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July 17, 2012



Born on July 31, 1902, in Kayamkulam, a small town in Kerala, Shankar drew his first caricature at the age of six or seven. It was that of his mathematics s teacher sleeping in the class with his feet up on the table!

Shankar studied at a local school where the medium of teaching was Malayalam. He joined the Maharaja’s College of Science in Trivandrum. He was known for his sharp wit and never spared an opportunity to caricature his lecturers. After graduating in science in 1927 Shankar joined Law College in Bombay ( noe in Mumbai) , Just after one year Shankar lost interest in the subject. The national movement for freedom was at its peak during this time. Shankar expressed his reaction by drawing cartoons which started featuring regularly in  The Bombay Chronicle, The Free Press Journal and The Weekly Herald. Recognizing his latent talent, Pothan Joseph, the then editor of The Hindustan Times in 1932 invited Shankar to join as the staff cartoonist and Shankar became a full fledged cartoonist.

In 1948 Shankar started his own journal Shankar’s weekly, Indian’s first and the only journal of political cartoons. The  journal became a training ground for many cartoonists in India. Among them were Samuel Kutty, O. V. Vijayan and Abu Abraham. A great admirer of Nehru, Shankar portrayed Nehru in more than 1,500 cartoons drawn for the weekly.

 Shankar was a child at heart. He believed that  children deserve nothing but the best, The first   Children’s Competition in  Painting and Writing was held in 1949 which a year later went international and came to be called  Shankar’s International and came to be called Shankar’s International Children’s Competition (SICC). Today children from nearly 135 countries participate annually in this competition.

Shankar set up Children’s  Book Trust (CBT) in 1957 and it’s Indraprastha Press in 1965. A rare gift of a Hungarian doll from the Ambassador in 1954 gave Shankar the idea to start collecting dolls and in 1965 he set up Shankar’s International Dolls Museum which today house 6500 costume dolls from 85 countries. He also set up Dr. B.C. Roy  Memorial Children’s reading Room and Library the largest library in  India in 1967. To Publish the largest library in India in 1967. To publish the spill-over writings from SICC, Shankar started an illustrated magazine, Children ‘s World , in 1968.

Shankar pioneered children’s  book publishing in India by printing the first book The King’s Choice in 1961. He felt there was a dearth of good books for the children, so Shankar rewrote from the epic, classic and legends. Many of them he illustrated himself. Shankar organized the first Competition for Writers of Children’s Book in English 9in 1978) and in Hindi 9in 1987) to discover new authors. Shankar organized the first International  Children Book Fair in New Deli in 1979.

A highly decorated man, Shankar was awarded with padma Shree 91956). Padma Bhushan (1966) padma Vibhushan (1976) among  others, Shankar passed away on December 26,1989 at the ripe age of 87.

-CBT Magazine


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