IAS officer takes film route to curb farmer suicides in Punjab

By Hindustan Times on 08 Jan 2018 | read

Taking a special initiative for trying to stop small and marginal farmers of the state from committing suicide due to debt, a resident of Amritsar and an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Bakhtawar Singh Shergill has chosen a different path to spread awareness against the suicide menace.

The officer, with the help of his son Amitoz Shergill, has made a film ‘Saggi Phul’ depicting the prosperous and peaceful life of a small farmer, who owns only 1.5 acre farmland.

Bakhtawar Singh, who is also the writer of the script and songs of the movie, said while working as a government officer, he had zeroed in on the lives of peasants and labourers.  He said earlier he had written some Punjabi books like ‘Paar jhana ton osda dera’ and ‘Jogi Ravi kinare rehnda’, but he thought that to awaken the state’s farmers against suicides, he should take the help of the big screen, which would be more effective.

He said he was serving as additional deputy commissioner-general (ADC-G) at Tarn Taran when he met a family of a small famer at Rasulpur village there. He said the farmer had been cultivating his 1.5-acre land of his own and 2 acre on contract basis with the help of bullocks.

“The farmer was cultivating the land with the help of his wife. His son, besides studying, had also been helping his father for agriculture work. The family was making their ends meet very easily, and was very satisfied and happy. And, the main thing, the farmer had not taken any kind of loan from any bank or commission agent. His daughter was married in a good family and was a postgraduate.”

“After seeing the prosperous life of the farmer’s family, I thought that it will be a great social work to make other farmers, who are taking heavy loans from banks and committing suicides, aware of their life and way of living. If toil can make a small farmer’s family happy then every farmer of the state can live the same life,” he added.

He said, “I took a pledge then that the method of cultivation adopted by this farmer should be made public for the benefit of other farmers.” He said the film gives a message to adopt the traditional labour culture of the state.

The officer said the film includes the story of the farmer from 1982 to 2017. “We have also tried to show the changes in his life to spread awareness among farmers and youths of the state,” he said.

“My motive through this movie is to spread awareness that with hard work and adopting traditional agriculture, our farmers can live a happy and joyful life,” he said.

He said the film was directed by Shivtar Shiv and is set to be released on January 19 in all Punjabi-speaking areas.