Ambedkar cartoon row and freedom of expression
The Indian political class is becoming increasingly intolerant of cartoons or illustrations, many of which remotely mock them. Talk to Sudhir Tailang, one of the top cartoonists in India, on whether the art should have the right to offend.
- One need a certain level of "intellect" to "understand" cartoons. Surprisingly MP's including some of the best lawyers are opposing the cartoons. Asked by: Arvind Agarwal
- Being a lawyer or an engineer or a doctor ...is no guarantee you can appreciate humour. 16 year old students can enjoy and understand humour but 60 year old parliament fails to do so!
- Is a cartoon the best medium for depicting a histoical event or a series of events? An essay or a audio/video documentary can provide the context/environment for the event. And do cartoons have a resposibility for providing the alternate narrative as well? Asked by: Akhil S
- Dear, Akhil, Yes , this is the most honest way to depict true history. But Governments want DAVP and Films Division to write text books! What can we do! Thanks all friends on the chat. I hv to draw my cartoon for the day now. It was wonderful talking to you. Keep in touch -- and sttandd up for freedom always. Lots of love Bye for now Sudhir Tailang
- why only Ambedkar's cartoon row...days ago Mamta tried to punish a Professor for his cartoon...Mayawati during her tenure jailed a cartoonist....a movie named Aarakshan was banned in some of the staes...art should be free in all the forms...after all it is the people's choice to see what they want to see and then use their own conscience...:-) Asked by: Man Mohan (NAINITAL)
- Dear Man Mohan!!! The name sounds familiar ,dear. ( The other MM is my bread and butter) Parliament inside has no humour now --- the tragedy is -- they want none of it even outside.
- are cartoonist anti state or we are getting highly intolerant? Asked by: vishal
- Dear Vishal . No we are Pro-the voiceless poorest of the poor. Yes rulers are always tolerant.
- i am huge fan of news paper cartoons, as done for textbook cartoons, but worried that it will also be banned,what do think abt the possibility? Asked by: vijet
- DEar Vijet, there is a real danger of it. YES.
- Hi Sudhir Sir, I rem having met you once in my childhood and you also made a little caricature of me. I just want to ask you, as a member of the fraternity of arts, how much do these silly ways of our MPs agitate you and are you planning to do something about it?(I'll b there to support the cause) Asked by: Atul V
- Dear Atul, I ma glad you still remember me. I am really saddended and disappointed at the way our whole parliament behaved.. Whhen Pranabda was announcing a ban on all books and all cartoons -- leaders( including Sonia Gandh) were thumping their desks-- in joy -- is if they had removed povery from India! I will keep doing my cartoons. Raise my voice from m all platforms and organise a cartoon contest for all to send their cartoons on this. I will announce it on my Twitter soon.
- It isn't the cartoons but politicians' abnormal behavior in Parliament & in public that is actually doing more damage to the so-called impressionable age-group politicians referred to talking to media. What's your take? Does not the presence of alleged criminal in Parliament need more attention, while it setting a wrong precedent for GenY? Asked by: Rajesh
- You know that what sort of MPS we have. We have become a nation of 543 riyasats ruled by different dynasties. Each constituency has its own dynasty. Now even to get a ticket they hac=ve to spend money and later they "invest" money to win elections. So its their legitimate right to recover it and make some profit too! NO? Now if they have a poor image-- that's thanks to their own antics. Textbooks and cartoons can't be blamed.
- I think instead of focussing on important issues concerning the common man the politicians want to waste time in petty things like cartoons which actually bring out thye truth. THere are burning issues like poverty, education, corruption etc that the parliament needs to be discussed but to cover up their incompetance the political class be it the NDA/ UPA and every other party for fear of being expoed come out with petty things to cover up their incompetance. I am sure most ogf them are not capable of understanding what the cartoon ois raelly depicting. they make a noise without realising what they are shouting about. What is your take on this? Asked by: Arun
- I totally agree with you. That's what they smartly do aand we always g=fall into the trap!
- Can Cartoonists be judges of issues pending in court and project the accused as guilty even before the verdict? There are enough cartoons about Raja, Kalmadi and others. I am not trying to say they are innocents, but until they are proven guilty shouldnt they be treated bit more fairly. Asked by: Guna
- If you split hair -- you should be in a barber salon. I have done a full book of cartoons published by Wisdom Tree- my cartoons on corruption. Its called-- INDIA FOR SALE. Now Kapil Sibal , RS Prasad and SR Yechury launched it. You can be offended by the title. But thats the way we cartoonists function. I made one cartoon where cBI raids his house months after the scam. They Find the house totally clean. One CBI chap says-- " Great chap. So austere. Nothing in the house except a paper shredder!" Now what's wrong with it? One cartoon when Bangaru Laxman get a cell next to A Raja in Tihar. Raja objects to it-" I can;t have a small times as my neighbour!" ( Raja 1.76 lakh crore -- Bangaru 0just one lakh) We expose them. We make fun of them. We reduce them to caricatures. They deserve it. You should appreciate us who have the courage to do it-- not A Raja!
- If cartoon will be banned, humor will die. Is it possible to go to the court to protect cartoon? Asked by: Arvind Agarwal
- I think a cartoon is in indirect way of commenting. And no court of law can actually prove it. But the way some of our MPS and -- yesterday, the whole parliament-- have interpreted the Ambedkkar cartoon, I now have doubts. You need a certain amount of wit and intelligence understand a cartoon. A cartoon is never literal. It never says what it apperas to say. You have to read and see a cartoon between the lines. So these MPs have failed to appreciate the cartoons. Because they didn't understand them. The 176 year old students are not "impressionable minds" -- now I am convinced our MPs are the real " Impressionable Minds". Yes we can go to court to protect our freedom. But that's far away -- we will fight them with more cartoons.
- Der Sudhir Sir, What effect do you think your cartooning / others cartooning has on the political establishment ? Do they actually bother to pick up hints & govern us in a better way ? Or we should just take it as a column on the newspaper or other media , have a smile , crib a bit & forget it and move on ? Asked by: Sudeep Singh @ideasingh
- Dear Sudeep, I have been drawing cartoons for te past 30 years now. I have drawn ten PMs and scorews of other politivciams in my cartoons. I have lampooned them . Made fun of the. Attacked them. But, I have not been able to reform even one of them!! But I have a vested interst in it too-- if they did become saints and started to work for the country,for the poor,For all of us-- I will not be needed! Rajiv Gandhi loved his cartoons. He had one of my originals. Indira Gandhi used to give Shankar's cartoons as bday gift to Nehruji. Mr Advani has many of my cartoons. Mr M Rao Scindia wa a great cartoon lover. One of my cartoons still hangs in his son's house.
- Sir, 2-3 questions are coming into my mind from last 2-3 days. Are we turning into insecure society? Are we heading towards pseudo-democracy (means where we will not even able to speak; otherwise we already have this). Is India heading towards a new revolution? Asked by: Parveen
- Dear Praveen, see my cartoon in the Deccan Vhronicle and Asian Age today. Its on my Twitter ( handle @sudhirtailang). Pranab and PM in police uniform to a poor man--" You are under arrest. We have confirmed reports you were laughing?" The poor chap says-" I swear ,sir-- I have not even smiled in decades." Its one of the weakest Governments we have. We are not only a leaderless government , it now seems -- we are a leaderless nation! There was no need to capitulate before a bunch of Vote-bank mongers. But because all parties and leaders want an account in the Vote Bank odf India, they have to succumb to the temptation! India is on the threshold of churning. Lets hope something good will come out. But for the moment even God can't help us!
- Freedom of expression shouldn't be an excuse to defame somebody. Cartoons can be used constructively for creating public awareness about social issues/problems etc. Your opinion? Asked by: Shiva
- Dear Shiva, In India people vote once every five years. They have no role to play for the next five year after they have cast their vote. I as a cartoonist play the role of the spokesman for the voiceless masses. Each morning I read ten newspapers, watch tv, internet. I feel frustrated ,helpless and angry --they way thing are going. I vent out my anger on a blank sheet of paper. You feel that's exactly what you wanted to say. And that's the secret of a cartoonist's success. m No cartoon defames anyone. Cartoons are vitriolic,acidic , lethal,-- but that's my job. Each cartoon will offend someone mighty. But if people have a very bad image of politicians-- its not because of a cartoon or a text book-- it's thanks to the leaders themselves.
- Why r the politicians so charry at the cartoons as they are depicting facts Asked by: Arun
- Dear Arun, There's afamous story which we all know. The story of that kid who had the courage and the innocence to tell the Emperor that he had no clothes. The Politicians are naked-- and if they hate the cartoonist who has the guts to say it-- they are welcome to remain members of the nudist community.
- Hello Sir, Freedom of expression term is an excuse used to save the job of cartoonists ? Your comments? Asked by: Omar (sopore)
- Freedom of expression is the soul of our democracy. It's a hollow entity without it. And ,yes, I as a cartoonist can't think of my existence without this freedom that the founding fathers of India gave us. I always thought India was a paradise for cartoonists. Because most of our leaders work for the cartoonists-- not for the people. I will be jobless when our leaders will start behaving-- and there is a remote chance of it! So do not worry my job is safe. (Even if these chaps hate me-- they can't wish me away. They can't wish away the cartoonist!
- Article 19 of the constitution gives us freedom of speech and expression with reasonable restriction under clause ii which states that article 19 would be curtailed if it disturbs security and integrity of the country, creates public disorder,contempt of court,incitement of offence,defamation and sedition.So, clearly if any cartoon creates law and order situation that has to be discouraged and done away with. Again we have Mr.R.K Laxman the ace cartoonist who is known more for lampooning characters with his outstanding cartoons in a decent and acceptable way.Some may argue that satire is an indirect way of criticism which acts as a platform of getting things done.what I think is that we have more important issues with us and debating in the House over such issues results in the loss precious time which our representatives can utilise in taking some hard realities and problems faced by the people of this country. Asked by: Tanveer Md Masood
- Dear Tanveer, The law can always be interpreted to suit one's motives. Law is a vague entity. Political cartoonists have played a very vital role in all democratic countries. No dictatorship in the world has a political cartoonist. This freedom to lampoon is the life-blood of cartooning. We have a great histpry of political cartooning-- pre- Independence ,and post. WE have had great stalwarts like Nehru ,Gandhi, Patel, Rajaji etc who enjoyed a good laugh at their own cost. Even I mormally have got calls from my victims asking for the originals of their own cartoons. Many leaders love their cartoons even today. The country is in a mess-- these chaps think a cartoon will destroy democracy in India. They are so insecure. This is not just a ploy to diver attention from the real issues , but there is a method in this madness. Its not going to stop at that . The next target on the hit list ib certainly the Newspaper c artoon.