Jubilant plus Intrigued View across the Oceans

Cassandra Cry:


Cassandra, as she sits at her computer ready to word process her comment on the past week, decided definitely to avoid writing about Sri Lanka. She is too confused, lacks competence and is afraid to touch on the behaviour of Sri Lanka in respect of the UNHRC, which is looking at how matters are proceeding in Sri Lanka that was blacklisted for alleged crimes against civilians at the end of the civil war in 2009. There is a team in Geneva augmented by some government sent dpls to speak for Sri Lanka. Now the Prez is said to have sent another team and that raised a minor storm in Parliament. STOP PRESS: On 14 Thursday The Island reported that the Prez was not sending a delegation. That’s typical – blowing hot and cold.

The budget is being torn to pieces, and Cass felt the best was for her to look overseas and she has plenty to comment on.

Pride of Sri Lanka

Yes, Nishi Uggalle has brought fame to Sri Lanka. This ten-year-old girl becomes one of the youngest children in Britain to achieve a top mark of 162 on Channel Four’s Mensa IQ test in 2016. She is smarter than Einstein by two points. Parents said then she was a normal 10-year-old but always knew she was gifted, as reported by the Daily Mail on 2 May 2016.

Dr. Upul Wijayawardhana writing recently about the UK Child Genius Annual Competition, which is open to children from the age of eight to twelve years where they are challenged on spelling, maths, memory, vocabulary, geography and science, said that 12 year old Nishi topped the hundred auditioned, and from the 19 who came for the final cut and reduced to 6. After the first round, the two getting the highest marks went head-to-head on a buzzer round, the first to get ten points being the Child Genius 2019. And that was our Nishi!

"She made the programme ultra-special and won the hearts of everyone who watched by an inspiring acceptance speech. Further, she was different from all the other contestants; whereas all the others were driven by their parents or relations, Nishi was the driving force herself.

"Some of the questions were graduate level and it makes you wonder how these youngsters perform so well… Her father Neelanga Uggalle, who works in IT security, and her mother Shiromi Jayasinghe, who works as an accountant, did their best to support her but were never pushy. They have all the reasons to be very proud of their daughter.

"A super fan of Stephen Hawking, Nishi is interested in black-holes. Dubbed the ‘human calculator’ she had no difficulty with complex mental arithmetic. In 2016, she got the maximum possible 162 marks in the Mensa test, the youngest to do so then. She has an IQ higher than Einstein. Therefore, it was no surprise she cruised to victory getting the required ten points when her rival, eleven-year-old William Harwood, had only five.

"The biggest surprise came at the end of it all. Holding a trophy, half her size, she said: "One of the main reasons I entered myself in the competition was to show that there are a lot of stereotypes about girls not being able to do maths or physics, for example. I’d like to show that that’s not true at all."

So, it’s three cheers and heartiest congratulations and all that to this 12-year-old Sri Lankan girl now domiciled in Manchester, who has brought immense kudos to this island of ours.

My Freedom Day

That is a programme run by CNN with 14 March 2019 designated #My Freedom Day. People were invited to express their views on feeling free or what makes them feel free. From school children to senior citizens people responded to CNN’s invitation. The target of elimination is the slave trade which is still going on with its related trafficking of humans. Slavery, mostly in the sex trade and in narcotics smuggling, is a world phenomenon, with the poor and marginalized from developing countries, the primary victims.

Slavery and trafficking

Is slavery and trafficking prevalent in Sri Lanka? Yes, say those who investigate. Maybe women and girls are trafficked and sent overseas, but within the country the curse continues.

At one time richer homes had little girls and boys as servants; euphemistically named playmates for children of the household and parents of the unfortunate kids promised that their children would be educated and treated as family members. Not so in most cases. Some were tortured by wicked, even psychotic housewives; some were sexually abused. The curse of child servants has been greatly reduced and even, one could say, eliminated.

Children were also induced into sex like beach boys. Others were in slave camps as in dry fish wadiyas also used as couriers for drug transport and distribution. But the implementation of ILO convention against hazardous labour for children has had a substantial effect and benefit.

Trafficking goes on with young girls being tricked with promises of employment and finding themselves eventually in brothels and detained forcefully. We have organizations and of course the police vigilant on such crimes. But why is an organization like WIN for battered women so sought after by women? Some come to the organization to escape violent husbands, but some surely are those who have escaped traffickers and run away from being slaves in brothels mostly.

Poverty drives such crimes; poverty causes innocents to fall victim to trafficking and then slavery. The government and the President himself are loud and clear on the elimination of poverty in the land. Let us hope that at least the violent, criminal offshoots of poverty such as the sex trade, slavery and trafficking will be erased off the face of this beautiful land of ours.

Here in Sri Lanka we have kids with great intelligence or artistic skills who are in remote villages or whose parents are poor. May the new education policies to be implemented help such disadvantaged kids to come into their own and shine even half as Nishi Uggalle did!

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