Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Taking Risks In Life - Veduvolu Khusoh, Assistant Professor English

“I am learning to understand rather than immediately judge. I cannot blindly follow the crowd and accept their approach. I will not allow myself to indulge in the usual manipulating game of role creation. Fortunately for me, my self-knowledge has transcended that and I have come to understand that life is best to be lived and not to be conceptualized. I am happy because I am growing daily and honestly not knowing where the limit lies. To be certain, every day there can be a revelation or a new discovery. I treasure the memory of misfortunes. It has added more to my bank of fortitude.” – Bruce Lee

Taking Risks In Life

When we think of risk, images of hand gliding, sky diving and rock climbing may come to mind—activities in which one false move can mean death of the most dramatic kind. But risk doesn’t need to involve danger all the time; it needs to involve only uncertainty at times. Risk is with us even when we make a new friend or try a new hair salon. I found this out though my own experience.

I had the opportunity to go abroad for a a teaching job, to teach English. Because of my inexperience, I was stranded in Bogota International airport for 11 hours, feeling completely lost and frightened. It was my first time abroad and I actually missed the flight to Pereira 3 times because of my naivety. Moments such as this can be scary and we’re not always ready to engage it. The experience at the airport itself had me seriously doubting my abilities and loathing myself for taking such a huge risk coming all the way to South America without evaluating the difficulties I would be encountering.

Despite facing hardships in risking my future, I realized that the risk in accepting the job did me good. The courage I had to muster to overcome hard times makes me proud of all my achievements be it small or big. It also provided an opportunity for internal growth. Initially I thought the decision to travel to the other side of the planet would be the riskiest thing I would ever undertake; but after the unfamiliar became familiar, getting acquainted to a different culture and environment I wanted to venture out and explore some more.

With renewed determination, I traversed down to Peru, but again, things it did not turn out as planned. If I wanted to stay in a foreign country for some more time I had to find something to do; I was running out of money. I felt disappointed and powerless. My situation was so bad that I realized that if I did not get another job, I would be literally starving. I somehow managed to make it through this phase by finding courage through my difficult travel experiences.

One of the greatest things about traveling is that, you get the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. And listening to their life stories can be so inspirational. I was inspired to take even bigger risk in my life - I decided to open my own sushi restaurant in Ecuador. But the decision didn’t come easy. The cold fear of trying something completely new, fear of failure, fear of unknown and the fear of venturing out of our comfort zone is an incredible feeling. Fear itself becomes so tangible. The thought that I got an opportunity to try out something new altogether and then giving that opportunity a miss began to trouble me. I knew it then that if I did not grab the opportunity, my past would haunt me forever. I finally opened the restaurant of my dreams with sheer hard work and determination. I was petrified, ecstatic and my mind a twisted mess.

For one month I single handedly struggled, acting as the chef, waitress, dishwasher and the entertainer. I found myself paralyzed by fear but the strong will to succeed and the passion I had for my business helped me in keeping up the competition with the next door big businesses. I didn’t make millions of dollars but the experience itself will always help boost my ego and be proud of it for the rest of my life. Risk is, by nature scary, it’s uncertain and unpredictable. You’re heading off into uncharted territory. But risk allows you to grow and discover new things about yourself and the world, to develop strengths and talents.

Many of us never follow our dreams, never do many of the things we want to do, and never venture far from where we are right now. Often our fears hold us back. We don’t want to look foolish, be embarrassed, or feel like a novice. We fear failure and fear of the unknown often gets the better of our intuition to succeed. But in every human being there is an innate longing for greatness. That longing can never be fulfilled without a willingness to change, to improve and to try something new. Some degree of fear will always be there; it is part of who we are. The question is if we are prepared to challenge ourselves to rise up. Rather than making fear an obstacle, learn to work through it to accomplish your goals. Believe that dreams do come true if we are willing to be challenged. How will we know what we’re good at or enjoy doing, unless we give it a shot!

Focus on what could go well. Just as life will have its high and lows, taking a risk may come with great excitement and terror. Life is inherently risky but that shouldn’t be seen as a hindrance in achieving our dreams and goals. All we got to do is take a willing step forward and grab what’s offered to us. Life will not always go the way you planned it, but if you are willing, there is always joy in trying instead of chanting what if. You know at least you tried. Even if you make mistakes, it will help you grow and help you make the next step right. So go on! Jump out of that plane (with a parachute of course) into the world of your dreams.
“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. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email:”.  

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Broken Windows: How Our Environment Affects Us -Hewasa Lorin, Director-Student Services

When we travel to a new town or place we pick up customs and traditions which may actually be very alien to us. We like to try out new food, sample their drinks and take lots of pictures. Sometimes we may even settle down and make a life in that place. Courtesy would encourage that we learn the language, make friends and start behaving like them. All this may seem very charming when we take in all the positive attributes. But suppose we landed up in a place where civic sense is absent, hypocrisy is abundant and corruption a part of life. Do we become more hypocritical, corrupt and lose our civic sense too?

Broken Windows: How Our Environment Affects Us

The New York Times bestseller, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell talks about an interesting theory called the broken window theory. With the example of a broken window Gladwell explains how people’s behavior can be changed and shaped by controlling the environment around them. According to the theory, if a window is broken and left unrepaired passersby will see the disorder and conclude that no one cares or is in charge. Encouraged by the state of laxity and neglect, more windows are broken and the problem becomes rampant.

When you think about it, it feels like a pretty accurate reflection of how things work in Naga society as well. The environment around us, alongside people’s assumptions and perceptions largely induces us to behave the way we do. A simple example is the state of public hygiene and condition of public property in Nagaland. Nagaland suffers from a huge problem of public hygiene mostly because of the products we consume such as ghutka, tobacco and paan. Most of our public buildings, offices and even roadsides are riddled with spit stains and trash that it’s actually a surprise and relief when you come across a clean area. Gladwell’s account provides an interesting explanation of how we end up where we are, as a society and an individual. Maybe the reason why we cannot seem to improve our sanitary conditions in Nagaland is because we have reached a point where everyone feels its okay to spit and throw since it is already dirty.

According to the theory, when we see that a particular spot is already dirty, then there’s a greater possibility that we will end up throwing trash or spitting in that same area. It results in an uncontrollable situation in which a problem can no longer be contained. This is a classic example of how people’s behavior and response to situations are controlled by the environment that surrounds them. The broken window theory can be applied to our Naga society in many other contexts as well. We may lament about the corrupt system in our society but it may not be just the system anymore, but the laxity on our part which makes each one of us assume that since the system is already corrupt, there is no harm in offering or accepting just a small bribe, as long as it is not a huge one. We are a land of many different tribes and if any skirmish occurs between two individuals and they happen to be from two different tribes, it becomes a full blown tribal issue. Yes, to a large extent the environment around us controls how we respond to situations and ultimately they can have either a negative or positive effect on the outcome.  

In the 1950’s, a new form of dancing known as ‘sock hops’, in which dancers danced with only their socks on, was an instant hit with teenagers in America. One of the reasons that led to its popularity was the birth of ‘rock n roll’ music combined with the liberating feeling of dancing without any shoes on, enabling them to perform different dance moves. The origin of the ‘sock hops’, however was mainly because of the high school dances in which teenagers had to remove their shoes, not so that they could dance easier, but in order to protect the gymnasium floor. What’s interesting about this example is how a popular form of dance originates unforeseen and circumstantial because of two main reasons - the environment that required shoes to be removed and teenagers who complied to remove their shoes. Without this condition and the compliance of the teenagers, the ‘sock hops’ would never have originated.

Similarly, we can ask ourselves what kind of environment do we need to create a Nagaland that is clean, developed and enables people to live a quality life? If the broken window theory is true for us, then it means that if we have a clean office, good facilities and favourable working conditions then it will further encourage people to maintain public cleanliness, come to office regularly to work and actually enjoy what they are doing. This might be a beginning to address problems of an unruly civic sense, unprofessionalism and unethical conduct. In other words, we need to have favourable conditions in our environment if we want to create a positive difference.

However, it’s also impractical to think that this alone will work. Like the ‘sock hops’ dance, it also needs a compliant public willing to obey rules to help maintain the favourable conditions we aspire for. Greater public awareness measures, training and education need to be taught and understood by the people. Ultimately, it’s not just the environment but how we choose to read the environment around us that matters a great deal in the decisions and choices we end up making for ourselves. We need to realize the power the environment can have over us, affecting our decisions, choices and future outcome. Then only, maybe we can finally learn how we need to take control of the conditions around us and make the correct decisions, whether its deciding not to litter along the roads or spit on walls so that the next person won’t do the same or refusing a bribe or gift in the belief that we can make a difference to clean up our corrupt system. Because as the broken window theory reveals, it is not only the majority that can bring about change, but with the right kind of environment the efforts of even one or two can bring about a transformation of great magnitude.  

“ 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. The views expressed here are not a reflection of the opinion of Tetso College. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Create Your Own Success - Monjit Roy, Assistant Professor of Commerce

The new year has begun and it’s time to get back to work. Even as we continue to witness problems related to the Karbi-Rengma issue and the Mukhalimi incident and pray for an amicable solution, normal life needs to continue. Come February and it’s going to be exam time for students. This is a reminder for all students to start working hard towards a brighter and better future for themselves and Nagaland as a whole. One way to achieve that is to aim for success by never giving up and working one’s way through failures.

Create Your Own Success

Success means different things for different groups of people. Success for a teacher means motivating the students to believe they are smart and helping them to develop a self image that will lift them to elevate themselves to realise their dream. Success for the student means being able to complete courses, and develop mind and talent to make beneficial contributions to the human race. Success is a very subjective term, and it does not mean the same thing to two different people.

Success means coping with unusual problems. It means being able to look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of the person you are. It implies that you can do something good when you can, where you can, and while you can. Success does not come by sheer luck. It is a long process and the chief ingredient of success is hard work. Many people believe that a successful person never faces failures. But the fact is that the most successful persons are the ones who have passed through many failures.

There was a man who failed in business at the age of 21, was defeated in the legislative race at the age of 22, and failed again in business at the age of 24. His sweetheart died when he was 26, he had a nervous breakdown at 27, lost a congressional race at 34 , lost a senatorial race at 45, failed in an effort to become the vice president at 47, lost a senatorial race at 49, and was finally elected President of the United  States at 52. This man was “ABRAHAM LINCOLN”.

All success stories have been built on great failures. In 1914, Thomas Edison, at 67 lost his factory to fire. He watched his lifetime efforts go up in smoke and said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burnt up. Thank God we can start a new.” This should be the attitude of a person aspiring for success.

When we take a closer look at the great thinkers throughout history, a willingness to take on failure isn’t a radically new or extra-ordinary thought at all. Failures and defeat are life’s greatest teachers. Failure is as powerful a tool as any in reaching great success. Failures are the stepping stones towards success. A person who never fails is a person who never tries and a person who never tries is a person who never succeeds.

Apart from enduring failure, there are certain qualities that make a person successful. The first quality is positive attitude. The foundation of success is having a positive attitude. A person with a positive attitude looks for the gold and not for the dirt. If you have to dig an ounce of gold, you have to remove tons of dirt. In the same way, if you want to build up a positive attitude, you have to go on reducing your negativity. A positive person is a person with character, while a negative person is one who always finds faults even in paradise. A negative person always criticises no matter what. As Oscar Wilde once said, “The critic is one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

The second quality of a successful person is character and hard work. Character and hard work go hand in hand. A person with character is always to work hard in order to achieve his goals. Success comes only through hard work which is a long and difficult process. According to Michael Angelo, “If people know how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem wonderful at all.”

The third and the most important quality of a successful person is ‘desiring to be a student.’ It is important for a successful person to have the desire to be a student. All great people have come from the hands of a great teacher. According to Indian culture, if God and the teacher (guru) stand together, the students should salute the teacher first because without his/her direction and help, the students would not have met God. It is impossible for a person to be successful without a guide.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam on responding to the question of a student about role models said that till the age of fifteen the role model of a student should be his/her teachers. They play a very important role in the success of a person.

To achieve significant success in today’s world, failure is not just a possibility but a requirement. We must experience both success and failure for they are not opposites, but opposites of the same coin. We must learn to embrace failures, and not just celebrate success if we want to be successful.

Failures do not lead to frustration. But they build up positive hopes and aspirations. All the great leaders of the world faced many upheavals and challenges with conviction and determination and then succeeded. We must realize that the way to success is not paved with flowers but infested with thorns that must be overcome. So for those, who have exerpeienced failures, do not be disheartened but remember the popular proverb “Where there is a will, there is a way”. Decide your goal and go forward with strong conviction and determination and success will surely come your way.
“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 NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email:”

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Parents Are Powerful Role Models - Daniel Khan, Assistant Professor, Political Science

We enter 2014 fresh from reports of protests, strikes and violence. We have witnessed many alcohol fueled parties and heard the loud music from these celebrations in our supposedly dry state. When government servants are expected to be biased towards their own community, corruption becoming so blatant that a lot of wives, kith and kin are awarded government contracts and violence can take the life of school child like Akivito A Sumi, its time society needs to ask itself what we are teaching the children of Nagaland. The foundation of almost everyone’s value system does not start from the teachers, the friends and the social media influence, it begins at home. Parents are the true role models for the children and ultimately our Nagas need to know how to be good parents.

Parents Are Powerful Role Models

An important foundation of good character is a good family. What we believe and practice at home portrays our true character. Children's character development certainly cannot come from the classroom alone. Character develops through interplay of family, schools, churches, community influence, and the child's individual temperament, experiences, and choices.

Parents are the first teachers of a child, and therefore, parents are their children’s strongest role model and greatest influence. Your children will sooner or later adopt many of your values and behaviour, just as you have been influenced by your parents. Your children notice and respond to the way you deal with problems, express feelings and celebrate special occasions. As a parent, it is impossible not to model. Your children will take your example—positive or negative—as a pattern for the way to live their life.

The story is told of a mother crab who wanted her daughter to walk straight and so, everyday she took her to observe how a cow walks. After many days of such observation, the mother crab thought her daughter would have learnt to walk straight. To her utter disappointment, however, the daughter still walked with her legs crooked. The mother crab, unable to hide her displeasure, scolded her daughter for not being able to walk straight but the daughter replied, “Mama, I only copied how you walked.” Of course, the mother crab could not say anything more.

Every parent can be certain that their children will grow up inculcating some, if not all, of the habits and values of  their parents. It is so much easier to dole out “don’ts” to our children: “Don’t smoke, Don’t drink and drive, Don’t take drugs, Don’t lie, Don’t cheat. However, it takes much more effort and discipline to practice what we preach. It takes a strong character to be a good role model for our kids but it is a must, as children copy their parents much more than we may realize.

What do you think are the most important things parents can do to help their children stay strong in character and faith?

Whether you accept it or not, being a parent, you are a leader and role model for your child. One of the best things you can do as a parent is to strive to live a model life that is worthy for your children to follow. As Christian parents it is very important to know and follow some of the important values in lives. The Apostle Paul teaches children to obey and honor their parents, according to the Fifth Commandment (Old Testament). At the same time, he tells the fathers not to provoke their children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4). He repeats the same advice in Colossians 3:20-21.

And above all, imitate Christ so that you can say with confidence to your children, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Here are 5 things you should model for your children: 

1. Model Consistency. Whether you are with family, friends, or co-workers, your child needs to see that you are the same person wherever you are and whoever you are with. Your child needs to know that you are genuine and not a fake person whose personality is constantly changing so that he/she will respect you and imitate you. Kids respect adults who walk their talk. Credible adults inspire kids’ confidence and admiration. Hypocrisy disillusions children and sends them looking for others to follow. “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned.” Titus 2:7, 8. 

2. Model Self-denial.
 It is easy to live a life that’s focused on “me.” Your child needs to see that you are willing to sacrifice buying things and doing things that would give you comfort and pleasure. The Bible also teaches, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Phil 2:3-4

3. Model Honour. If you want your child to honour and respect you, then show your child how it is done. Honour your mother and father. Treat your wife and children with love and respect. It is your responsibility to instruct your children in their understanding of the world and everything in it using God's revelation as the basis by which they can analyze and respond to life's challenges and opportunities. The Bible instructs in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” It is the father who is essential for sending his children into the world with a biblical view of reality and a faith in Jesus Christ that is rooted in solid understanding and not merely blind tradition.

4. Model control over words. Words matter. As a role model, you need to chain your tongue, tame it, and train it. Make sure the words that come out of your mouth toward your spouse, your child, your friends, and even your enemies are respectful and kind. Colossians 3:21 is clear on this, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, lest they become discouraged.”

5. Model appropriate actions. Your child is always watching. Your child sees the kind of movies and television shows you watch, notices the music you listen to, the people you associate with, the way you drive, and the way you treat your spouse and other people. Your child’s actions will often be a reflection of your actions, so be the best role model, then you will have lesser things to worry about in the future, as the Bible guarantees, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. If you want someone to act a certain way, be sure that you live that way yourself. Then you will earn the right to be heard, and your life will reinforce what you teach.

In this age of degrading morals and conflicting value systems, the challenge of parents to live up to God’s purpose for them and their children has never been greater. Each and every day, parents build a legacy for their children to inherit. What is the legacy you are leaving for the generations to follow? The society needs you to make an important decision. Will you choose to be a parent who role models family traits and Christian values worth believing in and worth building upon? “And now may the God of peace… equip you with everything good for doing His will… through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21.
“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 NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email:”

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...