Brushing Up the Years: A Cartoonist's History of India, 1947-2004
From 1947, throughout the entire history of independent India, R.K. Laxman's cartoons have appeared regularly in The Times of India, commenting on every possible aspect of India's social and political life. Some years ago, Time magazine called R.K. Laxman 'the country's sharpest cartoonist and political satirist'. For many Indians, however, Laxman is much more. His daily cartoons, with their whimsical, idiosyncratic and downright hilarious depictions of Indianness, have become something of a national habit - a way for millions of readers to tackle the perplexing and often frustrating headlines in the morning newspaper. Laxman's Common Man cartoons are sharp and pointed observations on the rampant corruption, social injustice, financial fiascos and political byplays that have plagued the nation since its inception. His political cartoons, on the other hand, are marvellous caricatures of the personalities and policies of our larger-than-life leaders. Laxman's cartoons represent a uniquely Indian take on life, informed, humorous, philosophical and above all, mischievous. These, perhaps, are the qualities that have made him India's best-loved cartoonist. selection of the very best of Laxman's cartoons, drawn over a career spanning six decades. From India's first general elections to Nehru's Five-Year Plans, from the wars with China and Pakistan to the reign of Indira Gandhi and the Emergency, from Rajiv Gandhi's government, the rise of regional politics and the fall of the Babri Masjid to economic liberalization, the rule of the BJP and the Congress's return to power, these cartoons trace a history of modern India, a history that is perceptive, provocative and humorous.