Sharad Sharma

Ashoka Fellow
India,
Fellow Since 2005

Citation

This profile was prepared when Sharad Sharma was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
With World Comics India, the organization he started, Sharad has pioneered a cheap and easy medium for poor people to communicate meaningfully on issues that are neglected by the conventional media. While the urban elite dominates public media, the grinding day-to-day concerns of millions are rarely heard. Layers of discrimination and abuse heaped on huge numbers of people keep their problems out of sight and out of mind. Yet these are the people and problems of India.
Sharad offers a medium to convey challenges and hardships and propose solutions. “Our concern is with teaching the necessary skills for making comics, not with interfering in the content,” he stresses. While the direction that the comics take is left to the individual artists, the discipline required in learning and applying new skills to visualize social issues necessarily awakens original thought and inspires public debate.
A “soft” medium like comics makes possible talk on hard subjects—witch-hunting, alcoholism, ritual pollution. Well-portrayed issues catch the attention of passers-by, young and old, poor and rich, literate and illiterate. As Sharad and his colleagues are showing, this attention builds concern and action.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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