New Delhi: India’s well-known cartoonist and illustrator Rohan Chakravarty, studied five years to become a dentist but the artist in him thwarted any career prospects he had in the oral healthcare sector. He switched to visual arts and soon found himself using animations, illustrations and cartoons to tell stories about wildlife, nature and conservation.
Speaking to NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India, Mr. Chakravarty said that his source of inspiration for illustrating wildlife and environment through his art was a tigress he spotted in a sanctuary many years ago. He turned his inspiration into a series called ‘Green Humour’.
Green humour, as the name implies are cartoons about everything green, primarily about issues concerning wildlife conservation and ecology but it also deals with issues of sustainability, climate change, the social and political aspects of environmental news and developments, even agriculture and the political and social issues around it.
It was after I started drawing animations concerned with wildlife that even my art got a sense of direction, so I am thankful to that tigress for giving shape to my series.
From India’s only internationally syndicated cartoon series for GoComics, to campaign posters for the forest depts, and organisations like WWF and Wildlife Trust of India, to books that break down complex concepts into simple, easy-to-understand snippets, Mr. Chakravarty’s work spans a diverse spectrum.
Mr Chakravarty informed us that his next book is on dolphin conservation in the Mediterranean Sea. Talking about the series, he said,
People think I am limiting myself to a particular topic but I find the canvas so vast that I have new things to draw about every day. The issue is called ‘dolphin depredation’, wherein dolphins are stealing fish from the nets of the fishermen. It has caused a bit of unrest in the Mediterranean fishing communities.. So, to involve these fishing communities in the conservation of dolphins, I am trying to produce this book.
Mr. Chakravarty said that taking up these kinds of work also helped him to expand the realm of his knowledge and aided his own understanding of the scope of his work.
Mr. Chakravarty’s latest book, ‘The Naturalist Ruddy’ has won two prestigious awards, including
first prize by the United Nations Development Programme and the French government for his illustrations which highlight the impact of climate change on the Sundarbans.
It is about a mongoose who thinks he is a detective and whatever he observes in nature, he tries to solve them as crime scenes, and in that process, my readers get acquainted with the natural world.
Mr. Chakravarty called it an amalgamation of a bit of detective fiction, natural history, science and ecology.
But with the environment, a touchy political issue, Mr. Chakravarty informs that he has been trolled often on social media platforms; however, he finds inspiration to survive from the animal world.
I am used to receiving online trolling every day. I have this favourite animal pangolin which just rolls up into a ball, its scales are very dense and they form an armour, a coating around it. So, I aspire to be like the Pangolin every time I receive trolling, so that keeps me going.
Mr. Chakravarty said that the world would be a better place if parents encouraged their children to look closely at the life forms around them and to see that there is so much more to engage with than the materialistic things, we humans have prioritised for ourselves.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.