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.

Advertisements

Mumbai Blasts 2011: Osama vs. Gandhi – Can we fight Mindless Terrorism with Non-Violence?

Not many of my international readers would be aware of the three blasts that shook Mumbai yesterday, and left 21 dead and more than a hundred injured. I wonder whether we need to assert ourselves more – whether we need to go after those who are responsible for such dastardly acts that take human lives and tell us that the perpetrators are spineless terrorists who don’t have the courage to fight the way the brave and the righteous do – but who stealthily plant bombs and slink away, while innocent, unarmed people die!

Is this a war they are waging on us?

Or is this some sort of parasitic invasion?

Who are these terrorists? Who are these people who order such cowardly acts? Who are the ones who bring down the twin towers in New York, who repeatedly kill innocents in Mumbai, and who then hide either under the ground or in houses that they don’t even call their own.

The Osamas of the World - Mumbai Blasts 2011They are the Osamas of the world. When Osama Bin Laden was killed by the US, a symbol of hatred and discord was destroyed. But actually evil goes deeper and spreads unseen by the eyes of the innocents and the saviors – because neither innocence nor heroism dwells in the dirty dark sewers of insanity. So the existence of that evil is discovered in different forms, in different places, at different times; perpetrated by different groups of people who are infected by the same evilness.

India, with its Gandhian Ideology and its secular policies has always been at a cross-roads. How much can we do without stepping out of the Gandhian guidelines of peace, harmony, and non-violence? How much can be achieved without destroying the secular fabric of this nation?Gandhi, Gandhian Ideology, Charkha - Can it deal with terrorism?

These terrorists, they don’t have love for anyone. They are the ones who’d kill their own spawn if the act could help them in their way ahead. Mahatma Gandhi‘s ideology worked well in ousting the British rulers from India, because they were educated, practical, and could talk rationally. How do you sit down for a talk with an ideology that only seeks to destroy?

With the recent blasts in Mumbai, I find myself withdrawing into a shell. I don’t want to watch the news, I don’t want to look at 4 or 6 or 8 panelists throwing inane paper-planes of ideas on one another, and I really don’t want to read a newspaper that moronically tells me that this evil act was to celebrate Ajmal Kasab’s 24th Birthday or which touts numerology as the reason behind so many people losing their lives.

I am done with all this. I know that I am not too secure either. One of these days, when I am out shopping for a new set of pencils, I might become a victim too. I won’t feel secure, until our Government takes some concrete steps to weed these sickos out of our system and isolate India from the threat of terrorism. Follow the lead of the US – do something. When and why did it become a crime to keep your own people safe?

The question that I ask is – if Gandhi were alive today, and if he had to handle terrorism, would he not modify his own philosophy?   I think that a man of his intellect would know that every ailment has to be treated differently.

Update: July 16, 2011

Read the Common Man’s Perspective here.

 

Caricature/Cartoon – Ben Kingsley as Mahatma Gandhi in Gandhi

This simple caricature necessitates the introduction of two personalities – the great political and spiritual leader of India, Mahatma Gandhi; and the awe-inspiring actor Ben Kingsley.

This is the caricature of Ben Kingsley as Mahatma Gandhi, in the movie Gandhi.

Ben Kingsley the British Actor, as Mahatma Gandhi.

Ben Kingsley as Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi – Father of the Nation, India.

Mahatma Gandhi was born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in Porbandar, Gujarat, India, in 1869. In 1883, when he was 13, he married Kasturba who was slightly older to him. The couple had four children, with Harilal being the eldest. Gandhi studied law at the University College of London , and returned to India after having completed his studies. He tried establishing his practice at Mumbai but failed. Eventually, he joined an Indian firm in South Africa , where for the first time, he faced raw discrimination or Apartheid . For the first time in his life, he consciously began to reflect upon the status of Indians in the world.

The foundations of Satyagraha (Insistence on Truth) were laid in Africa. When Gandhi returned to India in 1915, he came to understand the Indian problems. After his efforts in Gujarat, people began to call him Bapu (Father) and Mahatma (Great Soul/Person). In 1921, he became the leader of the Indian National Congress , and the fight for Swaraj (Our own rule) gained ground. Gandhi continued to evolve the Civil Disobedience Movement through policies such as wearing Khadi (hand-spun fabric) (he himself would hand-spin cotton thread to be used for his clothes.)

In the next three decades, Gandhi became the face of an India that wanted to be free. Eventually, when India was offered independence, it was on the condition that India would be partitioned into India and Pakistan. A reluctant Gandhi gave in and India (also Pakistan) gained its freedom at the midnight of August 15, 1947.

The pioneer of the Satyagraha movement, which was based upon Non-Violence, in India, today Gandhi is known as the Father of Nation.
as his movement helped India win her freedom from the British Raj. On January 30, 1948, Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse, who held him responsible for partitioning India.

Read about Gandhi’s Life and His Eleven Principles here.

Ben Kingsley – The Actor who played Gandhi

Ben Kingsley’s father Harji Bhanji was born of Indian parents, who had settled in Kenya, but who moved to England when he was 14. Thus, Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji – son of a Gujarati Indian Doctor and an English Actress, in the year 1943.

“Sir” Ben Kinglsey (he demanded to be called “Sir” after he was knighted) has won many awards (including a Grammy) and also a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame.
His rise to fame began in 1982, when he starred as Mahatma Gandhi in the movie Gandhi. For this role, he bagged the Academy Award for Best Actor and also the BAFTA award for the Best New Comer.

So have you seen the connections yet?

  • Both can trace their origins to Gujarat in India.
  • Their noses look the same.
  • England played a crucial role in the success of both these gentlemen.
  • Kingsley popularized Gandhi internationally; Gandhi made Kingsley famous by helping him earn an Academy Award.

(The Caricaturist Wonders – Ben Kingsley was born five years before Gandhi died so it couldn’t have been a case of reincarnation…or…)

Cool Caricaturist – Jan Op De Beeck

Jan Op De Beeck is a Congo-born Belgian Caricaturist. He has written five caricature books and had won several awards. Find his portfolio at:

http://www.opdebeeck.com

I agree with De Beeck – Sketches are Swell to do. I quote him.

In a sketch you can discover lot of an artist’s abilities: how he makes the proportional deformations, how he draws a line, how he prepares his drawing for volume rendering.

I’d like to add that sometimes a sketch progresses to a level where it transforms into a complete work of art.

De Beeck’s caricatures have an astounding level of detail. He too isn’t afraid of breaking the templates! The characteristic features of his subjects swell or shrink at his command!

Here are some links to help you explore his art.