Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Who Hurts The Most When Parents Separate? - Loina Shohe, Asst. Professor Sociology

Do you know someone whose marriage is falling apart? our close knit naga family and community life is facing challenges these days.  we have little access to professional counselling, except maybe through our churches and religious leaders. marriage breakdowns can be devastating for both partners, but there is a deeper long term effect when a divorce happens.

Children of "Nagaland Childrens Home" in Dimapur Nagaland
Divorce has never been that common in Naga society. Unfortunately, while I have no official statistics, I believe the rate of divorce is increasing sharply in our society. 
What has been causing the breakdown in our relationships? Domestic violence, addiction (alcoholism, drug abuse), extra marital affairs , misunderstandings , personal differences between couples, interfering in-laws etc .Many people consider divorce as a social embarrassment only, and often don’t pay heed to the other negative impacts that come  with divorce. Unlike in the advanced western countries where people have now realized the deep negative impact of divorce, our society is still staying behind closed doors trying to shy away from it. This is clearly evident from the fact that there is still no proper research on divorce in our society. Married couples don’t have access to marriage counsellors in Nagaland and there are very few social programs that cater to this subject.

The negative impact of divorce runs more cruelly especially in marriages where children are involved but the effects of divorce on children are often not even acknowledged. Many parents who divorce do not pause to think about the effect their decision has on their child. In a patriarchical, patrilineal  society like ours, normally when parents  divorce the father usually retains custody of the children according to our customary laws. In most cases the mother and the children are often forbidden to meet. This is particularly more pronounced when the children are still very young infants. In such cases, children must confront the fact that they are not even allowed the freedom to meet one of their parents at times.

Normally, most children are brought up with belief in the one-family structure where his parents are there to look after his needs as a team. Divorce carries a mental stigma on the child, which may force the child to question their own place in the world and cultivate feelings of betrayal and resentment against both parents. Questions like “Why was I born when my parents can’t even be together?” are common and can emotionally scar the child for life giving skewed opinions on ethics, morality and even relationships.  The embarrassment, the pain, and the loss, due to his parents’ divorce  can easily translate into anger at life for the separation of his family ., When a child’s mentality is disturbed, when his psychological and emotional state is on the low it can harm his chances to live a normal or successful life.
Even if the parents have to divorce, it would ease the minds of the children to know that parents are still there for their children. A child should never be forced or expected to forget or ignore his father or mother’s existence. Let us remember that divorce means a dissolution of marriage, a final termination of a marital union, cancelling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving of the bonds of matrimony between the parties (i.e. the parents). It doesn’t in any manner define that a child and a parent’s relation is to be severed or cancelled. If parents try to keep their personal grief and disappointments aside and try not to engage in conflict for the happiness and well being of their child then there will be greater possibility for their child to move on with life. 

Young minds are impressionable and fragile therefore, for divorced parents with children; it becomes especially necessary to put the children first, despite the personal problems both parents may be going through at the time. It would be best if they can talk about the divorce openly with the children and share their feelings on why they had to divorce. The children should also be encouraged to express their feelings freely so that they don’t have to keep their emotions bottled up. This sort of interaction would help the children to accept reality, unburden their emotions and help them to face the world with more optimism.

In situations where the conflict in the married life of the couples is intense, some people often state that its bests the parents actually separate instead of remain together. This might be true; however it should also be pertinent to note that all children do not receive their needs through one parent alone. There is always a father’s role and a mother’s role and the influence of both on a child’s personality and character. Divorces between parents should not take away the fulfilment of the needs of the child. In fact divorced parents should put in extra effort to ensure that the needs of their child are met as best as possible. By needs,  I do not mean only the material needs, rather the non- material (psychological, emotional) stability of the child.

Studies conducted in the developed countries reveal -
“Teens from divorced homes are much more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use. Children from divorced homes experience illness more frequently and recover from sickness more slowly. Children of divorced parents suffer more frequently from symptoms of psychological distress. Children of divorcees tend to fall behind in their math and social skills and may not catch up with their peers.” Researchers have said these difficulties, along with feelings of anxiety, sadness, and low esteem are more prone to committing crimes due to the impact of divorce on children. Our society still largely underestimates the negative impact of divorce on children, possibly because facts regarding this have never been officially furnished. For many of us, divorce is still more of a social sigma and many of us still don’t want to discuss it in the open. No matter what our attitude towards it may be; we cannot go on ignoring it because whether we like it or not we cannot deny that divorces are now occurring more frequently than ever in our society.  

We, the lay people, the NGOs, the church, the government especially should realize the cruel impact of divorce. We need to spread awareness, and come up with solutions on how best to avoid divorce, especially when children are involved. There is a saying ‘Family is the foundation of a society, marriage is the foundation of a family, children are the youths of tomorrow and youths are the future of our society.’

Consider the consequences of divorce upon the future of our society. When divorce affects marriage, it also affects the family, which in turn affects the children. Needless to say, it is high time that divorce is prioritized as a severe social problem and the trauma of children from divorced families be given due importance.

“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. Tetso College is a Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email:”

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Caring for Cleanliness - Hewasa Lorin, HOD of English, Tetso College

Nagaland is home to one of the richest cultural traditions in the world with many tribes and cultural beliefs – something we must be proud of. We belong to a culture that regards ‘respect’ very highly, primarily ‘respect for elders’. Taking ‘respect’ beyond the confines of human interaction, I believe we need to transmit it beyond and give it its due worth with regard to public property.

The extent of just how much we respect public property is pretty evident from the condition of our govt. offices and public amenities today. The joy of visiting a Govt. office is short-lived with numerous paan stained walls and stairs, and dustbins that take their name way too literally, whenever you turn a corner. Visit the supermarkets in Kohima and Dimapur, and you will find yourself tiptoeing through a maze of mud and filth, and trash dotting the pathways. A serene drive to our villages greets us with beer cans in various scenic viewpoints. All this, despite knowing that the ill-effects of unhygienic conditions lead to epidemics, health hazards and environmental imbalances. It’s time we started worrying about it to a greater degree.

If this is what we call a developing or developed Nagaland, at the rate at which we have very successfully managed to damage what’s already there, there may not be much of it left. Probably, part of the problem lies in our apathy to the entire situation. We have become so used to the routine sight of dirt and grime that I think we are soon entering a phase called, to borrow a medical term, “anaesthesia”, in which we have become completely immune to the deplorable unhygienic environment in which we seem to be unabashedly thriving within. So accustomed are we that we no longer even seem to notice the paan stains, spitting or the garbage right beside us. For those of us who do, maybe we just probably give in with a sigh of resignation.

Of course, the problem does not exist only in Nagaland. I recall a Naga friend of mine from Delhi commenting about the condition in Hyderabad, when she first arrived. The first thing she commented about was how much people spit in Hyderabad. The thought had never really occurred to me or maybe it was the “anaesthesia” effect working. But after she told me, I began to  notice the rampant, pointless spitting everywhere! It’s actually really incredible. They spit wherever and whenever - even as they are driving, walking, cycling, and even talking! But surprisingly or maybe not, it kind of reminded me of the same scenario here in Nagaland. As much as I’d like to think we are much better off than that, there is a possibility that we can give them fierce competition.

On a positive note, however, we do have exceptions to our case. I remember visiting a village in Nagaland that proved there still is, fortunately, some amount of civic duty still intact. In order to ensure hygiene, large dustbins have been placed in and around the entire village. Another positive sign is the solar powered Higher and Technical Education building in Kohima and the recent renewable energy cycle drive. I think these are some of the positive steps that are already in place.  But there is obviously a lot more that can be done.
Until we begin to pro-actively feel a sense of responsibility, ownership and accountability to public amenities and property, we may never get our public hygiene right. Are the concerned authorities taking effective measures to curb the potential hazards? We build big beautiful offices, stores and buildings but do we really know what it takes to maintain them? Obviously, it is no easy task as can be seen from examples around the world. But the examples just go to show that stringent and more honest concerted efforts are required if we want to get the job done.

If you visit shopping malls in the cities or even abroad, you will find moppers constantly working the floor all day long. Enter the bathrooms and there will always be a washwoman standing ready to clean up the next mess. But in most cases, the public themselves know that they are not supposed to spit in the sink or throw trash in places other than wastebins. A northeastern state like Shillong is many times cleaner than our state capital Kohima.  

While we may like to profess about how clean we are spiritually, out worldly we show little concern for our environment. I think Nagas take the prize at being fashionably and impeccably dressed but fail miserably in transmitting that energy  beyond the individual self. What point is it if we have clean clothes, clean shoes, clean selves but don’t have the public space that allows us to make us feel as if we were sitting down in our homes  (our homes are always clean). We are completely oblivious to the amount of proliferating germs that we are so generously welcoming into our streets, our towns and villages.      

Honestly, I don’t think our body’s immune powers are that robust to be able to withstand the ill effects of our poor sanity measures and the degenerating environment for so long either. The key thing to work on is changing our mindset. When we finally decide that enough is enough and each of us do our part - looking after public property and avoid littering - maybe we’ll see the change we want to see.    

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Why Not Commerce? - Commerce Department, Tetso College

If we were to look at the enrollment statistics of students from various streams in Nagaland, then it would reveal a huge bias towards the arts stream as compared to science and commerce. Commerce has never been a popular subject among the Nagas, but has always been the preferred stream of choice for the business community. With the opening up of banks, insurance companies, and more and more entrepreneurs coming up in society, the time might be ripe to focus on the importance of commerce education. Currently, in many parts of mainland India, it is actually commerce which is the most sought after stream for admission. So what is commerce education? Here's the Department of Commerce, Tetso College to tell you.

Why Not Commerce?

Over the last two decades, a number of changes and developments have taken place in the social and political arena and as a consequence, India and other developing countries are facing a new challenge. This has placed increased demand on the educational system.

At present India is in a stage of transition involving social, cultural and economic changes. It is gradually moving from tradition to modernity, from an industrial to an information society and from a welfare state to a liberal market economy. These have strong implications for commerce education.

Today, commerce education is suffering from terminal disease and there is a tremendous sense of frustration not only in the minds of students, but also in the minds of commerce teachers about the future of this subject. Commerce graduates and commerce colleges have grown in number in a significant way in the last 70-80 years. Every year thousands of students complete their graduation and post-graduation in commerce. Most of them are underemployed and many remain unemployed. On the one hand, industry is undergoing a difficult time and the number of employment opportunities is declining, whereas on the other hand, we don’t find up to the mark commerce graduates, when it comes to skill and understanding of the real problem.

At present most of the major industries of the world are controlled and owned by the developed western countries. It automatically generates employment opportunities and increases national income and wealth. 

Commerce education in modern business covers diversified fields of education and research in Management, Finance, Marketing, Accounting and Commercial and Business Law. In industrialized countries, commercial education is organized on dynamic and systematic lines. They are able to plan and design finances, establish and operate big factories in months, while in Pakistan, it takes years to do so. Unfortunately, in our country commerce was not even given a fair chance in the field of education or as a significant career option. In the past, we considered it inferior to other career options such as medical practitioners and engineering etc.

In order to attain economic growth, one needs professional Economists and Accountants with advanced practical training to evaluate and analyze the complexities of large scale financial management. In this era of mass production and large scale industries, we need trained and qualified managers to control huge financial investments. Production and labour, as the requirement has become a science. Commercial experts have to play another very important role in the field of salesmanship, and proper advertisements are necessary tools to maintain a competitive line in the market.
The importance of commerce extends further beyond the subject and profession into the realm of social development and welfare as well. Human beings consume a variety of goods. When man consumes products, his standard of living improves. Commerce helps us get what we want at the right time, right place and at the right price and thus helps in improving our standard of living.

Commerce makes possible to link producers and consumers through retailers and wholesalers. Consumers get information about different goods through advertisement and salesmanship. The manufacturers are regularly informed about the likes and dislikes of the consumers through marketing research. Thus, commerce helps create contact between the centers of production and consumption.

Commerce also encourages trade.  With the growth in trade and commerce there is growing need for expansion and modernization of trade. Commerce focuses on proper and systematic distribution of goods and services made available by the industry. Without commerce, industry will find it difficult to keep up with the speed of production. It also helps to increase demand for goods and helps industries by getting them the necessary raw material and other services. Therefore, commerce helps in making better division of labour and industrial progress.

Keeping in view the above, commerce as a field of education and profession is part of the business which is concerned with the exchange of goods and services. Today, many new and young skilled entrepreneurs are coming up with different ideas and innovations.  The competition is fiercely growing. To improve the overall quality of commerce, one should be well equipped with the knowledge and understanding of the subject, as well as acquire technical skills, which is a key requirement in today’s developing world. Only then, commerce education will automatically expand and the standard of living improve.
“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. Tetso College is a Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email:”

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

COPYCATS OF THE WEST? -Sentimenla Ozukum | Assistant Professor, Department of History

Tourists observing a traditional Naga Dance during the
Hornbill Festival of Nagaland

Nagaland has one of the highest literacy rates at 80.11% in the country and higher than the national average of 70.04% according to the Census of India 2011. We are literate, but are we educated? Our globalized world is bringing fashion, music and even culture into our villages and towns along with their positive and negative influences. While we promote Nagaland as a tourist destination and invite tourists to come and view our rich culture, are we slowly losing it as well? Today’s writer expresses her views on the nature of westernisation she sees in our society.


The Young Generation Nagas today live in a modern age, and are better educated, more sophisticated, up to date with the latest technology, and trendy too, which is a far cry from our counterparts a few decades ago.  Looking back at the bygone past, we really have come a long way but there is a big question mark to ponder upon. “Are we truly modernised or mimicking a westernised modernity?”

We may have accomplished, learnt and achieved so much. Yet what have we really accomplished so far? We are open to learning and receptive to new ideas, but most of us still have a long way to go. A common issue in our society today is our craze for western culture. A positive natural human trait is our wish to always become better, but so far, I think we have mostly assimilated the negative aspect. 

Someone has rightly said that the Nagas, especially the young Naga generation, have jumped from the Ancient Age directly to the Modern Age without passing through the intervening millennium of the Medieval Age. Because of which the Naga youth are lost and facing a lot of problems, without proper knowledge and guidance. Without knowing exactly what we are doing, we have adopted the western lifestyle very quickly, leading to disparity in mindset, outrageous lifestyles and unhealthy imitation.

In the long run, this may have severe negative impacts on our own community and most importantly our social life, if it is not carefully understood. The younger generation has been greatly influenced by western culture. If we look at our own commercial hub, Dimapur, one notices many indigenous local hip hoppers with rainbow coloured hairstyles and fashion. We show to the world what we are really not. The young Naga generation today have completely changed and transformed their way of life, change in attitude and outlook towards love, sex, marriage and even to the extent of our eating habits.

The youth are the first to try out and to copy the western culture, yet they don’t bother to take a deeper look at what they are mimicking. Civic sense and etiquette, I strongly feel, need to be revived in our society. We have completely abandoned our own culture and tradition to the point where our own identity has begun to fade away. We are gifted and endowed with so many inborn talents that and we have the potential to make the world sit up and take notice of us. My advice to the Naga youth is instead of being mere copycats, it would be better if we tried to be original in everything we do. The notable change and improvement in many areas and the progress in the past century are proof that we can advance at a great pace.

There is no doubt the literacy rate has increased at present in Nagaland but we still have a long way to go in terms of aptitude rather than in terms of study and our work culture. We hide behind a veil of intellectuality, which is superficial in most of us. It is to a large extent individualized, not generalized. Again, we also seriously need to ponder upon ourselves whether we are actually educated or illiterate. Why I say so is because, I notice many people particularly young people spitting right on the wall, in steps, in public place, in classrooms etc. where it is clearly written in big bold letters “DO NOT SPIT”. Dustbins are lying empty everywhere, yet roads and surroundings are decorated with wrappers and papers. Think about it!

It is high time for us especially, the present youth to sit down and think, to use our minds more wisely, without forgetting to act on what we think. It is true that the young generation are the strongest agents for evil and also the greatest power house for good as well. Making a difference depends on the youth. This is the time to wake up and see how the world is marching ahead, instead of being holed up in this area like the proverbial frog in the well, the younger ones must propagate and promote the spirit of common brotherhood, transcending religious, linguistic and tribal diversities. To once again mould our identity, value and preserve the rich composite culture and tradition not forgetting moral values.

Let us give modernisation a chance to grow and then let westernisation come after modernisation.

“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. Tetso College is a Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email:”

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

College and University Teaching - Dr. P. S. Lorin, Principal, Tetso College

We have read a lot about the plight of graduate teachers and post-graduate teachers, protests, strikes and even a court case. To anyone unfamiliar with our state’s employment issues, one might assume teaching to be a highly sought after career option in Nagaland. Well, as public opinion sways back and forth and society tries to decide who its educators are going to be, this week, we would like to share a piece which educators might find useful. The original article was actually written in the 1990’s. Have things changed that much after twenty years or are we still saying the same things?  Nagaland is far behind in the Higher Education arena, our colleges still lack PG programs and we seem to be repeating things stated twenty years ago (as this article will show) however, there are certain fundamental things we are doing correctly, or should,
if we have not yet already.

College and university teaching (hereafter referred to as college teaching) is no longer considered a one way method of indoctrination, as was the case in the early ages of learning. It has become a complex profession, particularly in this rapidly developing world. What was considered a good teaching method or style at one time is no more treated as the effective teaching method today. Effective teaching is not static but situational. Good teaching at the college level differs from one setting to another and from discipline to discipline. A method which may be rated high by the students in one course may openly be challenged in another.
Over the years, college teaching has tremendously developed and transformed. From mere lecturers and recitations of text book, it has moved on to lecturer-cum-discussions, presentation – cum – audiovisual, laboratory method of instruction and self or individualized instruction. Yet there still lies ample scope of improving college teaching.

Teaching and learning go together. Without the objective of learning, there is no purpose of teaching. A sense of good teaching is established when that objective of learning is achieved. Conceptually, college teaching operates within the frame work and climate of higher educational institutions. It may be creative, imaginative, stimulating, exciting, entertaining, friendly, lively and supportive. It may also be offensive, conservative, egocentric, restrictive, dull, moody, unfriendly and aloof. Generally, therefore, to a certain extent, we can assume that an individual teacher will choose either of these approaches and play either a good and progressive role or a dull and defensive role. The former roles are those that can be attributed to the direction of improving college/teaching and the latter roles are those that represent stagnant or unproductive methods of college teaching. My ideas centre around the former roles that have been treated for improving college teaching. In a nutshell, I have identified certain aspects, crucial areas or tools for improving college teaching.

Personality Factor
While competence and enthusiasm of the teacher are important, characteristics such as kindness, affection, smartness, politeness and physical appearance are extremely essential to make an impact on a class. Competence in ones’ own field and having passion in one’s profession are, needless to say, indispensable to good teaching. But they alone are worthless unless supported by the supportive element such as the human touch of kindness, affection, disposition, etc. The supportive elements in turn require manipulative tools such as dress, behavior, and speech. Let me clarify that it is not necessary to dress in expensive or colorful clothes, but one should dress professionally, according to the time and occasion.  Individuals should aspire to cultivate sociable and pleasing behavior. An eloquent person is the most successful teacher. Decent dress, pleasing behavior and eloquence - all of these should be in conformity with socially acceptable norms. Above all, communication skill is vital for good teaching. It is key to the human mind. No matter how knowledgeable and educated a teacher is, if he/she does not know how to communicate then, teaching is futile. Since personality is a trait that can be manipulated and improved, it should be cultivated and developed to the advantage of both the faculty as well as the students. 

Educative materials (teaching materials) are numerous and are abundantly available particularly in this technological age. Reading materials from text books and publications to visual and experimental methods of instruction are utilized by many faculty members. The question is which material should college teaching emphasize ? While text books will always be important, experimental and laboratory method of instruction may be emphasized for physical sciences. Likewise, visual aids such as overhead projectors, videos, posters, and maps may be emphasized for social science and humanities studies. Although, teaching methods and the use of materials may depend upon individual discipline, individual faculty, and topic to topic, it is fair to employ a balance of text book printed materials and visual-laboratory; equipments can be utilized and may still be considered superior to the individualized method. In short, a combination of everything (balanced method) along with imaginative method may be invoked for a better teaching method.

Seminars and Reports
Seminars and reports help to impart not only book knowledge but also experiential knowledge of an expert. Periodical seminars on various fields and topics by experts should be encouraged. Also students should be encouraged to present papers.  Writing a report on the seminar after the session should be encouraged as well. This will inculcate student’s writing and thinking skill. Since these sessions involve discussion, interaction, and participation of the entire audience, exposure to different forms of participation serves as a useful learning tool.. This kind of participation must be iterated in the classroom as well.  Conducting seminars and writing reports must be made an integral part of the class room activities and should be treated as a supporting tool of college teaching.

Faculty Feedback and Evaluation
Feedback and evaluation have been powerful tools for improving college faculty performance. They are useful only when they are offered constructively. For example, feedback from colleagues would necessitate a faculty to improve teaching. Likewise, feedback in the form of evaluation from the students will also give a teacher a chance of reassessing their teaching style (evaluative forms may be developed or are available commercially). Also, feedback in the form of recording self lecturing and creating videos will greatly help a faculty to improve overall performance of teaching.

From the above, it may be concluded that faculty is limited to the goals of a respective educational institution. They invariably function within the scope and framework of the institution’s respective mission statement. Within this limited framework, however, there is ample opportunity to improve teaching method.

Faculty should realize that they have a special responsibility to adjust themselves to the changing needs of the society. They have a special responsibility to organize their classes according to the interest and learning goals of the students. Faculty should be flexible enough to organize their teaching methodology with a variety of settings such as class rooms, laboratory, small discussion groups, technological assistance etc. As pointed out earlier, there is no single method and no end to improvement in college teaching. However, a faculty’s performance will depend heavily on manipulation of various factors described above. As we improve our environment, we need to look forward to improving teaching and learning techniques.
NOTE: Article has been abridged for media publication.

The Missing Principles in Naga Society - Zuchano Khuvung, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Moral and ethical values as social categories are crucial for generating a sound culture in any given society. However, people tend t...