Tuesday, May 22, 2012
This cartoon just about sums up Indian politics today
courtesy Manjul / DNA
Funny days, dark nights
R K Laxman, arguably India's best known and loved cartoonists, says in his book Tunnel of Time that he started drawing Britain's Harold Wilson because nothing he made on India or its politicians was cleared by the censors. That meant almost everything that wasn't fawning or fake made it to print. A Laxman cartoon that showed a lady in high heels was seen as a blatant attempt to mock Indira Gandhi. "I was warned," he says in the book, "that if I continued to indulge in this sort of disruptive activity through my cartoons, I would regret it." Kamala, his wife, now says Laxman was so upset with the press censorship that the couple decided to go on a long holiday. "We went to Mauritius for a month and when we came back the Janata Party government had assumed power," she reminisces. Cartooning has never been an easy job in India. The political fiasco around the B R Ambedkar cartoon in an NCERT book is merely a case in point. No one in this country likes it when the joke is on them. It's funny only when the neighbour slips on the banana peel. And with its myriad sensitivities , a cacophony of cultures, a multiplicity of faiths and a mesh of castes, one never knows who will take offence at what. Thirty years into the trade, Ajit Ninan, who is now with The Times of India, says that unlike their ilk in the rest of the world, cartoonists here are forever apprehensive. He should know. He had to profusely apologise once for hurting Hindu sentiments and another time for making Christians unhappy...
See also: Professor's office vandalised over cartoon
Sudhir Dar: 'Even with censorship, the British would never touch cartoons'
SATISH DESHPANDE: Schooled in sanctimony