Anna Hazare: The Long-drawn-out Story


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Anna Hazare by E P UnnyCartoons by E P Unny Curated by Sundar Ramanathaiyer
Courtesy: The Indian Express Layout: Bhattathiri

An invitation to Anna Hazare- the long-drawn-out story
Welcome to Unny’s collection of cartoons on Anna & Lokpal.
There are times when a cartoonist feels that contrary to the media hype, something doesn’t seem to be right, and the unfolding of events prove him right.

It could be an intuition, refined through years of professional experience; it could be a political-animal instinct or a combination of both that leads to a
‘discomfort’ to the cartoonist. Whatever may it be, this guards the cartoonist from falling into a ditch.

As the curator of this show I find that Unny is the earliest cartoonist who was skeptical about the Anna movement since Day One and he consistently stayed the course. Others saw through the mega-farce soon enough. Going against the hyped cyber-mediated SMS-driven cap & t-shirt revolution, Unny patiently commented on the [melo]drama of a lifetime, demystifying the euphoric self-righteous revolution. None of the governing and nongoverning elites escaped his gaze.

History, the ruthless teacher, has taught us that Indira was NOT India and contemporary history is gently asserting that I am NOT Anna.
Here is Unny’s long-drawn-out story of Anna Hazare, for you to interact, comment, criticize, and appreciate… In the fairest of democratic spirit, I don’t think we can afford to ignore this time capsule. Pass it on to your family, friends and foes. Unny also has briefly contextualized this exhibition.

Now it is your turn to respond. Wish you a sober New Year.
Sundar Ramanathaiyer
Cartoon Researcher & CCA Trustee

Anna Hazare: The long-drawn-out story
You can see Winston Churchill and his cronies as single-winged flying objects in a vintage Vicky cartoon, captioned “All God’s children have right wings”. Tweak the gag a bit and it would best describe how Anna Hazare arrived with his anti-graft mission– “All God’s children have righteous wings”.

Nobody would have quarreled with the mission, at any rate not in public. Least of all the cartoonists, in any case pushing a non-threatening career well under the bribing radar. Today in public life no one is thin-skinned enough to persuade the caricaturist.

The last recorded instance of a bribe offer to a cartoonist however, was no mean offer and it dates back to the 1870s. It came to Thomas Nast, the legendary cartoonist of Harper’s Weekly, from William Marcy Tweed, the boss of the infamous Ring that ran New York City then– a princely $ 500,000, one hundred times the salary the cartoonist drew in 1871. Nast turned it down and hit back with a vengeance.

So, the profession today can claim some pedigree to enter this war against corruption. But on whose side? War is a messy business and this one turned doubly so with the very first battle cry, “ARREST, JAIL & HANG THE CORRUPT!” Even if you manage to hire hangmen and cops by the truckload, where on earth can you locate builder after super clean builder to erect those mall-scale prisons?

Worse was the weapon in the making, the Weapon of Mass Redemption– Jan Lokpal (People’s Ombudsman). Such touchingly simple devices have always been christened most euphemistically. The first atomic detonation was code named “Trinity” and the bomb itself was referred to as the “gadget”. The Jan-machine Team Anna proposes looks like a veritable carpet bomb that can finish the corrupt en masse in one go. But who’ll be left for the victory march? Even as the trials were on, the bomb went off right in the war room. Ms.Kiran Bedi, a key operative, had to defend herself on some singular practices of accounting air travel, brought to light by The Indian Express.

Unlike the spoilsports in sections of print, the TV studios aired the Generals generously. That hardly helped. When five five-star Generals spoke all at once from five different TV channels, cacophony ensued. And the inevitable was about to happen– the big yawn.

But help as always came from the least expected quarters. The Congress party lost nerve serially. Anna was arrested and released within hours. The compounded folly had a precedent– almost a dress rehearsal. The party had earlier sent four union ministers to ceremonially receive and dissuade Baba Ramdev who had landed in the capital to outdo Anna. The Anna-bolic Yogi went right ahead with his show, which the government eventually interrupted with a midnight police raid.

Meanwhile BJP, the other big party long power-starved, has been showing every sign of an indefinite fast. High ketone levels, plunging blood pressure and thorough disorientation leading to abject fantasy: Anna’ll finish the Congress and the rest is a cakewalk.

To be fair, Anna did as well as the best of cartoonists– exposed the big guys who are running this country. The worst victim of the tarring brush was however the new Mahatma’s model itself. This time it’s GANDHI; TAKE 2! And don’t look for that winning toothless smile. Nor, given the solemn national diversion, toothy ones on the young Indians.
Chief Political Cartoonist, The Indian Express


  1. Anna was, is and will be a joke; nothing else. Let cartoonists long live!

  2. Great collection of cartoons! Congratulations Unny, Sundar and Indulekha.

  3. No one should starve. Not even Anna.

  4. The Anna Saga Continues…
    Good show, and enjoyed the flow of cartoons. Long live anna, so that more cartoons can be drawn and seen.!!!

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