Pali Kaur: Sikh Global Consciousness, A Conversation With Actor Monica Gill
While some famous stars appear to be virtue signaling rather than showing genuine concern about the farmers' protest, there are few names that stick out as consistently outspoken
February 19, 2021 | 3.5 min. read
The kisaan majdoor movement taking place in Punjab right now is creating a Sikh global consciousness that is motivating every sector of our sangat to get out and speak out.
Even those in the Punjabi entertainment industry are refusing to remain silent. While some famous stars appear to be virtue signaling rather than showing genuine concern about the issues, there are few names that stick out as consistently outspoken.
In this realm, it is hard not to notice actor and model Monica Gill.
Through her platform on social media, the star of Sardarji 2 and Sat Sri Akal England is waging a non-stop battle with Modi’s BJP propaganda machine.
We asked her a few questions about the awakening of her political consciousness and how she sees her role in this sangarash.
Pali Kaur: Why has the farmer movement struck a chord with you?
Monica Gill: Before the farmers’ struggle, I was only vocal about Trump. This whole “activism” thing is both new and foreign. It’s not that I didn’t see inequalities, but somehow, during the Obama administration, I viewed everything through rose coloured glasses. My understanding of Indian politics and societal constraints is also very new. I only started educating myself on these in November.
Another thing, I am a farmer's daughter and granddaughter. I always talk about the trauma that our community has gone through. Partition disproportionately affected Punjab and Punjabis. Then there was 1984, which I won’t even begin to get into.
I see this in my grandmother's eyes. Yes, there is a fear of history repeating itself, but there is also a quiet resilience and strength that only her generation can muster up. It’s a beautiful thing to see and immensely motivating.
Pali Kaur: As a Punjabi Sikh American, do you see any similarities between what Modi is doing to India and what Trump/Republicans are doing in the US?
Monica Gill: Yes, absolutely. Both are weak, insecure men who are unable to take criticism. Trump came to power after Obama and ran on the white supremacy narrative. Modi came to power after Manmohan Singh and ran on the Hindu supremacy narrative. Both are unliked and not very well respected by the rest of the world. Both have used the “divide and conquer” technique to stay in power.
Pali Kaur: You said in a tweet that anyone who doesn't speak up now for the farmers is a traitor? What did you mean by that? A traitor to what?
Monica Gill: I made the statement after the release of Bapu Jeet Singh and Bapu Gurmukh Singh.
As Martin Luther King Jr said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
I do believe we are at the point in this struggle that if you can not align with your own community, and help become a voice for them, you are betraying them. There are many people, some family members, for who I have lost a lot of respect for.
Pali Kaur: Are you worried that your activism now will affect your career or limit your ability to get future roles?
Monica Gill: I’m not really worried about my work. If someone is going to judge me based on me raising my voice for my community, then I don’t want to work with them.
Right now, nothing else matters.
When you are given a platform as large as most entertainers have, you have a major social responsibility as well. These are the people who have made us who we are, and we can’t turn our backs to them in a time of need.
Pali Kaur: Some people say we should ignore Kangana's tweets, that we're adding more fuel to the fire. Why do you choose to speak about her and other Bollywood stars who are pro-Modi?
Monica Gill: I chose to speak on Akshay Kumar because number one, I was a fan of his. My literal aim in life was to be in a movie opposite him. I felt betrayed on almost a personal level. He uses his Punjabi heritage and identity when it is convenient for him and literally left his community out to dry when they needed him most. He's a literal gadhaar in the strongest definition of the word.
I chose to address a few statements Kangana made. For starters, let us clarify that she is an actual "parasite" for the Indian democracy, with her anti-secular agenda. Second, she spoke of a key element in Punjab's history, the Anandpur Resolution, incorrectly. Third, she claimed Sikhs to be a sect of Hinduism.
We have to fight back when these nonsensical people try to mess with our identity and our history. If we don't fight the narrative, who will? Our progeny won't know any better. Until the lion learns to write, history will always glorify the hunter.
Pali Kaur: Finally, what do you see as your future role in this struggle?
Monica Gill: Honestly, I see the bills being revoked. I see a government coming into Punjab who will actually speak for Punjab and help bring back Punjab’s water.
I want to see Punjab prosper and I want to see my community prosper.
Pali Kaur is a blogger and educator based out of California. She works with immigrant communities, focusing on Spanish and Punjabi speakers. You can find her on Twitter at @wittypunjaban
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