Well known experts of their respective disciplines, Sucha Singh Gill and Baldev Singh Dhaliwal spelled out the challenges faced by farmers in a Panel Discussion titled “Agrarian Distress” organised by Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi in conjunction with the Art Exhibitin “Farmer is Wrestler” by renowned artists Thukral and Tagra amidst the Artworks displayed in the Gallaery of PLKA at Punjab Kala Bhawan in Chandigarh.
On the closing day of the exhibition the discussion carried forward the dialogue to address the complex issues through an interactive talk by Professor Sucha Singh Gill – Economist, Professor Baldev Singh Dhaliwal – Author/ Writer, and Thukral and Tagra.
The discussion started with Mr. Diwan Manna, artist and President of Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi addressing the audience about how art has become a movement in questioning the social flux post the industrial revolution. It has transcended beyond sculptures, paintings, and architecture to exhibitions that are well thought to question the system, political awareness and bringing it closer to actuality.
As the panel opened by Sumir Tagra about questioning one’s own values in voicing the concern persisting in our social construct followed by Prof. Gill who talked about the Capital Economy we live in by quoting the movement from England “Sheep ate peasantry”. Very meticulously, he highlighted upon the definition of a farmer in our policy formulation which makes the grounds very fragile for all other aspects to be deciphered for instance how land is glorified in our agrarian economy. He also spoke at length in making the audience more aware about the agrarian crisis and challenges faced by farmers by stating the facts and figures from the reports; growth rate, employment, underreporting of suicides, loopholes, and gaps in the system, and dignity of a farmer.
Moving forward Prof. Dhaliwal emphasised on the actual stories, lives, and livelihood of farming families undergoing this distress. He raised concern by talking about the rehabilitation of the farming back into the agrarian economy and citing the examples from the pop culture to further bring the urgency to the notice of common people. Thukral added by talking about the initiatives taken at multiple levels to support the issue that is making people more aware of the current scenario.
As a further discourse into the inquiry of battling livelihoods of agricultural community, the show ended with a note by Prof. Gill asking to make amendments to the current system through cooperative and group farming, Prof. Dhaliwal commented upon the Utopian culture we reside in, urged to address the present to embrace the living culture of farming and later Thukral and Tagra solicited to the consciousness of an individual to think about larger possibilities and beyond one’s enlightened self interests and for people to become equally responsive towards society.
Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi i presented Farmer is a Wrestler, an exhibition by Delhi based artists Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra. The exhibition addresses the urgency of the agrarian crisis faced by farmers in India today. Over the years, fragmentation and subdivision of land, climate change, politics, a lack of implementation of the law and the general deficit of education in rural communities has severely affected and impacted the lives and livelihoods of Indian farmers.