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NYT apologises for offensive cartoon on India’s Mars mission

Days after it published an offensive cartoon mocking India’s successful Mars mission, The New York Times (NYT) on Monday apologised, saying it was not trying to “impugn” India but was highlighting that space programmes are no longer an exclusive domain of rich, Western countries.

“A large number of readers have complained about a recent editorial cartoon in The International New York Times, about India’s foray into space exploration. The intent of the

cartoonist, Heng Kim Song, was to highlight how space exploration is no longer the exclusive domain of rich, Western countries,” Andrew Rosenthal, NYT’s editorial page editor said, in a Facebook post.

“We apologise to readers who were offended by the choice of images in this cartoon. Heng was in no way trying to impugn India, its government or its citizens. We appreciate that readers have shared their feedback, which we welcome,” Rosenthal said, adding that Singapore-based Heng uses images and text “often in a provocative way” to make observations about international affairs.

The September 28 cartoon shows an Indian man, along with a bull, wearing a short dhoti and a shirt with the words ‘India’, knocking on the door to a room that has a sign ‘Elite Space Club’.

Inside the room are two Western men reading a newspaper with the headline, ‘India’s Mars Mission’.

Incidentally the cartoon came on the day India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in New York, addressing thousands of Indian-Americans from the podium of the Madison Square Garden.

Modi had on the previous day addressed the United Nations General Assembly and addressed several thousand people at a global citizen festival in Central Park.

Several people had hit back at the newspaper and commented on the social media website that the paper should publish the apology instead of apologising on a Facebook page.

“You Should apologise for the Racist Cartoon on your News Paper..Apologising in Facebook is not Enough (sic),” said one Facebook user. Another person said that a large number of scientists working at NASA are Indians. Several Facebook users said the cartoon should be removed from the newsppaer’s website.

Meanwhile, commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s summit with President Barack Obama, the New York Times editorial noted that the meeting produced some agreements, including renewal of a 10-year defence cooperation agreement, a promise to cooperate on maritime security as China presses claims in Asian waters, and several clean energy initiatives.

However, the article penned by the newspaper’s editorial board said the two leaders failed to “break an impasse” on two major irritants of trade and taxes.

On trade and taxes, a chief issue is New Delhi’s refusal to endorse a new World Trade Organization pact if it does not address its protectionist concerns about food security.

“There was also no reported progress on a bilateral investment treaty or reform of tax laws in India that have made Americans reluctant to invest there. Civilian nuclear energy cooperation is also stymied,” it said.

The US agreed in 2008 to permit sales to India of nuclear power equipment and fuel for civilian energy uses.

“But American companies have not benefited because India adopted an onerous liability law,” it said.

Another person said that a large number of scientists working at NASA are Indians. Several Facebook users said the cartoon should be removed from the newsppaer’s website. Meanwhile, commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s summit with President Barack Obama, the New York Times editorial noted that the meeting produced some agreements, including renewal of a 10-year defence cooperation agreement, a promise to cooperate on maritime security as China presses claims in Asian waters, and several clean energy initiatives.

However, the article penned by the newspaper’s editorial board said the two leaders failed to “break an impasse” on two major irritants of trade and taxes.

On trade and taxes, a chief issue is New Delhi’s refusal to endorse a new World Trade Organisation pact if it does not address its protectionist concerns about food security.

“There was also no reported progress on a bilateral investment treaty or reform of tax laws in India that have made Americans reluctant to invest there. Civilian nuclear energy cooperation is also stymied,” it said.

The US agreed in 2008 to permit sales to India of nuclear power equipment and fuel for civilian energy uses.

“But American companies have not benefited because India adopted an onerous liability law,” it said.

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