Thursday, 27 February 2014

Time Can Transform Lives - Judy Dimhoikim, Head of Department of Education

They say birds of a feather flock together. Each of us can be easily influenced by how much time we spend with our friends, peers and colleagues. It is usually more difficult to give time rather than donate cash or kind. When we give time to our children, our friends or studies than we make a difference in that person’s life and even our own.

Time Can Transform Lives

Most fathers, if not all, when asked, ‘what grades their kids are in?’ have a fairly strong chance of getting it wrong, so much for “best dad in the world.” Statistics show that mothers fared relatively better off than fathers regarding their kid’s education. Probably biased but that is where the facts point to.

A teacher has many roles but if one were to single out the most important aspect, it would be- to transform lives, a rather daunting and challenging mission all at once. In school, the teacher’s task is made easier by the malleability and impressionable character of the child. Once the child graduates to higher classes, things could take a different turn- sometimes irreversibly for better or for worse. This crucial stage calls for a twin effort from both the teacher and the parents.

We live in a time when there are too many things that need to be done and too little time. With too many things literally screaming out for one’s attention, the important things are often drown out by the everyday din. Amidst all the chaos, parents should try and find the time to talk to their kids and ask them about their classes, curriculum, college, exams, and most importantly, their teachers. They might be hesitant at first but rest assured, they will eventually open up. Like teachers, parents play an equally vital role in the greater scheme of a child’s overall development. Parent’s role cannot be only relegated to that of a financial provider; doling out huge sum of money for admissions, tuitions, stationeries and academic expenses they are much more than Automated Teller Machines. Just as everything worthwhile needs monitoring, so is your kid’s education. In fact, what else could be foremost than that. If it is not that important as one might suppose it to be, it defeats the very purpose of formal education.

The most valuable things in life are not things but people and relationships. Parents should spend more time in a healthy relationship with their kids, especially when they need it the most because it will go a long way in shaping their lives. Mothers ought to cut down their time following their favorite soaps and serials, at the same time, fathers should follow suit by reducing their time spent following matches and games as though their very life depended on it. For the really advanced parents, just as you ‘follow’ famous people on Twitter, do follow your kids too.

At first glance, this article runs the risk of being mistaken for better parenting tips. Parenting, still an uncharted territory for me; the less I talk about it, the less I could be wrong. At its very core, this article suggests a pressing concern on how to better transform lives. As a result, it creatively touches upon parenting skills, which though strictly academic in tone, is a very narrow aspect of parenting. It is not a reprehension of parents’ ‘parenting skills’. Teachers can best transform lives when parents throw their weight behind them, and play their part alongside the teachers. Without that help, the attempt to affect lives is an uphill task at best, and a Sisyphean effort otherwise.

In his letter to his son’s teacher (Dear Teacher), Abraham Lincoln requests him to inculcate in his boy the qualities that he feels would be the best. His concern for his little fellow’s welfare is worth emulating in all its sincerity and spirit:

“He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, and are not true…

Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books. But also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on a green hillside.

In school, teach him it is far more honourable to fall than to cheat.

Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong. Teach him to be gentle with the gentle, and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the bandwagon. Teach him to listen to all men; but teach him also to filter all that he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good that comes through. Teach him, If you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweeetness.

Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidder, but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob and to stand if he thinks he is right.

Treat him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage to be impatient; let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order, but see what you can. He is such a fine little fellow, my son!”
“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, 20 February 2014

Sojourn to a Naga Village - Temsukumla Ao, Head of Department of Sociology

Development has reached some places in Nagaland but there are still some villages sparsely developed and lacking in good schools, electricity and roads. Yet, they can still be appreciated for the charming simple life and natural beauty. Temsukumla Ao, Head of Department of Sociology, shares her reflections of both worlds, as she takes a sojourn to Longchang village in Mon district.   

Sojourn to a Naga Village

6th January 2014 - the day started with mixed feelings of excitement, reverence, confusion and fear. I was going on a journey with my mother and siblings to pay a final tribute to my late grandmother. We also decided to catch up with near and dear ones.

Our destination was Longchang village, under Mon district. The situation between the Karbis and the Rengmas in the Karbi Anglong areas was quite tense during this time and a curfew had been imposed that morning. In spite of this, my brother was keen on taking this trip, while my sister and I were quite reluctant and my mother was in a dilemma. After much deliberation, we decided to take the risk. By the time we made up our minds, it was already 6:30 am (we had actually planned to depart at 6am). True to our practice of, as we call it, ‘Naga timing’, we departed 45 minutes later.

Throughout the journey we were plagued by apprehension and fear. However, the journey turned out to be peaceful and calm. We were able to cross Assam without any problem and heaved a sigh of relief when we reached Nagaland gate. Once we entered Nagaland, the road was ceaselessly marked by bumps and jolts. On the way, I saw an old school building with broken windows and walls. It was an unpleasant view to encounter. Schools are actually supposed to be welcoming with good infrastructure and environment, a place in which children are attracted to study, but instead here was a view that conveyed the exact opposite. If we were to go by the reports of the Education Commission 1964-66, within a radius of five to ten miles in the rural areas, there should be about one secondary school, five higher primary schools and 28 lower primary schools. These schools should also have well qualified and trained teachers, with larger and well-developed playgrounds and sports facilities. If such recommendations were actually implemented everywhere, our society would probably be at a better position than it is now.

As we were nearing one village, I was distracted with yet another sad sight. I saw a very young boy aged around 6 carrying a tiny basket, fully laden with sweet potatoes. He was returning from the field along with his sister and mother. It was sad, because a boy that young should actually be playing around and enjoying his childhood, while attending school. In Naga society, it is apparent that we have overlooked the existence and practice of child labour. If we take a closer look, we will find that this practice has prevailed in our society for so long. On the pretext of giving them education and also because of the lack of good schools in the villages, the parents send their children to their relative or friend’s place to live, without thinking twice about the feasibility. As it turns out, in many cases such children become victims of child labour. Now, if the Directive Principles of the Constitution to provide free and compulsory education to all children upto the age of 14 was fulfilled everywhere, then such a scenario would not exist in our society.

Coming back to our journey, we reached our destination Longjang village around 10 pm. We had some family time, after which we returned to our rooms for a good night’s rest. The next morning my grandfather took us to my grandmother’s grave and we paid our respects and homage to her. She was one of the best human beings I have ever come across in my life. She will be dearly missed.

We also had other things planned for the rest of the day. After breakfast we were ready for an adventure trip. My brother was so excited about this particular trip as he wanted a break from the stress of work and the crowded city. My sister and I also needed a welcome break too. This trip was adventurous because we had to walk down a hill for 3 to 4 hours to reach the river belt. We hired some people to carry items such as generator, food items, clothes and other items. It took us 4 hours to reach the riverbank, while, we were told, it usually took the villagers only 1 hour.

We had to spend two nights in the jungle. I felt both excited and scared at the same time. As I lay there at night so many thoughts ran through my mind. I began to reminisce about the past, when society was much simpler and care-free, void of pollution, corruption and life’s complexities. At the same time, I could not imagine how things were even possible without the help of machines and technology. How could people walk miles without vehicles, and survive with just hunting and food gathering. Life appeared simple yet happy. As I lay there lost in thought, the cool breeze and dew drops falling on me made me realise I had not slept. I turned around to see my sister struggling to sleep in the other corner too.

The trip made me realise that technological advancement has brought about a lot of changes in the present world, which have made us dependent on them for comfortable and luxurious lives. It has also changed our outlook, making us feel so secure and protected inside the four walls of our home that sometimes we fail to appreciate nature and our surroundings. During this trip, I was able to enjoy the rich flora and fauna and the natural beauty of the place, the freshness and pollution free atmosphere. Yet, deep down inside, I was also saddened at the thought that after 20 to 30 years, this place might not be the same as it is now. Indeed, I felt lucky to have been here and experience natural beauty at its best.

 “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, 13 February 2014

Money Wise - Jeffery Murry, Assistant Professor Commerce

How many of us have often spent money carelessly, only to find out later, with great regret, our pockets are empty? Spending money is much easier than saving money. But there are actually a lot of harmful habits and vices we can abstain from in our effort to save money wisely. As a student and teenager, it may be twice as hard, which is why we must have a goal towards which we strive, coupled with a strong head on one’s shoulders.

Money Wise

Money isn’t just a piece of paper. It is a medium of exchange. We save money because we cannot predict the future. There is no loss in saving money, rather it prevents us from overpaying for things, allows us to take advantage of buying goods and even helps support our kid’s education.

Money can do a lot of things for us. When something goes wrong, in case of accidents, unforeseen repairs or damage to property that is when we need to rely on the money that we have been able to save.   

Despite this, there are many of us who face problems of saving money. Why are we unable to save money? One way of getting round to saving money is if we aim to buy something in future. So, start planning now, pick a goal, and make a practical budget for future needs. If you try to follow this, you will find it easier to handle the future or face any financial emergencies.

As a student in high school and may be even right after you graduate, you are going to be on a tight budget. Here are some ideas that you can try to save money:

1. Many students are tempted to buy now and pay later. What we call “bhaki” (in nagamese) is often practiced by school and college students. Spending on unnecessary things or on impulse can come back later to bite you. Stop buying, if you find that you can’t charge responsibly; keep away from that until you learn a little restraint. Make sure it is truly necessary before making a purchase.

2. Everyone has at least one bad habit - maybe you smoke, drink, party, buy expensive clothes or make unnecessary demands from parents. Whatever it might be, try to stop these bad habits. I think you will save lot of money, if you try to avoid bad habits. You’ll be surprised to know how much you end up saving. So, start now and save the money that is spent on harmful products and habits.

3. A student’s duty is first and foremost to study and help the family in your leisure time. During your student life there are also high chances of falling into bad company. Learn how to differentiate between good and bad company. Avoid friends who end up making your pocket empty by indulging in bad habits. Not only does it affect you but also your parents.

I would like to share a fable about a grasshopper and ant, which we can all learn from.  As the fable goes, once upon a time in a garden there lived an ant and a grasshopper who were very good friends. It was spring time and the grasshopper was having a lot of fun playing, singing, and dancing in the sun. But the ant was hardworking. The ant was collecting foodgrains and storing them in its house. The grasshopper did not understand why the ant was doing so and said “Hey” ant! Why don’t you come outside and play with me? The ant replied, “I cannot, I am storing food for the winter when there won’t be anything to eat”. The grasshopper only laughed at the ant and said, “Why are you worrying now? There is plenty of food” and continued to play, while the ant worked hard. When winter came, the grasshopper did not find a single grain of food to eat. It began to starve and feel very weak. The grasshopper did see how the hardworking ant had plenty of food to eat, and realized how foolish it had been not to save.

The story above is very relevant for us. The moral of the story teaches us the importance of hard work and at the same time the importance of planning and saving for our future. Similar to the ant and grasshopper story, you may meet people like the grasshopper who try to convince you to forget your primary goal. Grasshoppers may persuade you to enjoy the money you have today, ignoring its importance for your future. From the story we learn that we must be smart like the ant who values the importance of preserving for the future.

So, the next time you feel the urge to chew some ghutka or paan, smoke a cigarette or down a few shots of alcohol, remember that you have far more important goals in life which require you to save and spend wisely. After all, saving does not mean that you are undergoing a huge loss or your income is reducing. Rather, it is a boon in times of crises. Nothing in life is predictable. Saving money is an assurance that no matter what happens, no matter what fate has in store for us, we will be prepared and ready to take on the setbacks life may hand us. Detach yourself from the notion that spending a rupee or two will not make a difference. Little amounts do matter, which can ultimately accumulate into savings that you may one day be thankful for.
“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:”.  

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

A Little Bit More of Happiness Mhabeni Tungoe - Assistant Professor of Education

Buy a shirt, the next thing you want is a blazer; buy a blazer, next you want trousers; buy trousers, next you want a pair of shoes; buy a pair of shoes, next you want a dress and the list probably goes on. Will we ever be satisfied with what we have and is this what defines happiness for us? Happiness is, of course, relative, but most importantly happiness resides in the mind and our approach to life. Maybe we could all learn to be happier, if we chose not to dwell on the negative but concentrated on what’s positive around us.

A Little Bit More of Happiness

Life is beautiful; one should live every moment to the fullest as if it were one’s last. Right from birth till death, everyone goes through different phases in life. With all its glory and wonders, it is complicated, full of struggles and challenges. Many might give up but the people who don’t will face the brighter side of the day. We experience various situations in life and that is how we build, shape and mould ourselves and achieve in life. It’s not just fantasy that lingers in us but we exist with reality. As we live life we taste victory, defeat, pain, pleasure, sorrow, sadness, happiness and so on. It is full of ups and downs. In every situation our emotions are at work. In life we cannot be happy or sad all the time. No doubt life is beautiful, if we live and let others live. In the journey of life, the reason for a person’s peaceful and content-filled life is happiness, because through happiness we can find the key to live a satisfied life. Happiness is the positive range of emotions that we feel when we are content or full of joy. Human beings strive to find and keep happiness even when it’s as elusive as ever. Nobody is jolly and elated all the time, but we find that some individuals are definitely more fulfilled than others. So what does it take for an individual to possess happiness and lead a fulfilling life?
To bring happiness in our life it has little to do with materialistic needs, wants, goods, high status or high achievement; it boils down to our positive outlook and attitude in life. Inner peace is important in life. When we have peace of mind, happiness follows us, it comes from within us. We cannot deny the fact that there are problems in life but even if problems do exist yet we can still enjoy inner peace of mind and for that purpose we do not have to search for external factors. It is our self that can bring happiness in our life by maintaining the quality of the relationship that we keep by staying close to friends and family, sharing a deep, meaningful and purposeful conversation with them, having a compassionate heart, words of love, thoughtfulness, generous hearts, kindness, humbleness, helping others, making others smile, simply meeting people, forgiving others even if it is unforgivable because an attitude of forgiveness  literally heals hearts, being satisfied and enjoying whatever life gives us be it in  our family life, job, society etc, instead of grumbling. If we have all these values, virtues and qualities in us it is sure to bring happiness in our life. To be happy we need to be optimistic in every approach in life. Life will work wonders for those who think life is wonderful. It can give us every chance to appreciate the wonders. It is a fact that life is truly wonderful for those who think of it to be so.

I would like to leave you readers with a happy and inspirational poem, written by American writer Max Ehrmann in 1927. This poem was believed to be found in old St.Paul church, Baltimore dated 1692.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender be in good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievement as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble, it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is.

Many persons strive for high ideals and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself, especially do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the council of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune but do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, and no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God.

Whatever you conceive him to be and whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. 

Strive to be happy.

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...