This August 15th, I didn’t feel free.

I know what it is.
Do I?
I am not sure.
If I described it, you’d recognize it perhaps.
It’s a pain that begins in my head, reaches my chest, squeezes my heart, and leaves me perspiring…gasping for air. Then I push it away. I tell myself that August 15 is a joyous occasion. It is to be celebrated with pride, because India won its freedom on this day. The pain then becomes a dull thud in the background. Is this the pain of corruption that we experience every day of our lives?

Anna Hazare - Civil Society of India.I had got used to the pain of this corruption, because I had to live. I told myself that we were better off than many other countries of this world – that we at least had the freedom to express ourselves. It was a way to console myself – a sort of white flag.  But this year was different. This year, Anna Hazare made us realize that while we had numbed ourselves to the pain, the cancer of corruption was growing unchecked in our country. He and his team made us wake up and reflect upon the issue. We realized that we needed and effective Lokpal bill as the tool to surgically remove this cancer that’s killing our country!

But we also realized that it wasn’t going to be easy. That another struggle was needed. A struggle that Anna Hazare called the Second Freedom Struggle; a struggle that’d help us remove this putrid mass of corruption. Unfortunately, when Anna attempted to achieve his ends through peaceful means, his voice was stifled. He was detained even before he could reach the protest venue. This freedom struggle has made us realize another bitter reality. We still aren’t free to voice our opinions…we still are in the grips of fascism…and that this battle against corruption is going to be a long one.

This is why I could not inspire myself to present a new Independence Day drawing this year. I hope you will understand.

Thank you for reading.

Caricature Gallery Updated with 12 New Caricatures!

My Dear Visitors of all Genres (furry/fur-less, funny/fun-less, angry/loving, lost/found, past/future, and so on…)

I have bowed to your wishes and updated the Caricature Gallery. For a quick reference for those who’ve missed my more recent additions to this blog. Here are five of the twelve News-makers who got into the Gallery today.

Sarah Palin

The lady who’s got everything that matters. The former Alaskan Governor who could turn the US into a tax-free nation, if you’d vote for her and make her the first woman President of the US – provided she decides to stand for the 2012 Elections!

Alaska's Former Governor known for more than just politics - Sarah Palin's Caricature

——:::——

Osama Bin Laden

You may have forgotten this chap but he hogged the International Terror News for a whole decade, until he was removed from this world along with his stash of pornography. Does that ring a bell? Here’s this caricature of OBL, which I drew while watching the news on CNN. Why six dozen presumably virtuous virgins would want him is totally beyond me.

Caricature of a Dead Terrorist - Osama bin Laden——:::——

Muammar Gaddafi

His supporters would kindly excuse me for misspelling his name (if I did) but this guy holds the Guinness World Book record for the most variably spelled-name. Gaddafi’s caricature is one of my favorites. It shall remain contextual until Gaddafi either decides (or is made to decide,) to let go of Libya. If I were you, I’d click the following icon to check out his costume. If you are a normal non-antiperspirant-user kind of person – one look at his costume could drown you in your own sweat!

The dictator who refuses to step down as the Head of Libya - A Caricature of Muammar Gaddafi——:::——

Nicolas Sarkozy

He is the colorful President of France, known more for his wife Carla Bruni than for his work (or so I presume, because I see more of his wife’s pictures than I see his.) I should also add that now that they are expecting their first child, Sarkozy’s smile and Carla’s baby-bump are both expanding exponentially.

Caricature of Carla Bruni's Husband and the French President Nicolas Sarkozy——:::——

Anna Hazare

This unassuming gentleman is responsible for a shortage of sleeping pills in New Delhi. The politicians have been popping them by the dozen, as Anna Hazare makes them dance to a Gandhian Remix. Whether or not he’d prevail is yet to be seen. In my humble opinion, why would an innocent young man want to ever become a politician if the carrot of corruption is made to disappear from the system?

An Honest Man fights Corruption in India - A Pen and Ink Portrait of Anna Hazare——:::——

Thanks 🙂

Anna Hazare’s Pen-and-Ink Portrait: A Tribute to the Survival of Honesty in an Ocean of Corruption – Whose Lokpal is it anyway?

Anna Hazare is a name that most of the urban Indians can recognize with ease today. Yet ask them and most won’t be able to tell you his full name, nor tell you much about his past. But this unassuming Gandhian has made the Indian Government sit up and think about an extremely emotional and very delicate issue, which every Indian talks about, almost every day of his life. CORRUPTION!

Here’s my tribute to his honesty and his untiring effort towards eradication of corruption.

A Portrait of Anna Hazare, the Indian who became famous for the anti-corruption movement and the Lokpal Bill, done as a Pen and Ink Drawing - poster format.

Anshan Karenge, Jail Jayenge; Ek Majboot Lokpal Payenge!

IMPORTANT NOTE:

I have been receiving a lot of emails about using this portrait of Mr. Anna Hazare in the campaign against corruption. I must tell you that I have no objection to your using the drawing under the following conditions:

1. You don’t change the picture in any way. You can’t strip away the copyright information from the drawing if you want to use it online or otherwise. (Refer to Copyright/Permissions.)

2. You don’t use the picture of any “commercial purpose”. Which means you can print it on t-shirts that you’d sell to the protestors. You want to print it out and pin it to your own t-shirt, you’ll make me happy and proud to be an Indian.

3. You can use the picture as-is (without stripping away the copyright information on the three edges) on your blogs/web-sites – without seeking specific permission for doing so.

Why a Portrait and not a Caricature?

I do a lot of caricatures. Usually the personalities I caricature fall in the following categories:

  • Globally Famous
  • Globally Infamous

Once in a while I create a caricature of a not-so-famous celebrity, who made me respond at an emotional level – either through a character that he played or through his work otherwise.

But I don’t do a lot of portraits, despite starting my art-journey as a portrait artist. The reason had been rather simple. Portraits are made of a lot of serious thought – and I, as an artist had to feel something beyond awe, recognition, or a weak emotion; if I wanted to create a portrait.

I experienced that feeling, which I’d call respect, for Mahatma Gandhi – because he, a lone man, through his charisma had hard work managed to create a free India, not-with-standing the division, which was an extremely unfortunate fallout – and which primarily happened because people decided to move on the basis of religion.

And lately, I’ve been feeling a similar respect for Anna Hazare. I know that we might not eventually end up seeing a strong anti-corruption act, but I also realize that to take this fight against corruption out in the open; and to have no skeletons in his own cupboard that either the media or the governmental agencies could find, is a feat only a handful of people could perform. True that there are honest people, but they are busy trying to fight off hunger – others, are all engaged in some measure of corruption. It may not be completely out of choice, but ask an Indian (who lives in India – not someone who lives in another country but retains the Indian passport) whether he has never bribed anyone in his life, ever? I don’t think you’ll get a confident NEVER, as an answer.

And then there are those others.

We saw Ramdev’s copycat fast, and we saw how he changed his tone completely when his own accounts of Crores came under the scanner – we are actually used to seeing people change tracks oh-so-completely-and-smoothly…that when a man like Hazare comes on the scene, we can’t believe that he could be real.

Anna Hazare’s Biography – The Caricaturist’s Way.

There was once a young boy called Kisan, who lived in a tiny village called Bhinger, somewhere in Maharashtra. Kisan was among the seven children born to an unskilled laborer called Baburao Hazare and his wife. (Though Kisan’s mom had to go through the painful process of childbirth 7 times, her name escapes my research.) Kisan’s Grandfather was in the Army (in those days, Army equaled the British Indian Army) and he stayed with the family. When Kisan was 7, his Grandfather died. After a few years, his father decided to move to Ralegan Siddhi, a village that would later become prominent as a milestone in Hazare’s career.

When his father moved to this other village, his aunt (couldn’t find her name either) took him to Mumbai, looked after him, and sent him to school , but Kisan had to drop school because his half-a-dozen siblings needed financial support. He became a flower-vendor in Mumbai. As it always happens in India, when one in the village reaches the city, he first brings his family, then his extended family, and then his village to the city – so did Hazare, but he stopped after bringing only his two brothers and didn’t get his entire village over. Perhaps his stopping at bringing only two of his brothers and not the others to Mumbai has something to do with his enlisting in the Army. He enlisted in the Indian Army in 1962 and worked there as a driver, until he retired at the age of 38.

It was during the war, at the age of 26, that he had his first brush with death as he lost all his peers when the Pakistani Army blew up their convoy. It was then that he realized that his life was spared as he was destined for greater things. He continued working for the Army, but decided to stay clear of the burden of a family, and so he never married.

In 1972, when he returned to his village, he began working towards the economic and social progress of his village. The changes that he brought about in his village included tackling issues such as lack of education – especially for girls, farming issues, alcoholism, irrigation issues, and dowry, he also worked towards eradication of untouchability in the right way  (and not by demanding reservation in Government Jobs and Educational Institutions.)

It was his work in his village that he was awarded Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.

Later, Hazare worked towards forcing the Maharashtra government a stronger RTI act, and also towards a more transparent transfer system in Government. (Anyone who watches enough Bollywood movies knows that honest officers, who don’t toe the line and get on the wrong side of the politicians, are often transferred to other “miserable” stations.)

Anna Hazare’s Future Plan of Action:

Though Government appears to have contained the Lokpal fever and administered prophylactic treatment, but a relapse is a distinct possibility. Though another Ramlila Ground stunt might be difficult to pull off, yet you can’t discount the fact that our politicians are some of the smartest and brightest people that India has produced. With corruption gone – many politicians would have lost their prime motivator to be in politics…and so, we can expect to see some sort of politico-legal magic…as we march towards August 15, 2011 our Independence Day, aptly chosen by Hazare and his team, to resume their fast and anti-corruption movement.