73.5% of Punjabi youth are addicted to drugs.
And as the minds toxify with chemicals, so does the land.
This is the region which was once the breadbasket of India.
Many of us who grow up in the West have an idea of the Punjab being a slice of nature’s paradise, with green farms and lush fields running for miles into the horizon. I went to a documentary screening of Toxification, made by award-winning filmmakers Rehmat Rayatt and Leva Kwestany which lifted a veil on the reality of a society riddled in debt, addiction and suicide.
The film is an astounding account of the personal stories from farmers and their families, many of whom are dealing with land and people who can no longer survive without the dependency of chemicals.
As fathers, sons and a whole generation lose faith in the once flourishing land which has been killed by years of pesticide usage, a fatal chain reaction begins. Driving the men from their fields towards heroin and other narcotics which make their way through to the Punjab region from Afghanistan.
A once healthy farming society, is turned cancerous, both by the land which no longer nourishes them and by the pressures of private debts which continue to pile higher than their yearly yield of crops. Men, women, children and all parts of the community are affected by the water polluting fertilisers which wash the region with the highest rates of cancer in India.
16,000 farmer suicides have been reported over a 15 year period
The documentary uniquely unites this toxification of not only the soil but also the body, mind and soul. It shines a light on social and societal issues which dig deep into the hearts of humanity. These are issues which exist not only in Punjab, but all over the world. We all have family and friends who are affected by the three-fold of addiction, debt or suicide.
Having recently won a film award, this is a message to catch the last of the UK tour which shines a light on the price paid by farmers for the rice on our plate. From the families who are trying to make ends meet in a backbreaking profession, to the widowed mothers left with the debt of their husbands.
There’s even a quiet whisper from the growing organic movement and the doctors working to revive a crumbling agricultural community.
The remaining UK tour dates are:
- Seven Arts Leeds: Thursday 18th July @ 7pm
- MAC Birmingham: Saturday 20th July @ 2.30pm
- Dominion Centre Southall: Sunday 28th July @ 4.30pm
You can get your tickets for only £5-£7 on the website: www.toxification.com.
Take your partners, colleagues, friends and family and share this article to spread this important message! (12A)
I assure you: it’s worth it!
For further information and updates see the Facebook group: Toxification Doc