Apparently irresponsible journalism is not just an Indian thing, even ‘elite’ countries like Australia suffer from it. Australian cartoonist Bill Leak has managed to upset a lot of people with a racist and offensive cartoon sketch that was published in The Australian. This cartoon depicts a starving Indian family trying to eat ‘solar panels’. The cartoon was meant to mock the Paris deal for spending more on climate instead of fighting poverty. It immediately generated a lot of criticism from around the globe.
This is pathetic. What an embarrassment that a cartoon like this could appear in a national Australian… https://t.co/EAtkvJVSUU
— Tim Watts (@TimWattsMP) December 14, 2015
— David Fickling (@davidfickling) December 13, 2015
— john jingle (@John_Hanna) December 13, 2015
This is a reminder of the image that many outsiders still hold of India as a third world, over-populated nation with starving children. A similar incident happened, when India’s first Mars orbiter, ‘Mangalyaan’ was launched into space. The New York Times had published a cartoon showing a turbaned Indian villager with a cow knocking on the doors of the ‘Elite Space Club’.
Bill Leak may have meant to make a valid point about proper use of resources, but he lost direction and context while making this inappropriate, offensive and ignorant sketch.
Has India really got rid of all its hunger problems and poverty? No. Has any of these countries been able to abolish absolute poverty? NO. Development is not a uni-directional path. You can’t focus on only one area for development. A country can only progress when steps are taken for all around development; economical, technological, intellectual, political and educational. India has made major contributions to Global progress. It was the Indian orbiter, Chandrayaan that had found conclusive evidence of water on the moon. India launched the Mangalyaan at the lowest cost of 450 crores (73 million US $). If anything, maybe the ‘Elite Space Club’ needs to learn a thing or two about ‘proper use of resources’.
Mr. Leak, and other journalists like him, needs to educate themselves on issues revolving India and do proper research before making such asinine sketches. Here are a few links he should have checked out before publishing that sketch:
HARDOI, India—A small field of solar panels on the outskirts of this rural district was built to generate energy for a cellphone tower. Now it also supplies electricity to local residents who have suffered from chronic power shortages for decades.
This project will use solar panels to provide reliable energy to school children in rural India, thus providing them with better access to lighting, modern technology (computers) and educational opportunities.
BARSANA, UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA — The company, Simpa Energy, the Indian subsidiary of the US-based Simpa Networks, offers an innovative pay-as-you-go model that allows even the world’s poorest citizens to buy chunks of clean, reliable energy, a few rupees at a time. Customers use their cell phones (ubiquitous in India) to purchase an access code that they then punch into a small box connected to solar panels outside. A few seconds later, a bright LED light illuminates the room.
These stories of how solar panels are actually being used to bring light and progress to the rural regions of India should serve as a reminder to responsible journalists around the globe to not make assumptions and promote stereotypes through irresponsible journalism.