If India did not exist, cartoonists may have had to invent it. Perhaps no other country in the world presents such rich and varied material for the depiction of humour as does India.
Humour is the harmonious reconciliation of opposites, and India abounds in opposites: the corrupt, overweight VVIP and the skinny and honest aam admi; the pompous politico and the skeptical voter; the tangled red tape of bureaucracy and the Indian genius for jugaad which innovatively cuts through it all.
The times of India is proud to present from its archives this pageant of cartoons that portrays the trials and the travails, the triumphs and the zest for life that make up the never-say-die spirit of India. Join us in this celebration of laughter.
Jug Suraiya Described by Khushwant Singh as India’s Art Buchwald, Jug Suraiya is perhaps best known for his free-wheeling column Jugular Vein which appears on the editorial page of The Times of India. He also writes a weekly contrarian column on topical issues called Second Opinion in which he deals with social, literary and political themes.
Jug collaborates with Neelabh and Ajit Ninan for the daily comic strip Duniya Ka Neta and bi-weekly cartoon series Like That Only.
Ajit Ninan, a leading cartoonist, has worked with the Times of India for many years now. Ninan has been drawing cartoons since 1980 in many prominent magazines and newspapers of the country. Looked up to as a senior cartoonist, generations have grown up on his wacky sense of humour brought to them by his cartoons, illustrations and comic strips. Always a forward looking cartoonist, Ajit Ninan’s future plan is to animate his cartoons.
Neelabh Banerjee works with the Times of India as their National Arts and Illustrations Editor. He is best known for his humorous cartoons, Illustrations and comic strips. Apart from his drawings, he has also designed many of the TOI’s path-breaking special pages. Neelabh started his career as a reporter and copy editor but now for over two-and-a-half decades he is doing what he loves most –cartoons.
A picture is said to be worth 60,000 words; a good cartoon can be worth several libraries of political, social and economic commentary.
Keeping this in mind, the text accompanying this celebration of cartoons has been kept short and pithy: a cartoon that needs lengthy explanation is not a cartoon but an illustration.
Thanks to the legacy of the inimitable R.K. Laxman, The Times of India has a tradition of cartoons unequalled in this country, and perhaps in Asia.
While no one can replace the genius of Laxman, his baton has been passed on successfully to a new generation of cartoonists. This book captures the changing face of Indian society through the changing features of the Indian cartoon.
While a lot has changed in India, a lot remains the same: the self-serving shenanigans of political leaders by and large; the vicissitudes of daily life that the citizen faces, with a robust sense of hope and humour; the vibrant spirit of democracy that not only survives but thrives, against all odds.
However, against this backdrop of continuity, there have been significant changes. The growing prominence that the spirit of private enterprise has claimed for itself has brought business and commerce to the forefront.
But perhaps the most notable change has been the emergence of an increasingly vocal civil society, making its opinion and views felt through a variety of social networking sites and channels.
Laxman’s iconic Common Man –who never spoke, presumably because he was at a loss for words at his own helplessness in the overall scheme of things –has made way for a younger, more assertive avatar: a Not-So—Common Woman who, armed with a smartphone, freely expresses herself through Twitter and Facebook.
This freeze-frame tableaux of cartoons seeks to capture the zest and vivacity of the ongoing narrative of India, ageless and yet always changing.
Enjoy the book. Enjoy the irrepressible and exuberant experience called India.
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