Cartoonist G Bala is at the centre of controversy for the past few days over a cartoon that also landed him in jail. One caricature made recently by the ‘not so subtle’ artist went viral and was shared by thousands of people that drew ire from the bureaucracy. The 36-year-old Bala calls himself an editorial cartoonist and a journalist and his cartoons frequently become the subject of debate in Tamil Nadu. One of the better known editorial cartoonists in India, Bala has thousands of followers on social media and frequently draws critiques on state and national issues.
In recent years, Bala has started working as an independent cartoonist who publishes his work on his Facebook page and his blog. His digital venture named Linesmedia.in carries his cartoons and caricatures and through his art he frequently does scathing commentary on issues that plague our society on a day-to-day basis.
Before going solo, he worked for a period of 12 years as a cartoonist and journalist for Tamil weekly Kumudam. His 136-page collection of cartoons was published in 2015 by the name of Namakku Ethukku Vambu.
Bala has also collaborated with social activists in the past, including the likes of SP Udayakumar of the Kudankulam movement and anti-liquor campaign by National Alliance of People’s Movements. He has also worked extensively on the plight of oppressed women and alcoholism. Following the path of many great cartoonists of the past, Bala’s themes have more or less included an oppressed farmer or rural dweller being grinded by the bureaucracy and politics.
He was recently arrested for drawing a caricature of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami, Nellai Collector and Nellai Police Commissioner naked and covering their genitals with currency notes looking down upon a child lying on the ground and burning. The caricature was apparently meant to be a comment on a recent suicide by a family in Tamil Nadu.
He has now been granted bail by the Tirunelveli district court. Upon his release, he asserted he will not stop doing what he does. “I did not commit a murder, so I have no regrets. I will continue to highlight the inefficiency of the government through my cartoon. I will continue; won’t stop,” PTI quoted Bala as saying.