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Film Spotlights Children of Farmers Who Commit Suicide
Every Farmer Counts, Every Child Dreams

By Anju Kaur, SikhNN staff writer, Washington Bureau
Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012 | 08:12 pm

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More than 200 people came to see the screening of 'A Little Revolution - A Story of Suicides and Dreams,' a documentary about the desperate lives of the children of Punjabi farmers who have committed suicide.

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Harpreet Kaur, director, and Manmeet Singh, producer, make announcements before the screening at the D.C. South Asian Film Festival in Rockville Maryland, just outside Washington.

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'Debt and Death in Rural India,' documents the plight of the small farmers of Punjab, and presents the interplay of national and global policies that have driven them to suicide.

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Photo Source: SikhNN

T-shirt for sale at the screening.

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Boy wearing a T-shirt with the plea: "Pugree Sambhaal," support farmer rights.

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In Moonak, one of six subdivisions in Sangrur, one of 22 districts of Punjab, the society recorded 1,619 suicides between January 1988 and June 2008. According to the data, obtained by SikhNN, most of the farmers were Sikh. Most owned less than two acres of land. Most were male but many females also appeared on the list. More than a third, about 600, were in their 20s, followed by those in their 30s. Nearly 100 were teenagers, with the youngest being 15 years old. The oldest was 70. The majority used poison to kill themselves, while others chose electrocution, hanging, drowning or standing in front of an oncoming train. Sangrur includes 91 villages, and has a population of about 20,000, according to the 2010 Indian census.

Aman Kaur recorded such statics in many other districts, until she and her daughter were killed in a car accident while on one of those trips. Harpreet Kaur and Manmeet Singh had met her before the fatal accident. Their film is dedicated to her.

“We feel she was one of those Punjabi daughters of the soil who worked for the people,” Harpreet Kaur said.

“Sikhs fight for the most trivial reasons, they partition, and create own jathaa bandies,” Manmeet Singh added. “If you want to fight for a good reason, here it is. We are an affluent community, Indian or Sikh, and have situation of extreme poverty.”

Guru Nanak was a farmer. Banda Bahadur abolished the zamadhari system, a revolution for farming sector. The 1957 film, ‘Mother India,’ was about farmer suicides. “The issue is not going away,” he said.

“The case should make against the government,” he said. “If Starbucks won’t bring in coffee that is not free-trade, why can (other stores) sell blood wheat and rice? It is a huge, mega project to (impose) fair trade rights in wheat and rice from Punjab.”

AN AWARD-WINNING FILM

‘A Little Revolution’ was screened at nine film festivals in the United States. It won the best documentary at the United Nation’s Wake Up film festival in October 2011, in Chicago.

The film was screened in Rockville, Maryland, on June 2. About 200 people attended the show.

“When you are watching film, you remember the children, the emotions they feel. It’s beyond statistics,” Manmeet Singh said. “Every farmer counts, every child dreams. You connect with one of the children and become part of the journey.”

“We daily get news about farmer suicides in the Indian Express,” said Harbhajan Singh, a visitor from Morinda City, Punjab, who came to see the film.” Little steps are taken but not solid steps are taken in the good plight of the farmers… The central government is not helping sincerely.”

“I knew about the problem in a very (superficial) way,” said Ekjot Singh of North Potomac, Maryland. “The movie made it much deeper… It makes you want to do something about it.”

“Jasvir Kaur is just happy the whole time, even though both her parents are gone,” said Prabhjot Kaur, also from North Potomac, Maryland, after the film. “She has hope. We should create the same atmosphere.”

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To sponsor a family and educate the children of a farmer who committed suicide, contact the Baba Nanak Educational Society in Punjab.






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