Dr. Suprakash Roy appears in The Best Seller, a novel by Arunabha Sengupta.

A cyber conscious mender of minds, he is interested in the effect of the modern world of the internet and social networking in changing human behaviour.

The following are a demonstration of how the doctor's own mind works, extrapolated from the novel.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Writing on Egypt's Wall

25th January to 11th February no doubt saw one of the greatest dramas of modern times, in which an ancient nation literally turned into a stage with a lot of her men and women becoming the players while the world tuned in to watch. Due to the media – social, traditional and hybrid – the planet was engrossed in the show, with the writings on the walls overflowing. Ultimately, when Hosni Mubarak – acknowledged as one of the leading despots of the generation – resigned as president, celebrations zipped across cyberspace, through tweets, messages, posts and shared videos.

It was a victory not only for democracy and freedom, but also for social media. FaceBook, in several self referential posts, has been flooded about the role it has played in bringing the revolution to a fitting end.

Within minutes of his resignation, I received numerous mails and text messages, all claiming that against whatever I have said and blogged in recent times, the ability of social media to bring about political change had been vindicated.  Understandable, since great occasions do great emotions stir.

Without playing the spoilsport by dampening the euphoria, let me nevertheless point out that the man had been ruling the country for close to 30 years, a reign marred by corruption, violence, suppression of democracy and manipulation of press. While his untold wealth has been cause of immense speculation, his policies have provoked concerned queries from adherents of democracy around the world. The government scored a low 3.1 on the CPI score of degree of corruption (on a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being the most corrupt) in 2010, and freedom of press ranked 133 among the 168 countries. According to BBC, during his reign, Hosni Mubarak had survived six attempts of assassination.

As these facts and figures indicate, unrest and rebellion has always been as much a part of his reign as Cleopatra and Sphinx have been integral parts of his country’s folklore. The rebellion and protest marches were not a sudden effect, but a tipping point. And this goes on to underline the theory that I have repeated in the past posts, that social media can aid and complement a long standing rebellion through its features of low cost coordination. There is still no evidence that any socially networked media can start and sustain a revolution on its own. As an Egyptian proverb says about gauging the attractiveness of a girl - bathe her and then look at her (Look at a girl without make up or hairdo).

However, even though I agree that a lot of the harmonisation of the protest march of 25th January was aided by FaceBook, it does not change my general opinion that the networked world’s attitude to social and political issues is one of slacktivism - feel good measures in pseudo support of issues and causes.

Even as 105 deaths and over 2000 injuries were reported, the educated socially-networked-politically-conscious populace went about sending their merry wall posts ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ complete with smileys.  A defining example of an apology of political consciousness laced with lame wit and atrocious apathy, all masked under the cloak of supposed social activism.

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About Me

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A novelist and cricket historian, Arunabha Sengupta is the author of three novels and the Chief Cricket Writer on cricketcountry.com. In his novels he deals with the contemporary world with acerbic humour. In his cricket writings he covers the history and romance in the game, while his post graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces