Time for the Sunday edition of my blog on #i_am_me series for KalaManthan and this time we have someone who is the synonym for humility and courage. A man standing all out against the odds, against the media, against the corruption and the government to prove his point. Today amongst us we have a political cartoonist, a human rights defender, and a public speaker. Today we get candid with the one and only – Mr Aseem Trivedi.
Aseem belongs to a small place known as Shuklaganj near Kanpur. Being the only child of his parents, he used to spend his maximum time with his grandfather who was a freedom fighter and had worked with the greatest leaders of India at that time. So, the connection with politics started when he used to hear about the leaders and their viewpoint from his grandfather and ultimately it lead to him being a rational thinker and scrutinizing things from a different perspective.
“I wanted to do something in the studies as that is what parents and teachers put in our brains. The race of being a doctor or an engineer. So I started preparing for IIT during my final years of school. And during the same tenure, I realized that this is not something that I would like to do for the rest of my life. Then while preparing for the exams it also crossed my mind that the outcome of this is not very rosy. The same ordinary job life of 9-5 is not what I am looking forward to.”
After his 12th one day along with a bunch of friends thought of having their own magazine and started looking out for various libraries and other useful resources and people to make the idea work though, in the end, it didn’t work out. “But what I am happy about is that during that time, we met a lot of people, we went to a lot of places and we made several contacts with like-minded people.” It is during this time that he first encountered the world of cartoons. A book of South-Indian Cartoonist David Satyamurthy titled “How to draw Cartoons” fell in his hand and the book proved to be the apple that fell on this Newton’s head resulting in his Law of Gravity for cartoons. Eventually, he started making cartoons and soon it got published in the local newspapers as well, this became a trend.
A newspaper ‘Swatantra Bharat’ gave Aseem a column separately known as ‘Haasyamev Jayate’ to put his cartoons there on a daily basis. “For me, it was like a transition that I don’t want to study, let me do the cartoon work for now, and let’s see where life takes. That time I didn’t think of doing it full time, neither I think about it now.” he jiggles.
This went on for a couple of years and then he shifted to Mumbai as he wanted to try his luck in writing. Along with his friends, he created a blog section called Dakhal-Andaazi which was later on converted to a website. It was a mix of some learned intellects, some experienced professionals, few writers and journalists, and some bloggers who used to put content over there.
Then happened Anna Andolan in 2011 which changed everything for him. This was the time when he thought of starting a campaign with his cartoons.
“I feel that cartoons should also be taken as a medium, not only entertainment.”
“Also, any newspaper will give me the leverage of posting my cartoons till it does no harm to the majority of the public, after that they used to avoid putting up my work which I understood. They didn’t use to publish my work as their readers might get offended, it happened as well a few times, so I created my own website where there was no such barrier.”
After the Dilli Ram Leela Maidaan Anshan, a similar one was done in Mumbai where Aseem exhibited his cartoons. And it resulted in a way that his website was banned and an arrest warrant was issued against him.“When the website was banned a new thing came into light which was ‘Internet Censorship’, a concept pretty new to all at that point in time. So we thought of doing a campaign for that as well. Then all different kinds of protests started and I ended up being subjective to a case, a non-bailable warrant was issued against me.”
And we all know what happened after that. A campaign started right after his arrest and the government had to release him after a few days in jail.
But why do cartoonists in our country have to face so much of rampage?
“This controversial tag has been with us. It has always been with artists that they had to face the wrath of the government. Various authors, poets, painters, filmmakers had to face this, same with cartoonists. With cartoons, I would say, due to its nature of being more symbolic and that it’s more like a blabber that you do about a certain thing, incident or event, that’s the reason it’s highlighted as a much more offensive art form. Then cartoon is termed as a political art form also. So it always has been offensive.”
Speaking of politics, do you feel that the youth of the country has engrossed themselves much in recent years and took it as a profession?
“Politics should never be treated as a career but unluckily in India, the scenario is different. Also, mostly it’s seen that either influential or rich people have a stand on this. Indian Politics is far away from ethics and morals; that only exists in our thoughts.”
“I believe that in the past few years, the youth of the country is taking the initiative to take part in this segment, but for all the wrong reasons.”
You went to the 6th Season of the controversial reality show Bigg Boss along with many known celebrities. How was your experience?
“I got a call from the team after I was released, I ignored it in the initial level but then they called me a few times and talked me for it, I too thought that I haven’t seen the program much but there is a buzz about it, so I gave it a shot. But I regret taking that decision now; I don’t think it was much of a good experience for me, because I don’t belong to that set of people.”
So what does the rebel thinks about Women Empowerment? Does it really exist?
“The roots are very deep of this. It’s a long story. The stuff related to males has always been highlighted since the beginning and the deeds of women have been neglected, or not given that much importance. History also has always been about warfare, ruling kingdoms, valour which was mostly dominated by males. Then the traditions were formed like that. Now if you are thinking to change that, then I don’t know when it can be changed if it can be done even in the first place.”
“I believe Bollywood has played an important role in this as people are drawn towards it. So, if we see a girl wearing jeans, then it becomes a trend and everyone starts doing that. If they speak about education, then slowly and gradually that change comes into the picture. So things are changing, but the process is slow. This issue is I believe, something like The Great Wall of China, that while creating it people had no idea what they are really making, but when it came into being, they were bewildered.”
“Males need to unlearn the old tactics and start being more compassionate towards the other gender. For example, we see that the help/maids that we have are females, we don’t see much of the guys doing that. The gender biases can be seen there as well.”
“I believe that equality should start at home. And I am not talking only about the household choirs that a woman does, but also in taking all types of decisions, taking care of their priorities, etc.”
When we stop feeding the seed of importance being given to the boy more than a girl in the house, it is then that we would be building a better society in the future.
“If we look into this from an animal’s perspective, you would be surprised that the woman is actually more empowered than their male partners. A lioness feeds herself and her cubs. In the army of ants, the female is the boss and takes decisions. It is mostly like this in every species. But we as humans changed it.”
we changed it in a way that while processing it, women’s perspective, her presence, her importance became secondary.
“We also did it from the protection point of view. Girls were not safe then, they are not safe now as well. But due to this process, the exposure that they should have got in the form of equality remains undelivered. So, slowly men became more experienced in outdoor things and women indoors. And a stereotype developed that they are inferior to men.”
“Women have been quarantined since an early age. So this issue has poison deep down into roots and we always clutter the leaves at the top and think that the issue has been solved. You can only change the design and look of the tree by that, but the problem remains intact in the roots.
It’s like creating a home and the structure of it, is itself in a bad shape, now it doesn’t matter what amount of fanciness you add to it in the form of painting it or styling it anyway, it will remain bad.”
“I believe that this thought process of equality has to start from home itself and people need to think and talk about sexuality more, regarding marriages etc. It’s a long process, and much bigger from what we think. So till the time we work on small male kids doing household chores, till the time we make the structure of the house better, till the time we don’t enrich the roots of a tree, there won’t be any change.”
Just having sugar-coated conversations in debates and writing poetry on them, won’t change anything.
What an amazing insight he gave to this whole topic. The phone was kept after exchanging the pleasantries but while penning down this interview, his words, his wisdom, his thoughts and the kind of heart he carries echoed in my mind.
To read more by the Author
KalaManthan is an art platform which is dedicated to literary enthusiasts and has been working both online and offline to give them a place to share their views in form of poetry, stories and now blogs as well. The views are sole of the writer and not necessarily represent the platform’s views and opinions at all times.
Follow KalaManthan on Facebook to get updates regarding events and other activities.
If you want to share your thoughts log in to http://www.kalamanthan.in and share your writings to the world.