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Election 2024

Cartoons utilise allegory & humour to set the stage for political satire

Political cartoons in India have been brought to use to propagate ideas and change, thereby making it act as a canvas to present commentary on current events.

News Arena Network - New Delhi - UPDATED: May 15, 2024, 05:40 AM - 5 mins read

Cartoons as political satire

Cartoons utilise allegory & humour to set the stage for political satire

Representational Image. (Picture Courtesy: NAI)


General Elections 2024 are underway in India. Several mechanisms are at play to depict the electoral landscape of the country. And this includes cartoons too.

 

Time and again, political cartoons in India have been brought to use to propagate ideas and change. It acts as a canvas to present political commentary on current events concerning people, society, politics and political figures.

 

The discourse around cartoons can be viewed as a medium that gives the privilege of exercising the ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘press’. The metaphorical and satirical language are its key tenets. Thus, what better way would be to cut across a point in a manner that invokes both allegory and humour?

 

Like every year, this year too, the broad spectrum of Indian media is using imagery in the form of cartoon characters to depict the present scenario of the country. Political satire in cartoons, showcases light-hearted drawings, which has the power to shape public opinion and drive social change.

 

In Kerala, an exhibition, namely, Electoons-2024, was curated by notable journalists which featured 75 cartoons on the Lok Sabha elections in the state. A two-day exhibition got under way at Durbar Hall Art Gallery in Ernakulam on May 14.

 

The cartoons on show were rich in political insight, the range of topics, and coverage of the electoral landscape.

 

In Karnataka, eyeing the preparations for the upcoming general elections, the Chief Electoral Office of Karnataka, Manoj Kumar Meena, held a state-level workshop and exhibition on cartoon-making in front of Vidhana Soudha in January.

 

The CEO inaugurated the event and appreciated the cartoons, which showcased artists from across the state reimagining reality with humour.

 

Over 100 cartoonists, both professional and amateur, participated in the event, along with art students and school children.

 

Cartoons are the most notable form of political satire. It has long been a powerful tool for addressing and critiquing complex social and political issues. Among its various forms, editorial cartoons stand out as a particularly impactful medium.

 

Viewing from the position of satire, political cartoons both entertain and provide a platform for criticism, analysis, and reflection.  

 

Various tools & implications of satire in cartoons

 

Cartoons employ a variety of styles to convey its message effectively. Some of its tools include exaggeration and caricature, symbolism, puns related to visuals, irony and satirical dialogue and recurring characters and themes.

 

 The influence of political satire in editorial cartoons extends far beyond mere entertainment. It shapes public discourse and perception.

 

Cartoons have the potential to highlight injustice. It serves as a voice for the marginalised and oppressed. They expose injustices, such as racial discrimination, income inequality, and corruption, provoking conversations and calls for change.

 

It challenges authority figures and institutions. They remind citizens to question those in power and not unquestioningly accept their decisions.

 

Cartoons can shape public opinion by presenting complex issues relatable and humorously. Their work can sway public sentiment on critical topics, from climate change to healthcare reform.

 

Satire in cartoons also acts as check and balance in democratic societies. They provide an avenue for dissent and criticism, helping prevent power abuses.

 

Political satire reflects cultural shifts, including changing societal norms and values. Cartoons from different eras serve as historical records of cultural shifts and evolving perspectives.

 

Checks and balances

 

Cartoons have a global reach in today’s world which is interconnected with one another. Cartoons from one country can resonate with readers worldwide, fostering a shared understanding of global issues.

 

While the power of the medium, unequivocally, remains unperturbed, there are chances of controversy as well. One cannot negate that cartoonists can tread the fine line which separates humour from offence.

 

One step can lead to outrage, backlash and make one question the boundaries of free speech and satire. Here comes in the power of editorial responsibility and navigating through sensitive content.

 

Yet, in an era of rapid information dissemination, these cartoons remain vital for holding accountable those in power, advocating for change, and championing the principles of free expression and democracy. The humor may be light, but the impact is substantial, making it an enduring medium for centuries. 

 

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