Hear the Indian Farmer Protest Rap from RawJaw

RawJaw, an Indian-born freestyle battle rap champ based in the Bay Area, wanted to create a song about the biggest protest in human history: the Indian farmer protest that began in late 2020. His little brother WLK provided a beat inspired by Punjabi Bhangra rhythms, and he teamed up with Jazba & A’niche for feature performances. The video is directed by Jamie DeWolf, subtitled in Hindi & Punjabi, and features the song’s vocalists leading a march across the Golden Gate Bridge. RawJaw hopes the video will bring light to the issue and show Indian-Americans’ solidarity with the farmers’ struggle.

“I heard about this issue in a family discussion around Indian politics. When I noticed my family being dismissive of the Sikh farmers, who were organizing the largest protest in human history, I decided to look more into the issue. I was emotionally moved by the fortitude of protesting farmers who camped on the roads for months. I felt ashamed that old protestors were being beaten by the police, while the Indian media was either silent or contradictory to the farmers’ complaints against the new bills. I created the song to help explain the complex issue to a Western audience, and also show that young Indian-Americans are capable of uniting behind the farmers, whether we are Hindu, Sikh, or any other religion.

In the process of writing the song, I discovered a multi-faceted story in the post-colonial era, where the Hindu nationalist government willingly sacrificed their historical pledges to the marginalized farmer communities in Punjab and Haryana. The Indian national government passed new farmer bills in 2020 that deregulated corporations’ ability to buy directly from farmers, even via mobile phone, and also allowed them to use cold-storage facilities at an extent that was previously not allowed. Hypothetically, the goal was to modernize India’s agricultural sector. However, this gave corporations the ability to undercut government subsidized prices and lock farmers into multiple year contracts, sometimes through mobile phones that may be unfamiliar to rural farmers. The expanded control of cold storage means that corporations can stockpile crops to artificially raise prices, and sell the vegetables to lower prices, giving them full control over prices and potentially making government-subsidized prices irrelevant in the long-term. This modernization has the potential to destroy historical ownership of small Punjabi farmers and force them into low-wage service work in neighboring states. ” – RawJaw

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