NYT apologises for offensive toon on Mars mission

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Oct 06, 2014 23:40 IST

The New York Times on Sunday apologized to readers offended by a cartoon it carried recently on India's Mars accomplishment - using stale stereotypes about India and Indians.

The cartoon, by Singapore-based Heng Kim Song, depicts a man in turban, and leading a cow, knocking on the door of a building (room?) called the "Elite Space Club".

Captioned "India joins the space club", the cartoon appeared on September 28, two days before joint Mars exploration figured in PM Narendra Modi's talk with President Barack Obama.

The images - of a turbaned Indian with a cow - are among the oldest stereotypes for Indians, and The New York Times was swamped by readers calling it racist, and much else.

NYT editorial board editor Andrew Rosenthal issued an apology on the paper's Facebook page on Sunday: "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. 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."

Not satisfied, some readers pressed the news organisation to, one, print the apology also in the newspaper and, two, pull down the cartoon itself.

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