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Abu’s cartoons most relevant today

HK. DUA’s article, “Man of simple lines” (Spectrum, July 20) makes interesting reading. It gives a vivid picture of the Emergency in 1975 when the Opposition leaders were put behind bars, the Press was gagged and how a simple man from Kerala in The Indian Express was fortunate enough to enjoy V.C. Shukla’s unwritten permission to express his views through cartoons. The cartoons published in The Tribune were excellent. Mr Dua has done a commendable job. Nostalgia overwhelms him.

However, one does not fail to notice the timing of those wonderful contours and comments. Most of them can still be enjoyed because there is hardly any change in the political scenario today. In fact, things have deteriorated beyond one’s expectations.

Incidentally, Abu’s innocent remark, “how can I trust the electorate when I cannot trust even my astrologers?” is a sort of forerunner to what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said to Mr L.K. Advani, the Leader of the Opposition, in his reply to the debate on the confidence motion on July 22 that he (Mr Advani) should change his astrologers.

Rajindra Puri is also one of the reputed cartoonists like our dear departed Abu Abraham. His piece showing a batsman declaring the umpire “out” is the height of wit.




The cover story on Abu Abraham was simply superb. Two passages particularly appealed to me. First, when V. C. Shukla imperiously says, “We have imposed press censorship to stop the spread of rumours”, Abu reacts: “But why stop the spread of humour?”

Second, “Abu’s lines were always simple. I often wondered how he in a few lines drew daily on a drawing board standing in his ramshackle cabin in The Indian Express and pack so much of thought, comment and humour which we take columns of space to convey our opinions.”

The cartoons representing Abu’s genius were most judiciously selected. However, the one I relished most pertained to the voting pattern in Uttar Pradesh indicating the ballot box. The direction reads: “Vote for your caste here”. What a play on words! And how true!

M. K. KOHLI, Gurgaon


Abu was one of India’s leading cartoonists like Shankar, Kutty and Vijayan — all from Kerala. Abu’s literature and lifestyle is up to the brim to run a streak of satire and a marked inclination to laugh at others but with grace and without any malice. The simple lines mentioned in the cartoons like “Vote for your caste here”, “How can I trust the electorate if I can’t even trust my astrologer” (Mr Advani may please note), “Are we supposed to oppose corruption, or amend it?”, “I always vote according to my conscience which I keep fairly flexible” are all relevant in the present-day political scenario.

The writer has rightly commented that Abu was an honest man, giving a running commentary through his lines on events, men and matters, particularly, the politics of sycophancy and verbosity.

Abu will be remembered as a lighthouse for the cartoonists. The budding cartoonists should take a leaf out of his book.

DILBAG RAI, Chandigarh

Promises to keep

Satish Chander’s “India limping” (Perspective, July 13) is an analysis of the 51-month-long rule of the UPA. But he has not touched upon the compulsions, contradictions and commitments of running the government through “coalition hotch-potch”.

The nomenclature, United Progressive Alliance, was adopted at the instance of the Leftist partners, who promised to support the UPA from outside. The name was chosen to remain in harmony with the Communists’ ideology of “progressive political adage of Marxism”.

But how much this creed of progressiveness was pushed by the Left is no secret now. They blocked and nipped in the bud almost all measures that were on the UPA’s agenda. They found an excuse to execute their threats of withdrawing support from the UPA government on the issue of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal. An untenable excuse when even China, where communism reigns supreme, has signed such a nuclear deal to join the nuclear power countries.

The economic slide-down of the country is basically due to the crude oil prices skyrocketing to over $147 a barrel. This has shaken the global economy and inflation has reached the double-digit mark in India.

The ideal way to counter inflation is to economise and use petroleum products judiciously and the government must set an example in this regard.



I am not ready to buy the theory that the UPA government’s performance “has been less than satisfactory”. Farmers, agricultural workers, women and weavers have benefited from different laws enacted by the government. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) has come to the aid of agriculture workers and marginal farmers.

The reduced number of migrant workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh coming to Punjab this  year amply proves the effectiveness of this laudable scheme. If the rural poor get employment and proper wages at home, they will never like to move out of their villages and districts. Now, the tribes can use the forestland as their own for their subsistence and survival.

The Mid-day Meal Programme has been launched to cater to the needs of 11 crore of school-going children in the country. This thoughtful scheme aims at covering 3,400 educationally backward blocks at the upper primary level.

The UPA government can take credit for enacting the anti-domestic violence Bill for women also. It changed the agenda of Indian politics as now the focus is on development rather than on communal issues as was during the NDA regime. If we exclude the controversial Indo-US nuclear deal from our discussion, the UPA government has performed better than the previous governments.




A role model for generations

I read the article “Manekshaw: The legend lives on” by former Chief of Army Staff General Ved Malik (Saturday Extra, July 12). It was very thought provoking and forced one to think about the attitude that we have towards our brave soldiers.

How easily we have forgotten the vital role played by Sam Bahadur during his tenure. Sam Manekshaw revealed the power of the Indian Army to the world during the 1971 war.

I completely agree with the writer that Manekshaw is a role model for the coming generations. And his complaint towards the political leadership of our country too is justified. They failed to give the due respect to the hero. This will send a wrong message to the soldiers fighting for the honour of their country.

However, it is sad that Manekshaw’s ‘family’ (the Indian Army) also failed to recognise him and his gallantry. The Army never projected him as an inspiration for the youth.

The Army is facing shortage of 12,000 officers and is spending a lot on the advertisements meant to inspire youth to join this profession but it has never projected Manekshaw as a hero and a motivation for the youth.



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