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Dear RK Laxman Ji, I Am Happy You Aren’t Alive To Celebrate Your Birthday Today

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By Ankita Mukhopadhyay:

Dear RK ji,

Today is your 94th birthday. And I am happy that you aren’t here to celebrate it. I am happy you didn’t live long enough to see the start of the new administration, priding itself on its agenda of ‘economic prosperity for the nation’. Nowadays, when I open the newspaper each day, I wonder how your Common Man may have reacted to dalits being lynched and people being killed for having beef. Less than 8 months since you passed away, the India the Common Man wanted to create and envision has also died, in such a short span of time.

common man image
Image Source: Google+

I have realised that we have gone back to having secular discussions which were debates post-independence. We have gone back to discussing whether India should be a ‘Hindu’ swaraj or not. I have realised that dark days have arrived, and had you been alive maybe you too would have been sucked into this vortex of censorship. And this isn’t the Emergency where you can meet Ms. Gandhi on offending her. Here you will simply be uprooted and removed, without any warning or prior notice.

As a child I grew up reading your ‘Common Man’. I eagerly waited to grab the next Times of India just to read what you had to say about elections, censorship, films and politicians. If you belonged to this generation, I don’t think any newspaper would have been allowed to publish your Common Man today. In fact, if you were alive, maybe the Common Man would have been the first thing to be taken off newspapers.

This India, Sir, isn’t anything our creators envisioned it to be. Today, the Common Man has to return his award to protest against killing of rationalists. Today, the Common Man has to hide his sexuality in the closet because the law forbids them to be free. Today the Common Man has to eat what the Government wants him to. Today, the Common Man has to protest for hours outside the UGC office just for a meagre scholarship.

Quietly watching the world, your common man never spoke because he represented the silent majority of India, who have no voice. Now, your cartoons seem more relevant to me than ever before.

Today, one can’t speak, think or breathe. Thinking is a crime, questioning is a sin. Development is the agenda, but democracy isn’t. How would your Common Man survive this, Sir? The country is now in a State of Emergency, that too, without a Gandhi in power.

Do you know Sir, that our PM has a dedicated PR team to showcase all his ‘achievements’ to the public? Do you know that we now have a cleanliness programme to clean the country and dissenting elements in society are being ‘purged’ off? Do you know that we let diplomats who have raped women escape to their country because we want to maintain good relations with our trade neighbours? Do you know that student protests are quelled by the police now? Do you know that this is the INDIA of 2015?

Your cartoons are a painful reminder to me of how we haven’t changed since Independence, in fact, now we have changed for the worse. If you were alive… I don’t want to imagine that possibility anymore. I really don’t. I am happy you aren’t alive to see all of this, RK ji. I hope you rest in peace.


A loyal reader of the Common Man by RK Laxman.

You must be to comment.
  1. Sudeep

    Part time historian says India is in a state of emergency. Does she have any idea what happened during those dreadful 21 months?
    // Gandhi invoked Article 352 of the Indian Constitution which gave her extraordinary powers. She used that power to influence police forces to detain protestors and strike leaders //

    Is Modi illegally detaining protestors n locking up leaders? Well unless u want to use ur brain and defend Hardik Patel.

  2. Sudeep

    Highly opinionated writer n part time historian ( pun intended) says less than 8 months have passed and the common man has already died. As if all hell broke loose in these 8 months. Wow!

    She says students aren’t being allowed to protest. So u mean the midnight hooliganism by FTII guys is all right?

    She says now protester wouldn’t be allowed to meet the PM . What about Hindi poet Mumawwar Rana who is about to meet the PM next week?

    The truth is you guys have are too naive but its not your fault
    Anyways can the writer write an open letter to the PM on ‘How to create more jobs in this country?’ Which according to me is a very pressing situation in these times

  3. Seenu Subbu

    So.. Just one year ago. India was a paradise of economic progress, freedom of thoughts, women would walk around in the middle of the night without a worry. Milk and honey flowed on the streets. Dalits collected this milk and honey and never had a problem of hunger or that of opportunity.
    And then came this man. Narendra Modi. How bad! India is now a fascist Dictator ruled place, ooh, too bad. Migrate to Canada, or Australia, %*&$es!!

  4. Avinesh Saini

    “And this isn’t the Emergency where you can meet Ms. Gandhi on offending her.”

    I had no idea emergency was that rosy.

  5. Avinesh Saini

    “Today, the Common Man has to hide his sexuality in the closet because the law forbids them to be free. ”

    Homosexuality has always been taboo. Nothing to do with Modi.

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