Gurpreet Singh: Jazzy B honoured with Radical Desi medal of courage for standing up for Indian farmers

Earlier this year, the rapper's Twitter account in India was suspended by the government of the world's so-called largest democracy

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      A famous Punjabi rapper with deep roots in B.C. was presented with a medal of courage at Channel Punjabi studios in Surrey on Wednesday (July 14). 

      Canada-based Jazzy B has not only raised his voice for Indian farmers who've been protesting against controversial farm laws passed by the right-wing Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi. He also visited them last winter, spending time at the protest site near India's national capital.    

      For engaging in this activism, his Twitter account in India was suspended by the government of the world’s so-called largest democracy.  

      He was honoured by two previous recipients of the medal, Dupinder Kaur Saran and Ishwinder Singh, on behalf of the Vancouver-based online magazine Radical Desi, which has already declared Jazzy B as Person of the Year 2021.

      On July 14, he received a mounted picture of the cover.

      Jazzy B was named Person of the Year 2021 by a magazine that promotes equality for people regardless of caste or religion.
      Gurpreet Singh

      He is the seventh person to be presented with this medal for standing up for Indian farmers. They are agitating against laws that will harm their livelihood and increase corporate control over the agricultural industry.   

      Radical Desi, which started its journey in 2014, established a medal bearing a quote by Desmond Tutu—“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”—to honour individuals who have stood up against repression and injustice. 

      The first recipient of the Radical Desi medal for supporting the farmers was Jean Swanson, who brought a motion against the Indian farm laws to Vancouver city council. That was followed by well-known community activist and the cofounder of Coalition Against Bigotry–B.C., Imtiaz Popat; prominent poet Sherry Duggal; two organizers of the farmers’ protests across B.C., Saran and Singh; and student activist Sahib Kaur Dhaliwal, who spoke passionately for agitating farmers during a Youth Parliament session.  

      Duggal has written two poems dedicated to the farmers’ struggle, while Popat spoke in support of Swanson’s motion in the Vancouver council chamber. Popat is vocal against growing racism in Canada and attacks on religious minorities in India and elsewhere in the world. 

      Swanson also brought forth a motion against India’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which discriminates against Muslim refugees wanting to settle there from neighbouring countries. However, she was forced to withdraw it due to a lack of support and a backlash from the Indian consulate. 

      All seven medals were given to these individuals on separate occasions. Swanson was honoured outside Vancouver City Hall in April, while Popat, Duggal and Saran were given their medals at an International Workers’ Day rally on May 1 outside the Indian Visa and Passport Application Centre in Surrey.

      The last three recipients—Singh, Dhaliwal, and Jazzy B—separately received them at Channel Punjabi studios in Surrey.  

      Gurpreet Singh is cofounder of Radical Desi magazine and Indians Abroad for Pluralist India. He's the author of Why Mewa Singh Killed William Hopkinson: Revisiting the Murder of a Canadian Immigration Inspector and Fighting Hatred With Love: Voices of the Air India Victims' Families. Both were published by Chetna Parkashan. The Georgia Straight publishes opinions like this from the community to encourage constructive debate on important issues.