- In a four-minute monologue in her late-night show, she calls out those siding with the government, including Bollywood actors.
Comedian, YouTube sensation and late-night host Lilly Singh was critical of India’s Narendra Modi-led BJP government, as she addressed the issue of farmers protesting against the new farm laws in India on her late-night show, “A Little Late Night With Lilly Singh,” on Feb. 25.
“Recently, the Indian government passed a set of agricultural bills that will affect the livelihood of farmers in India,” she said in the opening monologue of her show. “Now, it’s important to note that there’s already a long history of farmers struggling in India and farmer suicide is a very real issue,” she added. Prior to the show, Singh released the video on her social media handles.
In 2019, Singh, an Indo-Canadian, who was formerly known as “Superwoman,” launched “A Little Late With Lilly Singh,” and became the only openly queer woman of color to host a late-night show on a major network.
In the roughly four-minute monologue, Singh does not mention Prime Minister Modi by name, while denouncing his government for violating democratic norms. “There have been protests and these protests have been met with violence, a narrative that we have seen many times before in the world, unfortunately,” she says.
Noting that the farmers’ struggle “has been real and not an overnight issue,” Singh notes that “what’s happening now goes far beyond the agriculture bills.” She continues: “Some people are refusing to acknowledge that by choosing to focus on tedious language of the bill rather than opening their eyes to the brutality that’s taking place,” she says. “Democratic norms are being violated by the Indian government during these protests. In a democracy, you’re supposed to be able to peacefully protest, period.”
Talking about the arrests of many journalists, Singh says: “Another hallmark of democracy is the freedom of press,” Adding that the Indian government is shutting down the internet in Delhi, “the largest protest site, so people cannot report on it, she notes: “And in addition to all these shady tactics they are straight up arresting journalists and peaceful protestors. That is not democracy.”
She also expresses her disappointment on the number of Bollywood actors who have “tweeted out messages on behalf of the government” and “gloss over criminal intent.” She concludes by reminding her viewers that “human rights shouldn’t be up for debate. Democratic rights and norms do not have an on/off switch.”
In the beginning of the show, she mentions Bengaluru-based environment activist Disha Ravi, who was granted bail by the Patiala House Court on Feb. 23. Ravi was sent to jail in connection to the “Toolkit case” after being charged with conspiracy and sedition. Singh says that Ravi was supposedly “promoting a ‘toolkit’ online to help people understand how to peacefully protest on behalf of farmers, and boom, jail,” she adds.
Singh joins international personalities like Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, American climate activist Alexandria Villaseñor and Meena Harris, niece of Vice President Kamala Devi Harris, and a host or other celebrities to speak out in support of the farmers as well as Ravi and other activists who have been jailed.
However, this is not the first time that Singh has voiced her support for the farmers protesting in India. In December last year, Singh had taken to TikTok, and advocated her support for farmers’ protesting against, calling the national agitation “the largest human protest in history.” She also had urged fans and followers to donate to the cause and spread awareness about it. The video is currently banned in India.
Earlier this month, Singh thanked American musician Rihanna for tweeting in support of the protest. Rihanna took to her official Twitter handle to share a CNN article about the farmers’ protests in India, asking “why aren’t we talking about this?” Singh replied and thanked Rihanna for speaking in support of the farmers as she shared a post with the hashtag ‘#IStandWithFarmers.” She has been actively speaking about the protest on Instagram as well. “Yes! Thank you so much . This is a humanity issue! #IStandWithFarmers and this narrative is TIRED.
A week later, on her show, she spoke with Indo-Canadian politician, Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party and Member of Parliament for the riding of Burnaby South. “We’re so grateful for conversations like this. Tonight @Lilly and @theJagmeetSingh discuss the #FarmerProtest and what we can do as a community to help,” Singh tweeted prior to the shoe on Feb. 10.
Jagmeet Singh has been among the most vocal Canadian politicians in supporting those protesting the Indian farm laws.
On Feb. 14, she retweeted a tweet by Rupi Kaur, and shared an article by Scroll. “disha ravi, a 21-year-old climate activist, has been arrested by delhi police for sharing a toolkit @GretaThunberg posted in support of the #farmersprotest. Disha’s arrest is alarming and the world needs to pay attention. #freedisharavi
A few weeks earlier, comedian Trevor Noah, host of “The Daily Show,” highlighted the issue on the late-night satirical news show. He ran an 8-minute-long clip on the protest in its segment called. “If you don’t know, now you know.” The clip manages to explain the biggest farmers’ movement going on in the country, over the last two months against the government’s three agricultural laws to its international audiences.
Bhargavi Kulkarni has been a journalist for nearly two decades. She has a degree in English literature and French. She is also an adventure sport enthusiast, and in her free time, she likes to cook, bake, bike and hike.