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...Perhaps the most telling commentary of Nepal's perception of the Indian media's "exaggerated coverage of the blockade" was a front-page cartoon the Post carried Tuesday.

It showed a journalist sitting on the commode in his hotel bathroom with his trousers round his ankles. The scrawny man, wearing a combat jacket and a safety helmet that said "Foreign media", was speaking into a microphone with the tags of BBC, CNN, NDTV, STAR, Hindustan Times, Times of India and Zee.

"It's becoming very difficult to breathe," the journalist was saying in the cartoon by Rajesh KC, Nepal's Laxman, "...due to the thick smoke of bomb blasts... Reporting live from Kathmandu."

-Indo-Asian News Service

Cartoons by Rajesh KC

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» Phalano: The Everyman (Nation Weekly)
» TKP cartoonist felicitated (The Kathmandu Post)
» Kantipur cartoonist honored (The Kathmandu Post)
» Uncommon Man (Nepali Times)
» Deep bites, loud barks and knockout punches Rajesh's CARTOONS (The Kathmandu Post)
» From Nepal, with a laugh (FACE TO FACE) (Khaleej Times)
» Laughter is the best medicine (The Statesman)
» Nepalese press use cartoons to get around censorship (The Times of India, Taipei Times, Yahoo News, Scotsman.com News, Edicom News...)
» Southasian mediafile (HIMAL SOUTHASIAN)

Southasian mediafile

Without doubt, the Nepali dailies and magazines have some of the best cartoons of Southasia. This is probably the function of the country being large enough to sustain vibrant media and yet small enough to ensure that national level politics touches the people at large, with no more than perhaps two degrees of separation. Starting gingerly at first after King Gyanendra’s military-aided putsch on 1 February, the cartoonists of Nepal have become increasingly daring, and since the last two months there has been no holds barred, with some showing the dead horse of a ‘constitutional monarchy’ and another showing a historical king with a dagger behind his back.

But the best cartoon lampooning King Gyanendra in terms of knife-edge subtlety is by Rajesh KC, which takes some explaining and backgrounding for the uninitiated. Okay, soon after he became the Nepali monarch, King Gyanendra started giving a series of interviews and speeches in which he indicated that he proposed to be a more proactive monarch than his dead elder brother Birendra. On 8 February, in a speech to citizens in Nepalganj in Western Nepal, he said “Abaka dinharuma raja dekhinay tara nasuninay … jasto abasta chhaina.” (In the days to come the king will no longer only be seen, he will also be heard.) Let us leave aside for the moment whoever gave the king such an idea of a constitutional monarchy, but there the matter rested.

After the coup of seven months ago, the king’s son-in-law Raj Bahadur Singh decided to start a cell-phone company to compete with the government-owned Nepal Telecom, and for this he used his ‘royal prerogatives’ to get a sizeable share of something known as Spice Mobile, without having spent a penny. In order to, it is said, support the upcoming royal cell-phone company, the regime of King Gyanendra gave all kinds of disruptions to Nepal Telecom’s service, firstly banning mobile service as soon as the royal coup happened, then limiting post-paid service supposedly as a anti-Maoist security measure, denying pre-paid service, and denying roaming facility. By end August, the mobile phones were practically useless, and one had to be lucky to get a call through. On 31 August, the daily cartoonist for the Kantipur daily, Rajesh KC, did a cartoon which is carried alongside. The ex-Nepal Southasian reader should now be able to understand the cartoon with the background given. The person at the Nepal Telecom counter is saying, “Duichaar din bho, kebho kebho, yo mero mobile phunlai! ... Dekhinay tara nasuninay!” (What’s happened to my mobile phone these days?! It can be seen but not heard!) To Chhetria Patrakar, this is the best that a political cartoon can be. Subtle, contextual, daring, and going right to the heart of the royal matter!

HIMAL SOUTHASIAN - Sep/Oct 2005

Nepalese press use cartoons to get around censorship

Throttled by censorship, Nepal's newspapers have found a new way to get their message across to their readers _ cartoons.
Tough media censorship has been in place in Nepal since King Gyanendra took power Feb. 1 declaring an emergency. Military censors now watch over the publication of news reports, several journalists have been detained, and several newspapers in villages and smaller towns have been shut down.
But cartoonist Rajesh K.C. _ he uses initials for his last name _ is among a handful of cartoonists trying to illustrate with sketches what cannot be said in words. He works for the country's largest newspaper, Kantipur.
One recent cartoon showed three top leaders _ under house arrest for weeks, and unable to get haircuts _ trying to find a barber to trim their increasingly long hair. Another showed family members jumping to grab the telephone when a bicycle bell rings outside _ an allusion to the snapping of telephone and Internet links for a week after the royal takeover.
The topics may not sound contentious but reporters have to avoid them.
"We have been able to do what journalists have been barred from doing. Our role has become much more important now and we owe it to our readers to get the messages to them," said K.C. "I have had to draw a line that I cannot cross. However, with every cartoon I feel I am getting bolder." The one issue he avoids is Nepal's security forces, which can be particularly sensitive to criticism. Army officials have warned him, he said, against drawing cartoons that would "hamper the morale."

Besides making fun of the government and illustrating its activities, the cartoonists also portrayed the difficulties faced by common people due to the recent blockade of highways by the Maoist rebels. In the Katmandu newspaper Rajdhani, one recent cartoon showed a politician giving a speech inside his bedroom because public speeches are now banned, with another showing detained political leaders asking a soldier if they are allowed to give speeches in jail. The cartoonists' work resonates strongly with readers. "These days it seem the only ones who are brave enough to express in newspapers are the cartoonists," said Prem Sharma, a court clerk.

In the early days of the takeover, soldiers were stationed in all the newspaper offices, deleting any material they thought was critical of the king or the government. The government later issued a directive to media companies saying they could not publish or broadcast anything against the king, the royal government and the security forces.
Cartoonists are the only ones who have not complied. One cartoon showed a journalist faxing his story and a government censor hiding under the table, reading the story as it is fed through the machine.
Another portrayed a father scolding his son for cutting apart the newspaper, with his wife explaining it was not the child's fault _ the newspaper itself had shrunk.

-Associated Press-Mar 10 2005

Laughter is the best medicine

Despite the mounting maladies, Nepal’s political cartoonists try to balance the situation with their daily dose of humour, writes SUDESHNA SARKAR

Hundreds of years of grinding poverty under tyrannical Rana prime ministers, nine years of communist insurgency that has killed nearly 11,000 people and destroyed infrastructure worth billions and now, a throwback to autocratic rule again with the imposition of emergency by King Gyanendra since February 1 – and yet, despite the mounting maladies, Nepal continues to retain its best medicine: laughter. Along with a sense of stoicism and fatalism, the Nepalese also have an acute sense of the ridiculous and the vein of satirical laughter continues to throb in spite of the suspension of press freedom, media censorship and prohibition on public assembly as well as public criticism of the king and the army. Nepal’s cartoonists have been the first ones to rally around. In the days of free press, they had a field time with many of the top politicians virtually lending themselves to parodies with their appearances and utterances. Girija Prasad Koirala, four-time prime minister and opposition leader, was an easy target because of his prominent nose, towering height and leanness. Madhav Kumar Nepal, leader of the biggest communist party in the country, was another easy target because of his party’s instantaneous double-takes. Even the army, painted as trigger-happy by the media, provided cannon for a hard-hit. So was the Sher Bahadur Deuba government before its dismissal by King Gyanendra on February 1 with its foolhardy insistence that elections can be held despite
the deteriorating law and order situation. One particularly apt cartoon showed Deuba talking to security forces on the phone while blasts rattled his office. “You say the blasts are occurring every 30 minutes?” the Deuba in the cartoon asked. “Good. That means we have peace every half an hour. We can go ahead with elections now.” After the Maoists rejected Deuba’s bid to resume peace talks and stepped up their attacks, the security forces also started retaliating, at times bringing in helicopters for aerial surveillance as well as bombing. While the army and state media withheld the news of the casualties as long as they could, Nepal’s private radio channels were always the first to report offensives, at times even before they had ended. People tuned in to the radio every hour to stay abreast of what was happening, especially outside Kathmandu, a reason the new regime headed by King Gyanendra has cracked down on them stopping them from broadcasting anything but entertainment programmes. During the bygone era of free media, a cartoon showed an army helicopter dropping bombs. “What did the bombs hit?” asked one soldier. “Never mind,” said the other. “Let’s go home and find out from the radio.” But now that the new cabinet of 10 ministers and two deputy chairmen, the army and of course the monarch himself are taboo for any kind of public disapproval or satire, the adroit cartoonists have been quickly adjusting their focus.

The ultimate target is still the government but the direct onslaught now is against the bureaucracy, known for its inertia and graft, and government measures that have added to public woe, like fuel price hike and the shutdown of mobile phone services. While cartoons, like Indian news TV channels, stayed off for a couple of days since February 1, when the media tested the curbs, they, unlike the channels, have started reappearing.

Rajesh KC, who works for the Kathmandu Post and Kantipur daily, is the Laxman of Nepal. A fan of the Indian cartoonist, KC began doing pocket cartoons like Laxman, with a Nepalese version of Laxman’s “Common Man”.

With the new dispensation remaining mum on when mobile phone services will resume, if at all, KC’s common man goes hawking in the streets like the kabdiwallahs who buy old dailies, bottles and other household junk. “We buy Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Siemens… 45 rupees per kilo! .. we buy Nokia…we..” goes crying down the street while his grim-faced partner pushes his cycle, the trademark of refuse collectors. Another recent cartoon shows worried relatives gaping at the head of the house who has just been brought in unconscious in an ambulance. “Don’t worry,” the escort says. “He’s not ill. He’s just fainted, it’s the exertion of having to work from 9 to 5.”

However, KC admits that it’s not so easy for other cartoonists. “I have been doing cartoons on social as well as political issues,” the 37-year-old award winner says. “So it’s not too difficult for me. But there are senior cartoonists who do only political cartoons. It’s difficult for them to re-adjust.”

(The Statesman-March, 2005)

Phalano: The Everyman

BY TIKU GAUCHAN

Apicture may speak a thousand words but cartoons sometimes say even more. Rajesh K.C., the cartoonist at Kantipur, has been churning out ?Gajab chha ba,? his single-panel funnies, for more than a decade now.

Last week, K.C. was honored by the Creative Communication and Research Center, a media institute, for his contribution to society through his cartoons. What are his contributions? For readers tired of the same old write ups in the papers everyday, K.C.?s flashes of insight into the Nepali ethos provide both a welcome break and a catharsis: they offer a glimpse of the way things are and for once people can laugh at the expense of the high and mighty. Just how does one come up with the laugh lines so consistently? I don't really know, says K.C. "I keep abreast with the politics and general happenings and from my readings I create a theme and play with that until I have the cartoon in my mind. By the time I hit my work-desk at Kantipur in the evening, the cartoon is well set and it's time to work on the caption. I have to create a caption that everyone will understand and at the same time it has to pack that punch."

Rajesh is essentially a funny guy, says colleague and friend Bikash Rauniar, in an attempt to explain how K.C. creates his art. He seems to have this knack for noticing the humor in everything. And when he's talking to you his mind seems to be constantly thinking about absurd situations that will later appear on his panel. And all the pondering and planning definitely work in the end. K.C.'s cartoons pack a punch and the laughs they generate prove his success. William Carlos Williams once wrote, It's difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserable every day for lack of what is found there. And just like good poems are able to convey what the media can't, K.C.'s cartoons by giving voice to the everyman, the everyman who is above petty party politics and political grand designs render a democratic service. His cartoons afflict the comforted and comfort the afflicted.

Rajesh K.C. Annotated
(See Cartoon)

1. Phalano: The Nepali everyman. He's a mute observer (notice his zipped lips) bewildered by the absurdities in the country. In most panels he appears to be excluded from the situation depicted, as if to imply the exclusion of the common man from the political processes in Nepal's democracy.

2. State of the nation: In tatters.

3. The press: Newspapers with axes to grind, yet working in a state that restricts them, produce the strange concoction that is Nepali news. And with reports on death scores, political intrigues and the shenanigans of corrupt leaders hogging newspages, readers don't have much to look forward to. Yet hope springs eternal and as exemplified by the man reading the paper, people still look to the media for signs of redemption.

4. Political speak: Political figureheads have a knack for turning every event, even catastrophes, into occasions for political gain. 'Pidit' means anyone who?s been affected by some sort of setback. Much to the delight of ministers there are any number of pidit people victims of the ongoing war, victims of natural disasters whose cause the

politicians are more than happy to take up in order to further their own interests.

5.The caption: It ties together all the elements that make up the panel and hits home the absurdity depicted: while the husband?s hoping for a windfall (the newspaper headline states that ministers will donate their 15-day earnings to pidit people), his wife knows better. She points out that what the victims will get, if anything at all, is not the money that politicians actually make by way of bribes and shady deals but 15 days' worth of their government salary.

(The Nation Weekly)

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TKP cartoonist felicitated

POST REPORT

KATHMANDU, Apr 10 - Creative Communication and Research Center (CCRC) felicitated cartoonist Rajesh KC and senior radio broadcaster Dhana Lama with "Creative honor 2004" here today.
KC and Lama are the first recipients of the award established to honor media personalities making special contribution in the field of print and broadcast media.

"With revealing sketches and few yet pithy words, cartoonist KC speaks out the voice of the general public," said noted writer Khagendra Sangraula. In the field for 11 years, KC is famous for his daily cartoon column ?This Aside? in The Kathmandu Post and ?Gajab Chha Ba? in sister publication Kantipur daily.Similarly, Lama is specially known for her radio program ?Sundar Sushil Sangeet?, the first musical broadcast to be aired by Radio Nepal. ?A well motivated, dedicated person who knows the importance of team spirit?, is Lama in the words of Damodar Adhikari of Radio Nepal.

Narahari Achharya, senior politician and central committee member of Nepali Congress also gave away certificates to CCRC graduates and their trainers. CCRC provides training on print and broadcast journalism.

Kantipur cartoonist honored

POST REPORT KATHMANDU, March 20 - Rajesh KC, cartoonist at Kantipur Publication's, was felicitated today for his contribution to society through his cartoons, by Osho Tapoban family at a function organized here. "KC's cartoons are very powerful. Though they appear in a small size, they fire a salvo," said Swami Arun Ananda, a big fan of KC, during the felicitation program. Tapoban has decided to facilitate important personalities every year on this day celebrated as Osho Day.

(The Kathmandu Post- Mar 20, 2004)

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Uncommon Man

When you can't do anything else, you have to be able to laugh it off. In fact, as the situation in the country deteriorates people are seeking more and more comic relief. And this where cartoonists like Rajesh KC come in: to provide the daily chuckle to help readers get through a brand new day. One of a growing band of editorial cartoonists in Nepal, Rajesh has drawn more than 2,500 cartoons with his distinctive style in Kantipur and Kathmandu Post. All his illustrations have a self-portrait commoner looking on at the absurdities of daily life in Nepal. Rajesh has now collected 153 of the funniest cartoons in a book published by Ratna Pustak Bhandar. "Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but mostly, I laugh," says Rajesh, who runs a travel agency in his spare time.

Largely self-taught, Rajesh admits that in the beginning he was influenced by the craft and style of the famous Indian cartoonist, RK Laxman. "People started saying, where is your Nepaliness, why are you copying Laxman," explains Rajesh. "So I threw away the Laxman books." But the common man is still there, with a slightly bemused look on his face that probably reflects Rajesh's own moods. The cartoonist's subject matter ranges from lampooning authority, poking fun at shoddy services and drawing attention to social ills like child labour and corruption.

One cartoon in the book (see illustration) has a robber holding up a bank manager. The manager tells him: "I told you to pretend you were launching an industry and to come here to ask for a loan, not to rob me!" Some will shake their heads, others will chuckle. Most will do both

(Nepali Times- 12-18 Dec,2003)

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Deep bites, loud barks and knockout punches Rajesh's CARTOONS

By Anjali Subedi - Talking of greatness of people, we usually think of those who do something significant for humankind, for society. As if these are not enough, the job at hand also has to be dear and favourite of the target audience. By these definitions, one of the very dear and well accepted artists in Nepal who has given a lot to the society is Rajesh KC.
Through his sharp, satirical and beautiful cartoons that are published almost regularly in daily newspapers, Rajesh has made a special place in the readers' hearts. Reading headlines in newspapers can be quite an effort for many. Reading the contents can be another taxing task. But cartoons, and that also such ones that carry the current issues, the most important topics and displayed in the most communicable and humorous manner, definitely amuse anyone. Rajesh KC's cartoons do not miss any of those biting qualities. Rather he is an expert who fairly well speaks the chiding voices of the people everyday. Rajesh KC, born in 1967 in Kathmandu, is the only son of Amber and Janaki KC. He married Priya Thapa at 33, and the couple is parents of one son. From 1990, Rajesh began his career as a cartoonist at the Gorkhapatra daily. Fed up with working under orders and pressures of others, there was a time he strove to become a professional cartoonist someday.

After the return of democracy in 1990/91, when the Kantipur Publications appointed him, his dream was fulfilled. Readers would send comments and compliments to him, which became reliable sources for progress on his work. And in 10 years, Rajesh by now has become the most successful cartoonist in the country. Recently, Ratna Pustak Bhandar has published Rajesh KC's collection of cartoons that is yet to be released. The book, "Rajesh KC Ko Cartoon Sangraha, Bhag Ek" (Rajesh KC's cartoon collections, Part I) comprises his 156 choicest cartoons done in the last two years. Opinions of the renowned cartoonist and artist Vatsayan (Durga Baral) and the well-known critic and writer Abhi Subedi are included in the book. Both appreciate and prove Rajesh's cartoons to be the best in terms of analysis, presentation and regularity. "I became a cartoonist." Rajesh's own opinion is what really interests the readers. He recounts his professional journey politely and subtly, as if he is also a writer. The story he narrates reflects his background, honesty and dedication to his works. Rajesh wanted to bring out his book of cartoon quite earlier. But that would miss his latter works which are more creative and improved. Therefore, his present work can be called a historical record of democratic Nepal since post-1990/91 in the most precise forms. And the collection is a critical history since the most important instances are arrested in cartoons cryptically and analytically.

Rajesh KC's speciality is the way he hits the theme by loosely displaying the fact rather than directly satirising the topic. He adopts the indirect, yet sharp technique to deal with the current issues of politics, social evils, oddities and other vagaries of the system and life. He is aware of the arguments of the poor and unprivileged people, which are one of the most admired qualities of his. Though humour is the most apparent and cherished substance in his cartoons, the undercurrent themes - which could be painful and tragic - are often more powerful. All in all,, we can say that Rajesh is an excellent cartoonist. He delivers our speech without consulting us, and surprisingly, he always knows what we wanted to say anyway. This young punching lampooner is not only a master craftsman of cartoons but also a good singer and photographer, the latter being his most-loved hobby

(The Kathmandu Post-Nov 30'2003)

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From Nepal, with a laugh (FACE TO FACE)
BY SUDESHNA SARKAR IN KATHMANDU

Be it corruption in high places or the foibles of men, there's no one like Rajesh KC to put you in the picture. Weekend meets the cartoonist known as the Laxman of Nepal


VERY few people know that this unassuming young man leads a double life. From 9-5, he's a polite and persuasive travel agent. But once the sun goes down, a change comes over him. The veneer of tact falls off and he starts lashing out at select targets: corrupt politicians, greedy principals, servile bureaucrats and foolish Nepalis. His weapon is laughter and his victims find themselves lampooned in cartoons.

The 35-year-old can't explain how he came to be known as the "Laxman of Nepal", after the celebrated cartoonist whose creations in the Times of India are a daily must. Rajesh was recognised as a child prodigy right from his school days. He was already displaying the signs of a satirist.

One of his first victims was the potbellied maths teacher in school. One day, when the teacher was late, Rajesh decided to go to the blackboard. In an impish mood, he picked up a piece of chalk and started doodling. To the delight of his friends, the doodle turned out to be an exaggerated and hilarious portrait of the teacher.

His friends howled in delight and urged him to go on. Egged on by them, he added more details. Then something struck him suddenly. The room had become ominously quiet. Slowly, he turned round. The maths teacher was standing at the door, surveying his handiwork mirthlessly.

"Probably had it been any other boy, he'd have got a thrashing," says Rajesh, who's just rushed to his evening job with a daily from the hospital where his wife has given birth to twins. "But I guess I was lucky because the teachers knew about my drawing and had a soft spot for me."

Originally, he hadn't thought of becoming a professional cartoonist. For one, it was not regarded as a respectable profession and it was also doubtful if the money would be enough to survive. So after graduation, he and a band of friends decided to start an advertising agency. But it folded up because of weak marketing and Rajesh took up the job at a travel agency.

However, the work, though it fed him physically, didn't satisfy his creative hunger. He wanted to draw. More specifically, he wanted to draw cartoons. So he went to the editor of The Rising Nepal, then the only English daily in town, owned by the government. His idea was accepted and he drew his first cartoon. He still remembers the broad details: people rushing to party offices for tickets to contest before an election. The cartoon was published but the association didn't take root.

"The paper had more red tape than a government office," Rajesh explains. "Each time I went with a new idea, I had to deal with a new person who wanted new changes. When I drew a cartoon according to the specifications of A and took it back, I found myself dealing with B who wanted different things and then there was C and it went on. I got tired and decided to forget it."

Easier said than done. The ideas continued to haunt him and he found a way to exorcise them when a second English newspaper, The Kathmandu Post, came into being.

He took his ideas to the new editor, vibed well and became a staff cartoonist. After two years, there was a change in his plans. He went to the US with the intention of studying fine arts there. He was also checking out the syndications with the thought of syndicating his work when a hitch occurred. The immigration department informed him there was an error in his visa and he would have to cut his stay short.

Disappointed but philosophical, he returned home. Unfortunately, his old paper had already taken a new cartoonist and so, once again disappointed but philosophical, he started working for a new newspaper. When the paper folded up after a year, he joined a magazine when the Kathmandu Post asked him to join them again.

BY THIS time, he had won the Cartoonist of the Year 1998 award, bagged a Unicef contest for designing posters on "Education for all" and most importantly, created a perennial character for his cartoons, the Common Man along the lines of Laxman's Common Man, a bemused character watching the action silently. Rajesh's Common Man wears the traditional Nepali cap to give him the distinct indigenous flavour.

"Today, he's just a few squiggles in my cartoons," Rajesh says feelingly. "Sometimes, he's just a head peering in. But it took me a lot of time and effort to create him. I painted 43 characters and the editor chose this one over the others."

Rajesh, whose favourite cartoonist is of course Laxman in India and Durga Parel in Nepal, also loves Garfield, Hagar and Beetle Bailey.

There's some talk of the Kathmandu Post bringing out a collection of cartoons by him and other staffers. Till then, the man has to be content with adulation from unexpected quarters. Like the client he was seeing off at the airport in the morning.

The man fished out a newspaper from his pocket and showed a cartoon to him. "This man is really good," he told an amused Rajesh. "I'd like to meet him some day."

"You already have," Rajesh grinned. "It's me."

(Khaleej Times- 14 March 2003)

 

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