It is such a breath of fresh-air to see an Indian politician with a sense of humour, a politician who isn’t afraid of being ridiculed or laughed at, a politician who believes in giving everyone the right to speak and write what they wish to, and one who doesn’t feel threatened by this fundamental freedom; a politician who can joke about himself, his flaws and follies, his ups-and-downs; a politician who not only accepts the error of his ways, if any, but actually strives hard to improve himself with each passing day.
Akhilesh Yadav is one such politician. In the midst of the raging debate over intolerance in India, he has gone ahead and launched a compilation of cartoons and jokes cracked on him and the Samajwadi Party. Titled “Tipu ka Afsana”, this collection of cartoons feature many which tease Akhilesh Yadav’s nose, which he had broken many years ago while playing football. Commenting over the countless cartoons on him, most of which feature him with a crooked nose, he says, “I became Chief Minister with the same nose and it’s a good charm”. And that is how criticism and mockery should be dealt with by the Indian political high-and-mighty. Not through censorship, and not by suppression. But with humour and acceptance, with wit and calm, with acceptance and tolerance.
Asked if his cartoons and caricatures in the media ever left him uneasy or agitated, Akhilesh Yadav read a paragraph of the famous letter Abraham Lincoln wrote to his son’s teacher, in which he stated that one should always look at the bright-side of life’s challenges, and to look for a silver-lining in the obstacles life throws one’s way.
This is the first of multiple volumes, which will hopefully be published in the near future. “There are many cartoons left that might be included in the second volume. There are legal hurdles as not everyone is ready to share cartoons. It will be worked out”, stated Akhilesh Yadav during the book launch.
This bold move by Akhilesh Yadav also establishes the fact that granting the freedom of speech and expression to the people being governed by him is foremost on his mind. And that, in the current political scenario, is path-breaking. It paves the way for other politicians to follow in his footsteps and realize the crucial truth that the repression of people’s voices is counterproductive. Humour, and jokes, are means individuals use to express their views and opinions, and a crackdown on their fundamental right to free speech will ultimately serve no purpose.
And thus, it comes as no surprise that “Tipu ka Afsana” is on the ‘to-read’ list of everyone who’s heard about its launch and its contents. We just hope the following volumes are published with haste too!