Wednesday, 27 February 2013

For Want Of A Nail: If Democracy Worked Like It Should - Kvulo Lorin, Director-Administration

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the message was lost.

For want of a message the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

For Want of A Nail: If Democracy Worked Like It Should

Four days have passed since elections were conducted in Nagaland on 23rd February 2013. Before that we were treated to a torrent of news about arms,alcohol and cash seizures, violence, proxy voting and booth capturing. This was Nagalands’ first election after social media like facebook became much more widespread. According to national media, the elections in Nagaland were conducted peacefully with a high voter turnout. However, social media, local newspapers and our favorite type of news service, “gossip”, reveal a different picture.

Rampant proxy voting, intimidation and vote buying seemed to be the norm in many closely fought constituencies. Desperate politicians promised their supporters the moon and distributed easy cash and alcohol, only to see the same people visiting the rival camp again. On the flipside we also see voters almost literally extorting money from candidates to the extent of stating “we don’t want development, electricity etc, we just want money”. Unfortunately, this only reveals the limited exposure of these spokesmen, proving that they have very little idea about how fast or how much the world is changing beyond Nagaland. Short-term gains for long-term suffering. There were also many reports of mobs using intimidation tactics to scare rivals, to the extent of even beating rivals into submission. Amidst all this, I also recall seeing some gullible and ignorant under voter-age teenagers uploading photos of their five fingers with the indelible voter ink mark and proudly proclaiming “Five times” as they triumphantly showed off their feat of proxy voting to the entire social media world. I am assuming their next social media update will be about their new phone, shoes or about how much proxy voting money they lost gambling. 

After the elections there always is a lot of finger pointing which usually goes along the lines of (i) Party A started the violence/booth capturing etc and Party B is innocent and  (ii) Party B started the violence/booth capturing etc and Party A is innocent. This might go on for another five years with more and more masala added to the story by each party/clan/village

This ridiculous state of affairs has many people lamenting the failure of democracy in Nagaland with some even stating dictatorship would be better. Democracy in Nagaland does seem to have its share of flaws. I quote the famous British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried.” Logically, Democracy probably is far more preferable than other forms of government. Let us keep in mind that around the world, people are actually dying and fighting to have a semblance of the freedom to even vote. Many African countries are not democracies; Pakistan has barely been able to hold on to their democracy, China continues to flirt with the one party system while denying their own citizens the right to access social media sites like facebook (its banned in china). According to BJD MP Jay Panda, “the problem with democracy in India is inadequate democracy.” What he means by this is that democracy is not being practiced in the true spirit. And that is probably what ails us today. Can we really say that we have democracy in Nagaland if the village leaders are voting on your behalf, the elders in your clan are pushing the EVM button on your behalf or your rival candidate’s family members are saving you the trouble of even stepping out from your home to vote?

I think there is very little innocence in our Naga society today. We blatantly lie to ourselves regarding prohibition; we have accepted corruption as a way of life and often shamelessly send our naughtiest youth towards theological studies.
Our proclamations of unity - in terms of being a Naga, a tribe, a village or a clan breaks down when we are unable to accept the fact that there are usually differences of opinion in every family and try to ram our viewpoint down the opponents’ throat. It’s time to realize that the days when people will blindly accept the dictates of an elder, village leader, or someone considered to be in a position of authority or respect will slowly fade away. People are bombarded with so much information and news that it is making them question more and more. 

Our leaders need to understand this new curiosity to question and challenge their decisions. It is time that leaders stop assuming that their idea is the best and people will obey them without question. Today, leaders also need to sell their ideas to the Naga masses. A new class of leaders either needs to step in or existing ones should change their tactics. Trying to be a leader through tyranny, fear or even money power cannot last forever and will eventually backfire. Leaders like Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein have shown us that. The educated younger generations have grown up listening to leaders like Obama and now want leaders as such. Voters are craving to trust politics again. Our leaders need to take hold of what little trust there is left and prove the doubters wrong. 

Our leader’s biggest failure will be if Nagaland churns out a generation of young adults hooked on to easy money, alcohol and crime. We have a complex history and story of our own. It is time to use and not languish in the past, to plan for the future. We must not create room for our youth to grow up believing that society rewards people who are neither educationally qualified nor ethically upright because of their experiences in the 2013 Nagaland Assembly elections.

“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 accredited by NAAC and recognized by the UGC. For feedback or comments please email:” 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Letter from a Teacher to a Student - Ms. Imtitola, Asst. Prof. Commerce

Election here, election there, election everywhere! So much is happening in the political front, but let’s not forget that exams are also just around the corner for our students. Students, if you have still not begun studying, make the decision to start today! Also, a must read for all students - here’s an inspiring and motivating letter from a teacher.

Letter from a Teacher to a Student

These days many young hearts must be skipping a beat or having anxious and sleepless nights. Not because it is the month of Valentine’s but because the exams are fast approaching. But it’s not only students. Many adults also suffer from exam phobia. Reminiscing back to my student days, life was so simple and loads of fun, yet we were also haunted by the so called ‘exam fever’. Exams frayed our nerves and made student life tough. At the same time, it was quite fascinating as that was the only time we used to receive special treatment.

Yes, exams are one of the most dreadful times for every student, but it is important as it decides the next step, one’s entire professional career and future. It is only natural to feel stressed and tense at one point. In fact, for some, stress and tension improves performance.

Remember that there is no short cut to success. Until and unless you work hard, you can’t be a victor. It depends on how you perceive (negative/positive) a situation and how you react to it and how you encode/decode your stress. The greatest weapon against stress is your ability, as ability is what will get you to the top.

Have you ever thought about what makes a successful student? The first thing that comes to mind is by studying hard. Yes, that is true. But besides that, some of the important factors are your willingness, your concentration, ability to listen to your parents/elders, self-determination etc. You are your own best motivator. Your motivation must come from within yourself. Your parents or teachers may try to encourage you, but you are the only one who can attain what you desire. You must convince yourself- you can! Throughout your college years you may come across many obstacles or choices; view them as opportunities. Don’t allow yourself to be burdened with problems; they are only challenges.

Have you ever thought about your future? How do you define success? What makes you happy? What drives you? To be successful, be a lifelong learner. We are living in rapidly advancing and competitive times. In such a scenario, the only certainty in life comes through learning. Education is the door to opportunity. Your most valuable asset and skill in life is your ability to learn and apply this knowledge. No matter what your goals are, work at maximum efficiency. Be a student who works smarter as well as harder.

Life consists of both successes and failures. Failures and disappointments in life are inevitable. Some of us might face failures in life but don’t get discouraged by that, in fact keep trying, keep walking, keep exercising your mind because the mind is a terrible thing to waste. Do not fear failure, get up and start again graciously. If you do so, success will definitely come your way. Remind yourself that sometimes failure is just the first step towards success. 

Sony Corporation, a Japan- based Corporate Group, is one of the most famous in terms of electronics and gadgets. The founder is Akio Morita. What’s interesting about Sony is that their first product was actually a rice cooker, but it was a failure. The setback did not stop Morita and his partner. Undeterred by the initial failure, today Sony Corporations has become a multi-billion dollar corporation. 

Another example is business tycoon, Soichiro Honda. He is the owner of Honda, a billion-dollar Japanese Multinational Corporation. Soichiro Honda also met lots of failures in life. He began his career as a car mechanic. At first, he was rejected by Toyota Motor Corporation. So, he started repairing scooters and finally started with his own business. Today, Honda is one of the 6th largest automobile manufacturers in the world. Akio Morita and Soichiro Honda are exemplars of the famous adage “failures are the stepping stones to success”. 

Besides everything else, you are here today by the grace of God. Let God be your guide and strength. Whatever you do or whenever you study, let prayers and hard work be your ultimate driving machine. As the Bible says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). Also, “In all your ways acknowledge God, and he will guide your paths (Proverbs 3:6); Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3)

Always remember that your parents’ moral support, prayers and faith have enabled you to reach where you are now. Find out where you are in your life right now and start performing because you are born to perform and you were born for a reason. Decide where you want to go now.

Today, make a firm decision to become an ideal student. Reflect back on the days gone by, and if there is something you need to change, then change it and think outside the box. Remember, the more knowledge a student gets, the more humble he/she becomes and this makes them stand tallest amongst the tall. Be a victor and at the end of the day you will say “Oh, what a wonderful feeling!”

“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, 13 February 2013

Impact of Mass Media in Our Society – P. Jonglio, BA-III

A fundamental purpose of education is to learn how to write. As students pass their exams and graduate to the next class, writing essays, assignments and preparing notes become more difficult. Students are given tasks to summarise, describe, analyse and critically evaluate on various subjects, and all the while they are expected to increase their vocabulary and perfect their writing skills.

Simply put, if you are educated, you should know how to write. Unfortunately, often times, the proverbial spoon feeding turns out to be the easiest and quickest option or solution for our students and teachers in Nagaland – a weakness we need to address, but we’ll keep that discussion for another time.

All through the failures and successes the world has witnessed, its citizens are becoming increasingly vocal. Voicing opinions and thoughts is the only way of being heard. While having the gift of gab is just as swell, another effective way of doing this is through writing, a form that will always be available for posterity. We believe that there is a greater urgency for proficient writers in Nagaland - Writers who can voice their opinions with clarity and coherent thought. As opinions are being voiced in newspapers, blogs, online groups and more, the urgency of writing well prevails stronger than ever before. We need to harness the potential of young budding minds and what better way can we do that than by not only teaching them but also providing them a platform to display their skills and opinions, while they are young and willing.

Featured in this week’s Degree of Thought is an essay by student P. Jonglio, who is the winner of the Tetso College Essay Competition (Degree Level) held in 2012.

Impact of Mass Media in Our Society 

Mass media is a means of communication that reaches a large number of people with a common message. It has firmly entrenched its roots in our life and now it is hard to survive without it in the modern age. It is often said that the world has become a global village. It is the media that has shrunk the world into the village. Telecommunication, television, radio and computers have reduced distances and brought countries of the world closer to each other.

We live in a fascinating world and even more fascinating society. We are part of a culture where every morning we wake up to the energized voice of the morning news filling us in on the beautiful sunny weather outside, and at the end of the day, exhausted and hungry, we crawl home, where our T.V., radio or computer are waiting patiently to be at service. In this world, life without technology feels utterly impossible and life without media is simply unimaginable.

When information is communicated to a mass audience by different means, we term it as ‘mass media’ of communication. Mass media includes both electronic and print media. The electronic media includes radio, cinema, television, films, e-resources etc. while print media includes newspapers, books, journals and magazines.

Media in today’s world, like every coin has two sides, both positive and negative implications. As far as society is concerned, one thing that should be kept in mind is that, it depends upon the society to reap the positive and negative outcome from media.

Media helps us to evaluate important burning issues and spreads awareness of current events. The society we live in is saturated with media. The effect that the media has on society also affects education in a very big way. The impact of mass media on the society can be cited in the following ways.

  1. Media has helped in the diffusion of education to the masses by spreading ideas, establishing common interests that help to spread enlightened culture.
  2. Media plays a significant role in moulding public opinion. It increases social awareness, encourages active participation of the individual to realise his duties and obligations, raises his standard of thinking and behaviour.
  3. Mass media is a powerful means of public education. It has helped in eradicating illiteracy, increasing mass awareness on various social issues, equalizing educational opportunities, promoting a secular and egalitarian society.
  4. Mass media has improved not only the quality of education but also caters to a larger section of the population. Thus, its contribution is both qualitative as well as quantitative.
  5. Mass media contributes to the constructive use of our leisure time, which would otherwise have been wasted. It helps develop new found interest and appreciation on a wide variety of subjects, and also fosters creative ability.
  6. Mass media broadens the outlook of people with regard to religion and culture, as it enlightens listeners on information, helping to remove superstitions, taboos and prejudices.

Thus, media is becoming increasingly important in the life of adults as well as of children. We acquire a great deal of information from the different forms of media such as newspapers, films and documentaries, journals, radio, motion-pictures and more.

Media covers a plethora of information that is accessible to all the different corners of the world. Thus today no one can be indifferent to the question of mass media and its effect. We need to handle the mass media wisely because depending upon the way the mass media is used, they can be tools not only for personal enrichment, but also national and international advancement and cohesion. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Deserving Respect - Patomi Yepthomi, Assistant Professor English

It is rare to find a Naga working as a bricklayer, carpenter or involved in other manual labour. Unemployment is a problem all over the world and Nagaland is no exception. However, most Nagas will never work in those types of jobs even if it’s the only thing they might be qualified to do. Instead they would rather live off their parents and family members or resort to crime. It is probably our mindset towards work more than anything else that is holding us back. We need to realize the waiters who serve us tea, the sweepers who sweep the streets are people who not only should be treated with respect but also deserve our respect. 

Deserving Respect

“Thou shalt eat thy bread by the sweat of thy brow” was the curse of God upon the first man, Adam. God himself ordered man to work and work hard. All great men of the world have themselves acted according to this dictate of God. Gandhiji believed a lot in dignity of labour, both in word and deed. Abraham Lincoln, the famous U.S. President, commented that if God did not want us to work, he would have given us no hands. Truly, it is only through toil and sweat that man can get things done. We would have no food, if farmers did not work hard in sun and in shower.

In ancient times manual labour was looked down upon. Slavery existed in almost all the countries a hundred years ago. A labourer, thus, was a victim of mockery and hatred.

 In modern times slavery has been abolished by almost all the civilized countries, manual labour is no more looked down upon. Free citizens realize the worth of labour. No stigma is attached to a person who does manual labour. However, many people in the present generation still have a mistaken idea that manual labor is the means of the power man's livelihood and has something undignified about it. Certain class of people thinks it below their dignity to do their work themselves. They employ servants to look after their children. The result is that their children are spoiled and do not prove to be good citizens.

We must learn that honest work of all types is dignified and worthy of respect. Even the humble sweeper who does unpleasant task is worthy of respect from the society. The only thing we should be ashamed of is idleness arid to live without labour. Work is worship and to work is the real prayer that we can offer to our creator. We must salute the honest labourer and give him due honour. "His brow is wet with honest sweat; He earns whatever he can; And looks the whole world in the face, For he owns not any man”.

We should learn to foster respect for those who make an honest living, no matter how. Parents should educate their children about the dignity of labor, teach them not to look down upon people who have less than they do, nor demean them in any way. Children should be made aware of all those who make life easier for them -- they need to understand that while a watchman, a sweeper or an office peon may not have as cushy a job as either of their parents, they all  have a vital role to play in society. They make life easier for others.

In no country is the dignity of labour better understood than in America. There is no servant class there. The people of all classes, ladies and gentle¬men, have to do their household work themselves. They do not feel any insult in this. There the students do manual work during their vacation, to meet partly the expenses of higher education. Said Abraham Lincoln "If the Almighty had ever meant a set of men that should do all of the eating and none of the work, he would have made them with mouths only and no hands. And if he had meant another class to do all the work and no eating, he would have made them with hands only and no mouth." Limbs are given for use; to keep them idle is to abuse them. True honor lies in the pride of being able to do one's own job by one's own self as also for the society, may be for money. It is only in backward countries that this theory has to be continually preached. There are so many people in our country who still consider it beneath their dignity to do their own purchases from the market or brush their own shoes or wash their own clothes. Such a false idea of dignity is not only foolish but is also positively harmful in the sense that it shows a mentality that makes us despise the so-called lower classes. 

The achievements of science in various fields are the fruits of continued human effort. Man, a small weak creature, is today the master of the world. Why? Because he has worked hard. He has never remained satisfied with what he has achieved. He has always gone on advancing into new fields. His spirit of enquiry is unlimited. His energies are, of course, limited. But he has tamed the air and the sea and the land; he has conquered the animal world, he has solved numberless difficult problems, he has increased his spiritual and mental powers. How has he done this? By constant work.

'Work is worship' is one of the truest proverbs. The idea contained in the saying is that all labor, manual or otherwise, is full of dignity and nobility. It equals work with prayer. It emphasizes the point that empty verbal prayers are not as valuable as real achievement in any fields.

No work is superior or inferior in itself. Work is work. It is absolutely wrong to consider any work as high or low. The work itself is a dignity. Every work has some dignity attached to it. It is improper for anybody to think that a certain kind of work is undignified or below his status.

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...