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

Calendar dedicated to Comrade Tera Singh Chan released Featured

The family of a towering progressive poet and playwright, who fought for the freedom of India from British occupation and educated the toiling masses about their rights through theatre, was unveiled in Delta on Saturday, January 2.  

To mark the birth centenary of Tera Singh Chan, his descendants released the calendar at an online event due to COVID 19 restrictions, organized by Radical Desi, a Vancouver based online magazine.

Prepared in partnership with Mehak Punjab Di TV, Spice Radio and People’s Voice, the calendar was formally unveiled by his daughter Sulekha Raghbir and granddaughter Rachna Singh, who is currently the Parliamentary Secretary for anti-racism initiatives in the BC government.    

The event was started with a moment of silence in memory of about 50 farmers, who have laid down their lives during an ongoing agitation in India.  

The Indian farmers are holding a huge demonstration outside the national capital of New Delhi, in protest against controversial laws passed by the right wing Hindu nationalist government. The farmers have denounced the laws that will affect their livelihood and are being implemented to serve the corporate interests.   

The participants raised slogans to show their solidarity with the peasantry. Some of them shared poetry of Chan on the occasion.  

Those who spoke included renowned Punjabi scholar Dr. Raghbir Singh Sirjana, who is the son-in-law of Chan.  

Apart from other family members, those associated with Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), a group co-founded by Chan also addressed the zoom meeting.  

While Rakesh Kumar and Vinod Kumar joined in remotely from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states of India respectively, Balkar Singh Sidhu called in from Chandigarh. Likewise, others such as Kamaljit Dhillon, Rajwant Maan and Noni Kaur zoomed in from across Canada.   

The speakers unanimously resolved to carry forward the struggle of Chan for a just society. They agreed that Chan’s poetry has become even more relevant under a fascist regime in India, where the rights of religious minorities and political dissidents are facing continuous assault.  

Chan, who passed away in 2009, left behind a diverse family, including a Muslim daughter-in-law Sultana Ameer, who pointed out that their family represents the true India which is based on the vision of inclusive and pluralist society. The present government is bent upon turning India into a Hindu theocracy. 

As a true secularist, Chan encouraged his children to marry outside caste and religion. Although he was born into a Sikh family, he remained an atheist. He spent the final years of his life with Ameer and her husband Dildar at their home in Mohali near Chandigarh. The zoom event brought together his descendants, including his grandchildren and great grandchildren spread across the world.     

The calendar is also dedicated to the scholars who continue to face repression for questioning those in power. It bears the birth dates of prominent Indian writers such as Anand Teltumbde and Varavara Rao, who are being incarcerated in Indian jails for standing up against state violence against the poor and marginalized. The birthdays of renowned author Arundhati Roy and the late film actor Girish Karnad are marked on the calendar as well. Both of them faced backlash for challenging ultra nationalist politics of the ruling party.     

The Saturday event coincided with the death anniversary of another progressive playwright, Safdar Hashmi, who was lynched by political goons in 1989, for raising awareness in the working class. His birthday is also included in the calendar.  


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Last modified on Monday, 04 January 2021 05:07
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Gurpreet Singh

Cofounder and Director of Radical Desi


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