Mars Cows & New York Times

The cartoon sketch which appeared on the New York Times editorial depicting India as still a country of cow herders clearly implied to many that India still do not belong into the elite club of countries who have achieved success in space exploration. This caricature stuck a cord with many people and due to this unexpected reaction from so many quarters, New York Times apologized which does not happen that often.

In their apology their Times Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal said that the idea was not trying to “impugn India.”

I accept the apology but do not ask for it, nor am I ashamed of my past. My ancestors did own cows and buffalos which at times they used for travel. But then again my sentiments will not be shared by many of my jingoistic and overtly sensitive countrymen.

So one can say the ship has sailed a long time back for an apology, the damage done. However I do feel the apology was genuine and came rather expeditiously which is rare. I am as liberal minded person as one could possibly be in India or any part of the world and did not feel offended at all by this cartoon which was both artistic and humorous, I give full marks. Kudos!

But on second thought maybe the cartoon sketch was “Dim Witted” and hit home harder since it was conceived by an Asian. But that is the nature of satire. I think Alexander Pope put it aptly “Praise undeserved, is satire in disguise.”

I, for one, think the depiction of an Indian next to a cow or a buffalo knocking on the door of the “elite space club”, resonates the story of the hare and the turtle. ISRO can never be a NASA, but we managed to reach Mars on our very first attempt and cheaply if I may add. So NYT think about that…

However there are many in India and all over the world who may not share my sentiments. Stereotyping is common and we all do that. We watch a movie and create a perception and presumption of culture we do not understand or have any knowledge.