Wednesday, 30 July 2014

3 is not always a crowd - Temsukumla Ao,Head of Department of Sociology

A good friend is a connection to life- a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world. - Lois Wyse.

On 3rd August 2014 the world will be celebrating Friendship Day which is held on the first Sunday of August every year . True friendship makes everything much more fun and better whether its having a meal, playing games, studying or simply chatting about the latest movies or trends.      

3 is not always a crowd

Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection and intimacy between two or more people. It is a stronger form of interpersonal bond. Friendship can be found in many types and characteristics like affection, mutual understanding, honesty, sympathy, compassion and trust. They share many things in common. A friend can be anyone; he or she may be your parents, family members, brothers, sisters or other human beings or even your pet animals. Having a good friend is an asset in all areas of life. Friends can help you reinforce individual willpower. Have you ever imagined your life without a friend? I guess none of us have thought about that. Our life without a friend would be meaningless, boring, and not worth living. “A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.” (Douglas Pagels)

Many songs and stories have been written on the importance of friendship. Like the song in the Airtel advertisement says- Har ek friend zaroori hota hai-- Chai ke Liye jaise toast hota hai--Vaise har ek friend zaroori hota hai Koi subah paanch baje neend se jagaye Koi raat ko teen baje jaan bachaye Ek teri kadki mein sharing kare Aur Ek tere budget mein sneak in kare Koi nature se guest koi host hota hai Par har ek friend zaroori hota hai (Every friend is necessary, like there is a toast for tea, like that every friend is necessary, some wakes you up at five from sleep, some saves life at three in the night, one shares in your bankruptcy, while others sneaks in to your budget). Friendship is really necessary in everybody’s life; it makes life more fun and interesting. Bruno Mars- Count on Me and Don Williams- You are my best friend, are some meaningful songs based on friendship. Friendship is considered as a shelter, an anchor and someone whom we can count on. “Friendship is a sheltering tree”- Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

The highly popular television series, Friends, focuses on close knit friendship filled with humour and bittersweet emotion. And in the “Big Bang Theory” the friendship between Leonard and Sheldon takes the form of toleration of each other idiosyncrasies and stay friends for so long. We have such types of friends whom we simply cannot stand sometimes and tolerate and still remain good friends. As E.W. Howe has rightly quoted- “Probably no man ever had a friend that he did not dislike a little.” One of the greatest strength in Sherlock Holmes series is also the great friendship that lies at the heart of them (Sherlock and Dr. Watson). Apart from solving cases and investigation they do share a great bond of friendship between them. They share a friendship of trust, virtue and honesty. The Greek philosopher Aristotle writes “Without friends, no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.” One of the popular sitcom- “How I Met Your Mother” is another series where we get to see the unique friendship between Barney and Lily, strong and stable friendship of Marshall and Ted, and the crazy stubborn Barney Stinson with all his madness and challenges to create crazy situations and bet games. Like the quote rightly says: “Most of us don’t need a psychiatric therapist as much as a friend to be silly with.” (Robert Brault). On the one hand, “Sex and the City” is really about the strength of friendship, representing women to different personalities in four of them. The urgency we felt in our life sometimes, where we need to have a few minute analyses with our friend over a phone and all our problems and pain seems to fade away. Everyone connects to these characters in one way or the other and it helps us to relate it to our own lives.

I really like Shelley Emling’s Article- “The 5 Types of Friends Everyone Should Have”, where she brings to us five types of friendship worth keeping for: 1)      Friends who make effort, 2) Friends who are genuinely happy for me when something good happens, 3) Friends who are upbeat, 4) Friends who are up for anything and 5) Friends who are authentic. Going through her article and analysing it, I realise how fortunate I amto have friends who fall under each type. Under the first type of friendship I have friends like Moasen and Temsuchila, who make every little effort to call or text me a simple- “Hi”, in spite of their busy schedule, career and childcare duties. I truly appreciate their friendship. Under the second type, I have quite a few friends who would be sincerely and genuinely happy for me when something good happens. In the third type, I have friends like Ngutoli, and Jongpongchila who are optimistic, positive and motivated - they are worth hanging on to. The fourth ones are the carefree and willing ones who are up for anything. Anung, Zucha, Thungde and Mhabe, glad to have friends like you ladies. Finally, the fifth one would not be complete without friends like Sentimen and Akok, who are authentic and steadfast and to whom I can be my own self. I take this time to say how grateful I am to have them in my life.

Even though life and times keep on changing we are not too old to celebrate this Friendship Day.  Friendship has no boundaries of age, time, place or relations. A friend reduces one’s sadness by his sympathy and help, and also increases one’s joy by sharing it. Friendship is both good and necessary so one needs to select friends very carefully. Today, many youngsters face or create problems in society because they fall into the wrong company and make bad friends. Therefore, one needs to choose friends carefully and wisely. Good friends exercise good influence. Though real good friends are hard to find, a friendship with a good person is a precious gift for a lifetime.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Culture in Politics - Zuchano Khuvung, Asst Professor, Department of Political Science

Nagas are interested in politics. Discussion almost always veers towards politics when socialising and friends meet to sip tea and other beverages. We cannot really ignore politics because of how it affects each of our lives. Politics actually has a culture of its own which is broadly divided into - Parochial, Subject and Participant. This political culture is strongly shaped by our attitudes and values. Nagaland needs the right values and attitudes to develop the right political culture.  So which political culture does Nagaland follow? Opinions may vary, but read on to find out.

The Culture in Politics

It is common knowledge that human nature expresses itself in the form of certain values, beliefs and emotional attitudes which pass on from one generation to another, with minor and major modifications to eventually constitute the general culture of a society. Thus,  political culture of a country consists of the people’s political attitudes and beliefs, norms and practices and their orientation towards politics. It defines the relationship between citizens and government, and citizens to one another. Beliefs about economic life are also part of the political culture because politics has a remarkable impact on the economic progress of a country. The term was popularized by leading American political scientists like Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba. The term political culture is a very important concept while analysing any political system. It has a great influence in the way people see their political administration, their expectations and also helps in shaping people’s roles and behavior within their political world.
The concept of political culture can be broadly categorized into three – Parochial, Subject and Participant. People exhibiting parochial political cultureare confined to the local and internal world of their own family or group, hardly identifying themselves with the larger political system. Here the people are ignorant of their political governance and therefore they do not have any orientation towards their political set up. Subject political culture on the other hand, is where the citizens are aware of the existence of a political system but they may have very little connection or interaction with their political system. The reason for this is the lack of opportunity and interest. Under such a type of political culture, the citizens may not be satisfied with their political governance which may be corrupt, irresponsible or even inefficient. Therefore, citizens are never active participants but they are undeniably affected by the system. Countries like United States of America, the so called successful democracy, fall under the third category which is a participant political culture. The citizen’s political culture is strongly based on participation, especially in the input functions, as in, the demands or expectations of the people from the governing authority. The individuals are very active as political participants and they constantly interact with the political system. These individuals have high expectations of their political administration and are aware that their participation will bring about the changes needed. Citizens have the responsibility to choose their officials thoughtfully and wisely, and likewise the elected officials are accountable to the people. However, besides the above classification, we often witness a mixture of the three political cultures in many societies.

Now, if we are to analyze the Indian political system, we undoubtedly fall under subject political culture. This is one of the reasons why we still have to strive to achieve what is known as “Successful Democracy”. In India, our political culture is characterized by non participation in the formation of government or ineffective political orientation. Weak governance, on the other hand is also another factor for inefficient democracy. In our society, the mechanism of democracy has become more destructive rather than constructive. From what we have experienced, it is a kind of conversion from democracy to mobocracy, where all that counts is number. The right means needs to be adopted in order to achieve our end, which has to be successful democracy in this prevailing phenomena. So, if successful democracy is our end, then, democracy itself is the means which will comprise of the various techniques of democracy like franchise or suffrage, representation, political accountability, etc. Persuasion is another inevitable technique of democracy which, used in a proper way, will bear effective and favorable results. Mahatma Gandhi showed the best example of how to make effective use of the means of persuasion during the freedom struggle. If by making use of this particular tool, the Indian state can establish a totally different governmental system, i.e. a transition from colonial territory to a new sovereign state, then, why not make use of it in reforming the already established democratic order.

Although each democracy has its unique political culture, various studies over the years have shown that the political culture of successful democracies share several common characteristics which are a high level of political awareness, a strong sense of competence, cooperation combined with rational participation in civic and political life.

Therefore, it is evident that all democracies are strongly influenced by their particular political culture. For instance, in his classic work, ‘Democracy in America’, Alexis de Tocqueville argued that American democracy was shaped by Americans’ values and attitudes. This practice, which stemmed from the American political culture, gave the Americans a valuable experience on how to best run their democracy. Thus, a study of different political systems of the world, whether western and developed or eastern and developing, leaves the impression that political culture plays a very important role in the sphere of political stability and change. The builders of a state should keep in view that the political system should be in consonance with the pattern of their political culture. A good understanding of a country’s political culture can help make sense of the way a country’s government is designed, as well as the political decisions its leaders make. A political system would not get the required quantity of stability if its institutions clash with the norms of political culture. Apter rightly said, “high congruity in the political culture equals great stability in the political system”.
“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, 16 July 2014

Being Your Own Self - Patomi Yeptho, Asst. Professor, Dept. Of English

Living a mediocre life of following the crowd for fear of being criticized or ridiculed is as Aristotle says a life of nothingness. We try to be different keeping in mind the things that matter more to others than ourselves, failing to realise that we just need to be true to ourselves in order to stand out from the rest.

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”- Aristotle.

Being Your Own Self

“Life is too precious to be lived in mediocrity”. We are not making use of opportunities as well as we should, which results in us living in mediocrity. In order to avoid living in mediocrity the only thing we can do is ‘be different’. Unfortunately, many of us don’t dare to be different but rather follow the crowd and thus, we are trapped in mediocrity.  The only reason for this is because we care what others might say or what others might think about us and our actions. The moment we stop caring about what others might think or say, the moment we are free. Infact, people are too concerned about their own lives that they themselves do not have enough time to care for the rest.

People always do whine and complain about their lives and nothing ever seems to be enough. This feeling has become the norm. The reason behind this is because people are too scared to be themselves. In the end, it all comes down to following the crowd. They follow the crowd because they don’t have a dream or plan for future. There is nothing to inspire them or lead them to walk all alone on a different path but to follow the footstep of others. They follow the crowd because they just don’t want to take any risk and therefore they choose to play safe and in the end, they eventually end up regretting.

To walk all alone on a different path can be scary at times but we must realise that fear is a part of our life and cannot be easily eliminated. Many of us are afraid of being different. We are afraid that we might not be accepted by those around us. In many instances people have missed opportunities to do great things just because they are held back by fear. We can, however, overcome fear and for that we need courage. But again, courage doesn’t necessarily mean being fearless. It is about taking chances and making chances even when we are not sure of what the result would bring about.

To be different, we need to be ourselves. Most people are concerned with impressing others instead of being themselves. We shouldn’t waste time trying to impress other people. It is not about being indifferent but we end up losing our real identity. We are not being who we really are.  It is often when we are not trying to impress others that those are the times when we do the most impressing. We need to know who we really are instead of trying to be like someone else. Knowing who we are alone makes us different from the rest because we are different just being human. We also need to know what we really want. We often do things in favour of the crowd without asking ourselves what we want. The fact is that each and every individual is different from one another. We are unique and special in our own way and are truly one of a kind. It can be tiring at times to be who we are in an environment where everyone expects us to be someone else and to blend in. Knowing that our opinion also matters just as anyone else’s is the beginning of knowing ourselves. We need to voice out what’s on our mind without caring much what others might think.

Fitting in or blending into our environment will only lead to a monotonous life, whereas, trying new things or walking our own path rewards us with new and different perspectives of life. Walking in our own path is the result of avoiding mediocrity. This shows that we are independent and are confident of our doings.

The world doesn’t always work the way we want it to be. It is often the opposite and nothing is really as it seems. Many people are trying to do different things in order to be different from one another or mainly so as to impress others but these all result in being the same. Try to be normal, be yourself and that is the result of being totally different from the rest and so is the result.

“To dare to be different means being willing to stand out”. It is not an easy task. Many choose to fit in or blend into the background rather than stand out, thus, they don’t dare to be different. We should do what we like and it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks or does. We naturally do things that are already approved, thus, keeping ourselves on the safer side which is good but we also should try out things that have never been tried. Taking risks will result in higher success or failure. If we succeed, we take our prestige to the higher level and if it goes the other way, we open up many ways to be different from the rest. In both the cases, we are benefitted. There is nothing to lose in trying to be different. The only thing we need is courage to overcome fear and make ourselves ready to welcome and avoid criticism.
“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:”.  

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

A Naga World Cup Superstar - Kvulo Lorin, Director-Administration

Football teams around the world are battling it out to win the 2014 World Cup and we are now down to the semi-finals. Before a match you might have seen the teams gather around and hold a sign that said “Fifa says no to racism”. Racism and other forms of ‘ism’ destroy society from within by turning the focus of society away from the core issues which actually affect society. We talk about the corruption in Naga society, the sham liquor prohibition, the never ending NPG talks and unabated taxation. These types of issues will probably always remain, until and unless we are truly able to hear the voice of the people. The voice of the common people will never be heard if civil society and the government are in bed with each other in an, “I scratch your back and you scratch mine” arrangement. The public need to be educated and aware enough to see through doublespeak and fight for the right causes. We need a dynamic society where voices can be heard and not one where civil society parrots the voice of the elite or one where politicians have their followers unquestionably following them like lemmings. What we need to realize is that our future isn’t going to be bright and prosperous by solving only one big problem. When one of the problems is solved, new ones will eventually crop up. What we need is an environment where the many problems society keeps throwing at it, are solvable on a regular basis through the active participation of all stakeholders with their focus on the right goal.

“It is better to win ten times 1-0 than to win once 10-0.” - Vahid “Vaha” Halilhodžic’
(*1952: former Bosnian football player and current manager of the Algerian national football team)

A Naga World Cup Superstar
This World Cup, I have been feeling like Paul the Octopus, picking match winners left, right and center, that is until I fell flat on my face when USA lost to Belgium in the second round. The US football team has always been weak and the American population least interested in football compared to the main football playing nations like Brazil, Germany etc. I would have been overjoyed to see the US football team progress further, because not only were they the underdogs but are also living proof of what happens when you combine youth with the right exposure, facilities, laws and a conducive environment.

The current U.S. football roster is filled with players who got hooked on football during the 1994 world cup when the USA hosted the event.  Eight years later, the U.S. would reach the quarterfinals of the men’s World Cup. And 20 years later, the 2014 U.S. team is filled with players who trace their interest in soccer or their first memory of the game to that 1994 World Cup. This world cup also brought increased viewership. According to the New York Times, 2014 World Cup “Television ratings in the United States blasted through ceilings, surpassing those of the N.B.A. finals or the World Series”. We could be seeing USA winning the World Cup in the next 10 to 20 years if they keep going at this pace. So, since USA is now likely to win the World Cup soon after having hosted the World Cup, that means if India hosts the World Cup, India will eventually win the World Cup, right?...Nah. I bet some of you reading this are laughing hysterically at the thought of India ever winning a football World Cup. Realistically speaking, it seems impossible to think of India ever winning the football world cup. It seems even more difficult to imagine in that team will be a talented Naga football player picked from our villages or from the streets, as was the case for Brazilian greats Ronaldo, Romario and Pele. India winning the world cup with a host of players picked from the villages might seem impossible right now… but we can hope.

If we are going to make the impossible, possible then we need to look at our state and our society with undiluted realism and the unpleasant facts on the ground if we are going to solve the issues which prevent us from progressing. Every country is unique with its own set of unique strengths and problems. In a diverse country like India, we can narrow that down to every state being unique with its own unique set of strengths and problems. In football or any sport, while it is the players who actually win matches, it is these other factors which are needed to create the right environment so that those players can excel.

Does Nagaland provide that environment? Well, on 12th May 2014 at an interactive session with a few All India Civil Service Officers and students at Tetso College, we had the pleasure to meet Samuel Changkija, IFS. Here, he proudly declared he was a 100% indigenous product of Nagaland. What he meant was that he did his entire schooling from class A to his Masters right here in Nagaland. After his studies he appeared for the civil service exams and was inducted into the IFS in the Jammu and Kashmir cadre. The irony is that someone who studied his entire life in Nagaland is now technically going to be working his entire life outside the state. I would have to say Nagaland did help provide the grounding in this case.

The educational environment is heavily dependent on private players in Nagaland for quality education and they have been significantly raising the quality bar. 
However, the economic and commerce scenario is in a dismal state. In such a scenario, the dream of winning a World Cup is probably the last thing on our mind. Our society has problems, many of which our leaders and we ourselves seem to prefer to ignore or turn a blind eye to. But if we are to progress then we need decisive decisions and action taken on the delicate issues affecting progress in our state on major issues like prohibition, unabated taxation, corruption or talks with the NPG groups. We need a response from apex organizations and government on major issues like prohibition, unabated taxation, corruption or talks with the NPG groups. A stand needs to be taken and silence is just not a satisfactory answer anymore. We need leadership that can use its authority beyond narrow self-seeking ends or for opportunities which will provide an advantage for their ethnic group or tribe only. In today’s globalised world, just because you grew up in a village, it does not mean that you will die in that village. At the same time, this could also mean that even if you grew up in the city it’s possible you may make a village your final home. Our youth need to look both at Nagaland and beyond. Look at India and beyond. Good governance reveals itself when they can implement policies and enforce the rule of law to create an environment so that common people and our youth feel empowered and heard.

If that can happen then we might witness unprecedented economic growth for society as a whole. It would result in a growing middle class and an emerging network of civil society organizations free from the constraints under which political leaders and their followers labour. But for this to happen, we need institutions capable of resolving disputes impartially free from any form of ‘ism’ to provide a platform for a fair and unbiased ‘level-playing-field’ competition. The flip side is that this enhanced social and economic complexity will come into increasing conflict with control-oriented political and state institutions. A balance needs to be found and maintained to create an environment which will allow someone to become a world renown entrepreneur or an ordinary poor Naga child from a village to one day become the next football World Cup superstar.

Ref: Armour , Nancy. U.S. soccer success traces back to 1994 World Cup. USA TODAY Sports. June 27, 2014.

 “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, 3 July 2014

Power to Women - Esther Koza, Office Manager

Child marriage, domestic violence, female foeticide are issues widespread across India today – all of which challenge the notion of women empowerment. Sadly, women in the 21st century continue to face discrimination in both subtle and explicit ways owing to the manner in which society views women. Through helpless and frustrated instances of gender biased treatment sometimes in the office, outdoors or even at home, here is a reminder of the urgency to educate the masses on women empowerment and gender equality.

Power to Women

Women empowerment in India is a challenging task as we need to acknowledge, the fact that gender based discrimination is a deep rooted social malice practiced in India in many forms for thousands of years. The malice is not going to go away in few years or for that matter, by attempting to work at it through half-hearted attempts. Formulating laws, legislations and policies are not enough as it is seen that most of the times these laws and policies just remain on paper. The ground reality on the other hand just remains the same and in many instances worsens further. Addressing the malice of gender discrimination and women empowerment in India is a long drawn battle against powerful structural forces of the society which are against women’s growth and development.

We have to accept the fact that things are not going to change overnight but because of this we cannot stop taking action either. At this juncture, the most important step is to initiate ground level actions, however small it might seem. The ground level actions should be focused towards changing the social attitude and practices prevalent in the society which are highly biased against women. This can be initiated by working with women at the root level and focusing on increasing women’s access and control over resources and increasing their control over decision making. Further, working on the aspect of enhanced mobility and social interaction of women in the society would positively influence all round development and empowerment of women in India.

Today, there are lots of things that are happening in the name of women empowerment in India and lots of resources are spent in this direction. Keeping this in mind it is crucial to have a reality check on what is happening on paper and what is the actual ground situation. In India, women are discriminated and marginalized at every level of the society whether it is social participation, economic opportunity and economic participation, political participation, access to education or access to nutrition and reproductive health care. Gender disparity is high; crimes against women are increasing and violence against women is high at all times and in most cases they go unreported. One of the major aspects of women empowerment in India is to change the attitude of society towards women. The problem in India is that the society never worked on the premise of gender equality for a very long time. Atrocities and discrimination against women is a way of life in Indian society. There is an attitude which still prevails in India where women are considered to be worthwhile of only household activities. The pardah system, child marriage, dowry system are testimonies of this truth. Women have never been a part of the mainstream society in India and they are still considered as a great liability. If we just look at the sex ratio, it will show the plight of women in India. Female literacy is just 54.16 % as per 2001 Census. In Indian parliament and assemblies, women have never represented more than 10%. Most of the women workers in India are outside the organized sector. Administrators, managers, professionals, combined together and technical workers on the other hand are the lowest at 2.3% and 20 % respectively. Now these figures give the real truth of the actual mentality of the society which has restricted, marginalized and discriminated women quite openly. As mentioned before, the government had declared 2001 as the women’s empowerment year but nothing much has happened even after that. Women even today are not able to exercise full control over their circumstances or actions. From a welfare society at the inception, India moved on to embrace the developmental model and now the latest trend is the empowerment model. But with all these initiatives, however genuine they are or might have been, nothing substantial has happened. Majority of women in India are poor, uneducated and insufficiently trained. They often end up in the daily struggle of managing an ill equipped family and are not in a position to propel themselves out of the oppressive and regressive socio-economic conditions. We need to accept the truth that there is a great discrepancy in the ideology and the actual practice of empowerment policy in India.

It has to be understood that unless we change the basic social attitude which cultivates gender inequality and gender bias, we would not be able to achieve much in terms of women empowerment in India. There are many laws and amendments that have been carried out to end the discrimination against women and empower women in all aspects of life. Gender equality is enshrined in Indian constitution and this empowers the state to end the gender based discrimination against women. There is reservation of seats in Panchayats and municipalities and another law is being envisioned for reservation in parliament. But the sad part is that all these laws and amendments have become toothless as the fundamental problem lies in the attitude of the society which is highly biased against women. The only solution is for women to come together as a unifying force and initiate self empowering actions at the ground level. Once we work towards self empowerment through small number of infinite actions, we become aware of the ground realities and then we can think about taking further recourse towards changing the mindset of the society which fosters gender inequality and bias.

To re-emphasize, women’s empowerment cannot take place unless women come together and decide to empower themselves. Once this happens, then we can think about stimulating the system towards the direction of better health facilities, nutrition and educational facilities for women on a very large scale. Self empowerment can begin by addressing day to day issues faced by individual women and tackling them with a mindset of improving the overall living conditions of women at every level and strata of the society. A movement has to be built which awakens the individual self for creative and generative action. In this regard, progressive and resourceful women in the society need to come forward to help the less privileged in as many ways as possible. This shall help women to sow the seed for real women empowerment in India.
“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:”. 

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...