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The Donkey and the Elephant in the house

October 24, 2014

donkey and elephant,

Have you ever wondered why the 2 major parties of the world’s second largest democracy, have the donkey and the elephant, of all animals and birds, as their symbol?


It is believed that Presidential candidate Andrew Jackson was the first Democrat ever to be associated with the donkey symbol. His opponents during the election of 1828 tried to label him a “jackass” for his populist beliefs and slogan, “Let the people rule.” Jackson was entertained by the notion and ended up using it to his advantage on his campaign posters, just like our Chaiwallah Prime Minister..

It was cartoonist Thomas Nast who is credited with making the donkey the recognized symbol of the Democratic Party. It first appeared in a cartoon in Harper’s Weekly in 1870, and was supposed to represent an anti-Civil War faction. But the public was immediately taken by it and by 1880 it had already become the unofficial symbol of the party.

It was once again cartoonist Thomas Nast who was responsible for the Republican Party elephant. In a cartoon that appeared in Harper’s Weekly in 1874, Nast drew a donkey clothed in lion’s skin, scaring away all the animals at the zoo. One of those animals, the elephant, was labeled “The Republican Vote.” That’s all it took for the elephant to become associated with the Republican Party.

The Donkeys have occupied the White House 15 times and the Elephants 18 times. But never have the Donkey and the Elephant shared the House in the history of the United States of America. That credit goes to a Donkey and an Elephant in India, who have been sharing a house. Luckily, they did not have to spend all the time together, as the donkey had to go periodically for work to bear the ever-growing burden in his life. And by ever-growing burden, it is not implied that the weight of the elephant was adding to the burden (though it was a fact), but meant the inflation, the rising prices and the children’s education, though not necessarily in that order. If not for this forced separation, the elephant would have long ago squashed the donkey to pulp.

For the sake of getting some inputs about the donkey and elephant, I asked a few of my intelligent and highly analytical colleagues of what came to their mind when they thought of a donkey and an elephant. While Kavita Nayar, Siddarth Sancheti and Thara gave some insightful details about the two, Kesavan, Vijay Prakash, Satish, Srivatsan, Ramraj and Ramnarayanan, didn’t have the time to even open the mail, far less give some inputs. Here is the collation of things that came to their minds and my views based on THE donkey and THE elephant.


  • Is not very big- Spot on, not big at all
  • Kicks very well- Don’t think so, gets kicked all the time
  • Supposed to be dumb- Never been so right
  • Is vegetarian- occasionally becomes omnivorous
  • Is a domestic animal- has been domesticated very well
  • Works hard- thinks so too
  • Is used as transport- yes, if you count the number of times the family members were transported
  • Is considered foolish- without any doubt
  • Reminds of the proverb does the donkey know the smell of camphor- It has been a while it has known the smell of anything
  • Carries load- Sigh!


  • Is huge; not very, but slightly (refer No. 5)
  • Found in many temples in kerala- Visits a lot of temples when it goes to Kerala
  • Has a trunk that it waves and uses to stuff food into its mouth- I am not sure of the trunk, but stuffing food into its mouth is spot on.
  • Also works hard- have to concede that one.
  • Can be dangerous if not handled properly- Agree totally
  • Is a powerful animal- No comments
  • Humble despite its size- Uummmmmmmmmmmm.
  • Has a great memory- You betchaaaaa. It remembers what happened in its previous birth

To cut the long story short, the donkey and the elephant have completed 24 years of togetherness today and it is with a great feeling, that they are stepping into the 25th. Time to bring out the TRUMPETS and KICK-ASS.

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