India's 'Common Man' cartoonist R K Laxman dead at 93

A copy of the book Jest In Time with a caricature of eminent Indian cartoonist R.K. Laxman on the cover page is pictured at a book shop in Ahmedabad on Monday, the day he died at age  93. -- PHOTO: AFP
A copy of the book Jest In Time with a caricature of eminent Indian cartoonist R.K. Laxman on the cover page is pictured at a book shop in Ahmedabad on Monday, the day he died at age  93. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - Indian cartoonist R.K. Laxman, whose "You Said It" cartoon featuring the "Common Man" lampooned India's powerful for half a century, died on Monday aged 93.

Mr Laxman had been ill for two weeks and died of multi-organ failure at a hospital in the western Indian city of Pune, where he lived.

His bald and bespectacled Common Man in a check coat was a silent spectator in daily single-panel cartoons that regaled millions of readers of The Times of India newspaper, helping Mr Laxman to comment on a variety of issues plaguing post-independence India, from corrupt politicians to street potholes.

"India will miss you, R.K. Laxman. We are grateful to you for adding the much-needed humour in our lives and always bringing smiles on our faces," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an English-language statement.

Born in 1921, Mr Laxman was the youngest of six brothers who included R.K. Narayan, one of India's most renowned writers.

Mr Laxman showed an early talent for sketching and illustrated many of Narayan's stories before joining the Times of India in the 1950s. Narayan died in 2001.

Mr Laxman's Common Man character, often described as holding up a mirror to India's democracy, spawned a television sitcom, was the mascot for an airline and featured on a postage stamp.

In 2005, Mr Laxman was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian honour.