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The Smearing of Emma Watson

 A classic blunder and smear against an outspoken activist.

by Sut Jhally and Roger Waters 

Anyone who has ever been critical of Israeli actions toward the Palestinian people knows what to expect next—an avalanche of pit-bull attacks and smears that their criticisms of Israel are motivated by racism and anti-Semitism. The latest example is the response to actress Emma Watson’s pro-Palestinian Instagram post, which led (predictably) to Israeli officials and supporters accusing her of anti-Semitism. Among many others, former Israeli UN Representative Danny Danon—in a tone-deaf post—wrote, “10 points from Gryffindor for being an antisemite.”

The purpose of such false accusations is of course to deflect attention away from what is happening on the ground—the real (war) crimes that Israel is perpetrating against the Palestinian people—to the supposed motivations of the critics. Unable to defend its criminal actions, all that Israel’s increasingly desperate defenders have left is smear and innuendo, as the attacks on Emma Watson make clear.

But the accusations may also have some other unintended consequences—they make real anti-Semitism (the right-wing fascist variety that really does hate Jews as Jews) more respectable and legitimate—and thus even more deadly. In that sense, the Zionist defenders of Israel are among the most dangerous purveyors of contemporary anti-Semitism—the hatred of Jews as a collective.

There are two steps to how these unintended consequences are blundered into.

First, there is the claim that Israel and Jewishness are the same thing—that Israel is not the state of all its citizens but is the state of the Jewish people alone. The nation-state law, passed in 2018—which gives Jews alone the right of self-determination in Israel, recognizing Hebrew as the sole official national language, and establishing “Jewish settlement as a national value”—makes the link between the Israeli state and Jewishness formal and official. Similarly, the widely adopted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism cites one example as “the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity” and has a similar thrust—Israel equals Jews.

The second step is the increasing visibility of Israeli violence toward Palestinians. Although Israeli propaganda had succeeded for decades in deflecting mainstream attention away from Israel’s crimes, the cloak of invisibility created by its public relations efforts—its hasbara—is disintegrating before the force of reality, its own increasingly cruel and vicious actions, as well as the work of the growing number of pro-Palestinian activists around the world who are using the power of social media to bypass the normal media gatekeepers. While anyone with a passing knowledge of the situation has long known about the brutal matrix of violence and control—from the river to the sea—exerted by Israel over the Palestinian population, that understanding is now increasingly visible and mainstream. (As evidence of this, Emma Watson’s post quickly drew over 1 million likes.)

The problem for all of us, not just Israel, is when these two things are put together—the equation of Israel with Jews and the visibility of Israeli atrocities—then Jews as a whole become tarred with the crimes of the Israeli state. As the Israeli journalist Gideon Levy wrote in 2015, “Some of the hatred toward Jews elsewhere in the world—emphatically, only some and not all of it—is fed by the policies of the state of Israel and especially by its continuing occupation and abuse, decade after decade, of the Palestinian people.”

In this process, the danger is that actually existing anti-Semitism is being made more respectable as there seems to be some rational basis for it—Israeli atrocities. At a time when the real and dangerous anti-Semitism of the fascist right is on the rise—remember the white supremacist Charlottesville thugs were chanting “Jews will not replace us”—the last thing that is needed is to give it any sheen of respectability, as, albeit unwittingly, do those who insist on the indissoluble link between the brutal violence of the Zionist project and Jewishness.

Such a link is of course nonsense. Jews of all political stripes have long been on the front lines of the fight against the racist Zionist enterprise, insisting that it has no part in their own Jewish values based on a belief in universal—not particular—human rights. It is why groups such as Rabbis for Human Rights act as human shields against the attacks on Palestinians by settlers and the Israel Defense Forces. The fight against Israeli policies and Zionist violence is driven by the concerns of social justice and solidarity, not racism toward Jews.

Emma Watson is part of an exponentially fast-growing choir of decent like-minded men and women of good faith all over the world, united in their belief that all people, irrespective of their ethnicity or their religion or their nationality, must have inalienable human rights, including the right to life and liberty and self-determination, from every river to every sea everywhere. That includes the long-suffering people of Palestine. The attempted weaponization of anti-Semitism against this movement not only weakens the term as a description of real fascist racism, but in fact serves to legitimate it. If criticizing cruel Israeli policies toward the Palestinians is anti-Semitic, then what is so wrong with anti-Semitism, so this misguided line of thinking goes. As Robert Fisk once noted, “if this continued campaign of abuse against decent people, trying to shut them up by falsely accusing them of anti-Semitism, continues, the word ‘anti-Semitism’ will begin to become respectable. And that is a great danger.”

The solution to this is clear: break the erroneous link between Israel and all Jews (between Israel and Judaism) and concentrate on the reality that the Zionist enterprise is an old-fashioned settler-colonial project—driven in large part by the geopolitical interests of its principal sponsor, the United States. Once we eliminate the obfuscation and confusion that result from the lazy (but calculated) accusation of anti-Semitism, the building of an unstoppable international movement of justice for the Palestinians can continue. Let’s get to it!

This article was produced by Globetrotter.

Sut Jhally is professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and founder and executive director of the Media Education Foundation.

Roger Waters is a musician.

Air Transport and Immigration Law - The Djokovic Case

Immigration is inextricably involved with air transport, particularly in the context of the currently raging pandemic.

by Dr. Ruwantissa Abeyratne in Montreal

Justice is the application of the law…Justice Antonin Scalia

In air transport terminology, an inadmissible person is “a person who is or will be refused admission to a State by its authorities”

Unbeknownst to many, immigration and its legalities are linked to air transport more than to any other mode of transport and is addressed by the International Civil Aviation Organization which deals with requirements pertaining to passports and visas.  When the author was working in the section developing machine readable travel documents at ICAO, there was discussion in the Council of ICAO as to why immigration issues formed part of the civil aviation work program of the Organization, and the answer was that ICAO had to take up the subject as no other transport entity was handling it.

Immigration is inextricably involved with air transport, particularly in the context of the currently raging pandemic. Annex 9 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation sets out basic principles for global harmonization and these principles would be relevant in the context of vaccination records and certificates required by States for the admission of passengers during the pandemic as well as its aftermath. The Annex  provides that in order to minimize disruptions to the orderly operations of international civil aviation, Contracting States must cooperate with one another to promptly resolve any differences arising in the course of implementing its provisions.  This is a critical provision, as States are varied in their admission requirements.

The Case of Novak Djokovic

One of the most controversial issues of public and media focus in January this year has been the deportation of Novak Djokovic - the World number one tennis star -  from Melbourne, Australia, who had come to defend his title in the Australian Open Tennis Tournament which commenced on January 9th 2022.  Mr. Djokovic was deported on the weekend immediately preceding the opening of the tournament, bringing an end to his hope of winning the title and making his Grand Slam wins 21, thus surpassing the top figure of 20 held so far  by tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.  Therefore, Mr. Djokovic’s expulsion was no ordinary case but an extremely high-profile issue.

Mr. Djokovic, who was an anti-vaccination proponent, had a history of having been tested positive for COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne.  However, he had arrived under the ambivalence of dithering communications allegedly received by him from various authorities: that it was the State of Victoria that would decide on his admissibility and that he was eligible for a medical exemption that would obviate any necessity for his carrying a vaccination certificate as a prerequisite for entry into Australia under existing laws and regulations of the country.  Upon arrival, the Federal Government of Australia stepped in to enforce existing regulations and denied Mr. Djokovic entry into the country, detaining him in a hotel until he appealed.  Upon appeal, the court hearing Mr. Djokovic’s case declared his eligibility to enter Australia, but that decision was overruled.  It then went up to the Minister who, under authority vested in him under the Migration Act of 1958 cancelled Mr. Djokovic’s visa and ordered his deportation.

Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, explaining the cancellation of the visa stated that he had exercised his powers under  Section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr. Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so, adding that Mr. Djokovic posed a "health risk" to the country and that the tennis star could have riled up anti-vaccine sentiment. The Minister had also added that allowing Mr. Djokovic to stay might lead to: an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment being generated in the Australian community, leading to others refusing to become vaccinated or refusing to receive a booster vaccine; a reinforcing of the views of a minority in the Australian community who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19; people deciding to not receive a booster vaccine; unvaccinated persons becoming very unwell and/or transmitting it to others; and  increased pressure placed on the Australian health system .

Mr. Djokovic’s lawyers appealed for judicial review of the Minister’s decision which was administered by three members of the Australian Supreme (Federal) Court.  The lawyers argued that the Minister had erred by canceling Mr. Djokovic’s visa on the grounds that he could encourage anti-vaccination sentiment in Australia, adding that the Minister had not considered whether deporting Mr. Djokovic could also stoke such sentiment. It is noted in this context that one of the Recommendations of the Director General of WHO – particularly in the area of harmonization of policy and practice from a global perspective - is that States refrain from requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for international travel as the only pathway or condition permitting international travel.  This having been said, it is incontrovertible that, whether during a pandemic or under normal circumstances, the issue of inadmissibility is grounded on public safety, either from a health perspective or from a public security angle.

The Supreme Court upheld the Minister’s decision and at the time of writing the reasons for the decision were not available.

Ministerial Discretion

The Australian Immigration Minister exercised his discretion s under Section 133 C. 3. of the Migration Act of 1958 which says: “The Minister may cancel a visa held by a person if: (a) the Minister is satisfied that a ground for cancelling the visa under section 116 exists; and (b)  the Minister is satisfied that it would be in the public interest to cancel the visa” .   Here the key words are “public interest” and there are two facts which are obvious: it is confusing as to how Mr. Djokovic could have been a threat to public interest given the high rate of vaccinations in Australia; and the Minister’s discretion is extremely wide and may not be impugned on its terms. This does not, however, mean that such discretion cannot be questioned in the courts.  Professor S.A. De Smith says: “[D]iscretionary powers are frequently coupled with duties…he (the minister) is under a legal duty to determine the application one way or the other. Again, to the extent that a discretionary power is not absolute, the repository of a discretion is under a legal duty to observe certain requirements that condition the way the discretion may be exercised” . This statement has support in the statements of Lord Reid who once said : “Parliament must have conferred the discretion with the intention that it should be used to promote the policy and objects of the act…these are to be determined by the construing of the act as a whole and the minister is not allowed to exercise his discretion in a way that would “thwart or run counter to the policy and objects of the act”; and those of Lord Pearce: “It was for the Minister to use his discretion to promote Parliament's intention.”

Section 133 C.3 also uses the word “may” as the key to the Minister’s discretion, implying that the discretion is permissive and not imperative, although in certain circumstances, as arguably in this high profile social impact case, the discretion could be taken as imposing a duty to act. It is also arguable that the word “may” in the context of the Mr. Djokovic case could also mean “it shall be lawful” in which case the discretion of the minister would be construed as a duty coupled with  power.  In Julius v. Bishop of Oxford Lord Cairns said: ‘But there may be something in the nature of the thing empowered to be done, something in the object for which it is to be done, something in the conditions under which it is to be done, something in the title of the person or persons for whose benefit the power is to be exercised, which may couple the power with a duty, and make it the duty of the person on whom the power is reposed, to exercise that power when called upon to do so”.

One could also glean from a 19th century Australian case concerning the right of a Chinese alien to enter the Colony of Victoria after arriving on a ship,  and which was denied  by the customs authorities, where the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council held that it had no jurisdiction to render an opinion or judgment without having sufficient knowledge of the national nuances applicable to the case.

For purposes of argumentation, and academic inquiry, one could discuss ministerial discretion influenced by preconceived notions, particularly in the context of the fact that the immigration minister in the Mr. Djokovic case had anticipated a surge of anti-vaccination sentiment in Australia, had Mr. Djokovic been allowed to remain and compete in the tournament.  In this context it is relevant to note the argument of Mr. Djokovic’s lawyers - that deporting Mr. Djokovic could also have sparked protests that could be detrimental to public interest. In the celebrated Stevenage case  where the plaintiff questioned the decision of the Minister of Town and Country Planning to designate lands under the New Towns Act of 1946 as an area to be developed as a new town, on the basis that the Minister thought, based on a report received, that   it would be beneficial to the national interest, the court held that such a decision should be made consequent upon diligent consultations with key stakeholders and unbiased  decisions reached after meticulous consideration.  

 The Court further held that “[T]he minister’s decision-making function was not of a judicial or quasi-judicial character: the purpose of the report was to provide him with information, and the only question was whether he had genuinely considered the report and the objections when they were submitted to him. There is no universal rule requiring that decision-makers must possess the independence and impartiality required of a court or tribunal: it is necessary to take account of the constitutional position of the decision-maker, and of the nature of the decision”.

The issue is now concluded, and Mr. Djokovic is back in his home State.  To the question as to  whether the Minister could have chosen not to exercise his authority under the Migration Act, It could be argued that if a person is entrusted with certain powers and duties  by the Legislature, explicitly or impliedly for public purposes, that person cannot divest himself of such powers and duties.  That would be a dereliction of office.

Of course, it could also be argued that the Minister could have chosen not to exercise his discretion and let Mr. Djokovic stay.  This is the beauty of the law.

Have we lost sight of love and marriage?

Both husband and wife in this case,can revamp each of their identities. It is well worth all the pain, struggle and suffering in a marriage, as whatever will be seen in this relationship could swell like a crest of a wave of both love and marriage.

by Victor Cherubim 

“Nothing murders love faster than marriage. The secret of happiness is to keep loving as long as it remains and then move on, instead of getting into jail called Marriage,” said Indian Film Director/Producer, Ram Gopal Varma, RGV,known predominantly in Telegu and Hindi Film industry, in a recent Zoomin Tweet. 

Is it any surprise to us mortals, that Film Stars all over the world, have a party time and change their married partners, like changing pants, or changing weather? 

The above Tweet came after India’s Film Stars, Danush and AishwaryaaRajinkanth announced their separation after 18 years of marriage and have two sons –Yatra and Ling.

According to Hindustan Times “Star divorces are good trend setters to warn young people about the dangers of marriage.”  RGV made his point by advocating: “Smart people love, and dumb marry?” 

If this was the truth and nothing but the truth, the world population would have reduced or controlled in size eons ago. People now would not have COVID-19 as excuse for the cull in population stats, 

Crafted Marriage

Let us at the same not underestimate the importance of a well-crafted union in marriage. Say, why is it that many Indians and perhaps, others cast what is called “porutham,” or astrological compatibility charts, drawn up of couples by Astrologists, in advance of marriage? We know that this is a very lucrative trade,for not only the rich but also, the less well to do. It is an absolute requirement, better than a COVID Passport, for a girl’s parents to surrender the daughter’sBirth Data, for scrutiny, as if it was a formal ritual, even in this Digital Age.

If that is the case, many would like to know in England, whether Rishi Sunak, 41 years, would become the next Prime Minister of Britain,as his wife Akshata, the multimillionaire in her own right, daughter of Narayan Murthy, 71, co-founder of Infosys and Indian (Bangalore Billionaire) referred often as the “Steve Jobs of India”. Should we know or would the Bookmakers assess the odds on whether it was a love marriage at Stanford University, USA in August 2009 or an arranged marriage “according to the stars”.

Both husband and wife in this case,can revamp each of their identities. It is well worth all the pain, struggle and suffering in a marriage, as whatever will be seen in this relationship could swell like a crest of a wave of both love and marriage.

Of course, Rishi Sunak was born at Southampton, Hants in UK, and so is British, but it will be a great honour to India, to have both the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the next President of the United States, both of Indian parentage. With no disrespect to either, could it be in the stars, for the Golden Age of India as predicted in years ahead?

Virtual Connections are near over

Virtual connections which were a way of life in Britain and around the world over two years, may also usher in a New Age for Britain in the months ahead.

The sudden abatementof hospital admissions being witnessed over the last weeks of the COVID 19 variant, Omicron in Britain, is indeed a great relief. State Governments are ready within days, to release social distancing and isolation rules and restrictions for the benefit of both, nationals as well as tourists. 

Family holidays, and marriages delayed are being planned once again. Whether you are looking for partnerships at the Gym, or at the beach, a joint idea of relationships is being prepared?

Sentiments and romance kept on hold will be in sight soon for many young people. Will 

we see a “Baby Boom”like the Millennials, is not clear as yet?

The expectation is, it will make relationships in marriage suddenly “free wired” with promise. No matter how hard we tried to console ourselves during the agony days of the pandemic, could or may be considered a passing cloud. 

Humanity hardly changes?

Humans cannot seem to learn lessons from history. Life goes on, Omicron or no other variant in sight. The only striking similarity of COVID 19 and the three major pandemics: the Black Death of 1347, the Smallpox outbreak of 1520 and the 1918 Spanish Flu over the course of some 700 years, is the disease duration, transmissibility and containment strategy through vaccination as well as disruption of life worldwide. Unlike the present pandemic, past pandemics were largely uncontrolled and unexplained, attributed as “Acts of God”. 

The scientific advancement of mitigation Vaccination during COVID-19 is largelythe result of modern technology. No doubt, marriages and population “explosion” got controlled, rather delayed. 

Humans by nature want to marry and procreate. No one, or no government can stop love and marriage. As the lyric coupling states: “it is like a horse and carriage.” Of course, we wish to preserve our individuality in our togetherness.

As Philosophers and Thinkers would state: “To understand Man and his World and to understand Love and Marriage, we need to first understand ourselves”.

Dr. Prasantha Jayamanna appointed new SLPA chairman

Veteran entrepreneur Dr. Prasantha Jayamanna has been appointed as the new Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).

The appointment was made by Ports and Shipping Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena, the lawmaker’s media secretary stated. Dr. Jayamanna has also served as the Vice-Chairman of SLPA.

Goodbye Neela

Visharada Neela Wickremasinghe’s  heavenly voice signals total decorated artistry passes away at the age of 71 after a week of assuming duties as the Consulate General Sri Lanka in Milan

by Sunil Thenabadu 

Visharada Neela Wickremasinghe’s voice  bears a signature Sri Lankan female voice, at the same time, possessing the attributes of a versatile South Asian singer, has been employed with facility in songs which music motifs were derived from diverse traits of music in equally diverse musical traditions. 

Throughout her trailblazing career, Neela preserves her signature Sri Lankan female voice, particularly when she sings songs with Western melodies. At such times, she is extraordinary in her ability not to be influenced by Western, Hindustani or folk music motifs.  she wanted to be faithful to the expectation of the song and to exploit to the peak the sentimental and emotive properties of the melody, thereby, generating zest and sound perceptions in the minds of listeners. Neela had sung duets with legendary WD Amaradeva, Dr Victor Ratnayake,Milton Mallawarachchi , Somathilaka Jayamaha,Kamal Addaraarachchi, Kapila Herath , Amal Perera etc.

The power on the part of a singer to create sound perceptions in the minds of listeners is a rare attribute which most singers lack although they have been trained in the North Indian classical music. She is at best, in adapting semitones in folk songs, thus, converting them into folk music with refined notes. 

 The unique tendency in her voice is amply manifested in her repertoire of songs regardless of their sources of music; Western, Hindustani classical music or traditional folk music. A significant feature of Neela’s career in the field of music is that she entered the field following her studies and training in North Indian classical music unlike most other singers had either studied North Indian classical music after the commencement of their careers or while in the field as singers. 

Neela’s commencement of her career as a singer can be traced back to the days when the SLBC’s Music Research Unit under C.de S Kulatilake who produced a series of programs on Sinhala folk music. Neela contributed immensely to the research programs on Sinhala folk music and programs such as ‘Meyasiya’. She rendered her voice to the song ‘Dethata Walalu’ , a song based on Sinhala folk music, was a juncture in her career. 

C. de S Kulathilake wrote the lyrics of the song and composed the music for it. In addition to becoming an instant hit, the song Dethata Walalu’ established Neela’s signature as a unequalled Sri Lankan female voice. 

Significantly, she has applied refined notes that she had mastered in North Indian classical music, for research on Sinhala folk music. One may argue whether it is possible to reproduce the original form of Sinhala folk songs in terms of refined notes of North Indian music. The original Sinhala folk music motifs are in the notes outside the traditional keyboard. 

Following the success of the folk song , Neela had the opportunity of rendering her voice to many songs and creations at the hands of different directors of music. Significantly, she applied her voice to the popular song’s structure without ever being influenced by folk motifs with which she commenced her career. 

The popular song’s structure is a marked deviation from folk music and is altogether on a diverse ground. Comparing the songs ‘Suusetabaranin Saraseela’, ‘Daskon Saki Sanda’ which she sang with W.D Ameradeva, ‘Parameedam puramu Api dedena’ are altogether contrasting songs. In ‘Parameedam Puramu Api Denna’, Neela aptly adapts her knowledge of North Indian classical music to suit the melody form. 

In this instance, she deviates from folk music initially trained under C. de S Kulatilake. When rendering her voice to songs such as Master Sir, for which Nimal Mendis composed music, Neela  deviates from all three music motifs; folk music, North Indian Classical music and popular song’s constitution. Neela retains her signature by being loyal to the expectation of the song. 

According to musicology, generating zest would lead to the generation of psycho acoustic consequence on the minds of the listener. For instance, popular songs may generate gusto but they may not create sound perceptions in mind. 

Neela’s songs have the properties of generating zests and also generating sound perceptions in the minds of the listeners. She achieves this by intrinsic properties of her gifted voice and her ability to apply her knowledge of music in the practical context. It is a truth that there are many singers who have studied North Indian classical music but fail to sing so as to generate sound perceptions in the minds of the listeners.

Voice depth and  voice colour vary from one singer to another. Although almost all singers may have individual voices and voice colour, there are only a few of them whose voice depthcum voice colours are exceptional in terms of musicology. Neela  has one such trained withher erudite voice with an incomparable voice colour. 

A distinguishing attribute of her voice colour is her ability to sing direct notes with some acquired from Sri Lankan traditional folk music. Though her voice bears a typical Sri Lankan female voice, it has been trained in the Hindustani classical music tradition and she is quite at home with Sri Lankan folk traditions, Hindustani and Western music traditions. 

The folk motifs in her voice are manifested in some songs such as ‘Suuseta Baranin Saraseela’. She bears the same tonality in songs such as ‘Master Sir’, ‘Apa Hamunovena Hemanthe’, ‘Viyo Gee Gayena hade’, though their melodies are based on Western music. Neela maintains her unique Sri Lankan female voice while sticking to their Western music melodies.

Although Neela’s voice colour may seem to be almost equal to that of Sujatha Attanayake for a fan, the two voices are distinctly different from oneanother. She possess the ability to apply North Indian Classical music techniques like Gamak, Than, Meend, and singing styles such as Khayal, Dhrupad, Tharana and Dhamar. One of the factors that Neela’s voice becomes unique is that she had sharpened her voice and implanted herself in the then Radio Ceylon by singing experimental songs under the guidance of ‘guru’ C. de S Kulatilake who experimented with Sri Lankan folk music and principally derived his music motifs from folk tradition of music. Songs such as ‘Dathata Walalu’ and ‘Badde Vatata’ were creations based on folk tradition of music. Neela’s voice was the most suited for songs based on folk music. 

In the song ‘Daskon Saki Sanda’,’Ikman Gamanin’, Neela’s voice evokes the legend behind the songs. Though she is well trained in Hindustani classical music and sang classical as well as semi classical songs, her stress seems to be on keeping the sweet tonality of her voice rather than the application of some of the techniques in singing. 

For instance, the tonality of her voice can be seen in some of the songs such as in the duet ‘Harimi Rajasapa’ which she sang with maestro Dr. W.D Ameradeva. In every melody, Neela endeavors to bring about a soothing effect by using her voice colour. This is the noteworthy feature in her singing. 

Neela’s muscular point is that she uses her flexibility of voice in measuring up the emotional and sentimental value of the melody. She uses her Sinhalese voice even in the upper ranges and maintains her voice colour in songs with Western music compositions.A prominent trait of her singing is ‘enunciation’ that is pronunciation of words in the lyrics. she derives emotive properties out of the words, which is a unique characteristic that is part and parcel of her musical personality. 

Neela’s qualitative type of her voice is inimitable in the sense that it has the outstanding properties of a trained Indian singer with a signature of a Sri Lankan female voice. This identity is apparent due to the commencement of her career was with folk music. 

Apart from her talents, one of the significant characteristics of her career is that she had not shirked her responsibilities as a teacher of music despite her position as a professional singer.She had been a music teacher for twenty three years, the music teacher at Visaka Vidyalaya for eight years before she concentrated on her signing. She had never exploited her position to neglect her official responsibilities and duties as a teacher of music. She had also not exploited or abused either her popularity or fame to enjoy undue privileges to neglect her duties and cover up them with political protection. 

Although it is not directly linked to her musical personality, it should be stated that Neela  revealed her physical disability as a victim of Poliomyelitis or Polio and appeared for an advertisements for the prevention of polio free of charge. 

Given the fact that she is a popular figure and a bold woman, it is, indeed, rare that such gestures of goodwill and a great sacrifice on her part. Neela is a fierce critic for injustices perpetrated by a section of practitioners in the field of music even at personal cost and expresses her persuasion without fear or favour. About a decade ago an article was published in a popular Sunday tabloid edition inserted by a popular vocalist that ‘ Master Sir does not belong to Neela”.The following week itself she had defended herself by replying to the article confirming she had also sung the song ‘Master Sir’ song in addition to Neviille Fernando for the film “Kalu Diya Dahara”.Her song had gone a bit unnoticed as it was at the  tail end of the film.

It is a well-known fact that those who are in the field of music or arts have media ‘gangs’ (Madhya Nade) either to prop up their images by even highly talented artistes  to cover up their inabilities. Neela in contrast  has never tried to get cover up via such shameful media gangs. It is because she does not have anyfrontage of any inability to cover up. 

She ,the singing “nightingale” had inherited her musical instincts from her parents.Neela had sung as a play back singer in more than seventy films,She was a super grade artiste at the SLBC for over forty five years as a light and classical music vocalist since her talent was identified in year 1955 in “Amateur Voice”.From her younger days there had been no life barring singing.She was initially adjudicated as the winner in a singing competition during a New Year festival season.Since then she had never looked back having won all singing competitions she took part in.While schooling at Piliyandala MMV competitors of other schools were awfully scared of Neela who as a solo singer was very hard to conquer.Neela had won the plum in an all island solo singing competition in classical music.In response to a newspaper advertisement she had become first among 555 contestants in a test held at the Sarasaviya studio,Kelaniya in year 1966.She was hailed as a “Vocal Actress” as she possessed a pleasing personality  with a charming smile on stage while performing.She has had several mentors including Premadasa Mudunkotuwa with who’s guidance she had passed the “Sangeeth Visharada” degree in year 1974.Even to date Neela always remember them with utmost gratitude.

Propaganda Against Sikhs

BJP has been desperately trying to create a bogey of Khalistan for the last one year, and by implication alienating the Sikh community. 

by Tanvir Ur Rehman

Sikhs face a harsh combination of political, religious, economic, and social persecution in India. Anti-Sikh sentiments and Hindu nationalism have been part of the landscape for decades, yet, as USCIRF recently observed, conditions have deteriorated in recent years. Sikhs, like other religious minorities in India, now “face challenges ranging from acts of violence or intimidation, to the loss of political power, increasing feelings of disenfranchisement, and limits on access to education, housing, and employment.”

Sikhs have history of purge/ subjugation in India & have never been trusted after 1984, when thousands of Sikhs were burnt to death, their properties were looted and their women had been raped by Hindus. 8 days long Operation Blue Star (OBS) still haunts Sikh community.

OBS was an official beginning of a systematic purge of the Sikhs community in India. Over 100,000 Sikhs (mostly youth) were killed in the next four years (till 1988) while over 25,000 victims were left crippled for the whole of their lives. Over 20,000 Sikh families migrated out of India (mostly in Canada, USA and UK) after this event as they felt India does not own them and they were alien in their land.

One of the most important events related to OBS is “Mutiny of 9th battalion of the Sikh Regiment” that started from Bihar and spread as far as Rajasthan and over 2600 Sikh soldiers were killed by Indian Police and Army; their bodies were not handed over to their relatives. Sikh Soldiers are under constant surveillance in the Indian Air Force, Army, and Indian Navy for years to come after this incident. Sikh community strongly believes that assassination of PM Indira Gandhi after OBS was planned to provide a justification to purge the Sikh community all over India.

In 2020, this persecution was most visible in the crackdown against Sikh farmers who protested the government’s policy of agricultural deregulation. State-sponsored media distorted economic & social struggle attached to the bills, labeling Sikh farmers “terrorists” and spreading false narratives about Sikhs in India and abroad. Winning over Farm laws has actually created unseen problems for Sikh community. Having failed to pacify farmers’ protests, despite use of excessive force, the BJP government was forced to repeal controversial farm laws. The repealing of laws seriously affected ‘invincibility’ of PM Modi thus increasing challenges for BJP.

BJP’s submission to farmers has not been liked by Sanghis. Therefore, they are using extra-constitutional means to cause sacrilege of their sacred religious places to hurt the sentiment of Sikhs. BJP considers Sikhs as main proponent of their failure, hence Sikhs are facing wrath of BJP which is likely to intensify until they are marginalized. Reputational hurt to PM Modi due to protracted farmers’ movement is non- digestible, hence Modi will take revenge using multi-pronged strategy to politically engineer elections, discredit Sikhs in information domain, use judicial lever for forging cases against prominent Sikhs and farmer’s movement leaders. On the pretext of Khalistan separatism, Modi is planning to use security forces to break the will of those having dissenting views with the center.

He is also mobilizing Godi Media for the political advantage of BJP. Concerted political efforts and a TV media campaign is launched to name, shame, blame and demonize the entire Sikh community, holding it responsible for allegedly targeting the PM. Neo-nationalist members/ supporters of BJP launched vicious no–holds–barred campaign labelling entire Sikh community as “Khalistani terrorists” and threatening a repeat of the 1984 riots. Not only veiled handles on Twitter have been used for posting hate messages against Sikh community, but even genuine Facebook and a few verified Twitter accounts were also actively participating.

The breach of PM’s security created an opportunity for BJP that could not be missed; a new political theme — Khalistani plot to target a strong PM — has been created for the upcoming elections. While knowing clear defeat in Punjab assembly polls, BJP has also requested the Election Commission to postpone the date of Punjab elections. BJP is trying to mess up the law and order situation in Punjab to delay state elections because political turmoil in Punjab will give BJP time to manipulate / forge alliances, thereby undermining farmers and Sikhs.

BJP’s highhandedness would not restrict to Punjab; it will target Sikh’s diaspora abroad. Modi is also trying to influence foreign governments against prominent NGOs working for the cause of Sikhs and minorities. Indian Intelligence agencies also desire to create fear in minds of Sikhs inland & abroad to suppress their voices on Human Rights & Khalistan issue. The Indian government is trying to create chaos in Punjab to marginalize Sikhs; creating space for their Hindutva policies. Sikh youth is of the view that the repealing of farm laws was an eyewash for electoral gains. Sikhs understand the intent of the Modi government and the Hindutva mindset.

BJP has been desperately trying to create a bogey of Khalistan for the last one year, and by implication alienating the Sikh community. BJP govt made an attempt to connect Sikh Community at large with security lapses of Modi in Punjab. Sikh community should remain vigilant to the evil designs of Modi and RSS as they are trying to build traps around them.