Heng im cartoon in NYT (06/12/2015)
In December 2015, coinciding with the UN Climate Summit in Paris, The New York Times published this cartoon by Heng Kim Song (Singapore, 1964) depicting India as an elephant sitting on the tracks impeding the progress of the climate change talks train.
Indian cartoonists, and those from elsewhere, took the opportunity to respond by retweeting the scene, such as Ajith, who painted a polluting train with the slogan “developed countries” and a more nature-conscious elephant.
Ajith cartoon (12/12/2015)
On 3 June 2017, the cartoonist Satish Acharya once again took a swipe at the NYT cartoonist, reminding him of that cartoon. For Satish, Donald Trump is now the elephant that stops the same train by releasing a big dung in its wake.
Satish Acharya cartoon (2017)
It is not the first time that Indian cartoonists have drawn a cartoon from the NYT in which they give it a good bath.
A year earlier there was another controversy over this one published on 28 September, by the same cartoonist, which was branded racist.
Heng cartoon in NYT (28/09/2014)
The cartoon depicts India as a peasant with a cow knocking at the door of a place called “Space Elite Club”.
A month earlier, India had launched the probe popularly called “Mangalyaan” into Mars orbit. The total cost of the Indian mission was 74 million US dollars, making it one of the cheapest space missions in history.
This cartoon also had its response in February 2017, coinciding with the news that the Indian space agency had launched 104 satellites in 18 minutes, almost tripling the previous record of satellite launches in a day.
Indian cartoonist Sandeep Adhwaryu’s response.
The cartoonist said he was surprised, that he did not expect this reaction and defended his cartoon by claiming that his message was the opposite of what was interpreted:
“I was not being racist or encouraging mockery of the country and its people” . “In fact, I was congratulating India on its success.”
The NYT apologised for this cartoon on 6 October 2014.
A large number of readers have complained about a recent editorial cartoon in The International New York Times, about India’s foray into space exploration. The intent of the cartoonist, Heng Kim Song, was to highlight how space exploration is no longer the exclusive domain of rich, Western countries. Mr. Heng, who is based in Singapore, uses images and text – often in a provocative way – to make observations about international affairs. We apologize to readers who were offended by the choice of images in this cartoon. Mr. Heng was in no way trying to impugn India, its government or its citizens. We appreciate that readers have shared their feedback, which we welcome. — Andrew Rosenthal, Editorial Page Editor
It would be a good idea for all battles to be based on the launching of acidic counter-offensive cartoons.