Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Woes of our Naga Society: From the Mind of an Economist - N. Thomas Kamei, Asst. Professor, Department of Economics

This is a humble endeavour to analyse various problems in the Naga society from an economist point of view and offer possible remedies, wherever possible. In order to understand the problems that we face today, it is essential to state of the Nagas’ economy.

Woes of our Naga Society: From the Mind of an Economist

The majority of the Nagas engage themselves in activities of the primary sector which includes farming, fishing, forestry or any activities which deals with natural resources directly. This is a reflection that our economy is in an emerging stage or still very close to arudimentary form.  The economy is also a ‘sustenance economy’ with hardly any surplus to save or invest. Another way to describe the economy is a non-producing, consumerists’ economy. The Naga’s economy will collapse as soon as the inflow of funds from the central Government is stopped. Of late, the intrusion of the wave of globalisation and liberalisation is making an impact on the Nagas. More opportunities are thrown open, more options in choice of goods and services are available, there is also bombardment of information-the whole world is just a mouse click The society as a whole is in a transitional phase. More so, it is at a cross road. The question is-Do we go along with the rest and create irreparable dependency or address the problems to achieve a higher standard of life in future? Some of the problems that need immediate attention are:

Conflict of interests/aspirations: Our society is riddled with conflicting interests. Each region, every community, every tribe, every village, every clan and even  khel has its own aspiration. The Eastern Nagas want a separate state; the Southern Nagas want alternative arrangement; the Central Nagas want exclusiveness and the list goes on. Conflict of interests and resolving them do not harm the economy. This is because common benefits increase in meeting the need of one unit of the economy. I fight for my benefits; you fight for yours; if my benefits increase without harming your benefits then it is an increase in social welfare. However, the flip side of conflict of interest is that it can also harm the economy. When every organisation worth its name(there are countless) resorts to methods like economic blockade, total shut down of business establishment, lightening bandh and destruction of government properties to register their grievances or interests, it paralyses the normal functioning of the economy and results in loss of crores of money. Sadly, this is happening too often in our economy. For every interest of one section of the society, there must be a strike or bandh. It harms the economy in ways more than one-firstly it results in loss of money in terms of thousands, lakhs or crores depending on the magnitude, duration and place of occurrence. Secondly, it can result in artificial scarcity, leading to inflation due to hoarding and speculation. Thirdly, it causes untold misery to the fixed income group. This is a reflection of ignorance of basic economics in our society. While fighting for our interests we harm ourselves.

Unemployment due to our idea of success: Typical Naga parents will make their children feel guilty for not sitting in competitive examinations, as if they have committed a crime. The success of a person is often equated with getting into government jobs. No matter a person can be successful financially in other fields, he is considered unemployed until a person gets into government services. The current imbroglio of SSA teachers in Nagaland not getting their salary should be an eye-opener. How many jobs can the central and the state governments create in a year, while we churn out thousands of graduates every year? Thanks to our education system, we add more to labour force. How employable they are is a different issue. For a state like Nagaland, a time will come when the government will have no money to pay its employees, a view which is supported by the deficit budget presented year after year. It is time we change our notions about success and unemployment, and look beyond exploring new areas and redefining our dignity of labour through entrepreneurship.

Political issue: The Indo-Naga political issue must be resolved at the earliest opportune time. As long as the issue exists, there will be no investment friendly and market driven economy. Taxes in any form discourage investment. Saving and investment are basic activities that stabilise the economy of any society and take it to a higher level. There is hardly any saving as our economy is  by nature, sustainable,  whereas, there are no big investments due to the unfavourable environment. We have not been able to unshackle the burden for a long time now. Perhaps, Naga economy would have been different had the issue not dragged on for too long. It is high time we think together, out of the ‘umbilical-cord relationship’ we have with our national workers and exert added pressure for an early settlement to the protracted issue. Only when this happens, our economy will take its course towards development without unnecessary interference.

Corruption and Poverty: Corruption in the society aggravates the problem of poverty. It also accentuates inequality. Naga society is “classless” but it is not without inequality. Whenever there is corruption, there is no distributive justice. The fruits of what little development we witness go to only a selected section of the population. The essence of development is lost where there is corruption. This is because any kind of development, especially economic development, calls for distributive justice where not just the rise is income. The existence of inequality is evident when we find palatial buildings along with huts called homes in every locality of the Naga society. Real development will come only when we weed out corruption and bring down inequality.

Globalisation: Globalisation in a way is breaking down barriers in order to facilitate exchange among different parties. It is a fact that no economy in this world is self sufficient in all aspects. Exchange is necessary because of the differences in factor endowment, stage of development, availability of labour and capital, etc. To reap the fruits of exchange , Nagas need to have peaceful relation with their neighbours. The ground reality is different. We seem to be having problems with all of them. We have boundary problems with Assam, immigrants from Bangladesh, political issue with Myanmar and more. These problems should be solved first to reap the fruits of globalisation.
 Clearly, the society is at a crossroad. For the present shall we allow the Hawk to prey and the Eagle to perch?

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Popular Culture: Challenging our Tradition? - Tatongkala Pongen, Asst. Professor, Dept. of History

We live in a society of many rules, prohibition and banning of all kinds of things like ghutka, alchohol, taxation and prostitution. Invariably, more laws ultimately mean more lawbreakers. Interestingly, the bans and laws seem to have little effect in actual implementation and impact in real life scenarios. The reason is probably culture and habit. Our Naga people adapt quickly and the way we work, the way we dress is changing drastically. Our identity as a people is changing and it is having a cascading effect in the way we do a lot of things and even seems to be changing things politically in some respects. Sadly, this change can destroy traditional culture without many of us even realising it

Popular Culture: Challenging our Tradition?

Culture is about the ordinary things of life. No other culture is greater or higher than any other culture. Popular culture, as we know it, is the culture of the masses. It is a mass culture like theatre, music, fashion, food, and so on where there is a popular participation of people. Popular culture was created to entertain the masses while the elite ruled. The idea of a mass culture is evident from the 1920s and 1930s onwards. Popular culture means seeing things from the point of view of the people rather than from those who have power over them. Popular forms of entertainment always existed which is very popular with the common folk.

The consumption of popular culture is going around us every day. In our Naga society, popular form of culture is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it seems to be playing an important role in creating an identity of the people.  So, why is popular culture so popular? And what happened to the so called ‘high culture’? It is so popular because it connects the people under one platform. It gives a sense of belonging to the common folks. When popular culture began to spread and grow, those people who were the torchbearers of the high culture started to follow and participate in the so called ‘popular culture’. Along with the canonical text they began to read comics, novels etc. From listening to the classical music they shifted their taste to rock and roll, rap music and so on. According to Alan Bloom, a patron in the field of popular culture studies, this change from a liberal-arts tradition of Culture to the adoption of popular culture marked the end of Western dominance in the world.  

Although, in the case of the Nagas, it is the western influence that marked the beginning of popular culture. Today, social media and advertisements have both redefined the way we connect and reshape our identity. Almost everything in this century that people come to know is through some form of mediation. Television, internet and other modern technologies offered a new public domain that could reconnect people to some form of culture. Celebration of high culture (traditions) is not at odds with the culture of the people and that could go hand in hand with youth culture of its time. Style choices can be looked upon as a message about ourselves that we send to others and to ourselves to help establish an identity. In our Naga society, looking at the present scenario, the Korean as well as the Japanese wave have become an influential element of our identity. Korean popular culture has taken such a hold in our society that young people throughout the region started sporting Korean hairstyles, makeup, and fashion. In a land of rich folk songs and music, rock music is gaining more popularity and the people, especially the younger generations seem to enjoy it more than the traditional songs and music. Contemporary festivals such as Hornbill festival is bounded by the processes, patterns and actions of social change. Contemporary cultural diversity like non-indigenous cultures of Nagaland such as rock contest, selling of foreign goods, fashion night, beauty contest, etc. as displayed in Hornbill festival are gaining more popularity and they represent an important image and appear to contribute to a sense of Naga identity. Today, with all the major forms of mass communication; entertainment, leisure activity and hobby have become a part of our culture. This dominant culture is now the popular culture which is also called the ‘youth culture’, as this culture is well- liked, especially among the younger generations. With the transformations and rise of popular culture in our Naga society, the younger generation seem to first take in the change and  only then  go back to their roots. The contemporary Naga society today presents a highly westernised culture in appearance, and at this pace it would be more difficult for the future generations to remember their past cultural traditions. 

Society is a process rather than an abstract system. And with the rise in popular culture, it is a challenge for our culture and tradition. At the same time, traditional cultures are not wholly dismissed or ignored by the Nagas. There is a mixture of tradition with the notion of popular cultural forms. Looking at the present scenario where the globalizing factors have great impact on any society, the Nagas are not lacking behind. In all aspects, the Nagas are going through the historical phase of change where the old is being replaced by the new. No matter how the change may occur, every society will remain under the realm of its cultural ethos. Change is inevitable to the way of life but do not let this change uproot our identity completely. Instead, let us find ways to create awareness among the people to preserve and restore our cultural aspects and to employ those values and elements for the enrichment of our current and future generations. Revisit our roots and try to preserve the least of what is left because the moment we shy away from our roots, we lose our identity.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Even Superman Fails - AmarRanjan Dey,Asst Professor, Department of Commerce

 Congratulations to all students who have cleared their HSLC and HSSLC Exams! As you reap the success of your hard work today, the exams have shown that success never comes too easy. It involves sacrifice, commitment and discipline. For those who did not clear the exams, seeing their successful friends run around hunting for admission in colleges might be making them feel depressed. Failure does happen and sometimes the reasons are genuine. Failure is not a bad thing and is experienced by everyone. In fact, failure is normal and learning to deal with failure is an important part of life.

Even Superman Fails

Today, entrepreneurship has become a trendy word. Everyone wants to become an entrepreneur, for they equate entrepreneurship with success, and invariably, lots of money. While it is all right to dream and strive in the pursuit of success, one must not forget that success does not come easy. Being a successful entrepreneur does not happen in a day. The reality of success means the possibility of failure. Failing to try for fear of making mistakes has prevented many people from becoming what they could really be.Most of the time, we hear or read stories about success; about the rewards of success; about the good times, etc. Somehow most people do not like to talk about their failures and bad experiences. Some may talk about it only when they finally succeed.By that time many would have forgotten about it, let alone want to talk or write about it.
     In today’s competitive world ‘winners’ are admired whereas ‘losers’ are not tolerated. We have reached a stage where “Nobody should make a mistake” and people who make mistakes are either punished or ignored. Unless you are in the top ten, then you are a failure. Ironic as it may seem, but throughout the ages, human beings have only learnt through mistakes to reach where they are today. Amitabh Bachchan, king of the Indian Cinema, when he first started out after his graduation, was rejected for a job as a junior executive in a shop and consumer goods firm in Delhi. He then applied to be a radio announcer but was turned down by All India Radio because his voice was not right. He then joined the crowd of young hopefuls in trams, clutching testimonials and looking for a job in Calcutta. He finally decided to try his luck in Bollywood. He was nobody when he first started. He was scoffed at because of his tall uneven structure and laughed at as a “lamboo”. After a series of rejections, both in the film world and outside, Amitabh still refused to give up hope. He was then launched in the film “SAAT HINDUSTANI” which also went unnoticed. He then signed up for the film “BOMBAY TO GOA” for only Rs.500 which opened the door of the film industry to him. Finally, he was signed up for the film “ZANJEER” which broke the box-office, and a superstar was born! 10 years later, Amitabh retired from the film world. He then tried his hand in politics. Owing to his enormous popularity, not to mention the close association with Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, he was elected to parliament with a huge majority from his home city of Allahabad. His stint in politics did not last long as he was implicated in some scandals, and he finally gave up his parliamentary seat, vowing never to be involved in politics again. He later returned to Bollywood but a string of failed ventures and the loss incurred by his entertainment company in sponsoring the Miss Universe Contest held in Bangalore in 1996 made him bankrupt. In 1999, he came up with his own version of “Who wants To Be A Millionaire” TV Show called “Kaun Banega Crorepati” making him a multi-millionaire once again. It is not important how many times we fail, but how many times we wake up and overcome our failure with achievement or success.
The image that successful people are like “Superman” without making mistakes and possessing no weakness is not realistic in the real sense. People need to understand that mistakes and failings are perfectly normal and in fact occur more often amongst the achievers. Today, we find many books in the market that talk about success and inspire us to become successful. Some of them are 'The Magic of Thinking Big’ by David J. Schwartz, ‘You Can Win’ by Shiv Khera etc. But as far as I know, it is actually surprising that so far, very few books have been published  on the subject of failure. I guess the reason why it has not been widely written about is because our society has been programmed to shun failure. We look down on people who have failed just like we look at ‘drop outs’ differently. We put a high value on “success” but little or no value on “failure”.
As history has proven, great failures have made great men. There are hardly any great men who have not gone through hardships and failures in their lives. In fact, the value of failing is greater than that of success.  But many people do not see it that way because the only misconception we have is to succeed in everything without facing any sort of obstacles.
I would like to urge our readers, especially the young generationh to accept your mistakes and failures because errors are normal and are bound to happen. The objective is to learn through mistakes and rectify them. Finally, hold on to your dreams until you achieve it and you will one day become the successful person you want to be.



Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Dear Mothers - Ponglem Konyak, B.A. 4th Semester (English Honours)

With Mothers day just around the corner, we take a moment  this week to reflect on the importance of mother’s in our lives.  Ponglem Konyak, a 4th Semester student reflects on a mother’s  love and expresses her gratitude to her mom.

Dear Mothers

The whole world will be celebrating Mother’s day on 11th May 2014, a very special day for all the mothers on earth. It is a time for each and every one of us to thank our sweet loving mother for their unconditional love, their care, sacrifices made and comforts they have given us. It is a day to honour and appreciate our dear mothers.

Mothers, you are all amazing.  What a great inspiration you are to us. What we are today is all because of you. Mothers are great magicians, our teachers, our doctors and our angels on earth.

As we celebrate Mother’s day this year, let’s make this day count for what it is. Let us honour our mothers with what they deserve. Mother’s only want our sincere love, care and happiness. We never know when our last day on earth will be so let us not miss this chance to say thank you to our mothers. Let her know how much you love her and how much she means to you.

Words can never express how much my mom means to me. Thousands of ‘thank you’s’ will not be enough to thank her for the sacrifices she has made.  I would like to thank her for all that she has done, for giving me a life worth living. I am so fortunate to have her as my mother and also thankful to God for this precious life.

Dear mom,
Thinking back, from the very start you took care of me both before and after my birth. I still remember how you taught me the alphabets, the simple mathematics and giving your all to teach me the 3Rs. You would sing nursery rhymes and devotional songs to me and every day, you would accompany me to school, carrying my heavy bag on your back and holding my hands. It is only now I realise that you had to leave behind all the household work and wait for me until school got over. I still remember how we used to sit together and you would feed me during lunch break.  Gradually, as I grew up, you taught me to be kind, you made me feel what love actually means, taught me to be a responsible girl and also taught me to respect everyone. You let me see the world through your eyes. I am ever grateful to you because of all these. Thank you mom for being there to listen to every stupid thing I share with you. Though it does not even make any sense to you sometimes, yet, you still listen to my story patiently.

Thank you for correcting my every mistake, and leading and guiding me to the righteous path. All the values I have learnt are your precious gift to me.

Since childhood I was sickly and weak, but you were always there to take care of me. All those sleepless nights and watching over me has made me who I am today. Thank you mom for giving me new life. You are my saviour and my angel and I owe you a lot.

During my exams you would be so nervous and frightened, even more than me. It was funny sometimes to see you so stressed about my exams. My examination was like your examination. You would bring me tea and snacks so that I could keep my mind fresh and study well. I know you  have high expectations on me, and I will try my best to reach your expectations, but if someday I ever fail to do so than do forgive me but know that I have always tried to make you proud and I will continue to do that.

Thank you mom, for being my best friend. I can trust you blindly, share all my happiness and worries with you. You understand me best and you make my dark days turn bright and happy.

There is a quote that says, “The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness”. You justify that so well. You have always forgiven me for my every fault. I know I did so many things which were not right. I know sometimes I made you sad, disobeyed you, hurt you with my actions and words. Sometimes I forget the things you did for me, but despite all these you still accepted me and gave all your love and most of all you pardoned me for every little mistake I made. I cannot tell you how great you are. You hold the most special place in my heart dear mom.

You encouraged me in everything, gave me hope and made me believe in myself. Thank you for believing in me and being there for me all the time. You hold me with your love and comfort me during my hardest time. It is said that ‘A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity; it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path’. I know even when the whole world stands against me; you will still take my side and will always protect me. Like a tree that gives shade, comfort and shelter, you will always hold me dear with the warmth of your divine love.

I have seen you living a hard life, overcoming sickness and hardships, but you still kept quite without complaining. Though broken and worried inside you manage to put a smile on your face. You would smile when you see us happy but when we are in pain your heart aches. They say that no mother can see her child in pain. And I can testify to that first hand when I saw the same pain in your eyes when I was in pain.

Life has been so cruel on you sometimes. You have faced hardships, but as a mother you never gave up on anything to raise me. As the saying goes, “God could not be everywhere and so He created mothers”. This is so true; you are the true angel sent by God to look after me. You renounced all your comfort and your dreams in the quest of taking care of your family.

Thank you for everything. I love you mom.
“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: admin@tetsocollege.org”.

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...