Below is a full transcript of our podcast episode, titled Indian Farmers – A Deep Dive Into The Farmer Struggle, with Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal. The episode was co-hosted with Pammy & Gurk from the Coaches Don’t Play Podcast and DJ Heer.
Scroll down to see the transcript and/or listen to the episode here.
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 00:01
Today we have Harjit Singh Grewal here who is a professor at the University of Calgary. The reason we brought him on to this event is to educate our audiences on what’s going on on the ground. In India, why it matters? It really like how is it relevant? And why are people reacting the way that they are both there. And I think like across the globe so before we start diving into the topics and questions, I do want to give a proper introduction to Mr. Grewal or Dr. Grewal because he has a lot of accomplishments. So I’m just gonna like list the list this off. I got this from his wife, so is a PhD in Asian language and cultures, which he got from the University of Michigan. And his interests really lie in Punjabi culture, religions of Punjab with a focus in Sikhism, he and you can correct me if I’m wrong on this. So I don’t know if you’re either writing this book now or you’ve already wrote it, but it’s called Janamsakhi, and it’s the Sikh narratology, and philosophy of oneness. And in terms of what you’re up to now, you’re a professor at the University of Calgary you specifically like getting you alluded to before we started recording, focus on the Sikh religion. And outside of that, and an extra curricular capacity. You are the Gurmat coordinator at the Khalsa School of Calgary. Did I miss anything?
Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal 01:28
No, I mean, thank you for the introduction. I think just in terms of your question. I am developing that book as outgrowth of my dissertation. So the Janamsakhi, many of you listeners might know, some may not but their stories, anecdotal narratives, and historical narratives combined into compendiums, that focus on Guru Nanak. So my and he’s the founder, the Sikh tradition. So my work is kind of looking at those narratives and reassessing them to kind of figure out the inner logic of those stories, and how they relate to not simply a history, but a kind of historical outgrowth of thinking about the good of grand stuff, which is kind of the central Sikh text, or the scripture of for many Sikhs, right. So that’s kind of the, that’s kind of the intellectual work I do. And I’m kind of interested in how that connects to a bunch of different ideas about, like, oneness. So like how, you know, perhaps there’s something connected to that in the protest series, while there’s been a lot of discussion of Ekta, the Oneness in the protests as well. So these expressions of kind of looking for ways that we can all come together, you know, maintaining our differences, but also coming together despite those differences. So that’s kind of, you know, the nerd, heavily, heavily nerd part of me, works on that. I’ve always retained deep connections to the communities I’m in when I when I’ve been studying. So now that I teach University classes in Calgary, I live in Edmonton, Alberta, actually. So I commute to Calgary, those of you who know, so it’s a bit of a drive. Thankfully, I spent time in America, so I know what long distance commuting is like. But I kind of work. I teach classes at the local Gurdwara here in Edmonton up in Millwoods. And I’ve been working with the Khalsa school at in Calgary to enrich and further develop their Gurmat and Punjabi curriculum. So that, you know, being a diasporic product myself, someone who was born and raised in Canada, and struggled to learn some of the stuff I’ve been fortunate enough to learn and privileged to learn, I want to kind of ensure that I, you know, the younger people have an easier time. So I think developing robust curriculums, and things like that really kind of helps, and fosters that so that we can really know who we are in kind of a deep capacities. That’s kind of something that’s very intimate and important to me, and I just wanted to say a little about that.
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 04:21
Yeah. Appreciate it. Awesome. So, um, I’ll kind of start off with the first question. You know, why are protests happening now? Is this something that just kind of cropped up in the last week, or has it been going on for many weeks? And maybe it’s just gotten attention on social media? Can you give us a little bit of essentially like, why protest now but what what’s causing that?
Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal 04:45
Yeah, the, the protests. So first and foremost, I think it’s really important to recognize and I think this is very impressive and needs to be thought about and we can talk more about this but these really are spontaneous protests. This these protests are expressions of the frustrations of everyday folks who are involved on the ground with farming right? And who are concerned with these bills, which we’ll talk about in a second. But how did this happen? I think there’s a long buildup. I will talk about the history but the most recent thing is that these bills were tabled sometime in the summer, and then brought into the introduced into the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. So the two houses of Indian government, and were passed quite quickly, all three of them. It took about three days between I think, September 17, to about September 20. And there was no debate allowed, the opposition walked out. And the majority BJP took the opportunity to just force the bills through without any debate or dialogue. and subsequent to that, actually, a little bit afterwards, there was another battery of bills. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with our recent history, in politics in Canada, but the Harper government was famous for creating these Omnibus bills. They created these large bills that nobody could really kind of go through and debate. So what the BJP did was they had something around 20 separate bills having to do with labor as well like labor protocols. So sec second to the farmers bills, there was another set of bills passed that heavily affect labor’s and those those two groups together, largely comprise what is around 80% of India’s population, something around 76%, the poor in India, are farmers and laborers. I think that’s a bit of a misnomer. A lot of people, especially in the diaspora, who are Punjabi back on especially feel like Punjabi farmers live quite high on the hog. But everyday farmers are very poor, they live in debt, and they try to work off that debt. So, um, it’s the concerns around these changes, and the lack of dialogue, and the lack of discussion, first and foremost, with everyday people who are affected by this. And secondly, the refusal to allow debate in the houses of the government, where the representatives are supposed to do their due and in debating and trying to find the best way forward. So neither was there any consultation, in sense of you know, roundtables or anything, discussions with people are impacted, and the representatives weren’t allowed to have anything. So that led to mass demonstrations shortly thereafter. In October, early October, there was a large All India one day kind of walkout. The reports are something that hundreds of millions of people, you know, stopped working to protest. And that was the combination of the frustration, the farmers’ vote and the impending labor bills. I think, by and large, probably people in the center felt that that was, you know, the people expressing themselves and that the debate would have gone no further than that. And they would have, you know, successfully passed these bills and like would go on, but the concern is so deep, and, and we’ll we’ll talk about that. I mean, if people feel like this is existential threat, so if you listen to the protesters, so there’s two things going on here, there’s legalistic issues. And then there’s just, you know, really important, I think over and above all that is to listen to the people who are expressing themselves in these protests. So the big concern seems to be this is an existential threat to us, people are trying to through these laws eliminate us. And that is a pan Indian phenomenon. Despite the focus on Punjab, Punjab, farmers were the first to kind of walk over to Delhi but subsequently, a lot of people have joined from a lot of the farming state In India, so Rajasthan Haryana, Bihar, UP, MP. So there’s there’s kind of a bigger … if you will a bigger group of protesters making their way slowly to Delhi. So that’s I think kind of the short of it is is that’s how this developed it was it really was this spontaneous reaction to these bills and arose out of a real concern for the inability to live. And we can talk about that if you want, I have some statistics as well. A lot of these changes have been slow. But they’ve happened over the last eight years. So with the BJP majorities, they’re connected to the advent of populism in India and push towards kind of a, you know, Hindu, very, very right wing Hindu nationalism, right, um, a lot of communities have felt the impact of that. Some of them are religious, but some of them are just everyday people. So it’s an expression of all those things together, I think, slow crawl, which is really ramped up over the period, since about March, and with the lock downs and things like that, so it’s a big thing to unpack. But we can kind of break into it however you guys want.
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 11:35
Yeah, yeah. So I know that Pammy did like, I will be honest, a lot more research than I did. So I like she had like a, an episode on her podcast talking about the issue kind of describing, I think, some of the technicalities, and so I don’t know if we want to jump into that now. But I think Pammy I mean, what you’re hearing so far, how does that line up with what you read so far? Um,
Pammy (Coaches Don’t Play Podcast) 11:59
I kind of the research that I did was kind of, like, specific to the actual farm bills. So what I kind of want to understand is, I want to dig more into like, the history of, like, how the government has neglected Punjab, because I think that’s kind of a understanding that most people have, like, if you are Punjabi, that you you know, you hear from your parents or your grandparents, who you can even see when you go there to visit. But maybe we should get into the farm bills first, and then we can dive into kind of like the history, I think.
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 12:36
Yeah. Okay, so, um, if we could jump into the farm bills, I’d be curious to know Harjit kind of, like, what I’m what I’m gathering is these bills are more or less, kind of passed in like a pretty unilateral. I should use like, so like with that the consultation of the people impacted by the bill. Right. So that’s what it comes down to. And on top of that, it sounds like the bill was kind of drafted in a way that makes it very complicated and difficult for, like, that same audience of people to understand. So I guess why it’s hard. I don’t even fully understand them, either. So do you think you can give us some context on like, you know, what, how many bills are there? What, what they? what they do? What’s the practical impact? And then go from there?
Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal 13:30
Yeah, for sure. So, um, this is a, basically, there was three, three bills introduced. So I’ll give the names of each one first. This is the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce Promotion Facilitation Act. That’s of 2020. The Farmers Empowerment and Protection Agreement on Price assurance and Services. And the last one was Essential Commodity Academy. Sorry, Essential Commodities Amendment Act. So as you can see, by my tongue tripping act, they’re, um, they’re quite a mouthful, each one of them. And I think, you know, they’re, they’re worth kind of unpacking a little bit like, I can kind of take a second and just kind of explain, they are really meant to kind of intermesh together. And the effects of these things are, I think, first and foremost needs to be recognized is so it’s it’s not my, my job or intent here. And I’m saying this in two ways, because I know strategies of populace you know, people who are indebted to this government and and have make a lot of ploys to mitigate and and kind of push aside real discussion. So I’m not trying to say this to vilify any government, any group of people and you nation any religion. And I’m also not working for anybody. I’m doing this as an independent person. So I’m not a spy, even though I’ve been already, because I speak out about issues being called one. So I’m not a spy, I don’t get paid by anyone. And I also don’t have any connections to issues like khalistan or khalistan knees or anything like that. So just, I only say that because I know that that is going to be potentially something that people bring up. So. And I would, you know, I, again, I think it’s to facilitate the debate and provide the information is important. And so that’s the role of empirical field here. So these, these are getting into the nitty gritty of these bills, they’re, you know, quite simple at some level. So the first one, the farmers produce trade and commerce act. So it’s meant to promote and facilitate trade and commerce, right. Um, it’s kind of what it says. So what it’s doing is it’s trying to, and we’ll kind of backpedal a bit. Okay, so I’ll I think, introduce the issues around the bill. And then we can kind of talk about, because they are, they are trying to address historical issues with farming. And so I think that needs to be recognized, the government is trying to do something to address this, right, um, how they’re doing that the context of this are debatable, and that’s where the issues come from. Right. So the farmers would probably use trade and commerce act, is really trying to facilitate the ability of farmers to get around the kind of landlocked almost, if you will, like they’re very local, people who don’t have the ability to move rapidly, their products to the variety of markets that are available across a very large country, right. So for instance, the farmer in Punjab harvest his crop and tries as quickly as possible because of the temperature and things like that, and the climate in the region. I mean, India has to move quickly to try to get to the market where he can sell it. Right. And given, you know, things that I think we take for granted, or the inability to refrigerate over long distances, right, and the inability to kind of move quickly, right? Um, it’s, I mean, anyone who’s traveled India knows it’s even on the roads, it’s difficult and slow to travel. So if even if you had like 18 Wheeler, or refrigerated semi trailer, which right now and impossibility in India, it was refrigerated, you’re going to spend hours and hours. So that’s, that’s time out of somebody’s life to get what would be perhaps a better, more competitive price that they could move between markets, right. So it’s, the language of the bill is saying interesting, and interstate facilitation. So the ability of farmers to move their product between states and within the state itself, again, so the example of Punjab ostensively, in the imagination of somebody who probably doesn’t live in Punjab, a farmer from a village, senior, Amritsar could harvest their crop, like so let’s, let’s say it’s wheat, or rice. And then they could take it to directly to a market in Bengal, for instance, all the way east, where perhaps they might get a better price, right? Maybe there’s a shortage of supply and demand means there’s a shortage of product there and they know I’ll get a better price there. There’s obviously in a region like Punjab that’s mostly reliant around 80% reliant on agriculture, its economy. So there’s going to be a high supply and a low price, right. But there’s an inability, there’s a real inability in terms of infrastructure and the way that people move, so that’s one of the things is trying to do. The second thing is that the government will not levy any fees or market like taxes, obsesses levies, on things that are outside of what’s called the APMC area, so we’ll talk about those in a second. So those are kind of the two things that are important in the farmers trade commerce thing again. What what immediately looks beneficial like a four especially I think for us as people in accustomed to North American types of industry and economies, this sounds great, you know, like, there’s no Levy, there’s no fee. Right? And the same thing, it sounds great, we should be able to move between markets and get the most competitive price. Right. But we also in North America take a lot of advantage of and and are sometimes ignorant of the large infrastructure that we have to do those things. Right. So that’s the first bill. The second one, farmers empowerment, agreement on price assurance and, and farm Services Act. This one is building on the first one, and it’s trying to kind of the big thing here is it’s trying to build a framework where the farmers can get equitable price for their product by letting them directly establish a contract with the buyer. Okay. So for instance, I’ll put it in, like Canadian terms, but, or even, like, let’s put it in American terms, if you want to something that will all recognize that. So you want to sell your produce to Whole Foods, right? So your organic farmer, you can directly go and say, Hey, I’m a farmer, I have organic produce, and I want to sell it to you guys. let’s establish a contract. Right? There’s no one in between you there’s, again, in connection to the first bill, there’s no levies, the government has kind of stepped aside. Right. Again, so in in ideal circumstances, or again, and sometimes, you know, things that we also I think, again, take advantage, take for granted is that you can then negotiate this somehow, right? And your negotiation will be in your benefit. And you can kind of find a middle ground between the buyer and the seller, right? Again, it sounds great ideal is ideally right. Um, so that’s kind of what this is doing. The second thing that this introduces, and then these are structured, very similar. So on the one side, there’s movement, and then the government’s kind of stepping aside, right, you can move freely, find the best price, government steps aside, no fees. In the second one, the empowerment protection agreement, you can you’re not, there’s no middleman. So you’re not disadvantaged in that way. Right? someone’s not increasing the price, because they then want to upsell it. You get to negotiate your price directly. And, again, idealistically, there’s some benefit accrued to the seller, right, the farmer, so he should he or she should get a better price. On the same way, the structure, then the government steps aside, in the sense of how these things will be if there was a dispute, right? The government isn’t the place for the recourse. Right. So you would go to the courts or something like that ostensively. So you don’t get to go again, language bills, you don’t get to go to a conciliation board, a sub divisional magistrate or an appellate authority. Okay. Those are governmental mechanisms, kind of checks and measures to provide fairness in the current system. Right. So those are gone. Right. The Essential Commodities Amendment Act, then is really just a check. In the sense that the government is saying here that in the event that certain commodities, the price increases drastically, I’m getting, you know, somewhere, let’s say around the order of 100%. Right. They will then step in and impose a regulation, right, they’ll put a limit on the ability to kind of inflate the price, right. So there’s exceptions that goes to cereals, pulses, potatoes, onions, oils, and, um, the seeds of oils as well, I think. So, in those instances, those are kind of the things that people the foodstuffs, that most people, that’s the diet of South Asian . So they’re trying to again, make sure that those don’t experience any high rate of inflation, right? Because the other thing that these bills do is they allow An ideal way for people to kind of expand called hoarding Frank. So let’s say you don’t get you don’t get a good price. wholefoods is like, you know, like, this is where we’re this is it this is where we go if you don’t want this price, no deal. You’re like, well, I’ll hang on to my potatoes, right, I’ll store them. And I’ll wait for, you know, so like, it’s harvested, there’s a height of supply, I’ll wait for that to diminish, and then I’ll come back to Whole Foods perhaps. And I’ll ask them again, maybe they’ll take my price, right? That squares difficult with reality, again, in the sense of, if anyone’s been to Punjab and seen at harvest time how crops are handled, often they’re left in open air, there’s no containers to house them, let alone again, refrigerated air controlled facilities, where the temperature, humidity and things like that are regulated. And there is even currently, if there’s a rain or something the crops will diminish, right? So the, the idea that you’re gonna afford the food doesn’t square with the reality of a lot of the farmers, right. So the one of the questions is, who’s, whose reality is this squaring with them? Right. So we can shelve that for a second. So that’s kind of the three bills, right. And the way the government is describing this is, there’s an attempt to enable and facilitate better competition amongst people in the agricultural sector. So that it enhances the farmers ability to get the highest income. So it’s meant to increase their income and and again, ostensibly improve the quality of life of farmers.
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 27:02
Okay, I have just a few questions just to kind of reiterate back what I’m hearing. So like, at a high level, we got these three bills. What I’m hearing is, in theory, these bills will make it possible for farmers to have a wider market to sell to have more control over the negotiability. And also, the ability tickets, they can kind of I don’t want to say exploit, but kind of manipulate the market like this stockpiling a use case or explaining, like, I think it assuming that farmers and like they physically cannot legally but physically can. They’re able to they have the resources. I think that does sound nice. But I think the question is, like, what’s actually going to happen? Right. Right.
Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal 27:52
Yeah, and so that’s kind of, again, there’s their, you know, on the some at some level, you know, the deregulation is good, and should be commended, right? India has a large bureaucracy, and often because of that, it, you know, slows things down that slow crawl when it comes to food, increases waste, right? It strains supply chains, logistics. So there’s a lot of a lot of kind of, you know, I think foresight in these bills, if they were in a different context, right. And maybe it’s the context of certain folks, right, the folks who maybe are doing better and see the world in a different way. Right. And that’s the way we see it, too. We are I just want to mention it, that we live in this privileged world, right. And we are you you all in the states who are listening in the States, if you’re in the scene, Canada, we’re at the center of global capitalist realities. And so we see this through a certain lens. Right. And and it’s part of the difficulty in understanding this on why the reaction. Um, so it’s basically a loose liberalization of a regulatory scheme, right? that’s meant to be in the interest of the producers and the consumers. Right. So this, you know, again, things that we all would, I think, you like, Oh, that sounds great. You know, I’m for that, right. And again, like it’s increasing trade, increasing ability to stock things right on getting out the middleman. Right. So those are all things that sound really good. Great.
Gurk (Coaches Don’t Play Podcast) 29:50
So Harjit, I have a question here for you in the current system, so how is the price determined? So let’s just say for potatoes like in the mandi system, I guess, how did they determine that?
Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal 30:04
Right. So I guess that kind of goes to, you know, kind of what is what is the system of production and sale currently? Right. Um, what are the limits of that? What are the problems? And, again, I think it is worth recognizing that the government has been successive governments have been trying to improve the system of farming the system of sale, and through those two things have benefits to the producers and the consumers. Right. So, that is, if there’s a long standing record of this going back to the 90s, if not earlier, and then really kind of ramping up in the early 2000s. But the mandi system, how does it work? So, mandis are basically government markets? It’s a regulated market, it’s centralized. Okay. So if, if, let’s say I have, let’s say, I’m a small farmer, right? I have what most most, I want to kind of, you know, I really want to square the realities here, I don’t think you have a sense of it. So somewhere around 70% of farmers in India have less than five acres of land. small, small, you can imagine. People in Canada, who are successful have estates that are bigger than that. So my house might be on 10 or 12 acres. So a farmer in Punjab is an average farmer and everyday farmer has about five acres of that percentage of that 70%. A large number. About half have around two acres. Right. So that’s again, you know, some some middle class families homes in North America are on an acre, right? So that’s somebody’s spot. Okay, that is where you eke out your living. Right? That’s where you, you know, provide for your family, put clothes on people’s back, feed them, try to put them in school, right? Try to get them in education. Right. So that’s somebody’s reality. So let’s say that’s my reality. Right? I am going to harvest my coffee. And I’m not have to travel with that crop to a centralized mandi, there’s certain places in Punjab, but in any any state, farming happens in many states, in India, there’s there’s regulated places where the mandis are. So there’s a there’s a small number of right. So again, if I’m, let’s say, in a marginal area of Punjab, and it takes me a long time to get my transport my product over to the mandi, I’m at a competitive disadvantage, because my crop is sitting there longer in the elements, right, then it’s on a transport vehicle exposed to the elements. It can topple, there’s so many things that can happen, right? In order for me to get to that place, just just to get it. Right. So the amount of time I already have a competitive disadvantage, I’m away from on mandi, right. And I don’t have any way to determine that because, you know, blog, I’ll give you another stat. So there is somewhere around 76% of the Indian population, who is living poor in poor conditions. And what that means is that if they were to spend 100% of their income on food alone, they could not provide food for a new nutrient rich life. So these are the constraints people live in their eyes. We don’t we don’t see this right. I think it’s hard to square this with our realities, right. So you are in the system and you’re trying to go there to get this get a fair price. So the mandi is where this happens. And that’s, you know, you don’t have an ability to move correctly. You can’t go buy land where it’s closer, right? The lines you get is what you inherited. Right. And it’s very difficult to buy land because land is very expensive, given overpopulation. Right. Um, Punjab has witnessed rapid inflation in land values. over this last millennium, the last two decades here, too. So when you get to the mandi, what you see there is the mandis are technically called APMCs. Okay. Agriculture produce market committee is a group of people who regulate the mandis regulate that market. So you have a government board, and they are meant to safeguard the price right now for farms. Okay? So they’re their goal is to prevent exploitation by corporations, agro industry, and middlemen. Okay. And what they how they do that is they regulate the price. So they they establish what is called, and this is what’s been debated is a minimum support price. Okay. So with those bills, there’s no mention of a minimum support price, right. And in previous legislation legislation, it seems that there’s also no mention of a minimum support price is just something that’s kind of been working alongside these controls, right? Um, so what the market committee does the PMC as they set a minimum support price. And that’s supposed to regulate what happens within the mandi , the mandis is an auction. So you bring in your stuff, and it’s auctioned off to buyers. Those are the intermediaries, right? You might have heard the term Aarthiya. So those are the intermediaries. Okay. Now, what’s, what happens in is that the product is sold there. And then from there, it, it goes on up the chain, the supply chain, and the economic kind of, you know, side of it. And it’s sold to other people. It’s processed in certain ways, right? And it goes up to eventually stores where it’s purchased, right, or being like other markets, where food is sold and things like that. So you have that’s what the mandi is, right? Do you want me to talk a little bit about the history of this?
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 37:12
Oh, I just wanted to chime in real quick. I think Gurk was gonna say something. But I was gonna say so it sounds like what the bills, there’s at least one bill that’s like, if in the worst case scenario, prices just started playing, we’ll put a cap on it. But it also in the same vein, there’s an absence of a floor as well. Right?
Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal 37:33
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 37:33
Okay. And then Gurk, were you going to say something?
Gurk (Coaches Don’t Play Podcast) 37:36
Yeah, so I’m just gonna say before we like to just move on from there. So in like this mandi or the MSP that they said, can they change that. So if they serve a certain price, let’s just say for you know, 100 kilos of potatoes, and then you have a bunch of farmers, small time farmers that go and they harvest this crop? Now, in the time that they harvest it to the time that they make it to the mandi? Can this committee technically change that price? Can they reduce it or increase it in that time?
Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal 38:02
Yeah, so again, so this is this is where, you know, the the, the very kind of materiality of paper regulations, squares hard with reality. So this is why there’s been continuing the government’s aware of this, that it is still liable to exploitation as you’re suggesting, and that exploitation is happening. So the these mandis actually aren’t effectively able to prevent exploitation. Okay. And why that’s the case it goes to your question is that there’s kind of this term that’s used, it’s called cartelization. So cartels have kind of developed amongst the Aarthiyas, or the intermediaries. And what they do is they it’s the same thing as oil prices, right? Like globally, right? In some way, like you can buy, it’s a little bit differently, you can buy oil, right? And you can trade it, if you can buy oil, and you can hold a large amount of it. You can trade it back and forth between you and your buddies, right? Um, and and then every time you do that, say, you know, hey, hey, Kamran, like buy it for this month. And you’re like, Okay, sure. And then they can all buy it from you for 50 cents more per leader, right? And then it’s just going back and forth, back and forth. Until you know, there’s this decrease in the price in this increase in demand and shortage of supply. And then you can sell it to the market for a higher rate right. Now, that’s what happens in oil prices, or what happens with the mandis is that the art theists come together, and they kind of agree that they won’t buy below. This is the max price. So if the MSP is higher, they’re still so the MSP is set by This regulatory Committee, which is kind of setting up protocols, if you will, across the country, but agriculture is regulated by the states, right? So there’s no real way to enforce this. Right? So what happens is the in the cartelization kind of scheme is they get together. And they say, you know, the minimum price is 4500 rupees per quantile, or something, right? Let’s buy it for 2000. Nobody agreed to buy it on auction for more than that. Right. And that’s for a certain type of product, right? So, you know, like, in, in North American markets, in agriculture, there’s gradations of the, you know, like type A, type B. So there’s, there’s a way to, like label the quality of the produce. It’s not as regulated there. But they’re kind of get the best product, right? So again, so if you’re the guy who has to go a long way, you might get to the mandi and your product has diminished in quality, because of the distance, the temperature and all these things. So there is a way that it’s still open to exploitation. And that’s been a great and kind of a long standing issue of farmers who want to see the system reformed. And so there’s been subsequent bills. So I’ll just label here. So there’s, there’s an so one of the things I’m going to your question is that at the end of the day, the centralization is still kind of favoring the Aarthiya, as it’s in favoring the intermediate, right. And there’s something like 40% waste for some products, like vegetables on down the supply chain. So by the time it gets there 40% of my profits, that it’s not sailing, so there’s a high, high loss of food, which which should be a concern, right? Remember, like what I was saying before, like, if you spend 100% of your income, there’s still a large portion of India’s population that cannot give itself a nutrient rich diet 100% of your income, you still can’t eat properly. Right? So losing 40% of the food to waste is an issue. It’s an important issue to think about, right. And then there is beyond that, this kind of price adjustment that happens with the cartels kind of right. So 2003, there was an attempt to reform this is called APMC Model Act is something that the central government put forth. Only 16 states adopted any of those reforms. Okay. So it wasn’t adopted, by and large. And in 2017, this is this is this has been a promise of the Modi government to fix farming. Right. So 2017, another attempt was made by another model act. So it does model agricultural produce and livestock marketing, promotion and facilitation. They’re very long titles. But again, it wasn’t really it wasn’t really taken up. and subsequent to that, in 2019, a standing committee on agriculture was created, again, to kind of think about, and suggest ways to reform this, and one of the things that they suggested was to increase the number of the markets. So increase the role markets, right? Rather than having four maybe have 15. Right? So increase that so that people can get to the market quicker, right? It was it’s a good suggestion. I wasn’t it wasn’t taken up in any way again, nobody actually attempted to increase the markets. And there’s there was a proposal instead of the apmc to create something called hawks so it’s an open air market. It’s called a hot and again, so by increasing the number of APMCs adding and creating this alternate a hot the hot is kind of like a farmers market almost if you did bad analogy, but it’s kind of where the farmers can create their own market and sell directly to local people. Right. So you could, you know, ostensibly come together in a central place, and Anyone who needs food around that area could just buy it and be fresh. Right? And and that can be a way to get the food where it needs to be. So neither of those, the heart was meant to be increased across India, it was attempted to be increased in certain states, Punjab was not one of them. And so we’re talking 20 2017 here 2019 is the regular the new committee’s recommendations. And now we’re into the present. So what the President has done is, rather than taking any of those suggestions, they’ve decided to, you know, at some level, it sounds similar, right? They’re creating alternate markets. But what a hot is, is your direct, you’re the producer and the seller, you bring in your crop, you turn around, and you sell it to folks in the vicinity. Right? So there is a large amount of freedom, it’s like a farmers market, right? You can hire some people, right? Um, it sustains a small economy, a local economy. And in, they’ve gone to kind of this way to kind of negotiate between corporations and farmers in the new bills, without any real protection. Right. So that brings us back to that’s kind of the history of what the mandi is, and then some of the problems and you know, the ways there’s ongoing conversation in the country about this. And the interesting thing is the regulations. And again, if you listen to the protesters, I think this is important. The government central government is trying to do something, it’s hearing this and wants to do something here in Delhi is very far from the reality of a lot of people, right, even though the reality in Delhi is also there’s a lot of poverty in Delhi, right. But not in the areas where the government is right. And on the other side, you have the states who are the ones who are supposed to be implementing this, right. So if you listen to the protesters, a lot of the protesters, especially the Punjabi protesters, are I raised with their state governments. So a lot of them have been saying we had to come all the way to the center to try to get some address of this issue, because our state government absolutely failed us over and over and over and over again. So again, if you listen to that, it speaks to a ground reality, which we may not see. So again, it might be easy to admonish dissenters role. But that’s overlooked the role of every individual state that refuses to implement these things. And those are the local governments, right? And having had no recourse there over decades, this has just led up to I think, finally people just saying, you know what, we’re walking to delete, and we’re gonna see what we can get. Right.
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 48:22
Okay, so I just want to reiterate. So essentially, what I’m gathering is, mandis were not necessarily good, the existing mandi system was not necessarily good to begin with. Spend like, at least, almost 20 years. And I saw that by adding essentially more markets, which I think we can can consider a mandi a market, so adding more markets to this network, so that they’re more accessible to farmers. And then that went out the window. And now we’re here where government says, you know, what, no monies at all, just completely eliminate them. And in that entire time sounds like at least in the, in the case of Punjab. The end, I think, sounds like multiple states or local governments have, I think, failed over these years. And so now it’s kind of been this is this is basically it. kind of taken to the Capitol.
Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal 49:16
Yeah, it’s kinda like, farmers kind of lost hope, almost. Right. And that’s how they feel this is this is a it’s an existential crisis. It’s for farmers, I, it seems like they feel this is life or death. If If, if I don’t die, my kids will die. And I need to do something. Right. And that’s why you have to recognize this is a spontaneous movement, and it’s not a threat to the nation. No one is trying to destroy this country. It is a case specifically about the issues with farming and the and this kind of the intersection between local governments and State governments and central governments, where again, the center does seem to be wanting to do something. Right. But I think the there’s there’s a clear indication of the voices in the, in the government’s ears, the whispers, in the government, the lobby groups are the corporation’s. And so that’s that’s the farmers, I think what the farmers felt like is, well, let’s go there, you know, so, you know, elite in India can phone up the government, right, just like in any country and be like, Hey, I have an idea. Right? Why don’t we do this? Right. And everyday people don’t have that access. So the government is far and the people thought, hey, there’s no way to get this other than go there and have a conversation with these people. And that’s been their demand, like, the real demand is, look us in the face. Look at how we live, here we are. Talk to us. Right, come out of your buildings into the street and talk to us. Right? That hasn’t happened. Right. But it probably won’t. Right. But I think that speaks to the difference in realities here to everyday people who look each other in the face and, and try to settle differences in the kind of immediate way versus the regulation regimes that happen. I just wanted to talk a little bit more about there’s a deeper history to this. The Mundi system actually, is a colonial system. Okay. And it speaks to, I think, something I’m sympathetic to is the need for India to come up with its own systems develop and evolve to the needs of its nation. Right. And, and those are very particular needs, they’re different than things that we would see in our neck of the woods, but we can’t be naive. People in our neck of the woods, governments and corporations have a large influence on what happens in countries like, right to the different channels, whether they’re corporate, capitalistic, or whether they’re so called democratic groups, right. So in the colonial period, in the 1800s, the British are setting up a system of exploitation where they’re going to rob all of the colonies, including our own here in Canada and us abroad goods and send them to factories in largely mostly in England, but in other parts of Europe, where they can be manufactured and then resold to people in the calling. Right. And, and other groups within the countries, but that was you know, the kind of the colonial system in a nutshell, poorly stated, but that’s kind of what’s going on. Just like felt pelts were important in Canada, our crops like cotton were important in India to take to factories in places like Manchester. So, the pure really nice cotton that India produced could be taken to these factories in England and create nice clothes to be sold everywhere right. So, they needed to ensure a reasonable price. Right, the reasonable price is a price that benefits the colonizer here, right. Right. So, this is, so again, this is where you have to recognize that there has been some change, right? The present system is trying to safeguard and prevent exploitation of the farmer. That was not the way that this was set up. This was set up to exploit raw goods and labor, right. So in 1886, in Hyderabad, you have the first kind of mandi system develop. Right now it was arbitrarily set to ensure highest profit, right for the British went to mind you, you know, like, there’s a large distance to traverse to get something to Manchester, right. But I don’t think that they should be excused for that exploitation. That’s my opinion. I don’t think that’s excusable. So it was exploitation 1928. There’s a royal commission on agriculture. So about 40 years later, right. This sets up a system of mandis largely speaking. So it sets up the process of this regulated market right after 1940 Seven after independence in the 60s and 70s, alongside the Green Revolution, which really drastically changes life and job, right, for better and poor, it’s a there’s a misnomer that it just benefits and job. But that is happening at the same time as these new market regulations are happening. So, again, the governments in those days were concerned and trying to get around the issue of exploitation and trying to benefit Indians. Again, because probably because you had just experienced 100 plus years, depending on what part of India you’re in, have gross exploitation. Right? So that’s kind of where the real history of this is. And so I think evolving this system is a problem, rather than I mean, you we hopefully will talk about this, but like, how does this relate to our world? We live in a colonial world, right? There’s been mass demonstrations about getting rid of police, which are colonial defenders, protecting the interests of the elites, that’s how they were set up. I’m changing the university system, something I work in, but I also see the racist implications of being in that system. All of these all these institutions that are created by colonialism. Within the capital system, the current capitalist global system are at their last rung, arguably, there, we’ve seen, again, this massive exploitation of people, right. So I think this is a trend that’s much larger than India. What’s interesting, partly is that there’s a very large population. And so the extent of which disruptions can affect and how visible they are, is really dramatic, right, so that there is something there as well. So there’s kind of, there’s a slow creep, where this colonial system that gets put into nationalist context is just that it’s, again, really stressed and stretched. So I think that’s kind of brings into a bigger conversation, what the farmers are fighting for, at a very low level. So yeah.
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 57:30
That makes sense. So I mean, overall, it seems like we’re going from one system of exploiting people to potentially, I mean, this new system, as idealistic as it sounds, who’s to say that we’re not going to end up in a situation where now the intermediaries are replaced by like a monopoly of large corporations, who then you know, have a stronghold and just more resources to? I don’t know, like the right words, but put smaller farmers out of business. I mean, similar to what you see with mom and pop shops in North America, and like the advent of like Walmart and Amazon, and I’m not taking I mean, I’m a big shopper of both, but I’m similar. I Pammy, Gurk, were you gonna say something?
Pammy (Coaches Don’t Play Podcast) 58:15
Yeah, I just wanted to kind of get some not like, I guess, like information or clarification on, you mentioned earlier that when they were introducing these farm bills, the government kind of didn’t have open discussion with these bills that kind of just introduced and they just walked away. So like, if they know, the lack of infrastructure in let’s say, for example, Punjab, for these bills to even make sense for the farmers. Why, like, Where did that disconnect come from? Like, is that just a history of them not listening to the people is that the states that are whispering in their ears? Like, where? What’s happening there? That, to me is like a huge deal that you say that you’re a democracy, but you’re not like, that’s a huge, I think, dropping the ball situation.
Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal 59:04
Yeah, I mean, thank you. I think that’s a good thing to recognize. And that kind of lets us talk a little bit more about some of the real issues here. Right. And the concerns, right, so, um, what you have here is me arguably something we’ve already seen, okay. In the sense of during the Reagan years in in America, and if Thatcherism and Reaganism right? You see this kind of push to de centralized, right? deregulate, right. And we live in, and again, this, I think ties into, you know, people, especially in What’s really interesting about Punjab is Punjab has since the 80s, because of the genocide, and attempts to torture, maim and do all sorts of bad things to Sikh in the province have left, right, there’s been mass migration. And and it’s been increasing exponentially as the economic life of the province worsens, right? In the 80s. Punjab of the 80s was one of the wealthiest, the most educated provinces regularly. Partly again, because of what the Green Revolution afforded Punjab, right? That’s just one side of it. Mind you, right. I’ll just see what the other side is. The other side is mass, environmental devastation, destruction of land, nutrient levels have dropped drastically, water tables have fallen over 10 meters, across the state. fertilization, pesticides, improper use of those improper protections have led to a large number of issues, health issues in farmers because they breathe in all this stuff. There’s substance substance abuse, for purposes of self medication, because we don’t have access to something. So to negate the pain, you take things like opium, alcohol, other narcotics, that leads to physical abuse and other types of abuse. There’s labor exploitation, that happens in Punjab, overpopulation, the return of those amine body system, infrastructural issues, right? So the green, the Green Revolution isn’t all all green and happy. It has a darker side. And and if you’re a Punjabi and you live in the culture, you know, that like you see, this, I think is very real. So, um, however, what was what was going on, in terms of this bigger thing is that you have a movement, that’s kind of the infrastructure is getting worse and worse and worse to people moving out. And people know the history of the rest of the world in Punjab, right, um, just phone calls large, easy communication. So what going back to what my initial point was, is, you know, in America, for instance, in the 90s, you have deregulation of agriculture, right? happens in the mid 90s, around 1996. By 1998, you lost $13 billion from farmers pockets, something around that around that dollar. Okay. And, shortly thereafter, there’s calls to be reform, the reforms, right. And today are in the states without government subsidization, you can’t earn, earn a living as a farmer in the US either. Right. So this, this has been mentioned by the protesters, they know this. There are protesters out there right now who know the reality in other parts of the world, right. And they see a version of this in this in these bills, okay. They see D regularization, D regularization, and cozying up with capital of interest, right. The capital interest in India are largely by the Adani group. That’s the one that’s been the name of which has been thrown around the most. And a recent meeting by amongst the center and the leaders of the farmers movement. There was talk about how one of the ministers actually said this, in the meeting that if we were to what the farmers want his bills to be thrown up. So start from scratch, right? Just like we’re saying here, get rid of this stuff, get rid of the police. Let’s start from scratch. Right? So they want a clean slate. Let’s let’s talk and let’s write these bills. We’re sitting here. We want to talk to you, right? So one of the the minister said if we were to repeal the bills and get rid of them, we’re going to get a call from Adani seeing what’s going on. Right. Supposedly, this is recorded, I haven’t seen the recording I just saw the report that this was set. Okay. So, um, but what it did for for farmers was it substantiated that fear that this is a bill that was written not in consultation with farmers but written in consultation with corporate interests, and is written in the rhetoric of benefiting farmers, where the real reality of it is that it’s meant to facilitate what has been. I don’t even know a good word for it, but just a radical increase in the wonder to like 14 billionaires in India, right. So you can see over I think since May since the lockdowns and COVID there’s been an exponential rise in the wealth of millionaires in or billionaires like all these billionaires in India, Democracy Now was just reporting that think Adani or Ambani make $12 million an hour. So it really is. And so you square that was what I said, right? There’s 77% of the population that cannot meet its nutrient needs if it spends 100% of its income on food. Okay, so these are realities. We don’t I personally have trouble rationalizing. I don’t see this right. And so I think that’s our struggle here as people who are sympathetic and want to help out, right. So that’s some of the concerns in sense of deregulating from the government weakens government, right? That’s what we see in our democracies, governments are weakened, they’re unable to this has been the conversation, right? They’re unable to do anything. And that actually facilitates the logic and the rhetoric of corporates that say government is inefficient, right? However, it hides a different reality and a different potential. So something like, you know, there’s very recent conversation around the Canadian healthcare system has always been talked about in America as inefficient. Right? Because it’s public and public has to be inefficient. The market is what makes efficiencies right. And just shortly after the, the pandemic, there was, I forget the gentleman’s name, but someone who was Canadian and worked for research groups in the US came out and said, I just, you know, I feel a compulsion Now, given the current circumstances, and you can really see the difference between Canadian healthcare systems and American wants to deal with this one is public funded, and one is private, the public one was doing better. He said, I just want to recognize and say that, we were paid by corporate groups to manufacture these, this data and make the Canadian system look bad. And he was meant to do that, so that there could be a logic and reason to move away from public systems. So what this does and what the danger here is, and this is this is a part of I think the social dynamic was going on in India is we’re seeing this here, too, is a deep distrust of knowledge. Right? There’s a deep distrust of knowledge and the analysis and the outcomes of knowledge production. Right. And that’s dangerous for society, but it’s also a fault of the people who are producing new knowledge. Right, um, to let themselves be sold to different interests. Right. So what what you’re seeing here is the reason reasoning is if if you have a market in control, everything will be just an equitable facts show that’s not the case. There’s no historical precedent for this, right? producers will never get a fair deal, they’ll get a raw deal. Right? So what ostensibly will happen if you put out the if you try to connect the dots, and and this is ostensible. I’m not saying this is in fact, but it stands to reason that all the gaps I’ve stated, could be places where these corporates could fill in. If I’m a billionaire, and then I’m making $12 million an hour, it’s not difficult for me to buy up land and take it away from farmers. That’s one of their concerns. The farmers concerns. It’s not difficult for me to buy up land and create a housing facility where I can buy the produce at a cheap price and hoard it. Right. In a country where people don’t meet their nutrition needs. That’s unethical. Right? But that’s a concern. Right? It’s not hard for me to try to You know, maybe there’s some new electric trucks that are going to come out that could have figuration facilities and things like that. And then I can control that, right? And my 12 million an hour maybe gets bigger and bigger and bigger, right. So the level of the destruction of the government systems, which are already strained in India as it is because of so many issues of global issues, right, and global issues, dealing with capitalism and exploitation, and inability to build infrastructure for the people are really coming out in this frame. So that I think that’s kind of goes to some of what you were saying is that that’s some of the fear as well. But, um, it speaks to that inability.
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 1:10:42
Yeah, I mean, just sounds, it just sounds like this. Farmers are concerned that this would just make things worse than they already are. Now, now, they’re kind of at the width of that, like, not the government, you know, so who knows what that means? So I think as we kind of bring this to a close, can you share, like practical ways, I think Pammy had had a lot of people in her audience asking how they can help. I think, obviously, giving money is one thing. I think learning is another way to support it, because like this was this is an earful of information. But I didn’t know. And I, I feel like it, it’s important to implore people that if they want to help, they need to understand the problem in depth. And they need to kind of re convey that to other people by Yeah. Pammy, Gurk, did you have any thoughts on that?
Pammy (Coaches Don’t Play Podcast) 1:11:34
Um, yeah, I just kind of want to know, like, where, or like, where we can read up on like more of this? Because I just have like, a million more questions now. Like, yeah, like the larger scale of what what’s happening…
Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal 1:11:51
Right…uh…So, this is a challenge, right? This is a challenge for us in diasporas. For one thing, right. And it speaks to, I think, long standing problems here. And it goes back to you know, one of the reasons why I wound up studying what I do I have a degree in molecular genetics. And that was, you know, I was very young back then. But I, I kind of was, I was at a loss, I didn’t know how to learn this stuff. Right. Um, but I was a motivated self learner. Right. So I think there’s, you know, how do we do this? I think that, you know, for one thing, in the immediate let’s talk about the immediate thing first, right. Try to follow what you can in terms of one of the big things that’s changed. And I think I’ll speak a little bit here, um, you know, a big thing that’s changed between today and kind of that decade between 1984 and 1994, where there was a lot of heartache and pain in Punjab during those genocidal years has been cameras, right? People, you there’s a lot of footage on the ground. In Delhi right now. Right? I’m here people like listen to their frustrations, right. Um, I was listening to this one guy, he was a very well as well. And that’s not why I’m interviewing him. But there’s always a joke about gray walls being very boisterous and expressive, over educated. And so he was talking about his brother who died fighting in the army, and their struggles in their land, just getting food prepared and the kind of toil that they do every day in farming. And you could just, it wasn’t like he was saying, it was the rage. You could just it was palpable. It just the frustration that people are feeling, I think, you know, so we’re benefit. We benefit from some of the technological advances. My students and I talk about this in our class, we have access to things we wouldn’t have. So the ability to create regimes of disinformation is is somewhat harder, because there’s that counter, for instance, one of the things there’s a slow build up to this, but one of the things the center likes to promote to the media is all Sikhs are Khalistani. So all Sikh anything, that’s Sikhs want in terms of rights goes to kind of a sub national desire to be independent from the state. But that has been orchestrated and mechanized by the state by choking Punjab, right. And it it absolves itself about reality. Right. And the media is sympathetic to this narrative that Sikhs are either defending the state or they’re against the state. So there’s, there’s the good Sikhs and the bad Sikhs, right? And that doesn’t square with reality Sikhs want good life, whatever country they’re in. And they’re usually loyal to that. Unless they’re pushed to extremes, right. And everybody would be if they were pushed to extremes, you know, we have lots of independent movements across the globe, and they’re valid in each way, right. But the ability of what you can watch as well, if you follow this is people are people in the media and the mainstream press are trying to make this an issue about Khalistan. When this is an issue about people’s ability to live and eat, right, whether that’s the producer or the consumer. And so if you watch these videos, you can really see that there’s there’s over and over and over again, emphasis that we are not demanding what the media says we are demanding, and we are not violent. So that there’s something to mark here is that the state was already violence, right? As the state has already attack on these people. Right? They were water cannons shot at them. There was senior citizens who were beat up. Ah, there has been extra judicial arrests. People have been people have had fingers shoulders broken. They’ve been arrested for no reason for days. Right. So we have access to this. That’s the thing, we have access to this alternative narrative. So there’s the media narrative, and then there’s this. So it does require some knowledge. And I think it does require us to have conversations, which is my second point is that, you know, we are not well served in the halls of knowledge production. And our stories aren’t well told. So there’s not a lot of good research on Punjab. And I don’t know, I’m saying I’m not saying our here as Sikh, I’m seeing our as Punjab. And as Indians as South Asians, as you know, people who interact across a lot of different types of hierarchies, right, those stories just aren’t. Right. So it’s hard to access them. Um, so these types of things, what you guys are doing, again, I applaud you for this is a part of that I think it’s a step in the right direction is to have these conversations, tried to build community and try to share our stories, right. So those are those are important things. That helps us understand what’s going on there. Right. So maybe some of your audience, maybe some of you guys, your parents are farmers, they left Punjab, they probably know what a mandi system is. Right? You might not get it all. But there’s always language issues and things like that. But this stuff is available to us. Right. So that’s the one thing I think, in terms of what we can do. increasing our knowledge is definitely one of them. The other thing is, share that knowledge with people, build allies with other groups who are also disenfranchised. Right. You know, my, my family, we were out there during the pandemic, even with the Black Lives Matters, protests, supporting that cause not as trying to create a different cause, but supporting that cause and the real reality of that injustice. Let people know what’s going on. Find allies, This is injustice. Right? Um, and I think the other thing is support them financially support people, and they’re like, we’re hopefully able to raise some donations for Khalsa Aid who can actually go in and support the efforts and again, the effort there is really interesting. So again, like you have, the longer being shared, so the police were beating up in arresting the protesters are eating with them because of the longer there’s pictures of this right. And, and there again, I think it speaks to the real ethos of the Khalsa of Sikhism is we’re, we might fight on a field, but it ends there too. So for the Khalsa, that’s where it ends and then everybody is brothers and sisters, and so on. Those are things I think we can kind of try to learn about too. I have someone who I think studied this are probably far too long. You know, it’s good to learn about the context in which, especially with Punjab is a very, very complicated net of a different relationships and, and justice and humanity has grounded of his province, across its differences in many ways. And there’s an importance for that in the Sikh tradition. But there’s also importance in the different Bhakti groups in Hinduism, and the Sufi Silsilas and other aspects of Islam on the legalistic parts of it as well. It’s kind of built over time, a net of relationships, those things are hard fought for, so when we lose them, there’s a real threat to our society as well.
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 1:20:53
I just have one last thing, so, um, as I mean, there’s there are definitely people that do not support the protesters, both I think in India, in North America, some of them are kind of like, closet, anti-protest, or some of them are more vocal. And like, I feel like I personally feel like if you want to spread awareness, you also there’s also like, kind of bring in people from like that perspective and help them like, understand, like, understand your perspective. So instead of like shaming people for having an opposing view, or calling them out really like trying to understand like, where they’re coming from, and, like, do you have any suggestions on that?
Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal 1:21:36
Yes, um, I, I, you know, I think part of part of what I, and I kind of flagged this in my conversation, and I do a espouse this, but I also admire this, that one of the things, I think that the situation is important in passing on, and this isn’t specific to six, this is something that the sixth edition passes to humanity is don’t be oppositional. Um, knowing yourself doesn’t mean you know, demeaning, or dividing other people. Right, that that doesn’t, those things aren’t connected, right. And so that requires a generosity when you interact with one another, right. And some of the generosity again, is in that longer. So you’re getting beat up, but you’re sharing. And when we share food, we share conversation, share experience, we share nurture, and sustenance, right? Find a way to talk to each other, don’t be inflammatory. Don’t accuse each other of things. So if you don’t support the protests, if you don’t support other protests, and let’s say it’s people who don’t support masks, right. Find a way to have a conversation. If if you’re talking to a racist, right, um, you probably don’t want to call them a racist. Right? So there’s, I think there’s there’s strategies and stuff like that, where we should, again, this goes to, I think the real threat of crude through creating doubt, to systems of knowledge, right? increases the volatility of human moments as much as it does just doubt, right. If you’re doubting everything, it can enhance anxiety, and it can make some make it in make you unable to understand our perspectives, right, like you You latch on to entirely your perspective, and that’s where it stands. Right. So I think, I think having some generosity in that way. Also, again, what I admire with the protesters go out and trash talk to the person right? Like it’s, it’s, I think it’s something to be applauded is something as simple as saying, Come on, we walked all the way over here, been on our tractors, we’ve, you know, whatever convenience we have, however, we can get here, you now come out a few 100 meters and talk to us, right. Again, I think that’s the principle we can all use. And you know, I think that’s part of what I do admire about the university systems provides young people a way to have that come it doesn’t always work but I think an open safe spaces for conversations should be something we fight for not turning away from. So I think those are those are things if you’re going to try to share some some perspectives. You know, and and share knowledge when you do that right. share some of the realities, be knowledgeable. First, learn and evaluate And then come to, you know, Converse and come to some type of ideas and then try to share those right? Again, it is really hard, like, it’s really hard to think about the disparity in India and how people are reacting to this. So what people are favoring is the relations that already exist. So we I’d rather have the Aarthiya and something unknown, right? The archaea, helps me even though I’m indebted to him, and I’ll never get out of this debt. Right? I can go and talk to him, I can drink tea with him, he’s going to find my daughter’s wedding, I’m still going to be in debt to him, I’m never going to get a debt, I’d rather be in debt to him, because I can go talk to him. Right? These are dynamics we don’t understand. I think in in the way we live our lives, we are much more dehumanized in the way we relate to each other, then, um, people in India. So I, I was getting a sweet once when I was in India, and the guy who was making it was talking about North Americans. He was saying, you guys, you folks, and he was like, you know, you folks, you don’t like to touch anything you don’t like to interact with, you know, you don’t need you don’t like to be near each other. You don’t like to touch each other. And I was getting uncomfortable. And so we’re like, why this guy saying he wants to touch me and stuff. Right. But, you know, jokes aside, his deeper point was, I think, you know, when you have that face to face relationship, there’s something that goes, What’s interesting, this is not economics to them, they would rather be in debt to this person because they know them. Right? And I think it’s again, those are things these realities are really hard for us to understand. There’s a huge cultural divide, even though we identify with a lot of the same things.
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 1:26:56
Awesome, thank you. Just one, before we wrap this up, I want to see like Pammy, Gurk, did you have any last things you wanted to get out? And then same thing for you, Harjit?
Gurk (Coaches Don’t Play Podcast) 1:27:07
Um, like, other than the like, what do you think is gonna be the result? Like,I know, obviously, you would never know. But like, what do you think like, just historically, what do you think probably gonna happen?
Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal 1:27:23
My, my fear is that there’s, there’s hundreds of 1000s of people sitting there. Right? It doesn’t take much to create a spark and something terrible happen. Right. So my fear is that already, the state has been provocative. The agencies of the state have been arresting people, increasing frustration, harassing people, right. So thankfully, the protesters, probably because of their experience, in many years of this type of context, being picked up, being beaten up being arrested, are aware of this and don’t want to reciprocate. Right, which is, I think, good. I think that that everybody’s been imploring to continue the peaceful route and not be incited or inflamed by these provocations. So my fear is that if that doesn’t hold something, there will be an attack on a lot of poor, disenfranchised people. It’ll be unfortunate. So I think I would join a lot of people in asking the state to be measured and careful in negotiating this and not having recourse to some of the avenues that are more forceful, that it does have recourse to. So protesters rights to cut express themselves should be maintained. What I hope happens is that again, I think that you have to recognize that the center is trying to juggle a lot of conflicting things here, right. And there is a limit to the negotiability of these things, but I I hope that there’s some negotiation and conversation I hope that the farmers get facetime with the representatives and they can move and affect the representatives and implore them to see the reality have hundreds of millions of people who live in absolute impoverishment, and whose lives are in danger, they are going, they may die. Right? And it’s not a gun to your head, or someone slicing off your arm, or something like that. It’s just because you can eat. Right. Um, that’s a travesty. Right? And I think every I think everybody recognizes that. And we need to go back to the humanity of this. Right. And outside of that, I hope that you know, I feel like there is, in these moments, when we demonstrate when we go out there, when we express ourselves when we come together. I think in the end, what it shows is government matters. And I think we need to we need to need to live that way. We need to believe in those institutions not believe in markets and dollars. Again, again, look, think about those folks. They’d rather be in debt, and have that relationship. Right. That’s not about dollars, there’s something else that’s connecting them. Right? They’re not they’re willing to the protesters are saying this, we work our so on. And we can, this is just a bit of knowledge. But a farmer in India is going to wake up at three in the morning. He’s going to work till 11pm. Every day, right? That’s their life. They, they they do slave away. And they feed everybody. They’re not just feeding themselves. They’re getting exploited, and they still produce this stuff. They’re committed to providing for the needs of the country. They believe in that they believe in providing food. Right. So I think that that’s kind of something to remember, there’s something that connects us that isn’t monitoring. And it’s been weird to watch. Like, I remember, there’s been this fetishization of billionaires in India, right? This kind of, this is the way to advance that if we have, if somebody has money, we can, you know, top 10 of this, top 100 of this, there’s ways that if we don’t have the infrastructure, we don’t have government, we don’t value our gun, we don’t structure our government and strengthen our government. The rest of it doesn’t matter. Right. Um, so and that speaks to everybody that speaks to the billionaires as much as anybody else. Like you live in that reality. And you are affected by your billions aren’t going to go anywhere. At the end of the day, like you can amass this, but what’s going to happen? Right, like so I think it’s these are moments to have new rather than just be emotional. have these conversations, think about these things. Use your, all your faculties of your mind, including the emotions be moved to being emotional, right? Um, I’ve been affected by this deeply, you know, like, I’m very emotional about this. It really is painful to watch. Right. And, and yet, we should think about it we shouldn’t just react be reactive. So yeah.
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 1:33:40
Awesome. Any any other last things? Okay, cool. Well, this is really awesome, Harjit. And thank you Jovan in the background for this in there, and Gurk and Pammy for being awesome. co hosts and Absolutely, thank you for your time. hirji.
Dr. Harjit Singh Grewal 1:33:59
Thank you guys, and I appreciate your endeavor, and I hope, hope we’re able to raise some money and it goes and has a positive effect over there. And again, I hope we see a positive end to this out there’s some evolution of the bills are repeal are rewriting and some movement that is is is truly a step towards equitable relationships between consumers and producers. So
Kamran (PlanEvents.ca) 1:34:26
absolutely. All right. Thank you. Thank you, guys. Bye.