Melbourne, December 14: A controversial cartoon published today in response to the Paris climate conference, has been condemned as “racist” towards Indians.
The cartoon depicts starving Indians chopping and eating solar panels sent in an attempt to control carbon emissions. One family member even tries to eat them with ‘mango chutney’.
The cartoon drawn by cartoonist Bill Leak was his response to the climate deal reached at the COP21 climate change summit on Saturday in Paris.
India is the fourth-largest greenhouse emitter in the world.
The cartoon drawn by cartoonist Bill Leak depicts people from India using racist stereotypes, which imply that they are thin, starving, and uncaring of the issue of climate change.
The published cartoon in The Australian, drew rebuke with many condemning it as “racist”. The cartoon was slammed on social media and academic circles, with many calling it racist.
The Australian is a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication.
“The message … is that India is too stupid to handle renewable energy and should stick to coal,” said Yin Paradies, Professor, Deakin University.
“Suggesting that ‘developing nations are stupid’ is racist given that such nations are invariably associated with specific racial groups (i.e. non-whites),” he added.
The climate deal was clinched with the approval of India, China and the US; after days of tough negotiations. A legally-binding pact was reached to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and a commitment of USD 100 billion a year from 2020 to help developing nations.
India had bargained on behalf of developing countries and demanded that developed countries take on more responsibility and provide financial support to developing nations so that they could switch to green technology. India also mooted the International Solar Alliance initiative which was launched during the Paris conference.
Daniel Mookhey, an Australian-Indian member of the NSW Parliament has condemned the publication.
“This cartoon is offensive and a horrendous display of the racist stereotypes that some still think are appropriate to people from the sub-continent”
“This cartoon is not reflective of the Australia that has welcomed with open arms people of Indian heritage from around the world… Australia is surely better than this.”
The cartoon has sparked widespread outrage in India.
Shoma Chaudhury, editor of the Catch News told the Gaurdian, “this only proved the provincial ignorance of both the journalist, cartoonist and publication.”
She added that the farmers in Leak’s drawing instead could teach him about solar panels.
Leak has yet to make a statement regarding criticism of the controversial cartoon. The editor of The Australian, Clive Mathieson, confirmed he edited Monday’s paper but decline to give a response to the backlash.
Amanda Wise, an associate professor of sociology at Macquarie University, said in her view the cartoon was shocking and would be unacceptable in the UK, the US or Canada.
“This cartoon is unequivocally racist and draws on very base stereotypes of third world, underdeveloped people who don’t know what to do with technology,” the professor told Guardian Australia.
“India is the technology centre of the world right now and has some of the most high-tech industries on the planet in that part of the world. The underlying message is that people in developing countries don’t need all these technologies to do with climate change — they need food,” she said.
The cartoon was widely condemned on Twitter, with many users drawing attention to India’s rapidly developing sustainable energy sector.
The raw sense of humor of some Australians – has come under fire from time to time including the infamous jest on live TV once by the late Graham Kennedy – who headed the “Graham Kennedy Coast to Coast” a late night show on TV where he joked about travelling on Air India and finding beggars begging alms. Within minutes the switchboard of the station was choked by the callers in an effort to condemn the poor joke.