Cartoonist P Mahamud was awarded the first PEN-Gauri Lankesh Award for Democratic Idealism today in Bengaluru on the first anniversary of journalist Gauri Lankesh’s assassination. The prize money for the award is one lakh rupees.
The award celebrates what Gauri Lankesh stood for — a life of commitment to equality and justice, fearlessness and above all, a strong connection with the idea of an India where diverse voices can speak with freedom. That the first award has gone to a cartoonist is significant.
Cartoonists such as G Bala and Satish Acharya have been arrested or lost their jobs because of their cartoons. The award does more. In the face of multiple attacks on freedom of expression in India today, it insists that voices like Gauri Lankesh, and her counterparts in journalism, art, cartooning, film, literature and activism must be allowed to speak up, loud and clear.
P Mahamud has always been very vocal about the advancement of social and economic justice through his work. In the past, he worked as a freelance cartoonist with Taranga, the Kannada weekly, The Guardian of Business and Politics, the English newspaper, Andhra Pradesh Times and the Kannada newspapers Mungaaru, Jana Vahini, Prajavani and Vijaya Karnataka. His works have always offered a non-partisan critique of political corruption, communalism and caste prejudice, in the country in general, and in Karnataka in particular. He has also published a book of his cartoons around the Ayodhya controversy, an anthology of his political cartoons titled Vyanga (Vi)chitra, and participated in the Sahmat workshop, “Cartoonists Against Communalism” in 1993.
PEN was founded in 1921 to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers. PEN defends the rights of writers internationally. PEN has three centres in India – Delhi, Bombay and South India. PEN South India was founded in 2017 and is based out of a different city each year.
This annual award has been instituted by PEN South India and Delhi. A jury will be established each year, to identify the recipient of the annual award. The first award is being given to an individual or an organisation who has worked in Kannada, and the jury consists of Chandan Gowda, Sangamesh Menasinakai, Arshia Sattar, and Vivek Shanbhag.
Courtesy: Indian Cultural Forum