My conscience doesn’t allow me to receive this award: Dr Virendra Pal Singh

“I have no political or terrorist connection,” wrote the principal soil chemist, affirming that refused to accept the Golden Jubilee Award & Gold Medal in solidarity with the farmers' movement


When his name was announced as the winner of the gold medal for the ‘Best Work done in Field of Plant Nutrition’ Dr Varinder Pal Singh walked up the stage with quiet confidence, to much applause. He then greeted the dignitaries on stage including the Chemical and Fertiliser minister, DV Sadananda Gowda… and then humbly refused to accept the award, in solidarity with the lakhs of farmers protesting the farm laws they deem draconian. 

Thus was born yet another hero of the revolution, who even days after, continues to inspire many more to stand in solidarity with the farmers’ revolution. Dr Varinder Pal Singh is the Principal Soil Chemist at Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana. Well known amongst academics, his firm refusal to accept the Golden Jubilee Award as well as the Gold Medal for the “Best Work done in Field of Plant Nutrition” on stage is a lesson in how to stand up for  what is right. He did not boycott the event, instead he attended and used the opportunity, and the minister’s presence, along with that of other dignitaries and the media focus to express his solidarity with the farmers’ protest and raise the issue.

Dr Varinder Pal Singh, has also written to the minister on why he refused to accept the award. The letter may be read here:

Dr Singh refused to indulge the organisers who kept urging him to accept the award and instead said that as so many farmers are protesting on the streets against the farm laws, his “conscience does not allow” him to accept this award. 

“I have a humble submission that at this time of crisis for the nation, when our farmers are on the road, my conscience does not allow me to receive this award. So I wish that we shall work for the nation and the government shall listen to our dear farmers,” he said and added that his work was done for the farmers, “I feel I would be guilty to receive the award at the moment.”

He also wrote to the Prime Minister on the issue, explaining in detail how the PAU research has benefited the farmers and saved the Government crores. He urged the PM to listen to the call of the farmers and withdraw the bills, and “listen to the voice of India.” The letter to the PM, may be read here:

Like Dr Singh, many eminent sportspersons, artists and even politicians have returned their awards in solidarity with the farmers, including former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, a former ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who returned the Padma Vibhushan he was awarded.


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