Farmers start returning home while Channi Singh sings for them

Moving firmly and steadily towards its goal of getting ploughers of land their due, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), has yet another feather to its cap. With its major demand for the Minimum Support Price (MSP) being referred to an expert committee, other demands that cropped up during one of the longest and peaceful agitations in the history have been accepted by the Union Government.

“This is not the end as the movement has only been suspended. We have decided to meet again on January 15 to ‘review’ the Centre’s assurances,” SKM core committee member Balbir Singh Rajewal said.

The success of the current agitation puts another feather to the illustrious cap of the farmers organisations as they had been scripting triumphs  since the start of their major agitations in 1907 in undivided India. The last after Independence was in 1984 when the farmers owing allegiance to the Bharati Kisan Union successfully gheraoed Punjab Raj Bhavan for seven days to demand withdrawal of hike in power tariff.

Interestingly, farmers by staying apolitical and peaceful, and by building their protests and demonstrations in a democratic way, have developed the art of taking masses, even those remotely connected to their demands, along.

It is one reason that  like previous occasions, this time  too, they not only had the support of the rural, but also of the urban traders, intellectuals, technocrats, bureaucrats, students, artists, including singers, sports men and women and others.

When the SKM on Thursday announced that its 378-day-old agitation had been suspended, there were jubilations not only at Singhu but also all over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and elsewhere. Receptions have been planned when farmers return home on or after December 11.  The protesters start returning home after a “victory procession” on December 11. 

On receiving a letter from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, the matter was discussed by SKM’s five-member committee and then at the general house. Subsequently, SKM leaders Balbir Singh Rajewal, Darshan Pal, Yogendra Yadav, Rakesh Tikait, Gurnam Singh Charuni, Shiv Kumar Kakka and Hannan Mollah, announced suspension of the protests at Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur, national highways and toll plazas.

The letter by the Centre reportedly said the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana have agreed to withdraw cases against farmers with immediate effect. “The boycott of the BJP and JJP in Haryana has been revoked,” a spokesman of the SKM said.

“This is not the end as the movement has only been suspended. We have decided to meet again on January 15 to ‘review’ the Centre’s assurances,” SKM core committee member Balbir Singh Rajewal told media persons.

The Morcha leaders had earlier accepted the Union Government’s revised draft proposals on key pending demands. Dedicating the “victory” to the farmers, who died during the course of the agitation, the SKM thanked local residents, the media and social organisations for their support.

Even while farmers were in celebrations mode after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made unilateral announcement on the Prakash Utsav of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, those standing by them were still showering their support to their agitation in whatever way possible.

Channi Singh sings for farmers

Channi Singh of “Bhabiye nee Bhabiye” fame

And one such effort came from the UK-based Channi Singh, who sang his own written song to eulogise the “ann dattas”. Channi, as his admirers call him, is known as the Godfather of modern Bhangra music, the man responsible for creating a new era in Punjabi music, getting it recognized all over the world. His graceful voice captivates you instantly, leaving you wanting to listen to more and his melodious compositions have become timeless classics. He is a true Ambassador of Punjabi music and culture. He is none other than Bhangra icon Channi Singh OBE, founder, and lead singer of legendary Bhangra band Alaap.

Even after living in England for more than 45 years, he and his family, stays strongly connected to his roots. 

In 1976, when Channi moved to England, he soon realized that the Asian community, particularly the youngsters, had very few links with their cultural heritage. Channi believed that music would be the best approach in educating them about their cultural roots and due to this he thought of forming his own band. It was sheer destiny that soon after Channi arrived in England, he met a few talented musicians who later became his fellow group members. This was the beginning of a new era and the birth of Alaap.

Formed in 1977, Channi and Alaap created a new modern sound by fusing eastern and western instrumentation and became responsible for changing the entire face of Punjabi music. They did not know that they were about to take over the world of Bhangra music by storm.

During their illustrious career, Channi and Alaap have achieved much to be proud of. They have created history by breaking barriers and opening doors for Bhangra music in the mainstream, invited by world renowned figures, world music organizations and mainstream TV channels to represent Punjabi culture and performing at prestigious venues around the world where no Punjabi artist had performed before.

Channi is also the first British Asian music artist to compose and direct music for big banner Bollywood films including Yalgaar directed by and starring Feroz Khan and Sanjay Dutt, Shaktiman directed by K.C. Bokadia and starring Ajay Devgan and Karishma Kapoor and Janasheen directed by and starring Feroz Khan and Fardeen Khan. Over the years, several Bollywood films have also plagiarized Channi’s hit compositions such as the famous song “Mujhe Neend Na Aaye” from Aamir Khan and Madhuri Dixit’s film Dil (1990), which is a copy of Channi’s original song “Chunni Ud Ud Jae” (1986) and the song “Main Pyar Ki Pujaran” in the Govinda and Neelam starring film Hatya (1988), which is a copy of Channi’s original song “Pyar De Pujari” (1986).

In addition to his successful music career, Channi has been actively involved in charity and community work for over 30 years. He runs a Community Centre in Hounslow, West London, which provides a range of services for the elderly, disabled and chronically ill. Channi has also organized and performed at numerous charity concerts over his music career, helping raise funds and awareness for many needful causes.

In June 2012, a prestigious honour was bestowed on Channi when he became the first Punjabi music artist to be appointed an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Her Majesty the Queen for his services to Bhangra music, charity, and community work.

Credited for pioneering modern Bhangra music around the globe for over 40 years and recognised in The World Guinness Book of Records as “the most successful and longest running Bhangra band” and for “most Bhangra recordings produced”, Channi and Alaap are in true sense leaders of the modern Bhangra music scene, who paved the way for many others to follow. Having received countless awards from all over the world for extraordinary achievements and invaluable service and contribution to the Asian music industry, Channi and Alaap are Bhangra idols who remain evergreen through their music and live performances.