How a fascination with cartoons became a hobby for Bibhu Prasad Acharya
…………..It’s hard to believe that an eight-year-old will tell his elders that he wants to become the United Nations Secretary-General. But, Bibhu Prasad Acharya, the present Special Chief Secretary to the Government of Telangana, had his priorities straight at an age when most of the children are busy playing. This choice for such a different career at that age came from the politically-charged cartoons and caricatures published in ‘AmritBazaar Patrika’ and ‘Illustrated Weekly’, which Acharya used to admire.
It also inspired him to draw cartoons and caricatures on his own, and it became a hobby of his lifetime.
Around 1968-69, when a lot of political events, such as Vietnam War, Bangladesh crisis, etc were happening across the world, Acharya used to follow Amar’s cartoons in ‘Amrit Bazaar Patrika’ and was inspired by the artist’s skill of juxtaposing cartoons with national and international news. “Though it was not the age to understand political or international affairs, I somehow got hooked to it,” he says
“I started copying them in a diary. There were no sketch pens available, so most of the works were drawn by blue and red ballpoint pens,” he adds.
His most memorable cartoon was that of Pakistan’s Yahya Khan and China’s Mao Zedong. Based on that, Acharya also drew a cartoon of Richard Nixon and the Watergate Scandal, which was appreciated by the then Odisha Chief Minister Biju Patnaik. That was the first public display of his works.
“RK Laxman’s caricatures in the ‘Illustrated Weekly’ also influenced me. I started drawing caricatures of various personalities. I copied cartoons for 3 to 4 years, and when I was 12 I started drawing my own cartoons,” he says.
While studying in JNU, Delhi, he became a member of the free thinkers’ group. “At that time, Sitaram Yechury and Nirmala Seetharamam were my contemporaries and I was asked by my group to draw cartoons during students’ elections and other college events,” he says, adding that later in 1983, his works were published in the house journalof the previous Lal Bahadur Sastri Academy of National Administration in Mussoorie.
“At the time, a rule was introduced that probationers have to wear tie and coat. So, I drew a cartoon in which Lal Bahadur Shastri himself was stopped by the director of the academy at the entrance, as Shastri was not wearing a tie and a coat,” he says.
Born in Odisha, Acharya spent his career spanning 34 years in Civil Services in Telangana, other than Chittoor district where he served as a trainee. “During the cyclone in Chittoor and Nellore, my work of officers holding a big spoon (relief) to the affected persons, was a big hit. Later, I displayed my works as ‘Mussoorie Miscellany’ at the IAS Officers’ Association in Hyderbad,”he says, adding that in 90s, he started ‘obtuse angle’ series in the monthly IAS bulletin. In 2008, Sucheta Dalal of Money Life magazine asked him to draw cartoons on economic conditions across the globe.
Apart from being an artist, Acharya has been writing poems in Odia since his college days. Post-retirement, Acharya hopes to bring out a book of his works.
Blurb: During the cyclone in Chittoor and Nellore, my work of officers holding a big spoon (relief) to the affected persons, was a big hit ( courtesy- telangana today.com )