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Sunday, Oct 18, 2020 12:30 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Oct 18, 2020 06:56 [IST]

Window Seat

Mrinal Chatterjee

R.K.Laxman at 100

On 24 October in 1921 a baby was born in Mysore- who would create the most popular cartoon character in India- ‘the common man’The baby, Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Iyer (R.K.) Laxman who was born on 24 October in 1921 in Mysore is one of the greatest cartoonists that India has produced. He is often called ‘Shakespeare of Indian cartoons’. He is best known for his creation, ‘the common man’, a slightly bald moustached man in mid-fifties with a bulbous nose wearing a checked coat and dhoti- who never uttered a word throughout his life span of over 50 years. His daily cartoon titled ‘You Said It’, appeared in The Times of India from 1951 and continued for over five decades. It enjoyed a cult status.

Laxman drew cartoons in Times of India, did illustrations for several publications including his brother novelist R.K.Narayan’s books, wrote fiction, painted crows for over half a century before crippling disease made him bed ridden. He died on 2015.

Laxman was the youngest of six sons. His father was a headmaster. Laxman was interested in drawing and illustration from childhood. As he  notes in his autobiography, The Tunnel of Time: “I drew objects that caught my eye outside the window of my room - the dry twigs, leaves and lizard-like creatures crawling about, the servant chopping firewood and, of course, and number of crows in various postures on the rooftops of the buildings opposite”
Laxman's idyllic childhood was shaken for a while when his father suffered a paralytic stroke and died around a year later, but the elders at home bore most of the increased responsibility, while Laxman continued with his schooling.
After high school, Laxman applied to the J. J. School of Art, Bombay. He was refused admission as the dean of the school felt his drawings lacked, "the kind of talent to qualify for enrolment in our institution as a student". Laxman graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Mysore.
While still at the Maharaja College of Mysore, he began to illustrate his elder brother R K Narayan's stories in The Hindu, and he drew political cartoons for the local newspapers and for the Swatantra. Laxman also drew cartoons, for the Kannada humour magazine, Koravanji.
His first full-time job was as a political cartoonist for the The Free Press Journal in Mumbai. Laxman later joined The Times of India, beginning a career that has spanned for over fifty years.
In his long and illustrious career, Laxman has played with every shade of humour - wit, satire, irony, slapstick, buffoonery, tragicomedy, but has never stooped to invective. And that makes him India's most beloved cartoonist.
He has been conferred the Padma Bhusan and the Padma Vibhusan, the second highest civilian award in India.
Fishing Cat becomes the Ambassador of Chilika lake
The largest brackish water lagoon in Asia and India’s oldest Ramsar Site, Chilika, located in Odisha has an ambassadornow– Fishing Cat. For the uninitiated, it is the only wild cat species in India that is a wetland specialist – the Fishing Cat. The globally endangered felid was found to be present all around Chilika. However, the marshlands fringing its north and north-eastern sections was where most evidence of its occurrence was found according to a recently concluded study conducted by the Fishing Cat Project (TFCP) and the Indian wing of Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance (FCCA), in collaboration with the Chilika Development Authority (CDA). This exercise was a part of the monitoring of the health and well-being of the Ramsar site.
The future plans of this collaborative venture between CDA and TFCP includes regularizing protocols to estimate Fishing Cat populations in Chilika and to create a Fishing Cat conservation network by involving local stakeholders, college students, researchers, non-government and government organisations
Fishing Cat is a Schedule-I species and deserves conservation measures of the highest accord in India like the Tiger and Elephant. Unfortunately, marshland and mangrove ecosystems, which are Fishing Cat habitat are in decline.
Chilika has one of the country’s largest extensive marsh-ecosystem spanning around 100 sq km. Welcoming CDA’s proposition, Tiasa Adhya, co-founder of The Fishing Cat Project says “Projecting Fishing Cat as the face of marshlands will raise the profile of Fishing Cat and marshland ecosystems globally and nationally which are otherwise neglected ecosystems. Locally, it will nurture their value among multiple stakeholders in Chilika.”
These marshes receive the maximum freshwater flow from the tributaries of Mahanadi and seasonal rivulets. Analysis of long-term data collected by Chilika Development Authority (CDA) shows that this area also has high fish abundance. This is significant given that fish is the lifeline of Chilika sustaining 2 lakh fishermen families and globally threatened piscivorous mammals like Fishing Cat, Smooth-coated Otter and Eurasian Otter.

The Naked Truth

This is a story about the Truth and the Lie.
The Truth and the Lie meet one day. The Lie says to the Truth: "It's a marvellous day today"! The Truth looks up to the skies and sighs, for the day was really beautiful. They spend a lot of time together, ultimately arriving beside a well.
The Lie tells the Truth: "The water is very nice, let's take a bath together!" The Truth, once again suspicious, tests the water and discovers that it indeed is very nice. They undress and start bathing.
Suddenly, the Lie comes out of the water, puts on the clothes of the Truth and runs away. The furious Truth comes out of the well and runs everywhere to find the Lie and to get her clothes back.
The World, seeing the Truth naked, turns its gaze away, with contempt and rage. The poor Truth returns to the well and disappears forever, hiding therein, in shame.
Since then, the Lie travels around the world, dressed as the Truth, satisfying the needs of society, because the World, in any case, harbours no wish at all to meet the naked Truth.

A Pessimist’s view

Nadal was French open champion in 2005.
Since then, most of us got married, had kids, struggled in our respective careers, managed to get a decent earning, gained weight, greyed hair...
This is 2020 and Nadal is still the French open champion.
Some people never progress in this life!
(Courtesy: Social Media)

The author, a journalist turned media academician lives in Dhenkanal. He has co-edited a book titled Mahatma Gandhi: Journalist and Editor with Snehasis Sur, which was published in 2018. Its Odia version is being published shortly.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi