Updated: May 18
The spring season in the year 2021, the month of Vaisakh in the Sikh calendar has an air of solidarity and unity.
Sikhs around the globe have seen farmers from all over India under the leadership of their brothers and sisters in Punjab and Haryana make a stand for justice. It is a loud and peaceful movement. It is called by many names.
Andolan. Morcha. Protest.
Scent of ‘inquilab’ fills the air. The hardest working hands in India, farmers and mazdoors are calling for economic justice. Sounds like something most Indians and global citizens would be firmly standing behind.
Yet besides this firm call for justice there is a fierce battle for the hearts and minds of Indians and global citizens. This battle is being fought on the ground, on the television channels, social media platforms and political halls of power. Things are getting bloody.
Literal blood is not being spilled like most battles but divisions are being fortified in the hearts of Indians. Sikh farmers are being framed as ‘desh drohi’ (anti-national). Why is it that Sikh farmers are taking such a hard stand? That is the question being posed again and again.
Sikhs taking a hard stand in taking against the tyranny of colonialism was acceptable. Sikhs taking a hard stand to defend India is totally fine. Sikhs laying down their lives by the thousands is hailed in the name of freedom.
But Sikhs taking a stand against corporate interests and exploitation is unacceptable. Now they are trouble makers. Even terrorists.
This is not the first time Sikhs have found themselves in this moment. Sikh history is littered with tyranny of kings, autocrats, empires and elected powers.
The thread that connects these pages of history and the contemporary moment is the spirit of Guru Nanak through the tenth master Guru Gobind Singh. Staying humble. Making an honest living. Reciting the name of almighty creator energy. Seeing this energy in every speck of creation. Taking a stand against those who harm the vulnerable and under privileged. Even if it means giving up your life to uphold the basic dignity of life.
This is why Sikhs died by the thousands in the struggle to free India. In the young history of independent India, Sikhs have disproportionately given up lives in wars with foreign aggressors.
This is what Sikhs do. They live to defend the sanctity of life. To defend the principles of freedom, equality and justice.
The political powers today along with their media and armies of social media bots can malign Sikhs all they want. Sikhs may be wounded in this battle. Sikh standing up for basic human rights and dignity will not be defeated.
There is a scent of ‘inquilab’ in the air.
This is the Sikh spring.
Image courtesy of Bharat Bhushan/Hindustan Times