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For Jats Of Haryana and Jatts Of Punjab – Agriculture Is No Longer A Viable Profession

By Dr. Sawraj Singh

Globalization is the highest state of imperialism, in which culture and technology are used to enslave other countries and nations along with capital. It will be no exaggeration to say that culture becomes the main instrument of enslavement. Globalization does not want people to stay grounded in their base. It creates conditions which force people to give up their stable base. It wants the workforce to be completely free from any attachments so that it can use them wherever it wants. In this context, the sharpest attack of Globalization is on the peasantry because normally, the peasantry is very much attached to its land. The other classes, such as the working class and the petit bourgeoisie, are relatively much more mobile. They can move anywhere in search of employment.

To uproot the peasantry from its land has become one of the biggest priorities of Globalization. The Jats of Haryana and the Jatts of Punjab both have become victims of Globalization. They both have to struggle to preserve their existence. However, both communities have adopted different forms of struggle. The Jatts of Punjab have adopted a more individualistic approach, whereas the Jats of Haryana have adopted a more collective approach. For the majority of people in both communities, agriculture is no longer a viable profession. For the peasantry of Punjab, immigration has become the main means to fight back against the attack of Globalization. The Jatts of Punjab are migrating to Canada, America, England, Germany, Italy, Australia, New Zealand or anywhere that they get an opportunity to move to. On the other hand, the Jats of Haryana have decided to stay and fight back to save their community’s existence. They want more opportunities for education and employment for their community. This is the main cause for the present agitation for reservation.

On the 20th and 21st of February, 2016, I had two lectures to deliver at an institution in Delhi. My wife and my son were accompanying me. We had reserved tickets in a Shatabdi going from Ambala Cantt to Delhi. When we reached the railway station, we found out that the train had been canceled. We then took a bus to Delhi. We passed Karnal, Panipat and reached Murthal. The bus stopped because the highway was blocked by the Jats. Delhi’s border was 30 kilometers from there. We got off of the bus and inquired if there was any conveyance which could take us to Delhi. Nothing was available. I called the institution and explained to them that I could not reach for Saturday’s lecture. I could deliver both of my lectures on Sunday because I could reach Delhi by the night even if I walk. We decided to walk all the way to Delhi’s border and take a conveyance from there. We started walking at about 10:30 AM and reached the Delhi border at about 8:30 PM. We walked through all of the barriers laid by the Jats to block the highway.

We got a chance to watch closely the agitation and to talk to the protestors and their leaders. My wife told them that we belonged to the JattSikh community and understood very well the problems faced by peasants. While my wife did the talking, I became a keen observer. I wanted to make the best of a bad situation. I decided to do a comparative study of the Jats of Haryana with the Jatts of Punjab. The biggest difference between the two communities is that the Jats have retained a strong community feeling and bonds and still have a collective perspective. However, the Jatts of Punjab have almost completely lost these and individualism has become the dominant philosophy in them. For example, the ordinary Jats as well as their leaders told us that the Jats constitute more than 25% of Haryana’s population and are the biggest community in Haryana. In Punjab, I asked about the Jatt population to some university Professors, leave alone ordinary Jatts; both have very little idea about the population of the Jatts in Punjab. My estimate about the Jatt population is based upon my impressions and I have not seen any exact figures. I think it was about 34% in the seventies, and I feel it is about 17% now, and if the present trend continues, then it will come down to about 5% by 2050. The worst thing is that I find very few people concerned about this. One of our relatives is very well settled in the U.S. When his father died, he wanted to spend more than one crore rupees for a good cause in the memory of his father. He came to Punjab to help 10 Jatt families to migrate to the US. I asked him, “Do you really feel that to help in the exodus of the Jatts from Punjab helps Punjab, or is it detrimental to Punjab by making Punjab more unstable?” Naturally, he had no answer.

From Murthal to the Delhi border, there were barriers erected every 2-3 kilometers. The Jat elders were sitting there with their traditional attire. The younger people were lighting their hukkas and were very respectful towards the elders. Close by, the Jat women were sitting and wearing their traditional dresses. The young boys were riding motorcycles and they had sticks and conventional weapons. They were going from one barrier to the other and were enforcing compliance at the barriers. Even a casual look showed a big difference between the two communities. The Jat community has been able to preserve its culture and value system much more than the Jatts. For example, in a region which is so close to Delhi, a major metropolis, that the region is called NCR (National Capitol Region), we could not find boys with fancy hair styles and earrings, a site quite common in the remotest villages of Punjab. We can see Jatt boys with parrot or peacock-like hair styles and other signs of dominance of western consumer culture in Punjab. One can talk to the youth, the middle-aged or the old people in the Jatt community in Punjab and find out that migration is one of the most important things on their minds. One cannot help but feel that the Jatts of Punjab have concluded that migration out of Punjab is the only solution to their problems. As opposed to this, the Jats of Haryana seem to have decided to stay here and struggle for their future. They seem to be more serious and hopeful about their future.

Here, I am not condoning all of the means used in the agitation; I just want to compare the two communities. Even though Globalization is posing a threat to the existence of both communities, they have adopted a different approach to survive this onslaught. I will end this article with a question which my son asked me, “Dad, who is worse off—them or us?” My answer: economic loss can be made up; but culture and values, once lost, cannot be recovered.

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at sawrajsingh@hotmail.com.

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