Archive for the ‘Watch Out’ Category

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Lord of the Nation

In Political Essays,Watch Out on December 27, 2010 by azybazy Tagged: , ,

I am going to play the role of the Devil’s advocate so I am going to start off with a ‘bang’ by scandalizing chapter 7 and 8 of the Sri Lankan constitution that deals with the Executive President – the Lord of the nation. I say the president is the lord of the nation because frankly,he is the be all and the end all in a practical sense. Let me get to the facts that I feel are significant to unravel the supreme powers of the lord of Sri Lanka.

Clause 43 (2) in Chapter 8 of the Sri Lankan constitution states that “The President shall be a member of the Cabinet of Ministers, and shall be the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers”. Ahem ahem – This clause seems to be rather fishy to me, I can almost sense the stench! Due to the ‘fishiness’ of this clause the present president of the nation enjoys the priviledge of also being the Minister of Highways , Defence, Ports Authority and Aviation, and Finance and planning. I believe I do not need to explain the importance of these ministries in forming and implementing social policies on a developing nation now don’t I?

I personally feel that this clause needs to be eradicated from the constitution as it invests too much of power on the executive and provides a platform to be the soul decision maker of social,political and economic strategies of the nation! That is ceratinly a scary thought for a nation that defines itself as a democracy.

Furthermore, as  a result of the immense involvement of the president in key areas of the social system in the nation, the legislative and other authorities do not have the discretion or power to question the initiatives of the president due to the total immunity that he enjoys within his presidental term – which introduces the second major flaw in the constitution!

Clause (60) in chapter 7 mentions tha fact that “Any proceedings of whatever nature shall not be instituted on any grounds whatsoever or continued against the President in any court, tribunal or institution in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by the President in the official capacity of the President”. Yes, this is exactly what I was talking about – immense concentration of privileges to the executive so much so that he is above the law. Consequently, this clause in the constitution leads to corruption and fraud within the political system which in effect impinge on the functioning of a just social system if the president does not have genuine patriotic and selfless concerns. Point to ponder – don’t you think? Lets face it – what is the probability of finding selfless and flawless politicians?

Additionally, I also have a problem with clause (58) in chapter 7 with particular reference to the following. Firstly, (d) to appoint the Prime Minister, other Ministers of the Cabinet of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Governors of Regions .Secondly,(e) to receive and recognize, appoint and accredit, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Plenipotentiaries and other diplomatic agents. The main issue I have with these clauses is the fact that ‘checks and balances’ have taken a ride to far far away land as Shrek would put it! In this sense I really admire the constitution of the US as it requires the approval of the senate even when the ambassadors and diplomatic agents are appointed by the president. This way the president cannot be biased and recruit his ‘homies’ and ‘machangs’!

Therefore, in conclusion my main issue with the chapters that deal with the Executive Presidency in the Sri Lankan constitution is the fact that it lacks checks and balances with the other branches of legislature and judiciary which in effect makes the executive president the supreme lord of the nation. This is certainly a threat to the principles of democracy.

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Met Share Museum’s American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity.

In Watch Out on December 26, 2010 by azybazy

I chose to write on this particular topic because I felt that I needed to acknowledge the hardwork put into creating this section at the Metshare Mueseum in New York. I was amazed by the detail and elegance and therefore I thought that it would be insightful for everyone to have a look at this historical work of art. The aim of this essay is to critically asses the piece of exhibition review on “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity” at the Met share Mueseum.Firstly, this piece shall discuss the comprehensive nature of this review. Secondly, it shall discuss its credibility in highlighting the critical factor that determines the emancipation of women creatively. Thirdly, this post shall discuss the exclusive nature of the American Woman’s identity and it shall further discuss the consequences of this portrayal.

Firstly, it is evident that this piece of exhibition review is very comprehensive as it highlights the important factors the audience need to know about the exhibition. The fact that it mentions ‘It explores developing perceptions of the modern American woman from 1890 to 1940’ effectively addresses the queries of the audience as to what the aim of this exhibition is going to be. Furthermore, the examples of the Gibson Girls,” “Bohemians,” and “Screen Sirens,” also provide a better understanding about this particular time period for those who are not aware about the historical context. In that sense, this piece of review is rather efficient in conveying its features in a concise and clear manner.

Secondly, this piece of review is perceptive as it highlights the main tool that is used to differentiate the diverse types of national identites of the American woman. The line ‘Focusing on archetypes of American femininity through dress’ is very significant as it prepares the audience to focus on the different styles of dressing within the exhibition to understand the varying values and convention of the times for the identity of an American woman. Therefore, this review is effective in informing the audience what to analyze before they visit the place for a comprehensive understanding of national identities for American women.

Although the examples of the “Gibson Girls,” “Bohemians,” and “Screen Sirens,” provide a comprehensive picture of the type of identities it shall discuss, it has the potential to disgust and discriminate the American women of the African descent as they are not included in this discussion about forming a national identity. This is because the above examples reflect the ideals for women of the European decent rather than the African. Consequently, this  makes the Metshare Museum appear rather racial and exclusive as they do not make an attempt to include the African American women who were greatly marginalized during the historical period they explore. The consequences of this can be rather damaging as it creates an inferior status to African American women. This is rather paradoxical because the aim of this exhibition is to celebrate American women but invariably, it marginalizes a group of women who were citizens of America at that time by negating the value placed on their identity.

In conclusion, it is apparent that this exhibition review has credible factors and drawbacks. Therefore, the draw back, as discussed above, needs to be addressed in order to create a universal national identity for the American woman by incorporating elements that were significant to the women who belonged to the African descent as well.

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To those of you who think an English degree is crap.

In Watch Out on December 26, 2010 by azybazy

I am so sick of listening to one track minded people questioning me as to why I am reading a degree in English Literature and Language when it only discusses novels, drama and poetry!So I dedicate this post to those who really want to know the reasons and also to provide them some form of INSIGHT into the skills that the nature of this subject builds within an individual.

All right then, Firstly let me start by saying that I chose to specialize in English Literature primarily because I found it as a subject that enhances one’s analytical and critical skills. This is because as undergraduates we are made to understand that we are ingrained with ‘discursive knowledge’ or rather knowledge that is learnt through social codes, customs and communities. As a result, we are trained to identify these factors that contribute to one’s actions and unravel the consequences it results in. Due to exercises of this nature students of English Literature are made aware of social prejudices and the types of social constructs that are created merely for the advancement of a hegemonic power structure such as patriarchy, oriental-ism, colonization etc.

For instance if you read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness you will realize that the discourse of oriental-ism has completely influenced the way in which the Africans have been described. You may question me and ask why is that relevant in today’s context? well, it is still relevant because it guides us to the way in which these stereotypes were created and the motives behind these creations. So i believe that through the study of English Literature we are made to question and understand every concept and thought behind every statement to such an extent that we not only learn about the social sciences but also able to develop the skill of critical examination which is vital to any field of study or work. For example, in even in Policy Planning one is expected to posses this skill in order to create fruitful and strategic decisions.

Secondly, students of English Literature are always expected to provide their own meaning to events and actions becuase as Barthes says ‘the author is dead’. This I believe is a really great opportunity for students because it compels them to create their own unique take which invariably trains them to always create a competitive advantage in all their endaveour as they are trained to think ‘out of the box’. So it is pretty evident that the results invented in the  process of creating meaning is indeed a skill that can be transformed to many other fields of study and also work.

Moreover, due to the vast number of themes discussed in written literature students are exposed to not a wide variety of subjects such as history, political science, sociology, psychology, anthropolgy etc. This invariably enhances the so called ‘worldy knowledge ‘ of students. As a result, students of English Literature also have the possibility to get into the humanitarian sector, policy planning committes and also sectors related to international relations. So in that sense I beleive that English Literature widens the scope of a student’s career opportunities due to its diverse nature.

I can go on and on about the beneifts that can be gained as a result of learning English Literature. However, I want to stop now so that I do not sound a bore. Nevertheless,if you have further questions or need more conviction – state it in the comment box. So basically, the point I want to make is that English Literature is a great skill developer. It not only inculcates knowledge, but also facilitates one to enter into any field of his or her choice due to the solid grounding it has created for learning.

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Tips for Forum Theatre Producers

In Watch Out on December 25, 2010 by azybazy

Let me get to the point, the aim of Forum Theatre is to bring about some form of positive change. Its a Marxist tool that can be used to create some form of impact or even awareness. Sadly, the Forum Theatres that have taken place in Colombo in the recent past have not stayed true to the purpose of Augusto Boal in providing a voice for the oppressed.

Firstly, these productions are not marketed heavily to those in authority or even pressure groups that can create change. As a result, fruitful change does not take place. Yes, I do agree that awareness of the issue takes place but not change for crying out loud! I believe that it also helps to invite social workers of this field so that they could share their expertise, highlight the developments and deteriorations in the field and answer concerns and questions of the audience. This indeed would be productive.

Secondly, these productions do not include actors who belong to the community to which the issue is greatly experienced. As a result, the audience does not get the real ‘feel’ of the issue because there are discrepancies in the communication of it. So I suggest that producers should include a cast that is diverse and experienced with the difficulties they are addressing for effective results!

Thirdly, It is also important to make sure that the joker (the facilitator who functions as the guide in the play) to be someone who possesses knowledge and experience! There is no point having someone who can speak fancy English if they are not going to understand the needs of the community.

What I want to stress to the Forum Theatre Producers in Sri Lanka is that they should become activists themselves if they are to reap real benefits from this form of theatre. Also, reading Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed will surely help!