Infuse a Spirit to fight back
– Protect and Project the Great Virtue of Chardikla –
Punjab, today, is confronted with numerous challenges like suicides, drug abuse, waning family bonding, fast eroding social brotherhood, depression, declining soil health, falling water tables, depreciating agriculture profits and so on. The modes of agricultural production have improved to an advanced level but the impact on the cultural perspective of the rural masses is still too less. It is anticipated that the present economic development may not be sustained due to limited or negligible social development.
Of these, the one that requires urgent attention is suicides, especially the farmers suicides in Punjab are a cause of serious concern.Once a suicide is committed, it cannot be repaired. One suicide severely affects the family members, companions and relatives who too become susceptible to suicidal ideation.An all-out effort is needed to make to save the precious lives of people. Suicide contagion is fast moving from farmers to students and to all vulnerable households who have interpersonal stressors.
Role of Sikh intelligentsia in the present crisis-ridden period is multifarious and on multiple fronts. Yet the top most priority should be to protect and project the most precious ethos of Sikhism i.e. Chardikla. There is an imperative need to change the attitude of Punjabis. It is the attitude that determines altitude. Punjab seems to have gone into deep depression, always ruminating negatively. Depression is the chief culprit for growing number of suicides. The whole thought process needs to be overhauled. We need to initiate a strong campaign for happy family life.
The Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana has started a novel project for suicide prevention. It has been named as 'Utshah' (Enthusiasm). The project is based on the premise that sound social and psychological mind set up helps one to cope with adverse situations in a better way. Thus, many suicides can be averted. It is being reflected on the behavioural, psychological and cultural perspectives of distressed farming families. To avert farmer suicides, little work has been done on factors other than economic or agricultural. The preventive measures should be taken on both social and economic fronts.
Under the project, PAU is working for capacity building of farming families through a positive transformation of rural youth. The training includes empowerment of farmers in terms of battling negative thoughts, enabling them with coping skills, financial literacy, etc. They are exhorted to lead a life of simplicity away from drugs, cultivate positive thinking, shun pomp and show on marriages / social functions, etc.The project, operated by the Department of Agricultural Journalism, Languages and Culture, is training the rural youth in volunteering for counselling the farmers in distress. Thus, PAU is endeavouring to: Infuse the spirit to fight back among the farmers of Punjab in view of current agrarian distress; Train its students as paraprofessionals to provide first aid by counselling the farmers in acute distress.It is hoped that by providing scientifically developed peer support system for the farmers in distress not only they themselves come out of distress but also become pillars of support for others. Thus, building of human capital formation in rural areas will be possible which is essential for the process of growth and development.
Here is a 6-D cyclic model of the complex reasons of suicide. These are Debt, Depression, Death, Disease, Disputes and Drugs. Any of these can be triggering factors and others confounding factors. We need to control all these factors at the same time. To restrict the ever-increasing debt on Punjab, the PAU has given a message of 'SaadeViyah, SaadeBhog, Na Karza Na Chinta Rog'. It is fast getting attention of farmers as well as urbanities. More than 150 villagesPanchayat's have adopted resolutions to adopt simplicity on weddings and death ceremonies.Utshah is also spreading the message of 'Kroge Gal, Milega Hal' (Talking is Healing, Share your Problem).Peer support is a unique form of service based on mutual respect, sharing of experiences and empathy. Effective self- management is often short-lived. Peers can provide leadership and can serve as role models for sustained behavioural change. The aggrieved person should speak up and the society should actively listen, offer help and provide hope.
Another imperative challenge is the abuse of internet whereas the right use can be a hidden opportunity too. Today, internet has become a great leveler. Punjab needs to learn and apply the intelligent use of internet especially in the fields of education and employment. Virtual teaching can lead to closure of many money minting coaching centres. Presently Punjabis are addicted to useless searching, watching of inappropriate stuff. Some have gone deep into pornography too. It is a challenge to educate and turn them to intelligent use.
Mr PPS Gill, an eminent veteran journalist, advocated in a recent writeup in The Tribune, that intellectual activism is urgently required in Punjab to address all these problems. Sikh intellectuals should join hands proactively to take up projects with a spirit of selfless service and chardikla to save Punjab from further deterioration.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2019, All