Jagmeet Singh & the Rise of the Planet of the Punjabi

Social Commentary

Jagmeet Singh & the Rise of the Planet of the Punjabi

Illustration: Shruti Yatam / Arré

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ne of my friends (from Bhopal) signed off on a Facebook group chat with the words, “Yo n**gs, see you later”. The unusual sign-off was, to my mind, partly the outcome of one of the greatest music albums of all time: 1990’s Fear of a Black Planet by American hip-hop group, Public Enemy. Fear of a Black Planet signalled the influence hip-hop was to have over the world in the years to come. Today, it has outposts everywhere — homies in Hyderabad, mothaphuggaz in Mumbai, and brothas in Bhopal. Over the last couple of years though, homies are turning into “yaaras”, and a brotha is now a “veere”. The latest example of this is the election of Jagmeet Singh to Canada’s New Democratic Party.

There used to be this joke about Justin Trudeau’s Canadian cabinet. The American president and the Canadian PM are given a time machine that can see 50 years into the future. They both decide to test it by asking a question each. The American President asks, “What will the USA be like in 50 years?” The machine whirrs and beeps and gives him a printout: “The country is in good hands under the new president, Jose Fernandez… crime is non-existent, there is no conflict, and the economy is healthy. Vice-President Jin Tao has declared Chinese language mandatory in all schools. There are no worries.” Then the Canadian PM asks: “What will Canada be like in 50 years?” The machine whirrs and beeps and he gets a printout. But he just stares at it. “Come on,” says the American President, “tell us what it says?”. The Canadian PM replies, “I can’t. It’s all in Punjabi!”

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