The omnipresent Common Man scripted the tale of the nation

Symbiosis International University of Pune on Saturday instituted the R.K. Laxman Chair in the faculty of media, communication and design to honour the legendary cartoonist for his contribution to communication and media.

Mr. Laxman, whose health is delicate, was represented at the ceremony by his wife Kamala Laxman. SIU founder S.B. Mujumdar; the former Union Minister, Mohan Dharia; Vidya Yeravdekar, principal director of Symbiosis; and photographer and adjunct faculty member Gautam Rajyadhyaksha attended the function. Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar was the chief guest.

Speaking fondly of the creator of the Common Man, Dr. Mujumdar said: “Laxman, who is an atheist, once told me, ‘millions believe in God, but the question is does God believe in you?' I am proud to institute a chair today in the name of R.K. Laxman: a man in whom God believes.”

Mr. Laxman was not just a cartoonist but a master philosopher, Mr. Pawar said. The omnipresent Common Man “scripted the tale of the nation… making us laugh, think and confront ourselves.”

Thanking the university for the honour, Ms. Laxman said: “It is one thing to achieve fame, but another thing to be recognised for it. The fulfilment is given to us by Symbiosis.”

Mr. Mujumdar announced that journalist Dileep Padgaonkar would be the first R.K. Laxman chair professor.

In a recorded address, Mr. Padgaonkar said: “A nation is truly blessed with its satirists, humorists and cartoonists. They are the people who tell the people that the emperor has, in fact, no clothes.”

Calling Mr. Laxman one of the greatest cartoonists of our times, he said: “Laxman's work is a daily reminder of what India and Indians are like, and his pen evokes the absurdity of every political situation the nation goes through.”

Mr. Padgaonkar said it was his privilege and honour to be the first R.K. Laxman chair professor. “This is an extraordinary opportunity to reach out to young people in journalism and explore every possible avenue to make the challenging profession even more interesting.” The position, he said, presented him with an opportunity to “marry technology and ideas together and create a different kind of journalism that will be an honour to R.K. Laxman and to a resurgent India.”

The university plans to establish nine more chair professorships soon.

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