India sees a revolution of sorts, with Dalits now taking the fight in their own hands, threatening to raise their voice against the injustice done to them in the recent past. Dalits are now saying that either you respect the community or forget them playing with muck to make life better for others.
Even as Una has become the centre of a massive protest galvanizing Dalits from across the country, Ginni Mahi from Punjab spearheads a campaign of her own. Using music as a tool to bring change, she has created a complete new genre of music called Chamaar Pop. For the uninitiated she is the voice behind ‘Danger Chamaar’, and has a story behind it.
Even as slogans fill streets and Parliament, Ginni has been able to create a fanbase for herself online. But more than fandom, her cause of justice to Dalits has got takers over time. Ginni Mahi, who is all of 17, tells media outlets that much to her shock a girl asked her caste and then is when she decided to hit back.
Surprisingly when she replied that she was an SC and a Chamaar to be specific, she was told Chamaars are dangerous. But the two continue to be friends.
‘Danger Chamaar’ in 2015 and a sequel in February have nearly 80,000 views on YouTube.
A large part of her fan following comes from religious songs in reverence to Ravidas and ‘Baba Sahib’ Bhim Rao Ambedkar.
Born to Rakesh and Paramjeet Kaur Mahi in Jalandhar, with the highest proportion of SCs at 32%, Ginni knew she wanted to be a singer by 7. After some formal training she found chances in multi-artist albums soon. Her first solo album, ‘Guraan di Diwani’ came out early last year.
The second album, ‘Gurpurab hai Kanshi Wale Da’, was released in February.
She is a favourite among the Ravidassia community — the Dalit breakaway religion from Sikhism — since 2011.
Her father credits the surge in Dalit music to community self-empowerment in the “past decade or so”.
For now, she follows Ambedkar’s motto of ‘educate, make aware and mobilise’.
Then why does she not use her real surname ‘Mahi’ in official documents where she’s Gurkanwal ‘Bharti’. The father tells media, “‘Bharti’ means ‘Indian’.
But Dalits in Punjab taking up the cause is not new in that sense. Singer Hans Raj Hans, who tried and failed in politics, Mohammad Sadique, now a Congress MLA, and singer Chamkila, who was shot dead by militants are big examples.
Ginni Mahi, like most of teenagers, is not interested in politics and wants to be a famous Bollywood singer.
While assembly elections are not too far away in Punjab, constant efforts are on by political parties to woo dalits, who constitute nearly one-third of the state’s population.
While Ginni Mahi is taking the music charts by storm, not only does she wear the Chamaar caste as a badge of honour, she has also made her music more meaningful after invoking Ambedkar and Ravidas.