Mr.R K Laxman is one of the greatest of all cartoonist of modern India. He is credited with the creation of a cartoon which later went on to symbolize the common man of India. His other work included creation of mascot for Asian Paints and also illustrations for the all time favourite Malgudi Days. His cartoons were published daily under the column You Said It in Times of India for more than five decades.
The one and only thing which I don’t like about his work is the creation of Common Man and also the term Common Man which is so freely used to encompass the 100 Crore+ population of India. Why would we want to be described as ‘Common’ in first place. I refuse to be termed common for I strongly believe everyone is special and unique. Also the appearance of the common man seems to represent a person twice or thrice the collective age of the youth of the nation. More than 75% of population of India is below 30 years.
Why would such a youthful population want to be represented by a person in the guise of a common man. The picture drawn of the Common Man is a very sorry picture and his facial expressions only reflects amusement towards various scams and unhealthy practices unfolding in our country. What the picture fails to capture is the anguish, hope, vision, rebirth, vibrancy, achievement of India.
Yes, I agree that the common man is only a symbol used in newspaper to highlight in pictorial nature of the events unfolding in our surroundings. But the continuous use of the phrase – Common Man and of the picture is an insult to all the people who work hard daily to earn their livelihood. The rise of the phrase of ‘Common Man’ and also of the picture is not anyone’s fault. And no one can or rather should be blamed for it. But it is time we reinvent a new identity, a mascot ,which will sum up the qualities of a new India.