15th December, 2015
The Cartoon by Mr Bill Leak in The Australian newspaper on Monday, 14th Dec, 2015 is ignorant and racist.
Courtesy The Australian newspaper
It depicts a few poor Indians in India trying to eat the solar panels, with Mango Chutney. The message from the cartoon is that Indians don’t know what the Solar Panels are for or that Indians need to worry about Food, instead of high tech Solar Panels.
Bill Leak is wrong on both aspects.
Solar Panels are increasingly used in India, because of plentiful supply of sunshine, subsidy by the authorities and erratic supply of conventional energy. I know that a few people in my own village in Uttar Pradesh State have been using it for variety of purposes for many years.
Indians are fully capable of handling technology. Mobile Internet and Mobile Phones are every where, even in the remote parts of the nation. Social media is quite common everywhere.
India needs energy ie electricity. Coal-fire powered thermal power centres are the most common source for the energy, but India is making progress to diversify into Nuclear energy and Solar power. This is a responsible step because it will reduce pollution and help in climate change.
India is the fourth biggest source of global pollution. Anything which will reduce this undesirable contribution is a welcome step.
India is a developing economy but is not a economic backwater. It is 3rd biggest economy on PPP basis. It is a global leader in IT and is the fastest growing economy since last quarter of 2014, surpassing China. The days of primitive nature of economy are long gone, but people like Bill Leak seem to be stuck on the state of India in 1950s.
(Source: Charles Schwab, International Monetary Fund data as of 11/20/2015.
China’s growth rate is widely expected to decline. The IMF forecasts GDP will slow from around 6.8% in 2015 to 6.3% in 2016. However, the IMF forecasts India’s growth rate of about 7.3% in 2015 is expected to reach 7.5% in 2016 and continue to rise to 7.7% by 2020.)
Undoubtedly, India has many poor people, but it also has approx. 300+ million strong middle class, which has the knowledge, money and interest in, and will happily benefit from, newer sources of electricity. After all, India has plentiful of sunshine.
Bill Leak probably does not know that Indians have been the number one source of migrants to Australia over last few years. They are coming as the skilled migrants too, thus contributing to the Australian economy.
There are about 450,000 people of Indian heritage currently in Australia.
I read the article in The Australian today (15th Dec, 2015). Like others, I felt offended with the inherent racist message in the Cartoon. Bill Leak has, in the past, claimed that freedom to express is a fundamental right and that right includes right to offend. It may be true on the theoretical basis, but it is equally stupid to say or convey something which is without sufficient basis or conveying something which is unwarranted.
I remember a Cartoon in Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) a few months ago, stereotyping Jewish people in a very adverse way, leading to significant outcry. This forced the SMH to apologise for the Cartoon.
Will Bill Leak and The Australian newspaper do the same in this case is something which we would wait and watch.
Dr Yadu Singh