What does Ishmeet’s Victory Mean?

Since May of this year a competition has raged throughout the Indian subcontinent. On Saturday November 24th, 2007, the results were in…the 1st Amul Star Voice of India: Ishmeet Singh from Ludhiana.

ishmeet.jpgFor those in the diaspora, who flip past the ZeeTV, Sony and all those other station as they channel surf, Amul Star Voice of India (SVOI) is the desi version of American Idol. After auditions throughout India, competitors are selected by the judges only to be later subjected to audience voting. Television viewers submitted text messages and finally after six months a winner was chosen.

The famed Lata Mangeshkar declared Ishmeet Singh from Ludhiana, Punjab the winner. However, the win was far from guaranteed. The runner-up from Uttar Pradesh, Harshit Saxena, had been much more popular by the voters from the West Zone (60% of the votes), East Zone (52% of the votes), and the South Zone (55% of the votes). However, the winner of the competition was not to be decided on the number of winning zones, but rather the gross total. It was here that the Punjab factor kicked in and propelled Ishmeet Singh to victory.

While the blogosphere and message boards are aflame about the results, my purpose here isn’t to engage on the merits of the Ishmeet’s voice or the fairness of the competition methodology. However, the results do bring to the forefront a number of different issues.

An important result of the competition is to highlight Punjab’s ‘tele-density’. Prior to the announcement of the SVOI winner, many members of the interviewed Indian public lamented that Ishmeet would be catapulted to victory based on the fact that while the national telephone per capita is 1:5, in Punjab it is almost double at 1:2. Their gloomy predictions proved correct. The sheer numbers of SMS text messages aided Ishmeet in his victory. While Punjab’s population will never give it a seat at the Lok Sabha and the national stage, its economic and telecommunication power gave it leverage in this competition. Are there other uses for such technology? The Dera Sacha Sauda incident earlier in the year also shows telecommunications powerful ability as a political tool to rally youth support and attendance. Grassroots movements will have to be able to employ this tool to mobilize the Sikh youth and will have to figure out new ways to utilize its tremendous capabilities.

Another indication of Ishmeet’s victory is the tremendous impact of an ethnic Sikh identity and solidarity. While again the Dera Sacha Sauda events earlier in the year showed the potential of mass mobilization of the Sikh youth, when they felt their community had been disrespected, even Ishmeet’s victory can be seen in this light. While the show lauded Ishmeet as ‘Punjab da puttar’ and a regional solidarity was at play. It seems, if the internet and anecdotal evidence means anything, still overwhelming support came from the Sikh community. One blogger in Punjab remarked that “appeals [were made] from the Gurudwaras that a Sikh munda deserves a place in history.”

For this blogger as well as many viewers, the vote was not only between Ishmeet and Harshit, but between Punjab and UP and by the slogans “Bam Bam Bhole” versus “Jo Bole So Nihal.” The religio-ethnic thus cannot be overlooked. A Sikh religio-ethnic identity was mobilized and in this example proved overwhelming throughout India.<

The real meaning of Ishmeet’s victory is that population demographics can be defied by mobilization of the Sikh religio-ethnic identity and telecommunications. Despite the laments of the Sikh intelligentsia and newsmakers about a disinterested Sikh youth, Ishmeet’s victory and the Dera Sacha Sauda incidents point to that the religio-ethnic Sikh identity can and is ready to be mobilized. We can see the beginnings in Punjab of a new ‘Sikh turn’ by the youth. It may not be in the form that most expect through Khalsa symbolism, but the psychological tragedy of segments of the post-1993 Sikh community seems to be waning. We may be witnessing the stirrings of a new era.


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30 Responses to “What does Ishmeet’s Victory Mean?”

  1. Bobby says:

    I found the Dera Sacha Sauda incident to be disturbing in that it indicated an easily roused mob tendency by demagogues on both sides. It reminded me of the Behzti affair in Birmingham when mobs were rallied and a theatre was smashed up and death threats were issued to writers and actors and Sikhs were made to look like primitive thugs.

  2. Bobby says:

    I found the Dera Sacha Sauda incident to be disturbing in that it indicated an easily roused mob tendency by demagogues on both sides. It reminded me of the Behzti affair in Birmingham when mobs were rallied and a theatre was smashed up and death threats were issued to writers and actors and Sikhs were made to look like primitive thugs.

  3. aisha says:

    its really sad to hear abt the such a gr8 singer`s death

  4. aisha says:

    its really sad to hear abt the such a gr8 singer`s death

  5. simran saini says:

    helloo ishmeet and who ever will read thiz..

    itz really sad that to ishmeet is not wit us and also ii pray to waheguru to keep hiz soul calm..

    ii knoe he wasz a lovely friend, brother, nd a momz son

    just wanna tell my family loved ishmeet as our blood

    we love u ishmeet..

  6. simran saini says:

    helloo ishmeet and who ever will read thiz..
    itz really sad that to ishmeet is not wit us and also ii pray to waheguru to keep hiz soul calm..
    ii knoe he wasz a lovely friend, brother, nd a momz son
    just wanna tell my family loved ishmeet as our blood
    we love u ishmeet..

  7. samia kaur says:

    its really sad n shocking.well we'll miss him .we want justice 4 him.its not possible that wen he was drowning no one from a renowned hotel was not present .we r not fools .sumone in envy had done this we'll fight 4 u .may the departed soul rest in peace

  8. samia kaur says:

    its really sad n shocking.well we’ll miss him .we want justice 4 him.its not possible that wen he was drowning no one from a renowned hotel was not present .we r not fools .sumone in envy had done this we’ll fight 4 u .may the departed soul rest in peace

  9. Raman says:

    i m shocked to hear this news. I only want to say that ishmeet was a holy soul and we can't find him again. This is a major loss to the world.

  10. Raman says:

    i m shocked to hear this news. I only want to say that ishmeet was a holy soul and we can’t find him again. This is a major loss to the world.

  11. Qamar Sultan (Pakist says:

    i am very sad today to say some thing about such a greate singer of voice of india. God has gifted him so many qualities.as he was a good singer as he was a good humanbeing.

    may God send him in his soul.

  12. Qamar Sultan (Pakistan) says:

    i am very sad today to say some thing about such a greate singer of voice of india. God has gifted him so many qualities.as he was a good singer as he was a good humanbeing.
    may God send him in his soul.

  13. Rajveetsingh says:

    I miss you

  14. Rajveetsingh says:

    I miss you

  15. Navpritsingh says:

    It was a tragedy; which has left Punjab and the whole sikh community in the state of shock.

    I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO FORGET HIM. HE WAS NOT ONLY A GOOD SINGER BUT A GREAT HUMAN BEING.

    If anyone reading this can help me to get his SHABAD cassette, I would be extremely grateful.

  16. Navpritsingh says:

    It was a tragedy; which has left Punjab and the whole sikh community in the state of shock.

    I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO FORGET HIM. HE WAS NOT ONLY A GOOD SINGER BUT A GREAT HUMAN BEING.

    If anyone reading this can help me to get his SHABAD cassette, I would be extremely grateful.

  17. maneet says:

    hello ISHMEET I know u r there. U cant go like that alone. We all luv u please come back for us. We all want to see u again and again. My cousin had met u and taken ur autograph in DELHI when u come for show in PSK invited by SIKKA FAMILY. I never see ur performance in VOI SHOW. But after ur death, I m very possessive about u that u cant die like that. PPLLEEAASSEE COME BACK FOR US.

  18. maneet says:

    hello ISHMEET I know u r there. U cant go like that alone. We all luv u please come back for us. We all want to see u again and again. My cousin had met u and taken ur autograph in DELHI when u come for show in PSK invited by SIKKA FAMILY. I never see ur performance in VOI SHOW. But after ur death, I m very possessive about u that u cant die like that. PPLLEEAASSEE COME BACK FOR US.

  19. "Chhoti umraiye jo vee mardaa phull banai jan tara".

    Ishmeet's fragrance and shimmer will always be there to delight us.

  20. “Chhoti umraiye jo vee mardaa phull banai jan tara”.
    Ishmeet’s fragrance and shimmer will always be there to delight us.

  21. Damanjeet Singh says:

    Wish we could understand this mystrious phenomenon called "death" & could also fight with Almighty to spare you from the clutches of death and instead take away any unholy soul from this earth who are spreading hatred & violence. Perhaps God loves the "BEST" & spares the worst.

    May God grant eternal peace to the departed soul and strenght to his family and all his fans to bear this loss.

    Miss you & remember your sweet and melodious voice.

    Damanjeet Singh

  22. Damanjeet Singh says:

    Wish we could understand this mystrious phenomenon called “death” & could also fight with Almighty to spare you from the clutches of death and instead take away any unholy soul from this earth who are spreading hatred & violence. Perhaps God loves the “BEST” & spares the worst.
    May God grant eternal peace to the departed soul and strenght to his family and all his fans to bear this loss.
    Miss you & remember your sweet and melodious voice.
    Damanjeet Singh

  23. Sonyia says:

    Ishmeet you will be deeply missed by us all. You touched the lives of so many through your voice and you will remain forever close to our hearts.

    I remember watching Voice of India and hoping that you would win because of your beautiful voice and talent but sadly your life was cut short due to your death. There are many stories about your death and the question of murder. Even I thought your death was too suspicious because why would someone who is scared of water and who cant swim go into the deep end of a pool? The answer to this is with you and we will never know.

    I feel sorry for your family who have suffered the greatest loss. I remember seeing them on Voice of India and the joy in their faces when you won. This win was cut short with your tragic death.

    May you rest in peace my little brother.

    Love Sonyia

  24. Sonyia says:

    Ishmeet you will be deeply missed by us all. You touched the lives of so many through your voice and you will remain forever close to our hearts.

    I remember watching Voice of India and hoping that you would win because of your beautiful voice and talent but sadly your life was cut short due to your death. There are many stories about your death and the question of murder. Even I thought your death was too suspicious because why would someone who is scared of water and who cant swim go into the deep end of a pool? The answer to this is with you and we will never know.

    I feel sorry for your family who have suffered the greatest loss. I remember seeing them on Voice of India and the joy in their faces when you won. This win was cut short with your tragic death.

    May you rest in peace my little brother.

    Love Sonyia

  25. hassan says:

    i feel very sad abaut deth of ishmeet singh

  26. hassan says:

    i feel very sad abaut deth of ishmeet singh

  27. angad singh says:

    ishmeet come back p p m i b s

  28. angad singh says:

    ishmeet come back p p m i b s

  29. […] many eons ago, he described certain strengths that Sikhs in Punjab have, including their remarkable teledensity. In the United States, medicine, along with transportation and agriculture are particular power […]