A young folk singer from Bihar, Neha Singh Rathore ( born 1997 ), who sings in her native language Bhojpuri, is making waves in India.
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Neha, who writes her songs herself, calls herself a ‘lok kavi’ or people’s poet, as contrasted to the ‘sarkaari kavis’ or poets who praise the ruler.
Whereas earlier Bhojpuri songs were often sleazy love songs, the themes of Neha’s songs are the huge socio-economic issues in India like poverty, inflation, corruption, unemployment, government high handedness and failures, etc, and that is why they have become so popular.
She has a frequently occurring line in her songs ending with the words ” ka ba ” ( i.e. ‘What is happening ? ) e.g. ‘Bihar mein ka ba ?’ ( What is happening in Bihar ? ), or ‘UP mein ka ba ?’ ( What is happening in UP ? ), and this is a punch line in her songs, which have gone viral on the social media and on TV.
‘Bihar mein ka ba’ criticised the horrible conditions in Bihar and the Bihar government’s failures and misdeeds.
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This was followed by ‘UP mein ka ba part 1’, which criticised the UP government’s mishandling of the corona pandemic, the son of a minister crushing and killing some villagers by his car, the Ram Mandir issue and religious polarisation, etc
Thereafter came ‘UP mein ka ba part 2’, which was motivated by an alleged suicide of a mother and daughter in Kanpur Dehat, whose house was bulldozed by the authorities
This last has drawn the ire of the UP govt, whose police has served a notice on Neha asking her several questions, in effect accusing her of disturbing the peace and creating communal disharmony, though how her songs have done this is beyond comprehension.
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One wonders whether it is Neha who is creating communal disharmony, or the government leaders who are continuously preaching communal hatred and instigating communal rifts and strife, who are doing so ?
Neha is a brave person, and has said that such steps to intimidate her will not succeed, and she will keep raising her voice against injustice and the government’s misdeeds.
Former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, and Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia have come out in favour of Neha
In these days of deep socio-economic distress in India ( massive and widespread poverty, hunger, unemployment, inflation, lack of proper healthcare and good education, polarisation, corruption, etc ) all right minded people should support Neha, who has become the poet/singer of the people, like Kabir, Rahim, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Bismil, Sahir Ludhianvi, Subramania Bharathi, Shelley, Heinrich Heine, Walt Whitman, Faiz, Josh, Habib Jalib, Pablo Neruda, Alexander Pushkin, Mayakovsky, etc.