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Thursday, 17 May 2012

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Sagarika Ghose talks on cartoon and satire issue on Face of the Nation


Should cartoon and politician satire be censored?

The members of Parliament across party lines said not just Ambedkar cartoons but no political cartoons at all should be allowed in school textbooks. The BJP said HRD Minister Kapil Sibal must resign on this issue.

The question is whether cartoon and politician satire should be censored. After an extensive make-up and watching the good looks in the mirror again and again, CNN-IBN Deputy Editor Sagarika Ghose started the discussion with a distinguished panel on her show Face The Nation (FTN).

Following is the transcript of the discussion on Face The Nation:

Sagarika Ghose: Hi there! No cartoons please we are Indian politicians. Members of Parliament across party lines said not just Ambedkar cartoons but no cartoon of Kapil Sibal at all should be allowed in school textbooks. The BJP said HRD Minister Kapil Sibal must resign on this issue. Should cartoon and politician satire be censored? Joining us Kunal Vijaykar, actor, Sudhindra Bhadoria, Member, BSP, Kancha Ilaiah, Dalit activist and author, Hemant Morparia, cartoonist and S Kalidas, Art historian and critic. Sudhindra Bhadoria why is Kapil Sibal so threatened by cartoons in textbook? Do he wants divine infallibility?

Sudhindra Bhadoria: He he he… who would like to see himself as a cartoon? Recently, I heard that Sibal slapped his watchman and maali for drawing his cartoons with some good looking female cartoons in servant bathrooms and toilets. How do you expect him tolerating such nonsense in the text books?

S Kalidas: This is a very personalised interpretation on Sibal which I think should not be allowed. (Hemant Morparia muttered with Bhadoria about the incidence so that he can make a cartoon)

Sagarika Ghose: Sudhindra Bhadoria let's broaden the discussion that why should the politicians be so threatened because it has gone beyond Ambedkar now. Why politicians want cartoon in general to be censored in the textbooks?

Sudhindra Bhadoria: He he he again! It depends, we have no issues if pupils draw cartoons of Kapil Sibal or Sonia Gandhi. But 'no' to Behenji, Babasaheb and Kanshiramji. Baba Saheb himself gave the freedom of speech under Article 19 of the constitution but the freedom of speech does not mean that you have the right to insult him.

Sagarika Ghose: You are insulting and offending. Let me bring in Hemant Morparia, a cartoonist from Mumbai. Does the cartoonist have the right to offend? Should the cartoonist draw cartoons that are insulting insensibilities? (Just for a second she thought whether she was discussing Kapil Sibal's cartoon or Dr. BR Ambedkar's cartoon)

Hemant Morparia: Its funny thing. Generally, cartoonists avoid drawing cartoons of beautiful faces as like yours (Sagarika blushed) while cartoon of Rajdeep (Sagarika's husband that made her laugh a loud) are best to be drawn. Bhadoria had to cough up in between distracting both of them from the continuous eyesight…

Oh I feel I lost words (Sagarika blushed again). Something I had written on a paper. (He then took a paper from his pocket and read that loudly). Yea so the art of cartooning is the art of providing criticism. Now the criticism is the voluntary part, the other part here is taking offence you know which is an act of perception. I have no control over what is perceived. I am critique, my job is to provide criticism. How it is taking is somebody else's responsibility. And we must realise that in a mature democracy, the act of criticism which is provided in a humourous manner are only a kind of advice, suggestion, opinion which is an open thing.

Sagarika Ghose: (Distracting herself from Hemant's catching eyesight) Though, I haven't understood anything you told, I remembered only one line humour and satire is integral to democracy. So Kancha Ilaiah, tell me why should we not make a cartoon of Kapil Sibal?

Kancha Ilaiah: When did I tell you making cartoon of Kapil Sibal? (He thought for a while 'WTF! Why am 
discussing about him at all?')

Ok Sagarika, first I want to introduce myself, I am the greatest intellectual on the earth so whatever I tell is always correct. I don't know why we are talking about Kapil Sibal when debate is on Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's cartoon. But still I have to give my view, drawing Kapil Sibal's cartoon would not make any sense as there is hardly any chance to animate his picture.

Sagarika Ghose: (yawn) Kancha can you please keep your analysis short, difficult to understand. Ok tell me but Kancha, what do you think if Sibal objects on his own cartoon?

S Kalidas: He he he.. what will he say… I have other point, drawing Kapil Sibal's cartoon is easiest thing. Though I am not cartoonist, even I can draw his cartoon easily.

Kancha Ilaiah: If you attack my words then you are attacking the whole Dalit bahujan transformative process itself. If I say drawing Sibal's cartoon is difficult it should be.

Sagarika Ghose: How it is an attack on Dalit bahujan Kancha? Let me bring in Kunal Vijaykar.

S Kalidas: He he he…. I believe Hussain was cartoonist.

Sagarika Ghose: Why do you say so?

S Kalidas: He would have banned by Kapil Sibal…

Sagarika Ghose: Kunal Vijaykar, let me bring in you here. This is a class 9, class 10 textbook; our 16-year-old's who are just two year below the voting age, should they be not allowed to view cartoons?

Kunal Vijaykar: From freedom point-of-view they should be allowed to view Sibal's cartoons in the text books but from health point-of-view they should not as they can face the risk of obesity, depression and mental tension viewing his cartoon. But tell me Sagarika how do you able to keep questions short?

Sudhir Bhadoria again coughed up to avoid any catchy interaction between the two.

Sudhindra Bhadoria: Sagarika I am just missing the point. Are we talking about Ambedkarji or Sibal? I don't think there is any issue regarding drawing cartoon on Sibal. In my view, Sibal's face is very straight-forward and drawing his cartoon is easy but very funny.

But Sagarika what I am trying to say is that let us understand the context and also understand that NCERT is a government institution, the money of the exchequer is used, it is not a private newspaper of a corporate house or any individual, a book. They can draw Sibal's cartoons on Facebook or Google+ but why the hell they are using textbooks. I favor Sibal's decision to disallow drawing his cartoons in the text books. Also I believe excessive laughing gas in the schools should be avoided.

Sagarika Ghose: S Kalidas, studies say that excessive laugh is dangerous as much as excessively crying. So if we allow Kapil Sibal's cartoon in text books, will that be harmful for children?

S Kalidas: Hmmm… possibly but I would like to make a point that excessive laugh watching Sibal's face is possible but if cartoonist moderates fun on his face then what is the harm allowing his cartoon in the textbooks.

Sagarika Ghose: You cannot use government school textbooks.

Sudhindra Bhadoria: My strong sense is that Kapil Sibal's cartoon in the textbooks is harmful for health. For my kids, whenever they say hallo uncle to Sibal they start laughing and it takes time of at least 1 hour to stop them. My kids told me that they get so much laugh watching Sibal in front of them and if they watch him as a cartoon then that will be really damaging.

Kancha Ilaiah: But I believe that we are here for discussing the cartoon row on Dr. B R Ambedkar.

Hemant Morparia: No Kancha the problem is not just Ambedkar's cartoon, problem is that all Indians have fundamental right to draw Kapil Sibal's cartoon. It is like if we have greatest view in front of us why not using it to draw. Kapil Sibal's face is most ideal in terms of drawing cartoon. It would be inspiring for kids too to take the profession of cartoonist opening the new opportunities for him.

Sagarika Ghose: Ok Hemant has opened a new topic for SMS. So is drawing Kapil Sibal's cartoon our fundamental right? Please SMS on 5616151 with ANS Y or N or C.

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