money…….whoever can get themselves into the biggest unmanagable debt gets to marry their son or daughter.
    SAN….or whoever they are (for they do not exist among the European diaspora), if they really are concerned about farmer suicide, should take a look at themselves and their relations and the part they played in supplying the rope and bullets for the suicide.

  19. JooKay Singh says:

    Blighty – perhaps you missed Dr Harshinder Kaur's lectures that have been showing on Sikh Channel, Sikh TV and Sangat TV over the past fortnight. I think they're recordings of her visit to Europe Gurdwaras. Whilst she doesn't speak exclusively about Farmer Suicides, most of what she covers is very very similar to what SAN are highlighting, and she is actively involved on the ground, as it were.

    Personally, I'm saddened to see that SAN-like groups don't exist in the UK!

  20. Blighty Singh says:

    I did indeed catch one of her lectures from one of the Italian gurdwaras. But I paid it no mind coz not only does she go on too much about female infantacide but both those issues belong on one of the 'Punjabi' channels as 'Punjabi' cultural issues rather than a 'Sikh' channel as a 'sikh' issue.
    There are many 'sikh' issues out there….and the blame for each of them lies with our slavery under a froeign (indian) rule. However when it comes to the debts of farmers it is completely our own fault. Sometimes the debt because of the cost of digging ever deeper for the water table. Well if the farmers would stop planting rice, which uses 10 times the amount of water that other crops need, they wouldn't have that problem. Sometimes the debt is the fee the fee to send their son and daughter illegaly to Europe. Nobody out there uses their brains. They borrow, and pay, an agent $100,000 to send their son on an illegal journer hanging on to the bottom of a truck…..when for just a little more than that they could legally obtain permanent residence in somewhere like Italy or Span (and thus gain automatic residence rights in the UK as an EU citizen) by investing in a business there….which would provide a steady income as well as acheive the objective of getting uk residence.
    I think we're now so conditioned into blaming the Indians for everything that we're no longer capable of understanding that the farmer suicide problem is a problem of our own making.

  21. Simple Mind says:

    @Blighty Singh

    When one learns to hate his or her own people, one no longer fights for them!!

    To say that black people in America are the ones to blame for all the crime committed by their community is to affectively legitimize all the discriminatory and bios policies in place. This can go as far back as to slavery (when the family units were completely destroyed) or to the racists polices of creating ghettoes for the Africans in America (where they were first segregated then isolated) and it can even go to when the CIA organized operations to spread crack cocaine within there community (the CIA has admitted it as well)

    To say that the native Indians of North America are to blame for there dysfunctional family units and substances abuse is to affectively legitimize the programs undertaken by the government of Canada to promote alcoholism and other substance abuse within their community, to forcibly removed native children from their families and then place them into Christian schools where they were forbidden to speak there own language and practice their own religion (the last school was closed in the 80s).

    To blame the Sikhs for there debt problems, substance abuse issues or female infanticide is to completely legitimize the policies put in place by the Indian state to affectively circumvent Sikhi, our history, our culture, our way of life.

    The state of India doesn’t only have one tool (violence) in its tool kit to deal with the problem of Sikhs, Tamils, Kashmiries, Assamies, Dalits, Muslims, Christians or any other community they feel are below them or a threat to them.

    Drugs were never an issue in Punjab, today they say 70% of the youth are on it. Africans never had a problem with drugs, today their new culture invented in North America promotes it as does Punjabi music. Debt was never a problem for Sikhs, but when the Green Revolution was introduced and wage disparities became clear to everyone, the government refused to stop it. Female infanticide is not a problem in the more educated states of India, in 1900 Punjab was the most educated state in India, in 2002 Punjab was 17th, today it is forecasted to be even lower, and now we have a problem with it.

    In North America, Sikhs do not have massive debt issues or female infanticide. Yes I am sure we will be able to find some who do have debt problems or may have chosen a boy over a girl, but it is not on the scale being witnessed in Punjab India. So how do we change once in North America? Does our genetic code change once we enter Canada or America? NO, the policies here are designed to protect the citizen and educate them. We are not on the radar of these nations as a threat like the Africans and Natives were, so we do not have any policies designed to circumvent our growth and prosperity.

    The German people are not genetically evil, but when Hitler promoted policies of hatred they killed Jews because they believed it was the “right” thing to do. Sikhs are not drug addicts or prone to wasteful spending of money, but because the state promotes it, they believe it is the “right” thing to do.

    In regards to the migration of Sikhs out of Punjab, this only tells more about the lack of opportunity or future there is for Sikhs. To say they shouldn’t leave is to criticize your own parents for leaving. To say they should follow a different root which you know will be externally more successful, is perhaps a business opportunity for you, seeing as how you know more then they do.

    No one is conditioned to blame anyone but the responsible parties. If you close all other doors but one and ask a person to walk through a door, you can not say he or she chose that door hence is responsible for the actions. The nation state of India has systematically closed as many options for the Sikh community (and all others it deems a threat) and today we Sikhs can not blame their brothers and sisters for choosing the only options left.

    In regards to this dialog, those who feel that people here who defend SAN are somehow ruining its image are themselves trying to have it both ways. They feel they can criticize the video, but if others try to defend it, or prove the thesis of the author wrong, this is disrespectful. Very interesting!!

  22. Blighty Singh says:

    Simple Mind, firstly…I'm the first to say we need to break away from our gulami under Indian rule. But the issue here is not any of those other things you just mentioned above. My point was simply about the suicide of farmers.
    The Indian govt treat farmers the same rotten way all over India, so tell me : Are they holding a gun to the head of every Sikh farmer in punjab and stopping him diversifying his field……cutting back on his reliance on the sarkar and its mandis and the poor price they pay……..and growing the kind of cash rich crops that are in demand and he can sell directly to western wholesalers himself (such as flowers….or organic chillies) ?
    Has it been a diabolical plan of the Indian government to deliberately plant half a million sikhs in Canada just so they can return to Punjab and demand massive dowries and thus drive the debt ridden farmer to suicide ?
    Has the Indian government deliberately (through a very clever and diabolical plan) , through mind control trickery, made every Sikh in England, Delhi, and Punjab have massive expensive weddings…just so the farmer will have to follow suit and then kill himself because of the debt ?
    Once, i got drunk and P""""d in my pants. Can I blame that on the Indian govt too ?

  23. Sim Nona says:

    @ Baani K

    You are not the only sole Kaur voice on this form.

    @ Jodh

    What it comes down is I take issue on two things.

    1)

    I really do take issue with the way this article was written and of its intents. IF TLH called out all sikh organizations it's fine but this website has in the past and continues to selectively critique, in other words has a bias. All the bloggers should be very consciousness of that, the truth is TLH is quite popular and does carry some weight, with that kind of power should come some sort of responsibility. I totally disagree that you would have "punked other organizations"

    "I had no intention to 'punk' anybody. If the Sikh Coalition, SALDEF, United Sikhs, Jakara Movement, Sikh Research Institute, Seva Food Bank, Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia, SGPC, Akali Dal, Punjab People's Party, etc. produces a a pamphlet, video, or notice that enters the public sphere and I, or any other blogger, have a difference with it (for any reason), we will write about."

    I am very confident this site would not have, I would also add Toronto Sikh Retreat and Sikh Film Festival to organizations that would probably never be punked by TLH. I mean if TLH is going to write about pamphlets, videos or notices that enter the public sphere from other organizations that as progressive Sikhs they have a difference with, well I think a great starting point to take notice was when Seva Food Bank promoted a "Jam" with luv2bhang. I mean I myself go to Luv2Bhang lets be honest but I don't think there's anything Sikhi about Daru Pee kay and clubs. I mean I’m all for “progressive SIkhi” but this might be a little too progressive for my liking and I think many other SIkhs would agree. In the scheme of things, I think this needs to be written about (punked) much more than SAN or Jagmeet Singh.

    2)

    Alright I’m running out of time so this point will be brief. I think RKS was right in trying to highlight what the video was trying to accomplish but Jodh lets stick to the point you initially took issue with.

    “The social issue of sex-selective abortion and farmer suicides is much more complex and requires more nuance. “

    We never said violent government policies caused sex-selective abortion nor did we suggest it, I think that’s a stretch to draw from the video. I think we appreciate the complexities of that issues facing the community, especially after our event with Dr. Harshinder Kaur. We do, however, say the main cause of farmer suicide is central government policies.

    First off, I totally agree with you analysis of Mexico, Vandana Shiva shoutout, and especially Punjab Agricultural University. However, let’s remember research in Punjab has found that the suicides are debt driven, see the SAN article it sources Inderjeet Singh Jaijjee, who is amongst many to label the suicides as debt driven. The culprit of that debt may be the factors you suggested, but I think you are confusing the green revolution and debt driven farmer suicides. They are linked obviously, but farmer suicides are one component of the green revolution. Our show focused much more on farmer suicides. The main culprit for debt driven suicides is the central government policies, reasons are discussed by jaijee in his open letters but some of the ways they are responsible are MSPs, water issues, bad planning in Punjab, economic mismanagement etc. However they are not the only one responsible for causing the debt. I would say that in the context of debt driven suicides they are hands down the main culprit not just for being one of the main causes of the problem but also being unable to tackle the rising suicides or even admitting they are a problem. However, in the context of the green revolution we definitely need a more holistic approach and I would encourage that train of thought.

    But all this is in retrospect. You started this article by critiquing the video. The role of the video is to promote an event. In the video were statements about what the event was going to discuss. One of those was that central governments role in farmer suicides, during the event the explanation of this phenomena were explained much more comprehensively. This article by you does not take that into consideration, it provides a very lopsided and narrow perspective. More important than point 2 is point 1.

    I apologize for any grammar or spelling mistakes I wrote this in a bit of a rush.

    In addition, I would like to highlight the articles posted critiquing by langar hall, and by all of us writing long reponses, is time that could be utilized for something productive. Just searching the name bhullar on TLH search engine yields no results related to professor bhullar. I think that's really sad.

  24. Sim Nona says:

    I look forward to your input in our up and coming analysis of the green revolution, which we have started working on. Don't worry I'll find you :) I think this is a good place to end our discussion, I look forward to the Bhullar post, as I am sure you are aware this issue requires immediate attention.

    Also, in retrospect, the Dogra Sikh reference was a little harsh and for that I apologize.

    Also there was nothing personal between me or Seva Food Bank, Toronto Sikh Retreat and Spinning Wheel Festival. I just used them to highlight that if we are going to view some people and organizations with a critical lens we should extend that critique across the board. I have no intention of writing an article about the luv2bhang incident, I think this would take away from the amazing work that they do. Once again I used this incident only as an example to highlight a point.

    In solidarity,

    May Waheguroo bless

  25. Blighty Singh says:

    "The real bias on this blog……. that it is a bit US-centric. We have always welcomed and have actively sought others to join our team, but for whatever reason they have not "
    Yeah and despite the impression I give I'm not knocking that. (I give my own country as much stick as I give America). No matter what we say Jodha we're not gonna change be able to change that fact. Its a difference of cultures. In England and the rest of Europe the consensus is that any organisations such as SAN….or blogs such as this…must be run by activists who are dastar wearing amritdharis. In England, a sikh (whether male or female) who is not dastar wearing amritdhari would find it very difficult to be a Sikh activist. He or she would be met with so much grief from other sikhs that it would be impossible to continue with any activism. In that regard I do commend many of these north american based Sikh organisations and blogs, which seem to be operated by highly educated and smart individuals. Sikh activism in England is probably more widespread in England by and large seems to be operated by working class rough n' tough amritdharis……many of whom speak in a very localised working class accent which puts off sikhs from other cities in towns in the UK with totally different accents and dialects. When it comes to putting the Sikh point of view across I think most of us European Sikhs would agree that the argument is best and most coherently put across by a north american born sikh not blighted by English concepts of class and accent.