Tuesday, October 9, 2012

National Cartoon Competition for Youth

International Conference on “Climate change and Himalaya: Current status and future perspective (ICCCH)” during 3-5 December 2012  
National Cartoon Competition for Youth
Topic:   “Climate Change in Indian Context”

The National Institute of Science Communication And Information Resources (CSIR- NISCAIR) is a constituent establishment of the Council of Scientific And industrial Research under Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Govt. of India. NISCAIR joins with seven other organisations to organise an International Conference on “Climate change and Himalaya: Current status and future perspective (ICCCH)” during 3-5 December 2012   at CSIR-NISCAIR, New  Delhi, India. The other institutes associated with ICCCH are Indian Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology
(CSIR-IHBT), Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIM), Centre for Mathematical Modelling & Computer Simulation (CSIR-CMMACS), Central  Road Research Institute (CSIR-CRRI), North East Institute of Science and Technology (CSIR-NEIST)  and  National Institute of Science Technology and Development Studies (CSIR-NISTADS.  As a part of the conference a national cartoon competition for youth is planned as an  associated program of the Conference.   The competition is exclusively for youths   consists two categories and the upper age limit is 35 years. 

Category 1- Indian Youths- below 35 years and above 18 years.
Category II- Below 18 years
The date of age limit is 15.10.2012
Any number of entries may be submitted.  Each entry should be accompanied by age proof and Complete full postal address with Pin code ,  telephone number  and mobile number if available.   The entry should send by sped post / registered post to the address given below.
The Organizing Secretary
International Conference on Climate Change and Himalaya
Climate Change Informatics
CSIR- National Institute of science Communication and Information Resources (CSIR-NISCAIR)
Dr K.S. Krishnan Marg
New Delhi -  110012

Specification of Cartoon
The entry should be original work in black and White or color.  The entry should be in A3 size.
Important dates
Last date of submission:  25th October 2012.
Results declaration:   1st November 2012

Prize for selected cartoons
Selected cartoons will be exhibited in national Capital during 3-5th December 2012 and will be published as a book.
Best five from each category (total winners 10) will be provided a prize of Rs 10,000/- each along with citation, momentum and gift bag.
Best fifty entries in each category will get certificate with citation
Eminent Jury to select cartoons
An eminent committee consisting Prof A.L Ramanatahn, Jawaharlal  Nehru University (Technical expert) ,Cartoonist Surendra (The Hindu), Cartoonist Jayanto Banerjee (Hindustan Times),  Cartoonist Prasannan Annnikkade (Chairman Cartoon Academy), Cartoonist Sudheernath, Cartoonist, Gujjarappa (Indian Institute of Cartoon)   will evaluate the cartoons.  The decision of the committee will be final.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Political Cartoonists Worried About Future

Jerome Socolovsky
The pen may be mightier than the sword, and editorial cartoonists have skewered many a politician with one.  But with the newspaper industry shrinking, it is getting harder to make a living doing it.

Some of the best cartoonists from around the United States gathered in the nation's capital recently for the annual meeting of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

In the 1990s, there were several-hundred staff cartoonists working at American newspapers.  "Now it's down to somewhere closer to 60," said Jimmy Margulies, who draws for The Record of northern New Jersey.

He says what's being lost is a form of commentary that is more blunt and to the point than editorials.  "This is more like pinning someone down, and in its simplicity bringing out some essential truths that are not directly stated in other forms of opinion writing," Margulies said.

But Chip Bok, who used to work for the Akron Beacon Journal and now has his own website Bokbluster was optimistic.

"Times are tough for the old idea of cartoonists, but all kinds of other things have opened up," he said.  "And editorial cartoons, all cartoons, are more popular than ever.  You see them all over the Internet.  The problem now is figuring out how to get paid."

Despite their worries, cartoonists are having a field day making fun of the candidates in the U.S. presidential election.  "I love drawing Obama," said Bok.  "He's got the ears," the cartoonist added, drawing a pair each nearly as large as the presidents head, "and an incredibly skinny neck and body."

Bok noted that Romney is often drawn as a robot, a commentary on the candidate's difficulties in connecting with ordinary Americans as well as a parody of his square-ish facial features.  "He's got kind of a heavy brow and bushy eyebrows and the big chin," Bok said, wistfully recalling the fun he had with the chin of former President Bill Clinton.

Matt Wuerker of Politico.com says often the best presidential ticket to caricature is the one he did not vote for.  "Eight years of George Bush and [Dick] Cheney, it was hog heaven!  It was tough on the world, but for cartoonists, it was great."

Wuerker invited a VOA reporter and cameraman to Politico to watch him drawing a cartoon, an exaggeratedly square-jawed version of Romney as the notoriously out-of-touch French queen, Marie Antoinette "That 47 percent?  Let them eat cake," the Romney character says in the cartoon.  It was a reference to the real Romney's secretly videotaped remarks, telling wealthy donors that he wouldn't try to win the votes of that percentage of Americans, who he said depend on government aid.

Wuerker uses india ink and vivid water colors and follows the style of 19th century cartoonists Thomas Nast and Joseph Keppler.  "It's a little contrarian on my part," he said. "There are a lot of cartoonists who are enamored with digital tools.  You can draw on Cintiq tablets, even iPads, and color things in with Photoshop. But there's a smoothness, and a uniformity about that kind of stuff that make all those cartoons look the same."

Wuerker believes cartoonists will survive the crisis, and he jokingly borrows what he describes as a Romney metaphor.  "Cartoonists are basically opportunistic parasites," Wuerker said.  "We've survived on the backs of newspapers for a couple centuries, and it worked really, really well.  But the old dog is dying, and so we have to jump onto something new."

Monday, September 17, 2012

MP cartoonist recalls 'harassment' for 'exposing' Narendra Modi

Published: Monday, Sep 17, 2012, 0:06 IST
Place: Indore | Agency: PTI

Against the backdrop of ongoing controversy surrounding arrest and release of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, an artist from Madhya Pradesh has recalled the police "high-handedness" in putting him behind the bars for "exposing" Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi during his 'Sadbhavna' mission last year.
Harish Yadav, who draws caricatures for eveninger Prabhat Kiran under the pseudonym of "Mussavir" had drawn a cartoon on Modi's Sadbhavna Mission on September 20, 2011.
Yadav was arrested under section 295 (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on a complaint of Mohammad Sharif Khan after Prabhat Kiran carried the cartoon in its edition.
"I was arrested on the same day when the newspaper carried the cartoon of Modi's mission in which I tried to expose him for refusing to wear a cap offered by a Moulana," Yadav told PTI-Bhasha.
"Surprisingly, police acted very swiftly in my case and arrested me the same day on the issue despite the fact that the cartoon was in favour of the Muslim community," he recalled.
"Though, I was released on bail the next day, the experience of spending a night in the police lock-up is still fresh in my mind," Yadav said.
Yadav alleged that the police failed to file a charge sheet against him during the mandatory 90-day period after registering a case.
However, Indore's Inspector General of Police (IG) Anuradha Shankar has justified the arrest saying the tone of the cartoon could have hurt the religious sentiment of the minority community.
On delay in filing the charge sheet, the IG said she will find out the cause for not fling the charge sheet within 90 days by police.
Prabhat Kiran editor Prakash Purohit claimed that Gujarat government exerted pressure on its Madhya Pradesh counterpart, also ruled by BJP, to register a case against Yadav.
However, the state BJP's joint spokesperson Umesh Sharma denied that the ruling party has any role in registration of an FIR against the cartoonist.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A cartoonist from a more liberal world

American political cartoonist Daryl Cagle talks about balancing passion with sensitivity
Pheroze L. Vincent / The Hindu
 It came as a surprise to Indian cartoonists that their American counterparts are literally paid a penny for a laugh. “Editors are cheap. They subscribe to syndication for $15 a week. It works out to a dime per cartoon.”
Cagle, an editorial cartoonist for nbcnews.com is on a whirlwind tour of India organised by the US State Department speaking to students, artists and journalists about cartooning. Speaking to cartoonists in the capital yesterday, Cagle spoke about the changing trends in news cartooning.
There are about 70 regular cartoonists employed with publications in the US and 70-odd freelancers, said Cagle. “The space for editorial cartooning has decreased, as have newspaper circulation and revenue. Online polls on news portals suggest that cartoons of celebrities get the most hits. A cartoon on Janet Jackson’s boob slip is far more popular than something on Syria.”
Cagle, who runs a cartoon syndicate which has around 900 subscribers explained that American editors are partial towards cartoons that look like those of Jeffrey MacNelly, the three-time Pulitzer winning cartoonist. “I know a great cartoonist called Randall Enos who draws for my syndicate. Enos’ style is the linocut which looks very different from MacNelly. But editors are so used to MacNelly (who died in 2000) that they’ll only pick up stuff that looks like his work.”
But he added, that cartoons for a glocal audience are most likely to get picked up, especially for pay per use by a wide clientele. “Since there is a big pool to pick from, papers in the US do not compete with each other for exclusive cartoons.”
Most cartoonists at the recent chat at the American Center said that not only was the financial situation of Indian cartoonists bad, but they have to also face threats and even prosecution if their work offends communal sentiments or portrays state symbols or the judiciary in poor light.
Cagle has been publicising the case of Kanpur cartoonist Aseem Trivedi who faces charges of insulting national symbols for publishing a series of cartoons against corruption. His cartoons portray the Sarnath capital as a pack of bloodthirsty hounds, the parliament as a toilet and the imminent gang rape of Mother India. Cagle has himself drawn the US Capitol building as a toilet.
“Usually protests against cartoons in the US do not happen naturally. It’s usually an organised group that arranges it. I can understand sensitivities on religion but the State cannot be taboo for cartoonists,” he said.
A visit to Cagle’s website or blog, is like a breath of fresh air to an Indian reader, as he takes on senior politicians and pokes fun at national institutions – holding them to account in a way that Indian publications cannot.
“In the US, public figures cannot sue you for cartoons. We have ethical guidelines at the NBC. Like, we cannot receive gifts from characters we draw, we cannot contribute to political campaigns and we certainly cannot give wrong information. You cannot draw private individuals, like an ex-wife. But the government does not tell us what is offensive,” he explained.
“Cartoons are part of reasonable democratic debate. It’s sad to have the question put at you on whether your cartoon could create a riot. That’s just not a reasonable thing to do,” he added.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

' Cartoonists in India Struggle ' - DARYL CAGLE

I spent yesterday in Delhi speaking to packed rooms of intense students at Amity University and at the International School of Media and Entertainment in Noida.  Speaking to the college audiences here is great fun. In the evening I met with about twenty Indian cartoonists at the American Center in Delhi; the handsome group in the photo below:

What was remarkable about the meeting is that all of the Indian cartoonists wanted to make the point to me that their careers are in peril.  Cartoonists in India feel they are being squeezed out by timid editors who are afraid of the reactions of government officials and powerful patrons who fear negative reactions to strong opinions in editorial cartoons.  The cartoonists told me about job losses and repeated stories about how the only work is for illustrations, at very low fees.  They paint a grim picture.

They were all aware of a recent issue here where historical cartoons are being edited out of text books.  They knew about Aseem Trivedi and other cartoonists who are facing prosecution, but they describe the problem more as self-censorship, and a fear of the adverse attention that cartoons draw.  A number of them described the situation as the “death” of their profession.

Frankly, I was surprised by the tone, looking at the newspapers here it seems that there is a lively debate, and I see Prime Minister Singh savaged in cartoons every day.  The newspapers are filled with stories of the current government coal scandal with wagging fingers pointed this way and that to blame for every social and economic problem.

That said, I had a great time with the cartoonists, I got to see much of their work, I was flattered that they all knew my work, and I was impressed at their professionalism and commitment to our art form.  There is a lot of talent and promise in India for cartoonists, even though the mood is glum.

(Courtesey : http://www.cagle.com/tag/aseem-trivedi/)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Remove anti-hindi cartoon from NCERT: Karuna

DMK president M Karunanidhi on Saturday urged the central government to remove from a textbook the controversial cartoon lampooning the anti-Hindi agitation that raged in Tamil Nadu in 1965 as it hurts people's sentiments.

In a statement issued in Chennai, Karunanidhi said, "The
central government should intervene and remove the cartoon, respecting the sentiments of the Tamils."
Speaking to IANS, DMK spokesperson TKS Elangovan said, "I have asked my people to get all the political science textbooks of NCERT for checking. Cartoons should not form part of any textbook."
According to Karunanidhi, the cartoon in the Class 12 political science textbook prepared by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has hurt the sentiments of people and has caused deep anguish.
Elangovan said cartoons are a comment by a newspaper on an event and their relevance is of a temporary nature.
"Putting them in textbooks would result in distortion of history and the students getting confused," he added.
According to Karunanidhi, the credit for the agitation against the imposition of Hindi in the state goes to the DMK.
Tamil Nadu witnessed serious anti-Hindi agitations state wide in 1965, resulting in several deaths in police firing on the protestors. The agitation spearheaded by the DMK is one of the major reasons for the DMK coming to power in the state in 1967.
Even during the 1930s - prior to Indian independence in 1947 - the erstwhile Madras Presidency witnessed anti-Hindi agitations when the then Congress government wanted introduction of Hindi in schools.
MDMK general secretary Vaiko also demanded the immediate removal of the controversial cartoon from the NCERT textbook on the grounds that it distorts history and hurts the sentiments of the people.
He said even C Rajagopalachari, who first advocated teaching of Hindi in schools in the 1930s, later opposed it in 1960s.
The cartoon by famed cartoonist RK Laxman gives an impression that the agitating students do not understand even English while agitating against Hindi.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bury me next to my servant, says cartoonist Toms

Popular cartoonist Toms, who made characters like Boban and Molly household names in Kerala, has an unusual wish.
He wants to be buried in the compound of his house besides his favourite servant, Govindan, after he dies, instead of in a church cemetery.
In a chat with DC, the cartoonist said, “I have mentioned in my will that I should not be buried in a church, but in the compound of my house in Kuttanad besides my former employee Govindan whom I am deeply indebted to.”
Toms explained that Govindan died from tuberculosis and was deeply committed to him and his profession. “I felt very sad as I was not able to help him financially when he was ill. So I would like to be buried besides him instead of in the Church,” he added.
If he does not change his mind, Toms may perhaps be the first lay Christian to shun the church cemetery. In 2008, reformist Joseph Pulikkunnel’s wife, Kcohurani was cremated in her house compound.
The cartoonist’s wish for when he is no more and other interesting stories find a place in his autobiography, which was serialised in a Malayalam weekly, but was discontinued allegedly after a family from Kottayam filed a defamation suit against him.
“The defamation case has been filed by a family in Kottayam district alleging that some of my references in the serialised form in the weekly had brought them disrepute,” he reveals, however, adding that NBS is completing the procedure for publishing the book and it will soon reach readers.

Monday, May 28, 2012

“Withdrawing cartoons from NCERT textbooks defies logic”

Activists and students hold an exhibition of cartoons, including the ones removed from an NCERT textbook recently after a controversy, at the Statue Circle in Jaipur on Saturday. Photo: Rohit Jain Paras.( The Hindu )
Sunny Sebastian  -  The Hindu

 A large number of students joined academicians, activists and Dalit leaders here on Saturday to protest against the recent decision of the Human Resource Development Ministry to withdraw cartoons from NCERT textbooks in the wake of a furore in Parliament over a cartoon. Though the expressions varied, there appeared to be a consensus against withdrawing the cartoons.
The wisdom as well as the intentions of the political parties and the stand taken by HRD Minister Kapil Sibal also came in for questioning at the discussion, “Future of textbooks,” held at the Pink City Press Club here. The programme was jointly organised by the Shikshan Ka Adhikar Manch, PUCL Rajasthan, and a group of 60 students.
The speakers felt that the issue of dropping cartoons from the textbooks should not be taken in isolation. There had been campaigns against NCERT books in the past also though this time the political parties showed an amazing level of unity to “deride' them, they noted.
“The HRD Minister should have stood up to defend the books for, he is also the patron of NCERT. Instead, he disowned the books and even ordered an enquiry,” said Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand. “They are talking about offending Dalit sensibility. Dalit sensibility is being merely used as a lever,” he pointed out. “It took some time for them to reach science and history books. Back in 2006 they had opposed the contents of Hindi books,” he said.
Rohit Dhankar of Azim Premji University, Bangalore, said the strong link the country's education system had with democracy was clearly spelt as early as in the Mudaliyar committee report on education. The present tirade against cartoons in the texts was not an isolated incident as such attempts at defeating the very purpose of modern, scientific education had been witnessed on several occasions in the past as well, he noted.
Aman Madan, Sociology Professor at Azim Premji University, said the NCERT textbooks represented weaker sections and provoked inquisitiveness and created a quest for intellectual pursuits. “Now NCERT experts are frightened as the Minister has set up an enquiry committee,” he noted.
Dalit leader and patron of the Centre for Dalit Rights P.L. Mimorth said the whole noise over Dalit sensibilities was misplaced as there was nothing objectionable in the cartoon. “In fact, I feel happy about the content of the NCERT textbooks as they give more exposure to Baba Saheb than ever before,” he said. Mr. Mimorth said pitting Dalit against non-Dalits was not a healthy thing for the country's democracy.
Rajeev Gupta of Rajasthan University suspected ulterior motives in the present controversy. “Political parties are trying to do communal politics either overtly or covertly.”
Komal Srivastava of the Bharatiya Gyan Vigyan Samiti called for a country-wide campaign against textbook intolerance.
The teachers and students who spoke at the function strongly defended the NCERT textbooks and sought safeguarding their contents. “I have been teaching this book since 2005. This is a beautiful book. The cartoon helps in teaching,” Rubina Sen, a teacher of the Pink City St. Anselm School, said about the controversial textbook.
The event was followed by a cartoon exhibition put up at the Statue Circle

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Can't our politicians laugh at themselves?

Rana Siddiqui Zaman - The Hindu
During the Non-Cooperation Movement, editorials in Indian newspapers were censored but cartoons were never touched. In fact, one of the Viceroys of British India once sent an envoy to Shankar. He saluted Shankar and said: “Our Viceroy loved your cartoon on him today. He has requested for its original copy.'
A few years ago, the Delhi Chief Minister, Ms. Sheila Dikshit went to attend the inauguration of an exhibition held by a well-known cartoonist from Kerala, Sudheer Nath. Smilingly passing by each cartoon, she occasionally burst into laughter on seeing a few of them. While she was leaving, Sudheer presented her a cartoon that had transformed her into a flying bird. As she looked at it, I asked her, “How do you feel when cartoonists make fun of you in their creations?” She said, “I smile at them, and I enjoy them. They are also often an insight into how you are taken by the people. I feel fresh.”
I asked: “Did you ever feel offended by any one of them?” She said, “Cartooning is an art, how can I feel bad for an art,” and she left with the smile never leaving her face.
Today, the situation seems different, especially in the political quarter. The most unfortunate part is that the whole Parliament got embroiled in the issueless debate and except one, none got up to say it was a useless debate. This is the gift Parliament gave us on the eve of its 60th birthday. The preventable controversy created over a cartoon by the doyen of cartooning in India, Kesava Sankara Pillai — better known as Shankar (1902-89) — in which Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar is shown as preparing the Constitution of India at snail's pace. He is whipping the snail to move fast. Nehru is also seen whipping, whether the snail or Ambedkar is left to the viewers' imagination.
India has had a strong tradition of political cartooning. Nehru, the Prime Minister with a good sense of humour, enjoyed Shankar's cartoons. In fact, he famously told him “Don't spare me, Shankar,” on May 17, 1964, 10 days before his death. He remarked so after he saw Shankar's cartoon that showed him running the final leg of a race with a torch in hand and party leaders Gulzari Lal Nanda, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Morarji Desai, Krishna Menon and Indira Gandhi in tow.
Shankar later came out with a book on cartoons on Nehru titled “Don't spare me.” He used to invite Nehru as the chief guest for all his shows/painting competitions and Nehru would always come.
Cartoonist Sudhir Dhar, who spent his 40 years making people smile through his cartoons, says he remembers that neither Nehru nor Ambedkar who had seen this cartoon (though it made its way in the NCERT book into the early 1970s) didn't raise any objections. Prakash Ambedkar, Bhimrao's grandson, confirmed it recently while talking to cartoonist Sudhir Tailang.
During the Non-Cooperation Movement in British India, editorials in Indian newspapers were censored but cartoons were never touched. In fact, one of the Viceroys once sent an envoy to Shankar. He saluted Shankar and said, “Our Viceroy loved your cartoon on him today. He has requested for its original copy.'
Even during the Emergency, cartoonists drew countless caricatures of Mrs. Gandhi but she never reacted adversely. In fact, as cartoonist Neelabh Bannerjee recounted, “During Emergency, Abu Abraham made lots of cartoons on Mrs. Gandhi but she still made him a Rajya Sabha MP.” The only known cartoon censored during the Emergency was by R.K. Laxman in which Gerald Ford (twice President of the United States) was seen being welcomed at the airport by a group of workers ready with a net to catch him as he was known to be tripping frequently. Laxman commented later: “This is the most harmless cartoon I have ever done. The theme is simple. Gerald Ford was to come to India but cancelled his visit. During this period [Emergency] he kept on tripping and falling frequently. The Censor thought my cartoon was a dangerous comment on international affairs and therefore prevented publication.”
So, does it mean that we have forgotten to laugh? Or have politicians lost their sense of humour?
Dar feels some “hotheads in Parliament” have stopped seeing the amusing side of life. “A simple innocuous cartoon has been blown out of proportion. The most tragic part of it is that it has happened inside Parliament. It is shocking and juvenile. Kapil Sibal has surprised me by buckling under a ridiculous demand by Mayawati to drop the cartoon. And for God's sake! Nehru is not whipping Ambedkar in it, but the snail.”
Tailang feels that parliamentarians have hit upon a convenient cartoon, which they could use as an emotive issue to make their cadres pull their socks up. He views the cartoon debate as a part of vote-bank politics. “If you can lose an election because of a cartoon, then what kind of a politician are you,” he asks.
Neelabh feels politicians have become too self-conscious. “They are preoccupied with appeasement. They can't think out of the box while they ask people to do the same. A cartoon is drawn with thick and thin lines, if thick lines spoil it; thin lines are meant to bring hilarity and finesse. Cartoonists do it affectionately; they don't mean to offend anyone.”
Harinder Singh, who draws caricatures on the art world, feels that after Anna Hazare's movement against corruption, the situation has changed drastically. It has put politicians in a tight spot and the pressure on them is only mounting. It is leading to a lack of humour in them. They would have perhaps laughed it off earlier. But now they take it as adding insult to injury and as if they have been ‘more exposed' through newer cartoons.”
Professor Mushirul Hasan, who has come out with “Wit and Wisdom” — his recent book on Parsee cartoons that abounds in cartoons on the British Raj had this take: “Our politicians out of pompousness and arrogance don't take humour in their stride any more.”
Most cartoonists and Professor Hasan agree that British and American politicians are known to have been more patient with their caricatures. During Bill Clinton's infamous link-up with Monica Lewinsky, Clinton's ‘glad eye' was depicted through a cartoon in which Clinton appears in the court where the judge is a woman, and so are the lawyers and the steward who brings the Bible to him for taking the oath. He, instead, keeps his hand on the woman! Clinton took it in his stride.
Neelabh feels that people haven't forgotten to laugh. Comic books and laughter shows on television are hugely popular and among the largest selling products these days. Tailang thinks that though Indians take themselves too seriously, they have retained their sense of humour. “If we didn't have sense of humour, we would have died with the kind of governance we are facing,” he says.
I like it
Most cartoonists have experiences of political leaders liking their cartoons on them and asking for an original copy. Tailang, who is known for his political cartoons especially on the Prime Ministers for over 20 years, says he often gets calls from his “political victims” who enjoyed his works. He drew a cartoon soon after the Kandahar hijack in which he showed Jaswant Singh in a Taliban outfit.
The morning it appeared, he got a call from Mr. Singh. “He asked me if he could have the cartoon's original copy. I asked him ‘Why do you want it, I have shown you as a terrorist in it.” He answered, “…because I am looking very cute in it!” He not only used that cartoon in his book A Call to Honour but also hung it on a wall in his home where it mounts till date.” Tailang also recounts a call from Murli Manohar Joshi getting angry with him for “not drawing” on him for six months!
He insists, “The moment a politician disappears from a cartoonist's cartoons, it means he has gone down in stature. His caricature/cartoon is a certificate from a cartoon to his stature.”
The growing loss of tolerance has induced fear and disgust among the cartoonists. Tailang, for instance, views it as a systematic way of curbing freedom of expression – with a method in madness. “First it was vague, Draconian law on IT. Then Mamata Banerjee arrested a cartoonist for merely emailing a graphic. Now, plans for censoring on facebook and twitter.”
The cartoonist clan feels it is not going to stop here as now they are targeting newspapers. “They have tasted blood,” fears Tailang. Neelabh takes it as “Talibanisation of cartoonists.” I think we all cartoonists can be jailed in the near future,” he adds.
The big question is: does Kapil Sibal, who himself is a sensible poet, really feel offended by Shankar's cartoon? Or, he only tried to gain some brownie points but fell on his face?
(The writer's email is ranaafrozsiddiqui@gmail.com)

Now, don't you laugh

Punyapriya Dasgupta - THe Hindu
The Indian politicians would do well to take themselves a little more lightly.
“Ramgarurer chhaanaa haaste taader maanaa.” Translated, this opening line of a Bengali poem, means: Ramgarur's kids are forbidden to laugh.
Ramgarur is one of the many creatures imagined by Sukumar Ray, a humourist-poet beyond compare. The father of film-maker Satyajit Ray, he believed that people wanted to laugh, needed only pretexts and he could provide them. In his lifetime (a brief 36 years) he created a Nonsense Club with his friends looking for literary fun. For posterity he left behind humorist compositions — prose and poetry — with, most famous of them all a collection of nonsense rhymes in a slim volume titled Aabol Taabol. “Ramgarurer Chhaanaa” is one of the best known from Aabol Taabol. Nobody ever complained that any of Sukumar Ray's hilarious characters had been drawn to ridicule anyone.
Yet, with humour drying up before the rampaging sands of politically opportunist ultra-sensitivity nearly a century after Sukumar Ray's death, one cannot be sure that someone will not pop up in our Parliament or in a law court, asking for a ban on Aabol Taabol.
Pay to sneeze
Almost anything is possible these days. Did Sukumar Ray have a premonition himself? The Indian polity today is showing signs of emulating “God Shiva's own country” of his imagination. In that realm “the laws and bye-laws are catastrophic”. If anyone slips and falls on the road, a guard grabs him and he is fined Rs.21 after a trial in a Qazi's court. In that country you need a ticket to sneeze before six in the evening. And so on. Who knows someone may consider it his duty to save God Shiva from continuing insult by asking for a ban on this poem.
A cartoon of Nehru and Ambedkar over the perceived snail's pace of India's Constitution-making more than 60 years ago, has been berated in the Lok Sabha as an insult to Ambedkar. Had he been alive today, Sukumar Ray might have added laughing or smiling over this cartoon to one of the many no-nos of Ramgarur's tribe. The others are listed in the following admittedly inadequate (the rhymes are missing) translation of Ray's poem:
Ramgarur's kids are forbidden to laugh./ If they hear anything funny/ they say, no laughing for us — no, no, no./ They are worried all the time —/ there, somebody may be laughing;/ they look furtively here and there/ with blinking eyes./ None of them sleeps,/ keep warning themselves/ dare you laugh, we'll thrash you./ They don't go near a forest/ or under trees/ lest the southerly breeze caresses them into smiling./ They are never at ease —/ they listen warily to the laughter/ steaming up to the edges of the clouds./ Near the hedges in the darkness of night/ glow-worms light up/ in step with laughters./ Those who cannot stop laughing/ can't they feel the pain they cause/ to Ramgarur's kids?/ Ramgarur's home/ Is packed with threats.
Even translating and publishing “Ramgarur's Kids” may be risky. Some honourable member of our Parliament may come out with a formal notice of a breach of privilege. Or someone may file a public interest petition in a law court. The cause of action? That some august personality has been brought into the same league with a Ramgarur kid —even if only by implication. There is a grim warning already from Kolkata. A Jadavpur University professor had to spend a night in a police lock-up for e-mailing a cartoon with a single word from a Satyajit Ray film.
Jittery bunch
The erudite Pranab Mukherjee joined in lambasting the 62-year-old cartoon. To the UPA's troubleshooter-in-chief the reproduction of the ancient Nehru-Ambedkar cartoon seemed to have looked like a threat to his much-battered unsteady government. Any gust of political wind makes the Congress leaders jumpy. Evidently Pranab Babu never heard of Nehru's words of encouragement to the cartoonist, Shankar. The Prime Minister's express instruction to the cartoonist was not to spare him: “Bring us down by a notch or two.” But that was six decades ago.
Today Human Resources Minister Kapil Sibal is working on a decree banning all cartoons — old or new, irrespective of their age Methuselah downwards — must not find a place in any text book.
Laughter in education? No, no, no, says the worthy Minister.
The writer is a New Delhi-based journalist.