Concretes and abstracts Two comics at the Savoy in London
Most readers may not know of or familiar with Franz Fanon. He was an iconic figure in the sixties of the last century when national liberation movements and the Vietnam war – the era of global protest. Fanon was a black man born in the French colony of Martinique. He became a world famous, psychoanalyst of the mind of the colonized and the colonial. He authored two timeless classics on the colonial encounter – Black Skins, White Masks and Wretched of the Earth.
Fanon unravelled the oppressed minds of us natives and concluded that colonized people perpetuate their condition by striving to emulate the culture and ideas of their oppressors. He wrote, "Imperialism leaves behind germs of rot which we must clinically detect and remove from our land but from our minds as well."
We have not eliminated the germs of rot in our minds 70 years after the British left us making us 'Borushoek' Englishmen after a century and half occupation. Just, look at the two comics attired one in black-tie and other in sherwani with a red kerchief at the Savoy in London. The two are in London – mother country attending the world travel mart to promote tourism.
Of course, ours is a land like no other. Where else can you find two perfect jackasses and dressed up dandies spending tax payers money at the London Savoy? All in aid of introducing Kandyan dancers to Brexit weary cockneys. What was the cost of this profligacy at the best address in London?
Manoj Gunawardene, the Sri Lankan boss in London could have invited the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. He would have attended in open shirt and sent out the message that Colombo is a convenient stopover for those Britishers who visit their motherland in Lahore and Bombay.
At least one out of the pair has realized that it was a colossal stupidity and jumping into the Thames is the one sensible thing he could do. The white man seems to think it is a good idea!
A word of advice to Udaya, who is attempting things he knows nothing about in the 'Sandyawa' of his life. If the money was spent on a documentary about our festivals in Chinese, Korean and Malay – Indonesian and English to be digitally disseminated in China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea, that would constitute a measurable promotional proposition. The countries cited are the top generating markets for Singapore which is connected to London in mind boggling frequencies and capacity. The STPB boss, had he pirouetted at the Savoy, as you did would now be polishing the tiled expanse of Changi airport to reimburse the wasted funds. Narada would not bother advising the Minister. Narada is no expert on regenerative medicine.
Privacy in the digital age
India's apex court has unanimously ruled that individual privacy is a fundamental right. The verdict will impact what the Indian state can do and cannot do with biometric ID cards and how Indian corporates and gather and use personal data in our technology age of big data and deep data. The Modi government argued that privacy was not a fundamental right protected by the Constitution. The Supreme Court held otherwise. It overturned two rulings made in 1954 and 1962 declaring that privacy was "an intrinsic part of the right to life and liberty" and "part of the freedoms guaranteed" by the Constitution.
Its key conclusions are that life and personal liberty are inalienable rights. These are rights which are inseparable from a dignified human existence. The dignity of the individual, equality between human beings and the quest for liberty are the foundational pillars of the Indian Constitution.
Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation. Privacy also connotes a right to be left alone.
Personal choices governing a way of life are intrinsic to privacy which is not lost or surrendered merely because the individual is in a public place. Privacy attaches to the person since it is an essential facet of the dignity of the human being.
Most significant is that the Indian Supreme Court has redefined its role in the age of exponential technological progress. It has said technological progress has given rise to new concerns which did not exist before. Human progress has made past wisdom obsolete. Hence the interpretation of the Constitution must be resilient and flexible to allow future generations to adapt its content bearing in mind its basic or essential features.
My daughter's family lives next door. On a week end they are all at home. My son-in-law is in logistics and supply chain management and carries his workload in his laptop and his head in that order. My daughter also works. To send a cobra around two keep two cars in the garage. But the principal occupations are losing weight and Facebooking in that order. My grandson and my granddaughter, bright and indolent somewhat, are pursuing their A Levels in the hope of going to university. They are a happy and contented lot.
On a Sunday, Narada hops over for a look. In the autumn of his life, looking and seeing grandchildren is fun. The house is in digital country. Wires and gadgets abound.
In this digital abode exercising my fading faculties is restrained. I am permitted to smell and sniff. My ears can hear nothing but a murmuring quiet that oscillates between regulated sound and an imposed silence. It tells me that it is not the place for me to make any kind of sound.
In that house my tongue is an obsolete appendage, absolute torture for a warehouse full of opinions.
My daughter says "Hi, papa!" and reverts to Facebooking. "Hello," says my son-in-law, glued to a laptop. I get a friendly wave from my grandson with ears wired and gyrating at the waist. Listening to music I presume. My granddaughter makes a thumb up and returns to surfing the internet of things on an iPad.
That house is devoid of conversation. Its inhabitants are wired and connected to each other and cyberspace. To me it is a pigeon pen with each pigeon in a customized pigeon hole. They are not dumb pigeons. They are quiet pigeons. Narada too, retreats quietly, lest he blows a fuse!
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