"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Indo-Canadians need to boycott India’s Independence Day celebrations to mourn the deaths of more than 500 farmers Featured

Gurpreet Singh

On August 15, the Indian consulates all across the globe will celebrate the 74th anniversary of liberation from the British occupation.  

On this occasion, the Indian establishment will be expecting the Indian Diaspora, as well as elected officials of Indian origin in places like Canada, to join the ceremonies.  

India gained its official independence after years of struggle by the freedom fighters on August 15, 1947. Already, the Indian state has started creating hype for next year's 75th anniversary of the transfer of power.    

But what is there to celebrate really? India going to the dogs?  

The attacks on religious minorities have grown under the current right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government, which is determined to alter the constitution that guarantees religious freedom and equality.

Thanks to the pro-corporate agenda of the government, socio-economic disparities have also increased between the super rich and the poor and marginalized.  

Anyone questioning that faces charges of sedition, and can be treated as a potential terrorist. Chances are that they might get arrested and thrown into jail.  

This has happened to a number of scholars. Former Delhi University Professor G.N. Saibaba, who is ninety percent disabled below the waist, is being incarcerated under inhuman conditions after being arrested on trumped up charges, for merely raising his voice for the oppressed communities.  

Free speech is being trampled with impunity in the world’s so-called largest democracy.  

If this is not enough, more than 500 farmers have lost their lives during the ongoing agitation.  

The Indian farmers have been camping outside New Delhi since last November, asking for the repeal of controversial agricultural laws that threaten their livelihood, passed to favour corporates seeking control over the farming industry. The laws were adopted without transparency and debate.  

People familiar with India’s independence struggle know that the farmers had to fight for their rights under British rule as well. What’s the point of independence, if people still have to fight for similar reasons under a government of their own?  

Notably, the founding fathers of the BJP remained indifferent to the freedom movement, and kept their distance from those who fought against the British and envisioned a secular India.  

It has become necessary for Indo-Canadians to stand up against such barbaric rule and boycott the Independence Day celebrations. Especially in the light of recent developments in Canada, they owe a moral responsibility to shun the celebrations.  

This year, most Canada Day celebrations were cancelled, following the discoveries of unmarked graves of Indigenous children at the former residential school sites. Thousands of Indigenous kids died because of disease, malnutrition and abuse at these schools, which were opened by the colonists and the churches to annihilate their cultural identity.  

Many Indo-Canadians avoided this year’s Canada Day celebrations to show their solidarity with the First Nations. Not to be left behind, elected officials from the community also expressed their sorrow and outrage over these discoveries.

However, a majority of the Indo-Canadian MPs and MLAs remain silent about what the minorities in India are facing under a Hindu nationalist regime. This is either because of their loyalties to the government back home, or fear of being denied visa by the Indian officials.  

This is despite the fact that the RSS, a Hindu supremacist group of which the BJP is a political wing, is repeating the history of residential schools. In seminaries run by them, indigenous or adivasi girls are sent to be indoctrinated into an extreme right wing ideology.  

It’s now a challenge before Indo-Canadians to boycott the Independence Day celebrations, to show support to the farmers and all those who have suffered under the BJP.

If we can skip this year’s Canada Day celebrations, what’s stopping us from refusing to be a part of the celebrations of Indian nationalism? Enough of hypocrisy and double speak. It’s time to act. Say no to patriotism, and observe August 15 as a black day.   


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Last modified on Thursday, 29 July 2021 16:27
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Gurpreet Singh

Cofounder and Director of Radical Desi


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