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9 Hard-Hitting Cartoons By R.K. Laxman Which Ignited India

India’s most renowned cartoonist, illustrator and humorist, R.K. Laxman expired on January 26th, 2015. He was best known for his daily cartoon strip: ‘You Said It’, where he depicted a Common Man experiencing India, and sharing his thoughts and opinions on the burning issue which affected all Indians.

Here we present 9 hard-hitting cartoons by R.K. Laxman, who will be always remembered as fearless, honest and witty cartoonist, who touched lives of millions of Indians.

1) Anti-Hindi Agitation of Tamil Nadu in 1960s:

IN the 1960s, Tamil Nadu was rocked by anti-Hindi agitations, which resulted in death of several innocent civilians by police firing. It is said that DMK, which is a major political party in Tamil Nadu, owes it’s rise to power due to these violent agitations. R.K. Laxman’s cartoon, which mocked the agitation was included in the NCERT text book in 2012, which again caused controversy and tension.


2) Jawaharlal Nehru during India China War of 1962

During the height of India-China war in 1962, R.K. Laxman drew this cartoon of PM Nehru, which actually was an observation on his decisions related with war, which India eventually lost. The caricature depicts the book “Discovery of India” and rose, which denotes love.

Shashi Tharoor, who recently wrote a tribute for R.K. Laxman shares an interesting story related with this cartoon. After the cartoon was published in a leading newspaper, Nehru called him. His friends and relatives thought that he would get scoldings but instead of getting angry, Nehru said, “Mr. Laxman, I so enjoyed your cartoon this morning. Can I have a signed enlarged copy to frame?”

3) Religion and Politics of 1990s

In his book Brushing Up The Years, R.K. Laxman shares his cartoon, which depicts the state of the nation during 1990s, when people fought for building temples and destroying mosques. This cartoon was included in NCERT books, which again caused a storm of protests and agitations. Here, the common man is questioned about Indian leaders; which is actually a mockery of politics.

4) Elections and Promises

In this cartoon, Laxman shares the state of India, before and after elections. Although it was published in the 70's, the theme is still relevant. The apathy of the Common Man, who is promised heaven during the elections is totally ignored once the elections are over.

5) Indira Gandhi & Emergency

R.K. Laxman’s satire didn’t spare any politician, and that included Indira Gandhi, who imposed emergency in 1975. This cartoon depicts the state of the nation in 1978, right after the Emergency ended, and elections were announced. She managed to win, despite the negativity surrounding her.

6) Gujarat Relief Funds and the Common Man

This cartoon showcases the unity and strength of India, after the devastating earthquakes which rattled Gujarat in 2001. The common man is being helped by a beggar for helping those who lost everything in Gujarat.

7) Shiv Sena & BJP In 1990

This cartoon published in 1990 highlighted the arrogance and ego of Bal Thackeray, before the elections, when he refused to join hands with BJP for maximum seats. It is strange how the tables have completely turned in Maharashtra now, as the exact opposite happened during last year’s election where BJP was at the commanding position.

Bal Thackeray was infact a close friend of Laxman, with whom he worked in several organizations. 

8) Salman Khan Hit and Run case

Salman Khan’s car killed poor people who were sleeping on pavements; and the case is still pending. This cartoon was published right after this incident. Here, Laxman hasn’t mentioned anyone’s name, yet put across the thought in an amazing way. A classic example of his masterpiece.

9) Mahatma Gandhi & Post Liberalization World

This insightful cartoon predicts what Mahatma would have seen, if he had come alive in India during the post-liberalization era during 1970s. It was the time when there was an intense opposition brewing up against multi-national companies.