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Prince Philip: Not-so-good side

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A cartoon of the Royal Couple that appeared in a British tabloid displaying with the Queen carrying a book titled ‘Eugenics’ and a remark made by the Prince.

by Parakrama Waidyanatha

The late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was an amiable man and much praise has been showered on him in the media following his death earlier this month. Regrettably, he missed ‘scoring his century’, which many expected, passing away a few months before reaching his hundredth birthday.

There has also been his ‘unpleasant side’. He was famous for making derogatory remarks about people and places, some of them being rude quips and jokes! In fact, a tabloid had listed some 90 of them, some of which are excruciating and derogatory! Let me just quote three. When visiting a London community, he apparently asked a group of women, “Who they sponge off”! On a visit to China, meeting a batch of English students studying there, he told one of them that if he stayed too long in China he might go home with “slitty eyes”! ‘Do you still throw spears at each other’ he had asked an official of aboriginal descent in Australia! Queen Elizabeth, too, has been known to make derogatory gaffes, witting or unwittingly. In fact, even a book titled ‘The Wicked Wit of Queen Elizabeth II’ is in print!

Prince Philip was made the President of the Worldwide Fund for Nature in 1961. In that very year he was reported to have slaughtered 39 tigers, 18 rhinos and four bears in a hunting spree in Nepal. He was known in his young days as the ‘trigger happy Prince’! The dead tiger shown in the picture was one of two, which some 200 beaters chased into a clearing where the Duke was perched on a wooden tower with his gun. The tiger he shot dead was taken to the Maharaja’s palace in Jaipur, where it was stuffed and shipped to the Windsor Castle for display! It is reported that he once remarked that he was not ‘killing but culling’! At the start of the 20th century, it is reported that India was home to 100,000 tigers, but the numbers rapidly crashed following independence in 1947. There are now a mere 3000 in the wild! Even at that time, the tiger hunt caused a furor both in India and Britain, but not heeded by the killers. Such wild tiger hunting is, of course, now totally prohibited.

It is reported that not only Prince Philip but Prince Charles and one of his sons, Prince William, are of the same trait! On one occasion the young Prince William procured a large collection of birds (parrots?), brought them to the Windsor Castle, released them, one by one, into the air and shot them in a shooting practice exercise!

 

Emblem of the Eugenicists

Before talking about Prince Philip, the eugenicist, it should be useful to enlighten the reader a little on the subject, as it is not known to many. Eugenics is a culture that believes in improving the human genetic traits by excluding individuals or groups thought to be genetically inferior, and promoting those identified to be superior. Plato (400 BC) apparently proposed the application of selective breeding for human populations. However, in current usage it is simple scientific racism or white supremacy! Although the concept dates back to the epoch of ancient Greece, the more recent emergence of it is in the 19th century, when a popular eugenic movement emerged in the U.K, and later spread to many European countries, and the U.S and Canada. Many countries too adopted eugenic policies hoping to improve the quality of their populations, by encouraging individuals deemed to be fit and intelligent to reproduce, and adopting negative means such as marriage prohibitions, forced sterilizations of unfit people with mental and physical weaknesses and also marginalising minority groups.

New impetus to the movement was provided by Francis Galton, a half cousin of Charles Darwin, misinterpreting Darwin’s theory of natural selection and evolution. Galton believed that desirable qualities in humans, animals and plants were mere hereditary traits, despite Darwin’s objections that his views were badly misinterpreted by his cousin! Soon after Darwin’s death, Galton labelled his research as eugenics, in which he implied that human character is entirely or mainly determined by genes, unaffected by education or environment! However, throughout human history eugenics has remained highly controversial!

Nazi Germany and the Holocaust boosted the eugenic movement. Many defendants of the 1945/46 Nuremberg trials, argued to justify their human rights abuses claiming that the Nazi and the U.S eugenics activities are comparable. However, following World War II, with growing human rights concerns, many began abandoning eugenic policies, but some countries, such as Canada, the U.S, and Sweden continued to carry out forced sterilizations. More recently, with new reproductive technology advancements, the possible revival of eugenics cannot be overruled.

In fact, eugenics has become an academic discipline in many colleges and universities with funding received from various organizations. Organizations were formed, seeking public support especially for eugenic values in parenthood. Two of the leading societies were the British Eugenics Education Society (1907) and the American Eugenics Society (1921). There were also three well attended international Eugenic Conferences in 1912, 1921 and 1932. Subsequently, the International Federation of Eugenics gave impetus to the movement and even created several research organizations. The Federation advocated sterilization laws and rejected the doctrine that all human beings are born equal! Its racist elements included the pursuit of the Nordic race and the Arian gene pool and eventual elimination of the unfit races.

Eugenics as a social movement reached its highest popularity in the early decades of the 20th century. Many British parliamentarians, including Churchill, supported the philosophy. He believed that it could solve the race deterioration problem and reduce crime and poverty. Lee Kuan Yew, the Singaporean Prime Minister, too, promoted eugenics in the 1980s, attributing his success to genetics. He claimed that intelligence is 80 percent nature and 20 percent nurture!

However, in 2015 the UN took up the position that eugenics challenges the principle of human equality. The movement is still active, but secretively. Many, especially some very affluent and reputed people think that serious population control via eugenics is vital for sustainability as natural resources are rapidly dwindling.

The reputation of eugenics began to decline in the 1930s partly because it was used as justification for racial politics of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf in 1925. Eugenic practices at the time led to the Holocaust. Largely because of the association of eugenics with the latter, many began abandoning it.

Coming back to Prince Philip and his links with eugenics, he and the royalty in general covertly supported eugenics. For example, his remark ‘the bloody useless eaters, I say’ in the above cartoon apparently refers to his attitude towards poor African and Asian populace, whom he considers a threat to future global food security.

Finally, the BBC quoted the Prince that if he were to be reincarnated he would like to be born a deadly virus that can devastate 90 percent of the global population, probably implying that it will make available more resources for the elite to live comfortably!



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Opinion

Mrs Paripooranam Rajasundaram- A Gracious Lady

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I first came to know Mrs Pariapooranam Rajasundaram, who was born in Singapore on October 25, 1935 while serving a short stint in Jaffna with police intelligence. Her late husband who called her “Pari” was my very close friend, Mr. Vaithilingam Rajasunderam, the former principal of Victoria College, Chullipuram who was introduced to me by my friend and police batch mate, late Tissa Satharasinghe, who was the Personal Security Officer, to the late Mr T.B. Ilangaratne in 1971.

Mrs Rajasundaram was blessed with three sons and a daughter and several grandchildren and can be truly described as a very faithful spouse and dedicated mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and a great grandmother to the family of which she was matriarch.

My short spell in Jaffna in 1973 brought me closer to the Rajasunderams who celebration their 25th wedding anniversary in 1974. Theirs was an open house and my wife and sisters too came to know them well.

Mrs Rajasundram and her husband were good hosts and his assassination was a shock to all of us. It was then she became part of our family as she lived with us briefly till she obtained a UK visa to join her daughter and son-in-law there.

Many years later when she was living in England, I had joined KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and my family used to spend vacations with them in Cockfosters in North London. Mrs Rajasundaram treated us to sumptuous meals lavishing attention on us. She was very fond of my wife and two children and had a heart of gold. A devout Hindu she never failed in her religious obligations, lived within her means and was never greedy for what she could not afford. She firmly believed in being patient and willingly gave to those in need.

She was a lady who was selfless, full of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, very virtuous, and full of love and character. I can say of her: “People may forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!”

My prayer as a Christian is that God grants you eternal rest.

NIHAL DE ALWIS

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Independence celebrations for whose benefit?

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Celebrating what? Bankruptcy, corruption and nepotism to name a few. Surely isn’t there one MP among 225 who feel we have nothing to celebrate. We say we cannot pay govt. servants’ salaries in time, the pensioners’ their entitlements. A thousand more failures confront us.

In our whole post-independence history such a situation has never arisen. We should be mourning our lost prestige, our lost prosperity our depleting manpower. Our youth in vast numbers are leaving the country for greener pastures. We should be conserving every cent to live, not to celebrate a non-existent independence. We should be mourning, walking the streets in sack cloth and ashes in protest at this wanton waste of money by an irresponsible government.

I can’t understand this mentality. The forces are also our young men who feel for their fellow men and women. Maybe their lot is a little better than the rest of us. But how can you order them to go parade? They cannot refuse. It is an unwritten or written code that they have to obey orders without question. I feel sorry for them. All that spit and polish – for whose benefit? Definitely not ours. We will be mourning in silence in our homes.

Padmini Nanayakkara.

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Aftermath Of Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne’s Assassination

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It was on Saturday March 2, 1991 when that fateful LTTE bomb blast shattered the life out of Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne, Minister of Plantations and Deputy Minister of Defence, in front of the Havelock Road University Women’s Hostel opposite Keppetipola Mawatha.

Mr. Wijeratne used to take the same route from home to office every day. The LTTE had monitored his movements and found that it would be easy to target him on his way to office from a strategic point after receiving the information of his departure from home.

The LTTE targeted his vehicle right in front of the University of Colombo Women’s Hostel opposite Keppetipola Mawatha. The suicide bomber crashed into the Deputy Minister’s vehicle and killed the Minister instantaneously.

I had dropped our elder son at Royal College for scouting and then went to the public library to return some books and borrow new ones. After having done that, I was returning home when I saw a large cloud of black smoke going up from somewhere on Havelock Road. As I neared Thummulla junction, a university vehicle (I was Registrar of the Colombo University) was going in the opposite direction.

I stopped it and asked the driver what had happened. He said the Shanthi Vihar restaurant at the Thummulla had been set on fire. The police did not allow vehicles into Havelock Road from Thummulla. I parked the car on Reid Avenue between Thummulla and Lauries Road and walked down the Havleock Road to see what exactly had happened.

As I got onto Havelock Road, a policeman accosted me and told me that I cannot be allowed to proceed. Fortunately, at that moment the OIC of the Bamabalapitiya Police station, Mr. Angunawela, came to that spot and recognizing me told the police constable to allow me to proceed.

As I walked down I saw the damage caused. But there were no signs of any vehicle or any dead bodies as the police had got everything removed. There was a large gaping hole on the road where the blast had occurred. But immediately this was filled up and that section of the road carpeted.

I do not know who had ordered it and why it was done in such a hurry. There were pieces of human flesh hanging from the overhead telephone wires. The blast had also affected the house in front where there was a P& S outlet and a lady who had come to buy something had got her eyes blinded by the shrapnel thrown by the blast.

The parapet wall and the Temple flower (araliya) trees that had been grown just behind the wall were all gone. As I went into the hostel, I saw that the front wall of the hostel building badly damaged. When I went in the girls in the hostel were looking terrified and shivering with fright.

Two of the undergraduates who had gone out of the hostel as they had to sit an examination in the university had got very badly injured and they been rushed to the national hospital. Later one girl who was from Kobeigane, a remote village in the Kurunegala area, succumbed to her injuries. The university paid for her funeral. The security guard who had been close to the gate was thrown up and landed back on the ground. Fortunately, he had no injuries other than feeling groggy.

The next job was to evacuate the hostelers from the building. I telephoned the university office and found the Senior Assistant Registrar in charge of examinations was in office. I told her what had happened and to come to the hostel in a van. Thereafter both she and I packed all the hostelers in the van and sent them to the Bullers Lane Women’s hostel. This was done in three trips.

On inspecting the damage done to the hostel I thought the building would have to be demolished and a new building constructed to replace it. However, I contacted an Engineer, Mr. Upasena, at the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB,) who came, inspected the damage to the building and stated that he will get it repaired to be stronger than what it was.

He stated that it might cost around Rs, 20,000/- to get the repair done. I contacted NORAD and they agreed to give the funds required for the repair and renovation. Mr. Manickam from NORAD came and inspected the building and agreed to get much more done than what we wanted repaired and renovated. The repair and renovation were done very quickly and the hostelers were able to move in again.

The reopening ceremony was attended by the then Ambassador to Norway, Mr. Manickam and the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice- Chancellor thanked the Ambassador, Mr. Manickam and the CECB for getting the hostel repaired and renovated to be used again. He never mentioned what I had done to get this hostel repaired and habitable again. That is gratitude!

HM NISSANKA WARAKAULLE

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