The Book Shelf
Reviewed by Anushka Kahandagamage
Harshana Rambukwella, The Politics and Poetics of Authenticity: A Cultural Genealogy of Sinhala Nationalism, 2018. 178 pages, London: UCL Press. ISBN: 978-1-78735-128-8. Open Access book: https://www.uclpress.co.uk/products/95138
The over-use of the concept, ‘Sinhala nationalism’ has made it a tedious and an outdated analytical tool in Sri Lankan scholarship. Many scholars have made Sinhala nationalism ‘the reason’ of conflict and war, making it a dead-end socio-political analysis. Rambukwella’s book finds its roots in the rupture of the existing scholarship where nationalism is seen as the endpoint in understanding Sri Lankan politics. Pushing the boundaries of analysis beyond the surface of prevailing scholarship, Rambukwella deconstructs the idea of nationalism, rather than understanding it as ‘given’ or ‘universal’. The study explores these concepts with fluidity and points out the danger of using them in a ‘given-universal’ form. The author comes out from the comfort zone of what is ‘given’ or deemed inevitable. Efforts have been made to separate ‘nationalism as a category of action’ and ‘nationalism as a category of analysis’. The study is engrossed in understanding nationalists’ conduct within ‘nationalism’ and how they produce and reproduce nationalism than to understand what nationalism is.
Nationalism often seeks to associate with ideas of ‘authenticity’. The study links the concept of ‘authenticity’ with the Sinhala word ‘apēkama‘, which can be loosely translated as ‘ourness’. The author historicises the notion of ‘apēkama’ by guiding the reader to navigate through different times, spaces and phases. As per his explanation and analysis, the notion ‘apēkama‘ is not a personal, idiosyncratic belief, but a discourse which reproduces and transmits from generation to generation.
In his journey towards grappling with nationality and nationalism, the author analyses the similarities and differences between writers like Ernest Gellner and Benedict Anderson. For Gellner, ‘nationalism’ emerges from transforming society from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy. In that case, mass education, literacy, and bureaucracy are considered as preconditions of nationalism. The nation-state is built upon and energized upon nationalism. Anderson approaches the phenomena differently, explaining how mass circulation of print media such as novels and newspapers enables a community to imagine itself as a homogenous group regardless of their differences and diversities. In this new milieu, ‘time’ escapes from the religious frame and locates itself in a more secular frame. In this context, ‘time’ is defined by the clock or the calendar, which Anderson understands as ’empty homogenous time’. The ‘nation’ imagines itself as a homogenous entity occupied by connected individuals who share the same time-frame. While Gellner projects the institutional nature of nationalism, Anderson sees nationalism both as institutional and cultural. Post-colonial knowledge production forecast nationalism in a different theoretical frame with attempts of decolonization. However, these attempts to decolonize the knowledge of nationalism barely escape from the trap of generating an ‘authentic past’. As Rambukwella correctly proposes in his book, nationalists and post-colonial scholars hardly escape from the geopolitical duality between East and West. Within this kind of discursive framework, the book explores the politics of Sinhala cultural and political authenticity which emerged in the colonial period and evolved into a hegemonic force during the post-colonial era. The book critically offers a sense of Sri Lankan political history at a glance.
Adhering to the above theoretical framework, the author explores three thinkers who appeared in colonial and post-colonial contexts: Anagarika Dharmapala; S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and Gunadasa Amarasekare. The author locates the first two thinkers in a broader socio-economic and political sphere where they continually crisscross across the nation-state’s boundaries. The third thinker, Gunadasa Amarasekara is occasionally used as a tool of analysis for the first two thinkers. As indicated in the book’s title, the ‘poetics’ is used as an analytical tool through Gunadasa Amarasekara’s writings.
The use of ‘poetics’ as an analytical tool gives a sense of novelty and a different colour to the study. Instead of orthodox analytical approaches, using ‘poetics’ marks a more nuanced approach to studying, analysing, and exploring Sri Lankan socio-political scenarios. The study finds its own analytical tools that challenge the more mechanistic conventional methods, which often sacrifice the research content to maintain an ostensible sense of ‘scientificity’.
The book consists of six chapters. The first chapter discusses the problem of authenticity while ploughing into the broader theoretical field within which this discussion can be sensibly located. The second chapter is devoted to understanding the continually changing nature of ‘authenticity’ concerning forces such as Buddhism, nation and history and explores the socio-historical changes which shaped Sinhala nationalism and authenticity in the 19th and 20th centuries. The third chapter is assigned to investigate the impact of global and local ‘realities’ in creating Anagarika Dharmapala’s character, thoughts, and activism. The next chapter discusses S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, a father-figure in the Sinhala nationalist narrative, even though he also posited a paradox in the scheme of nationalism due to his elite and anglicised upbringing. Gunadasa Amarasekara becomes the focus of the fifth chapter, where the author discusses the role of Amarasekara in constructing ‘authenticity’ as a political ideology. The final chapter is devoted to understanding how the discourse of authenticity gave birth to post-colonial nationalist and cultural politics.
Rambukwella’s book presents a novel reading of Sri Lankan scholarship on nationalism. Further, it provides an excellent synopsis of society’s socio-political and economic evolution to readers interested in understanding colonial and post-colonial Sri Lanka in the 19th and 20th centuries. Simultaneously, the book is also a reference point and guide to local and global scholarship that have attempted to read various aspects of nationalism.
Anushka Kahandagamage (firstname.lastname@example.org) is reading for her PhD in Sociology at the South Asian University, New Delhi
Despicable way of impregnating cows
Artificial insemination (AI) of cattle is widely practiced in countries with intensive cattle production. In 2017, the National Dairy Plan of this government aimed at artificial insemination for 35% of all fertile animals. The number of inseminations is up from 20 million to 69.29 million.
There are two reasons for the government to adopt this distasteful practice: to get more female cattle pregnant from the small amount of sperm that a single cow would take in if mated naturally with a bull, and to maintain control over the sanitary and health conditions.
While the first object has partially succeeded (in quantity, not in quality: the inseminated cows are weaker and sicker in every generation), the second objective has been a health disaster.
For two reasons:
The semen is not checked thoroughly for genetic or communicable diseases. In fact, I am told that none of the centres even have the necessary scientific equipment to check the semen and, since there is constant pressure to increase the semen output, all the international norms are taken very casually. Bulls that are kept in AI centres should be checked for diseases before being taken, and then regularly. They should be kept in low stress, pleasant and healthy conditions. The truth is that the bulls are sick, underfed, never exercised and very rarely checked for disease. One infected bull can spread disease to thousands of cows via his artificially ejaculated semen. This diseased semen can either cause an abortion in the inseminated cow, or it can result in the foetus being infected.
Certain diseases have become endemic in the cattle population in India: for instance, the spread of tuberculosis has been linked to brucellosis in milk cattle which comes through the semen. Studies done all over the world – even in countries where cleanliness is adhered to – have shown the spread of diseases through AI. In 2020 the American Association for the Advancement of Science in New Scientist (https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/04/deadly-livestock-disease-may-have-spread-through-infected-bull-semen) reported that Blue Tongue disease, in which cattle get fever, swelling of the lips and gums, difficulty in swallowing and a swollen purple coloured tongue and which has a mortality that can go up to 90%, may have been caused by infected cattle semen. In 2006, an outbreak of Bluetongue diseases began in the Netherlands. It spread to 16 countries and cost billions of euros before a vaccination effort brought it to an end in 2010. In 2015, the disease re-emerged in France and this outbreak is still ongoing. To work out the source of the infection, scientists at the University of Glasgow analysed the genetic sequences of 150 samples of the virus from both outbreaks. Researchers wrote in PLOS Biology that the genome of the virus is remarkably similar to samples from the previous epidemic, and would have come through using infected cattle semen, kept in a freezer for years.
The World Animal Health Organization has listed several diseases as having proven importance in transmission through semen. 1. Foot and mouth disease. 2. Vesicular Stomatitis. 3. Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR). 4. Bovine Virus Diarrhoea (BVD). 5. Papillomatosis. 6. Leptospirosis. 7. Tuberculosis. 8. Paratuberculosis. 9. Mycoplasma. 10. Anaplasmosis. 11. Brucellosis. 12. Campylobacteriosis. 13. Trichomoniasis.
One hundred and thirty-eight bulls, of the Central AI Laboratory, Savar, Dhaka, were screened for the presence of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis in 2004. Thirty eight of 138 bulls (27.5%) were positive reactors to the tuberculin test and 1 (0.7%) bull was positive for brucellosis. The scientists said that the prevalence of tuberculosis was four times higher in bulls that were used to extract semen than normal bulls. Tuberculosis and brucellosis are not only detrimental to dairy production, but also a threat to human health. Tuberculosis is endemic in most livestock farms in South Asian countries.
Scientists say bovine brucellosis, spread by the bacterium Brucella abortus, is the best known and most controversial infection of the AI bovine reproductive system. The bacterium has an affinity for the uterus and abortion is the usual sign of the disease. However, other symptoms, like reduced milk production and reduced weight, are often seen. Infected cows seldom abort more than once, but calves born from later pregnancies will be weak and unhealthy. Such cows will probably continue to harbour and discharge infectious organisms, and have reduced conception rates.
In bulls the most obvious clinical sign of this disease is epididymitis or infections of the scrotum. According to the premier veterinary MSD Manual, bulls in breeding centres have a persistent inflammation of their vesicular glands, which are duct glands that add nutrients and fluid to the seminal fluid as it passes from the body. The fluid becomes putrid and contaminates the semen at AI centres. The reported incidence of vesiculitis, in the general population of bulls, is 1%–10% but can go upto 49% in bulls housed in groups. The inseminated cow will receive the most dangerous bacteria in her uterus : Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Streptococcus spp., Staphylococcus spp. ,Proteus spp., Escherichia coli, Mycoplasma bovis, M. bovigenitalium. The AI centres rarely check for this, as there are no external clinical signs. The bull may stand with his back arched and have pain on defecation, or rectal examination, and show a great deal of hesitation when made to mount. But these are not signs that the doctors pay attention to.
Another dangerous disease, that can be spread by AI, is Leptospirosis, which is a contagious, bacterial disease of animals and humans. Its signs in cattle range from mild, unapparent infections to ones that end in death. High abortion rates have been observed, bloody urine in bulls and blood-tinged milk in lactating cows. Leptospirosis is an important zoonotic disease and can lead to septicaemia, hepatitis, nephritis, abortion, stillbirth, infertility. The germs survive in the semen at freezing and cryoconservation temperatures (Eaglesome and GarcÌa, 1997).
Bovine herpesvirus-1 (BHV-1) is usually undetected in most clinical tests. BHV-1 causes genital, respiratory and neurological diseases in cattle populations world-wide. Infected animals lose their immunity and are more susceptible to secondary bacterial infections. BHV-1 may also cause conjunctivitis, reproductive disorders and neonatal mortality (Straub; 1990, Takiuchi et al., 2005). Vaccination has little effect. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can identify BHV-1 contaminated semen within one day, but it is not done in India. Even vaccinations are rare.
Bovine diarrhoea virus in the semen may infect the foetus and establish a persistent infection causing enteric diseases, and making the cow vulnerable to other pathogens (e.g. BHV-1, Pasteurella or Salmonella spp.) as she loses her immunity.
BVDV has caused haemorrhagic disease in cattle with a high mortality rate. The virus is transmitted in the semen of bulls during artificial breeding and causes reproductive losses in females.
Bovine genital campylobacteriosis is a widespread bacterial disease associated with both bovine infertility and abortion. It causes vaginitis, cervicitis, endometritis. Bulls should be tested before they enter AI centres, and then every few months. This disease, together with trichomoniasis, has the greatest importance in the transmission of disease through semen (Rovay et al., 2008).
Trichomonosis is a venereal disease of cattle caused by the parasite Tritrichomonas foetus. In the female, it is characterised by infertility, early abortion and pyometra. The bull ,who is symptomless, carries it on the penis. The testing of bulls entering AI should be mandatory.
Paratuberculosis, which is caused by the Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP), may cause Crohn’s disease in humans (Sanderson et al.; 1992; Reddacliff et al., 2010). MAP has been isolated from bull semen and reproductive organs (Tunkl and Aleraj, 1965; Larsen and Kopecky, 1970; Larsen et al., 1981). This bacillus is unaffected by the antibiotics most used in semen (gentamycine, tylosin, lincomycine and spectinomycine) (Visser et al., 1999).
Histophilus somnus bacterium causes the disease known as thromboembolic meningoencephalitis. It has been isolated from semen from apparently normal bulls (Humphrey et al., 1982).
Ureaplasma diversum is the microorganism implicated in causing abortion and infertility in cows. Antibiotics used in semen have not been effective, and it is a pathogen which is frequently found in the semen of bulls used for AI. It has been found in more than 50% of the samples obtained from 35 bulls at a collection centre, in a study carried out in Brazil.
Clamidia was found in 9.2% of semen samples, 10.7% of preputial washes and 18% of faecal samples in an investigation carried out on 120 bulls in Germany (Kauffold et al., 2007).
Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) is a respiratory disease produced by bovine herpesvirus, type 1 (BHV-1). Infected animals become carriers for life (Van Oirschot, 1995.) A new type of virus, bovine herpes virus type 5 isolated from semen (BHV-5), is responsible for neurological problems in calves, and is lethal (Chowdhury, 1995.)
In an investigation done on 103 farms in Columbia, Griffiths et al. (1984) isolated Trichomona foetus and Campylobacter foetus in 13.7% and 15% of bulls. Another study found 23.9% positivity for Tritrichomona, 17.3% for Campylobacter, 43.4% for Salmonella, 28.2% for Brucella and 52.17% for Leptospira (Villalobos et al., 1986). A 67.6% IBR prevalence has been reported in breeding bulls (ZuÒiga et al., 1978) Another study revealed the presence of IBR/BVD (17%), BVD/ Leptospira spp (83%), BVD/BLV (42%), BLV/ Leptospira spp (31%) and BVD/BLV/Leptospira spp coinfection (33%) (GÛngora et al., 1995). IBR, BVD and Leptospirosis prevalence was 90%, 33% and 5% in 60 bulls (Sanabria and Trujillo, 2002). The following questions arose internationally: Does the semen produced and sold in Colombia comply with the existing standards ? We could ask the same question of India.
I would like to know whether our vets have any knowledge of these diseases, standards of health certification for AI bulls and the integrity and technical competence with which certification is performed. What are the standards of hygiene applied to collecting, processing and storing semen.
Don’t drink milk.
(join the animal welfare movement contact email@example.com, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org)
How to know if the COVID-19 vaccine is working?
By Dr. Zubai Khaled Hug
To understand how COVID-19 vaccines work, it helps to first look at how our bodies fight illness. When germs, such as the virus that causes COVID-19, invade our bodies, they attack and multiply. This invasion, called an infection, is what causes illness. Our immune system uses several tools to fight infection.
Different types of white blood cells fight infection in different ways. Macrophages are white blood cells that swallow up and digest germs and dead or dying cells. The macrophages leave behind parts of the invading germs called antigens. The body identifies antigens as dangerous and stimulates antibodies to attack them. B-lymphocytes are defensive white blood cells. They produce antibodies that attack the pieces of the virus left behind by the macrophages. T-lymphocytes are another type of defensive white blood cell. They attack cells in the body that has already been infected.
The first time a person is infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, it can take several days or weeks for their body to make and use all the germ-fighting tools needed to get over the infection. After the infection, the person’s immune system remembers what it learned about how to protect the body against that disease. The body keeps a few T-lymphocytes, called memory cells that go into action quickly if the body encounters the same virus again. When the familiar antigens are detected, B-lymphocytes produce antibodies to attack them. Experts are still learning how long these memory cells protect a person against the virus that causes COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of ‘memory’ T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then gets sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection.
Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Getting vaccinated is one of the many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Protection is critically important because, for some people, it can cause severe illness or death.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which requires a two-dose regimen, contains an inactivated cold-causing adenovirus with genetic instructions for making coronavirus proteins to trigger immunity. Clinical-trial data suggest that side effects of the second shot are milder than those caused by the first. Vaccines work by triggering your immune system to produce a reaction; you can however have side effects after you receive the vaccine that feels like having a real infection.
Things like having a fever, or getting a headache, often described as flu-like symptoms, are common after receiving many vaccines and this is the same for the approved COVID-19 vaccines. Having these symptoms means that your immune system is working as it should be. Usually, these symptoms last a much shorter time than a real infection would, most are gone within the first 1-2 days.
You do not even get the full benefit of the vaccine until about two weeks after that second dose, so you are still susceptible in that time frame. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like masks and social distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others.
The article is compiled from various sources including The World Health Organisation, University of Oxford and Centres for Disease Control websites. The writer is a gerontologist and a public health specialist.
Follow your passion… an illusion?
By Chani Imbulgoda
Rumi, the Persian poet, who lived in the 13th Century, said, “Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do… Eight centuries after, I would rather say “let what you do be the beauty of you”.
The world never agrees. There are two extremes for many things that exist, be they tangible, intangible, visible or invisible. The same goes for the Passion. There are two opposite schools of thought; one says to follow the passion; the other says cultivate the passion. Which way are we to take? There are those famous personalities who followed their passion … ventured into what they dreamed of doing … and reached the height of success in life. Marc Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson … to name a few. Citing them as examples, career counsellors have been chanting a mantra, ‘follow your passion’. They go on, “You don’t need to work a day in life if you do what you love; if you want to be successful, you have to pursue what you are most passionate about doing”. These are mantras imported from the West. We always love to embrace and enjoy imports; the younger generation is keen on following them. The other school of thought opposes the view ‘follow your passion’. They think that advocating youngsters to follow their passion in choosing the livelihood is more harmful than beneficial. Guiding the youth to follow their passion force them to figure out what is going to make them happy.
Following ones’ passion can be confusing. Imagine that everyone gets along with the same passion to be a supermodel, who will be left to become a fashion designer? Everyone loves to be fashion designers, where will be the market? One’s passion is defined by societal acceptance. Popular regularly heard professions become the passion of many, gearing and intensifying competition among colleagues and ending the younger generation disillusioned. I get a number of requests to subscribe to YouTube channels to follow the passion of our young generation. Some are passionately making videos on “how to cook a healthy diet”, how to wash your hand”, how to brush your teeth and so on, teaching us to do all that we were taught by parents as toddlers. Television channels are showing stars more than the stars in the galaxy. So, as the Career Gurus say we are following our passion.
What is Passion?
The origin of the word ‘passion’ comes from the Latin ‘Pati’ which means ‘suffer’. The English word ‘passion’ refers to a strong desire or ardor. The connection between the Latin word (pati-suffer) and the English word (‘passion’-strong desire) is found in Buddha’s word; “let go of passion to rid the suffering”. Alas, the pursuers of passion end up suffering. Buddha compares the person who embraces passion to the torch-bearer running against the wind, where his hands would be burned eventually. The person who runs carrying the torch is excited with the feeling that he carries the torch, illuminating the path, and he forgets the risk and may go blind to the danger until he suffers in pain burning the hand. Passion and suffering are the two sides of the same coin. Remember the two words, Latin and English; ‘Pati’ and ‘Ardor’. So can we let go of passion? Difficult. Life itself exists as a result of passion, the ardor, enthusiasm, the zeal that motivates people to progress in life. The lay world always needs some stimuli to be active and breath life. Letting go of passion is worth trying but difficult in practice. What we must learn is how to maneuver passion in our lives.
Passion is evolving
If we are going to navigate the passion, not vice versa, we need to understand its nature. Passion is evolving. One would not cherish the same passion throughout his/her whole life span. When I was a kid, my passion was to be a doctor. When I was a teenager I was so passionate to become a ‘house wife’. While dreaming to be a housewife, I developed a passion to be a model’, be an actress … the list goes on. Finally, I ended up taking a complete diversion, which I am passionate about today. Passion can be tempting, misguiding. It is like teenage love, perhaps you would regret the selection one day. Karl Moore, professor at McGill University, Canada, in his article in Forbes Magazine affirms that passion evolves. He draws on to real-life experience as I do. During different stages of life, human beings develop different passions. Passion is discovered within a self or while interacting with others. You often hear ‘successful’ entrepreneurs say they took a turn in their career at age of 40s or 50s or 60s, to make them what they are today. You have seen some get wedded twice or thrice and say “I just found my passion”. Passion is moving and changing. We are on the chase.
Passion is here… with you…at this moment
Scott, a professor at New York University and serial entrepreneur stresses not to follow the passion. He says that “passion comes from doing something well, not doing what you love”. If you invest time and effort and adore what you do, you would become great at it. Bruce Lee, the famous martial artist says “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” The expertise comes with practice, and if you passionately practice what you do, you can keep a mark in the world, whatever you do. Martin Luther King Junior had ones said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” So, passion is rewarding. Horowitz an American author declares if you poll 1,000 successful people they’ll all say that they love what they do. And so the broad conclusion of the world is that if you do what you love, then you’ll be successful, that might be true. But conversely, if you’re successful, you would naturally love what you do. The point I am bringing here is we cannot and should not let go of passion. But, inculcate passion in everything we do. Be it as simple as cleaning the house, cooking dinner, or as complicated as solving a labor issue in the office, or writing a memo to the Board of Management, do it with a passion. Deliver passion wherever you go and whatever you say.
Passion is important. It is important to drive us in life; it keeps us in vibration. But, the motto “follow your passion” is misleading. Let me put it differently; if you love what you do, you will be happier. You will be contented, you will find solace in things you do, the things you have. Think of your job, your marriage, your family… give your best to them and feel the difference. No need to follow the passion, when you have it within. What we were not taught is to value what we have and love them. We are always in search of what we don’t have at the moment … and we say we want to follow our passion. But, what if each one of us does what we do to the fullest and best, put an extra effort to add beauty to what we do. An imaginary day at work; where the cleaners have cleaned the office to shine, staff are doing the best of their jobs without wasting time or resources, meetings are effective, customers are greeted with passion… no more stress at work…created living heaven by the same lot. Passion is not a feeling to throw, but to cultivate in whatever we do.
It is easier said than done. Human lives are complicated and driven by complex and implicit values and beliefs. Changing the way society thinks overnight is difficult but not unattainable. This is an attempt to show that there are paradoxical views on “do what you love”, and I take the opposite view to the generally existing one and wish that humans would love what they do and find beauty and solace in it.
(The writer holds a senior position in a state University and has international experience and exposure. He also has an MBA from Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM), Sri Lanka and currently reading for her PhD in Quality Assurance in the Higher Education Sector at PIM. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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