(From the Asian Correspondent)
By Graham Land
A NEW satirical cartoon by veteran Australian artist Bill Leak is being condemned around the world as racist for its depiction of Indian people. However, it may reveal more about the country in which it was created than the one that it depicts.
The cartoon, published Monday in the Australian, a News Corp-owned broadsheet, features stereotypical images of Indians puzzled by box of solar panels, which are stamped with the United Nations logo and the words “made in China”. The drawing depicts one man smashing them with a sledgehammer while another group tries to eat them.
The title of the work is “Aid à la mode”, in reference to the recent Paris climate change deal. Leak’s message seems to be that India is a poor country in need of food and basic necessities rather than high-tech solar panels that will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Is Leak’s cartoon inherently racist?
Many of the reactions against the cartoon’s alleged racism stem from how the Indians are depicted rather than from Leak’s intended message, which is also problematic. Emaciated, shirtless, turbaned and absolutely ignorant of what to do with new technology is an outdated stereotype for a country that has established itself as a tech giant.
This only demonstrates the… provincial ignorance of both the journalist, cartoonist and publication.
—Shoma Chaudhury, Catch News
In a move that is typical of the times, Leak’s Wikipedia page was “hacked” by a member of the public with unequivocal opinions about the cartoonist’s alleged racism. Though it has since been changed back, with an additional paragraph referring to the current controversy, I managed to catch a screen shot of the hacktivist’s work: Read more