'Statements, social media posts encouraging unrest not good': American singer-actor Mary Millben on farmers' protest
Some of the comments on the farmers’ protest have been somewhat uneducated and have not really helped farmers, Millben feels
Endorsing the recent farm laws brought in by the Indian government as a positive development, noted American singer and actor Mary Millben has said that "any statement or social media post that encourages social unrest is not good".
Referring to recent statements by international celebrities and activists supporting the ongoing farmers' protest and criticizing the government, some of which have led to controversy as they were as seen as part of a conspiracy to incite violence, she said," As responsible citizens of the world, we should be mindful of that and when we are blessed with this kind of platform, we have to be responsible".
Speaking to Ashutosh Vashishtha and Vinay Jha from India News Network during the course of an exclusive interview, Millben, who has performed at the inauguration of three US Presidents, said, "We have to make sure that when we engage about a social cause of global problems, that we are contributing to the conversation for the betterment of those in need and not distracting from the conversation".
"In my opinion, some of the comments that have been thrown into the larger conversation have been somewhat uneducated and have not really helped farmers," noted Millben.
The comments assume significance in the light of the violence during the tractor rally in Delhi on January 26 which culminated in the unfurling of a religious flag at the historic Red Fort.
A toolkit shared by climate rights activist Greta Thunberg, suggesting ways in which people could support the farmers' protest, had led to a furor on social media. Delhi Police later registered a case against 'unknown persons' and initiated investigations into the possibility of a criminal conspiracy behind the violence on January 26.
Before Thunberg, American singer Rihanna had also sparked uproar on social media with a post seeking to draw attention to the farmers' protest in India.
Asked about the responsibility of a celebrity while commenting on an issue like the farmers' protest, she explained, "You know as global artists, influencers and folks who have a global platform, we do have the responsibility to make good use of our platform when we are trying to help".
Though she refrained from naming anyone specifically, she said that the goal of any celebrity should be to help and improve the lot of the Indian farmers and raise global awareness.
Asked if celebrities sometimes made mistakes while giving their opinion on complex issues like the farmers' protest, she pointed out, "Some of the statements that I have read have not been helpful, to be honest".
‘Give The Farm Laws A Chance’
Millben, who performed at the virtual celebration of India’s Independence Day as well as on Diwali last year, says she has a very special place in her heart for India and the Indian people, including farmers and their families.
Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision and initiative, Millben said the farm laws were going to give "a direct channel of opportunity and profit".
In response to a question, she described the ongoing standoff between the protesting farmers' unions and the government as "the results of democracy playing out right," and outlined the reasons why she thought the farm laws were good.
"The bill, it changes around in the national framework for farmers so that they can have a direct involvement in free enterprise and free market, not the middleman and it gives a direct relationship with those the private players they want to sell to, the agricultural business, the supermarket chains and online groceries. It gives them a direct channel to free enterprise and free market," the singer-actor said, explaining why she thought the farm laws were a positive development.
Pointing out that the greatest thing about democracy was the free enterprise and free market, she assured the farmers that she was supporting them, just as she was supporting the vision of Prime Minister Modi and the government.
Asked if she believed that there was a targeted international uproar when it came to the farmers' protest and the recent farm laws, she said, "The citizens should have the right to protest. That's the beauty of democracy, the freedom of speech, freedom of press you know but peacefully".
She added that the government should always uphold freedom of expression and freedom of press but certainly "come in and lead immediately when violence and other things take over the conversation which is certainly not helpful".
Emphasizing that she believed in law enforcement, Millben said, “Never should the public conversation of discourse get to a level where there is violence and where there is loss of life".
Assuring the farmers and their families that the world was indeed hearing their voice, she was of the view that they should give Prime Minister Modi and the farm bill a chance.
"You know sometimes it takes change to play out a little bit and so let the vision play out and see if this new national framework that Prime Minister Modi and his leadership are wanting to institute, truly does give farmers a direction, and opportunity and profit, and that is what (I) understand about this bill," she explained.
Pointing out that what was happening was about poor farmers, their income and their livelihood and not about anything else, she reiterated that that the farmers should trust the elements of free enterprise which have a very clear understanding about livelihood.
"I would tell the farmers that we hear you across the world, let the bill play out, give it a chance and certainly trust the advantages of free enterprise," she said.
Responding to a question on the deadlock between the protesting farmers' groups and the government, she said Prime Minister Modi had given a message that he wanted to sit down and talk with farmers and families.
"You know there will be resolution for sure and that again is the result of democracy playing out. I am very confident that the resolution will come for sure," she felt.