The farmers' movement in Punjab is close to the hearts of many in Australia because of extended families and friends working on farms in Punjab. They say the three new farming bills introduced by the government of India may force farmers to sell their products much below their cost price.
Sukhdeep Singh Johal and Jasjot Kaur Benipal, who are both committed to Punjabi culture and language, consider themselves attached to the farmers' movement in India through connections with their families and friends back in Punjab.
- "We, the youth mostly born and raised in Australia, strongly feel that the Punjab farmers' movement is close to our hearts".
- "The three new bills introduced by the government of India should be taken back".
- "We want to spread the message across the globe about our support to the farmers of Punjab; we will bring in petitions and may approach the UN if required".
Sukhdeep Singh Johal, born and raised in Australia and working as a civil engineer, told SBS Punjabi, "I with my family visit India frequently and remain in touch with our extended family and friends living in Punjab and are very much aware of the current situation and concerns raised by the farmers in Punjab these days".
"The three bills passed by the government of India are against the farming class. It will ruin not only the farmers but all trades related to farming. By removing MSP the farmers will have no security or control over the price of their produce", said Jasjot Kaur born in Germany and raised in Australia".
"Initially, the corporate buyers may give a better price to lure the farmers into this changed system, but eventually, over the years there is no check that the farmers won’t be exploited. There won’t be any guarantee over the minimum price that will be offered".
Ms Benipal thinks that "If the farmers would be forced to sell their products below the cost, then the debts will increase, how they can go back to the farms again, and it will be like an endless cycle of exploitation".
Talking about the movement started by the youth of Australia to support the farmers in India Mr Johal said, "The first step is to make everyone here in Australia aware of the real situation. What is happening, what may happen to our farming families in India".
"We have formed an independent group called Sydney Sikh Youth Sangat that is not affiliated to any political or other social groups. Recently our group has organised a rally in Sydney where information about Punjab farmers movement was shared across the board. A petition was also launched which gathered more than 100 signatures".
Mr Johal said, "Due to Covid-19 restrictions we are not calling mass gatherings but want to spread the message through social media like it is being done in other countries like Canada, USA and UK".
"Not only we are simply opposing these bills because others are doing so, but we are also suggesting some solutions as well, for example, the MSP for Punjab should be fixed based on the inflation in Punjab".
Talking about the future steps Ms Benipal said, "We will reach out to the agitating farmers in India and ask them about the issues faced by them during the protests. We will try to reach out to the UN if required".
"It is going to be an ongoing movement and support by us in Australia to the farmers in Punjab, not just once off. We hope the movement will continue working in the right direction, and without falling in any traps".
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