RIP H.S. Dillon, Contribution to agricultural sector

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Harbrinderjit Singh Dillon, consistent in voicing the needs of farmers and food sovereignty. (photo: IO/Yoga)

IO, Bali – Human rights activist Harbrinderjit Singh Dillon or better known as H.S. Dillon passed away on Monday (16/9) in Bali. He took his last breath in Siloam Hospital, Kuta after a month of treatment. He was diagnosed with heart and lung complications. 

H.S. Dillon died at 74 years of age. H.S. Dillon was the youngest child of seven siblings, leaving behind his wife Drupadi S Harnopidjati, and three children: Haryasetyaka Singh Dillon, Mahawira Singh Dillon, and Mahareksha Singh Dillon. 

H.S. Dillon was a name not foreign to the agricultural sector. The man, easily recognized by his turban, was consistent in voicing the needs of farmers and food sovereignty. Through his writings in the media or his talks in forums, he contributed much to the agricultural sector in Indonesia, especially when concerning independence. 

One of the issues in agriculture which was a particular concern of H.S. Dillon was the rampancy of cartels and mafia controlling the food markets in Indonesia. In a discussion, Dillon explained that infrastructure building and modernization in agriculture was very important for small farmers. However, Dillon regretted the condition of the agriculture commodity market which was heavily influenced by mafias. 

“The market is still dominated by cartels and mafias which tend to want to import, as they can skim off large profits,” he stated. 

According to Dillon, the national agriculture market economy was being manipulated by various interests, causing the people to suffer. In the agricultural sector, many of those parties received profits from imported food commodities. “They want Indonesia to rely on imported products,” said Dillon. 

Dillon didn’t stop with the mafia and cartels in calling for agriculture reform. He also stated agriculture reform was the distribution of land coupled with the direct distribution of production infrastructure, and guidance of farmers and support for increasing quality, productivity, and to prepare buyers at fair prices. 

Without agricultural reform, the farming sector would not be able to progress, despite developed nations banking on the progress in their agricultural sector to advance themselves. 

During his lifetime, H.S. Dillon served as an Indonesian figure in the human rights and socio-economic sector. He served as a member of the National Human Rights Commission (1998-2003), National Economic Council (1999-2000), Corruption Eradication Joint Team (2000-2001), and Head of the Poverty Alleviation Coordinating Board (March 2001-October 2001) and Presidential Special Envoy for Poverty Reduction (2011- 2014). 

In celebration of 70 years of Indonesia’s independence, Dillon also received a Bintang Mahaputra Utama honor from the government. The honor was awarded by President Joko Widodo in the National Palace, Thursday, August 13, 2015. 

Dillon also won a Global Award from Priyadarshni Academy, India, as an Indian descendent abroad who contributed significantly to the nation where he lived. (dsy)