100 years later, country still makes the same old demands: Madpaule

Creator of the popular political page Madpaul Diaries tells us what motivates him to talk about social issues and the role of art in fighting social evils.

Madpaule Diaries Instagram account was never meant to be a platform for political expression, says creator and digital artist Paule. He had started the account as a space to document his life while travelling or taking up art residency programmes. However, he decided to use the platform to dissent against the disturbing events taking place in the world.

Paule says that artists always start by expressing personal feelings and emotions that are often limited to things and people in the immediate environment. However, even personal space is affected by society and politics.

“Politics shape up your very society including your own family. And that’s how the expression starts showing in your art. Because it affects you,” he says.

Over the years, Paule used his art to express dissent against injustice, like in the Hathras sexual assault case in Uttar Pradesh. The artwork reads ‘Deadmocracy’ alongside a Mark Twain quote on voting rights.

“The four pillars who are supposed to protect our democracy and our rights, they end up murdering it. When the politicians, media, court and police work hand in hand against the common man, it is the ultimate death. Who do you go to? Voting gets manipulated around the elections and it is their ultimate win. It works in their favour. And the sufferer is always the common man,” says Paule when asked about the piece.

Similarly, another artwork compares contemporary India with the pre-independence era of 1920s when the yet-to-be-formed country was agitating against the British raj.

“We are still fighting for the same things we were agitated for in the 1920’s. There is not even a sign of gradual disappearance of it even in this digital age. Casual and direct racism still exists not just among the common people but also among the people in power,” says Paule.

He also voices concerns about the increasing caste-based social evils such as lynching, custodial deaths, riots and killings. Such social evils are used as means to an end by politicians, not just India but all over the world.

In fact, the ultimate evil of ‘war’ is a recurring theme in Paule’s art, either in writing or portrayed within the art. When asked if he foresees an approaching war in the near-future, he says, “I think we are already going through a constant war right now. The kind of atrocities the whole world is going through is no less than a diluted war spread all across the globe.”

However, his apprehension of war is not restricted to India alone. According to Paule, Syria, Hong Kong, India, Nigeria and many other countries are experiencing a crisis situation and rising dissent.


Wars have never ended wars, Fear never killed fear, Terrorism never destroyed terrorism, Violence never pacified violence. Be it America or Hong kong or Syria or India or any other part of the world, brutality has just given rise to more brutality and normalised it. Still the brutal forces are used by Governments tobring peace. How Ironic is that. Just a placebo. So much so that people are terrified to approach these so-called Guardians. World needs a reform. . . . . #ifwedonotrise #fascism #democracynow #nofascism #artofresistance #resistance #savetheconstitution #democracy #artagainstfascism #illustrations #illustratorsoninstagram #dissent #dissentart #dissentartist #dissentartists

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Most of the protest art is dominated by red. He says that the colour scheme is a manner of political expression.

“Red for me is a symbol of something current, something eternally burning. Something one must not ignore and shouldn’t. It is a warning that everything is not right. And it needs attention,” he says.

His call for attention also brings in untoward elements like online trolls. In one of his posts, “The Online Lynching,” Paule talked about the 100 or so people that he has had to block on Instagram alone. The post also talked about an incident wherein the artist was repeatedly added to random groups and subjected to collective abuse. At the time, Madpaule had said the organised harassment was akin to “online lynching.”


We are all used to trolls by now. These hate filled minions are all over. Only yesterday I had to block more than 100 such people who were commenting, replicating and inboxing me their regards. I can only vaguely imagine what all public figures, activists, minorities and celebrities go through their daily life dealing with these trolls. But yesterday i had the MOST UNUSUAL EXPERIENCE. It won’t be wrong to call it “The online Lynching”. I get that people come from different backgrounds and different ideologies. But it seems trolls just believe in the ideology of abusing. A few people yesterday were commenting continuously from different accounts. After a point I started getting the same messages in my inbox. Initially I ignored them. And when it became too much I started blocking them. But then something really strange happened. These guys started adding me to random groups and then there was collective abuse directed towards me. Funnily enough the group was called “the locker room bois”. It happened again and again till I had to literally block hundreds of them. It felt so organised. It was almost like taking a person to room and lynching them. Had I been outside they would have done the same Literally. Doing some reverse search I figured out who they are and their location. The moderator seemed to be a teenager connected to all the pages with religious fanaticism. It is not normal behaviour unless they are paid to do so or totally nuts. Who would in their right minds will get up in the morning and decide – today my agenda is organised trolling. What has become of this country. I have been checking the celebrity pages all over the world but the amount of abuses hurled here is really alarming. All this in the name of Patriotism, Religion and Nationalism? How does this get justified? This seems like a dark age for this country with people facing hatred more than ever. My message to trolls : I hope you grow up, travel and learn what art is all about throughout history. It has always stood up against any kind of discrimination, inequality and most of all Fascism. Educate yourself.

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Having lived through such experiences, Paule believes that one-sided orders and threats without any rational conversation become a form of fascism.

“Free speech and fascism cannot survive together. For any healthy society and for any kind of constructive and philosophical growth free speech is important. It can be argued back with logic and reason so that things continue in harmony. When you hit back with force and try to shut it up, there can be unrest, insecurities and more resistance.  The healthy balance gets disturbed. Inequality prevails,” he says.

Similarly, the artist feels that 90 percent of mainstream media have become a joke. The battle for TRPs has led news channels to abandon their responsibilities and offer biased opinions and judgements instead of news.

Instead, he wishes news would focus on basic human rights issues, stand with the people and question the government instead of the other way around.

Building this further, he says an artist can contribute to this discourse by communicating with people who don’t understand things and expressing that which people struggle to put in words.

“Art communicates instantly, especially protest art. It has to. It connects people with politics which is very important. It makes them understand their rights in a less complicated way,” says Paule.

To illustrate his point, Paule talks about the ‘HOPE’ poster for former US President Barack Obama, by Shepard Fairey, during his election campaign in 2008 and the stylised poster by Jim Fitzpatrick based on Alberto Korda’s photograph of Che Guevara.

These artworks gained popularity as iconic symbols of revolution. They became the voice of the common citizen. So, artists have a moral duty to be involved in politics as musicians, painters, actors throughout history have been, says Paule.

“The art has to connect with masses and has to be relevant but at the same time timeless. My usual work is a direct response to the current situation while still keeping a historical and universal context in mind. It may look like easily consumable art but it is also like history being written in the form of icons and symbols,” he says.

As for people who say that protests/online activism creates more problems like riots, Paule says, “I think these are the same people who say short clothes create situations like rapes.”

Similarly, to those people who remain apolitical in the current social scenario, Paule gives his last thought, “Your right to be apolitical shows your privilege. That is all I have to say about that.”


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