by Rajesh KC
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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
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
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
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
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
"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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Rajesh K.C. Annotated
politicians are more than happy to take up in order to further their
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
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)
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
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)
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)
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
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)
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
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
"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
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
"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
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)