Daytimers interview: the South Asian creative collective fundraising for Indian Farmers

Since November 2020, hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers have protested against the Indian Parliament’s introduction of the Indian Agricultural Acts. These laws, otherwise known as the Farm Bills, have threatened sweeping changes to the way crops can be sold, allowing farmers to sell directly to private companies rather than state-controlled markets like before.

This amendment is branded in the name of modernisation, but many farmers believe it will remove the safety net of guaranteed prices for certain crops, leaving them at the mercy of private corporations. With around 40% of Indian’s workers being employed in the agricultural sector, and with increasingly militant government crackdowns on the protests, it is vital that the Western world unite to do everything they can to aid the livelihoods of India’s farmers.

Indian farmers have been protesting for 100 days

One such group involved in this endeavour is Daytimers, an all South Asian collective aiming to shine a light on artists from the South Asian diaspora. They have recently announced their 24-hour livestream fundraiser event Solidarity with our Farmers, which will raise money for Khalsa Aid, a charity that has been working to provide food, water and other commodities to the protest camps in Delhi.

The line-up for Solidarity with our Farmers includes a wealth of South Asian talent, including Raveena, Anu, Jyoty, Nabihah Iqbal, Joy Crookes, Nikki Nair, AHADADREAM and many more.

We sat down with the Daytimers to unpack the journey so far, the structure of the music industry and their forthcoming event:

Firstly, congratulations on a great few first months as a collective! How has the journey been so far? What have been some of the highlights?

Provhat Rahman (co-founder): The journey has been crazy, really didn’t expect to grow and resonate on the level it has. Meeting and speaking to so many different artists about their identity and culture and how it relates to the art and scenes that they are passionate about has been an incredible experience. The highlights so far have definitely been our big projects, i.e. the compilation album, LGBTQ+ series & Khalsa Aid livestream. The scale of collaboration across all these projects has been immense and they’ve all had their own unique impacts on the world which has been great to see!

Your lineup is an all South Asian offering — how did you go about curating it and what can people expect from their performances throughout the event?

Provhat Rahman (co-founder): Being a part of Daytimers and being passionate about South Asian art and artists means we already knew all the people we wanted to get in involved and it just became a case of hitting them up and hoping they’d say yes, which thankfully near enough all of them did bc of the cause. 

People can expect this livestream to showcase the huge range of talented south Asian artists in this scene at the moment and that as a community we deserve the same opportunities and platforms as anyone else in our respective industries and scenes

Daytimers released compilation album DT001 in December, which raised money for Restless Beings. The release featured in our top 10 albums of 2020.

Your forthcoming event, Solidarity with our Farmers, streams on 13th March. Could you tell us a little bit about the motive behind this and the importance of the cause? Why is it important for people to tune in?

Rohan Rakit (member of Daytimers & performing at event): I think the event was born out of frustration really. When I first learned about the protests and tried to research further, the more I read about it the more disheartened I was about the overall lack of visibility of the protests in western mainstream media. In recent times Instagram ‘activism’ has been so present and good at calling out all sorts of injustices, but considering the size of the protests and the scale of human rights violations occurring in India, the lack of awareness or ‘uprising’ online was disappointing. 

Our event uses music and the power of music to bring people together to raise money for such a great cause, as well as raising awareness for everything happening in India right now. The farming sector in India employs over 50% of the sub-continents’ work-force and with so much up in the air regarding their futures, the funds we raise will go a long way in helping these people protest for their security and livelihoods. 

People should tune in to witness the celebration of South Asia, with artists from around the world uniting for one common cause. I know I speak for all of us on the internal team when I say that the response from the global community coming together has been such a humbling experience that none of us truly appreciated at first. We are all so grateful for the support and can’t wait for you to experience the music!

The event is on Saturday March 13th, starting at 10am GMT

Daytimers has brought together a community that deserves to be heard and seeks to shine a light on an under-represented community of creatives. Is there a representation imbalance within Western media? If so, what is the best thing that people can do to fight against it?

Kiran (member): There’s definitely an imbalance within Western media. Some of it stems from the stereotypes surrounding South-Asian people: being subordinate, uncool, destined for certain jobs, etc. which is wild given the colour, music, and creativity that exists within our cultures. This concept of being “uncool” has done incredible amounts of damage – both for South Asians who feel they don’t belong in certain spaces and for non-South Asians who enforce it. 

The other issue is that a lot of heads at the top of creative organisations are white. This can introduce biases, and contempt for the wide array of outputs we may produce. Sometimes, it’s just straight, overt racism. Occasionally, these organisations do create spaces, but only on the condition that we stay within a niche. So, despite having “representation”, we end up pigeonholed with these spaces doing more harm than good.

For me, the best way to fight against it is by using community-based approaches. This could be top-down, with individuals working with those already in the industry, and changing perspectives from the inside whilst also using their insider position to bring other South Asian people up with them. Or it could be a bottom-up approach using community platforms, knowledge, and connections to foster talent and drive the creation of spaces that are truly representative.  

With both the aim is to force ourselves upwards so we can no longer be ignored by Western media. Importantly, it’s about moving upwards as a community and forging strong bonds and support structures that enable us to succeed together.

The lineup for Solidarity with our Farmers is packed with exciting South Asian artists

The farmer’s crisis in India has threatened the livelihoods of many of the country’s residents. What is going on there? 

Riva: In September 2020, the Indian government passed three new farming laws. Farmers say the new laws will leave them vulnerable to the exploitation of corporations by taking away the safety net of guaranteed prices for certain crops that existed previously, leaving them at greater risk of losing their land and livelihoods. 

Why is it important that we discuss it more and raise funds through events like yours?

Riva: Structural inequality is endemic to India, particularly in the farming sector. This sector employs more than 50% of India’s workforce. Indian farmers, 85% of whom own fewer than five acres of land, have long struggled with poverty and debt. Within this backdrop, 85% of rural women work in agriculture but only 13% own land. It is important that such vulnerable groups are given a voice, particularly where their livelihoods are at risk.

Further, there needs to be greater international awareness and support for the protesters, given the nature of the protests. Amnesty International has said the protest sites now resemble “war zones” after the police erected metal and wire barricades, and blocked access using concrete and stone boulders. 

Are there any useful resources that could benefit people’s understanding of the crisis?

https://farmerprotests.carrd.co/, likewise be sure to check out Grewal Twins and Tractor2Timeline on Instagram

You’ve teamed up with No Nazar LA, a collective in Los Angeles that shines a light on the diverse sounds of the city. Is there a connection between their approach to sharing/discovering music and yours?

Amad: No Nazar and Daytimers have the same values in many ways. The first most is building a community and providing resources to help and elevate those who need it. They believe in creating that community in music and art as much as we do. In a similar sense as Daytimers, No Nazar was started out of frustration of not seeing inclusivity in spaces where they were promised and to make moves to change that. I think approaching music and finding artists to work with is something we both do in similar ways making sure the message is never lost and always in everything we do.

Get your free ticket for Solidarity with our Farmers here.

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