“Drop Cartoon, Carry Photo,” Cartoonist Alleges Censorship, Newspaper Calls It False Allegation
The ability to express oneself freely is one of the most important features of living in a democracy. More so for a person who works in a creative space. As Henry Louis Gates, an American literary critic, rightly said, “Censorship is to art what lynching is to justice”. So, what happens when this freedom, on the basis of which the whole career and profession of a cartoonist thrive on, is subjected to censorship?
Allegedly, something similar happened with Satish Acharya, a celebrated cartoonist. He, in fact, was featured as one of the 24 thinkers named by Forbes India as the best India-based intellectuals who are well regarded outside of the country as well. However, Acharya, whose pieces of work were a regular feature in the cartoons column on Mail Today of the India Today group, ended on August 11.
“When they are asked to bend, they chose to crawl!”
Through a post on social media, Acharya outlined the whole issue. He alleged that his work had been under the scanner for some time. The last straw was when his cartoon on the growing influence of China over India’s neighbouring countries like the Maldives was not approved for publishing. The editor of the daily, while responding to the cartoon(thumbnail pic) said that it was “Very defeatist and that the China problem was being overplayed”. When Acharya tried to oppose this, justifying it as his point of view on the influence of China and that a cartoonist’s opinion should be valued, his editor asked the cartoon to be dropped and instead carry a photo.
“Maybe for the editor, it’s just a three column space, but for a cartoonist, it’s a whole world. A world where the cartoonist is free to express his opinion,” Acharya said in his post.
Acharya also alleged that this was not a one-time incident. He goes on to write about the time when his cartoons were not approved by the editor which either had cows or lynching or PM Modi or even a Muslim guy. Acharya said that it was becoming difficult for him to do a cartoon as “too many barriers” was put around his work.
He further says that his decision to leave the Mail Today was relatively easier since he also works as a freelance cartoonist for other clients. However, he deemed it important to fight for what he calls his right.
He ends his note by saying that while it was alright for the editor and the cartoonist to have a difference of opinion, he also says that it was important that editor should be “open to discussion, without being dictatorial”.
DROP THE CARTOON AND CARRY A PHOTO!That’s how my cartoon column with Mail Today ended yesterday. That’s how the editor…
False allegations: Mail Today editor
While in an interview with The Quint, Acharya alleged that he was asked to change the cartoons three-four times a week, Mail Today editor, Dwaipayan Bose said that this was the first time that Acharya’s cartoon was dropped.
Bose also said that while the editorial freedom remains absolute, the daily has “no obligation to carry content that fails to pass editorial filters. “As to why this has been done – please note that editorial decision-making is an internal exercise and the prerogative of the Mail Today editorial team. Our editorial freedom is absolute, and it stays unaffected by false allegations and unjust insinuations. We are under no obligation to carry content that fails to pass our editorial filters,” Bose told The Quint.
The Logical Indian take
Freedom of expression is imperative for any artist. While thoughts and views should be open for discussion, however, censoring it reeks of dictatorship. Acharya’s work being allegedly censored, which the daily has stated to be false, is not one of kind case. All over the world, including India, people, especially those working in creative spaces are often made to bow to the whims and fancies of those in authority. This is an absolutely despicable trend and should be done away with.