Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Road to Wealth - Kvulo Lorin, Director-Administration

A Naga village woman carrying water, firewood and her baby along a dusty road – Photographer: Imti Longchar

Oil prices are falling (more than 40% since June 2014 from $115 to less than $70 a barrel) and the Russian economy is currently floundering. Closer home, our humble old villagers are probably oblivious to the crashing Russian currency and concentrating more on pressuring their marriageable age grandchildren to get married while making preparations for the Christmas service. Oil prices probably aren’t really a concern for a grandmother who leads a simple life in the village. Sadly, that kind of life is on the decline due to the rapid urbanisation in today’s world.

Food for thought as we celebrate the festive season. 
We wish our readers a Merry Christmas. 

The Road to Wealth

The national highway that connects Kohima with Tseminyu and Wokha is so bumpy that it feels like it could wake a dead man if he was taken through it. This was my thought as I travelled through this highway to my village in November. After such a tiring journey, the saddest thing was to be greeted by an empty village, almost akin to a ghost town. The deserted look was only punctured by a few people carrying water and tending animals. There didn’t seem to be many people, except either the very old or the very young. The people from the village who were of school and college going age had all migrated to the towns and cities to study, the young and married were all searching for employment and working in the towns or cities. Basically, it was only the very old or the very young living in the village. I must have looked dejected because one of the elders pulled me aside and told me with a smile that the kids return during the holidays and the village starts bustling again.

I think our Naga society is reaching a stage where people are slowly moving away from the prospect of village life and are eager to shift to the towns or from the towns to the big city. Everyone wants a life where they can live comfortably. The road to wealth and comfort is slowly and surely shifting base to the towns now.

Our towns do offer comparatively better infrastructure, electricity, water, education, health facilities and a better quality of life compared to many villages. However, our towns are struggling to cope with this huge migration from the villages. A visit to local social networking groups will reveal a torrent of complaints regarding the pitiful condition of these towns. Issues ranging from corruption, the Naga political problem to petty traffic violations are aired, discussed, debated and sometimes mocked.  The politicians, church and the Naga Political Groups seem to be the punching bags in the online world. The irony is that while these three institutions are abused and insulted in the relative anonymity of the online world; in the real world, our people fall over themselves to hail and revere them so as to be in their good books by inviting them to inaugurate functions, buildings and more. Our behaviour towards the three institutions - church, government and NPG’s is creating a strange paradox as we move from the virtual to the online world. At the heart of all these rants rings frustration, an open airing of opinions where our people seem to be expressing the disconnect they have from their political representatives, church and the NPG’s.

As we transition to a modern society these problems are only to be expected. We do have problems, we do have a lot of issues. But what is aggravating the situation and holding us back is not that we have problems, but the fact that we seem to be taking too long to solve these problems or conveniently trying to close our eyes and pretend they don’t exist. This calls for the institutions and powerful to make tough decisions and push them through. Otherwise, for all our talk of being one people the economic divide that is growing will only speed up the process of splitting our Naga family apart as everyone pulls each other down to grab the fruits of development and progress. Instead of pulling each other down, our Naga family and institutions that are in it need to work together. A great example of this is how Japan managed to forgive the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which is estimated to have killed 300,000 people and actually became a very valuable ally and trading partner of the USA.  Even though China and Japan are rivals and its communist form of government make it a natural enemy of the USA, all three countries have open trade and investment with each other for mutually beneficial reasons.   

In the above example, it shows how economic integration won over political rivalry even among enemy countries. However, the fact is that money invariably also draws crime. If the government or some other institution controls money then the government or the institution naturally draws in criminals or people who wish to extract it for their personal needs.  Economists, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson in their book “Why Nations Fail” write that it is institutions that are key to directing the fate of a nation. According to the authors, Nations fail when institutions are "extractive," protecting the political and economic power of only a small elite that takes income from everyone else.

The road to wealth doesn’t seem to be in the villages anymore, nor will it even be in the state of Nagaland unless our political and economic institutions are "inclusive" and pluralistic, creating incentives for everyone to invest in the future.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

What about our teachers?- Kim Judy, Head of Department of Education

“One time while travelling back home, a co-passenger asked me my profession. When I told him that I am a teacher he did not lose any time in asking me next, “private or government?” After that I received a sympathetic expression, along with the last question which is an advice really, “Why don’t you try competitive exams?"
– Food for thought on how society perceives teachers today

What about our teachers?

This article is based on my experience as an educator or a teacher. Teaching for me is an honest profession and it is not possible for everyone to become a successful teacher. It requires much more than degrees and qualifications.In fact, it demands innumerable qualities such as sincerity, accountability, patience, empathy, etc. to name a few.  I’m proud of myself recollecting the successes of my students in terms of result and career. It has helped mebuild and work on my weaknesses and encourages meeveryday to do better. Even as a teacher we do learn lots of new things from our students which contributes to making one a better and understanding teacher.
As for some of us, teaching is not just a job but a passion and so we give our all not just to produce good results but alsoresponsible citizen. Here, I would like to share my own story; having parents who loved education, I was sent to one of the best private institutions with the best teachers who taught me almost everything and my due appreciation goes to them. The question is how was I taught? The strongest tool to make me learn and mug up everything despite my average memory was punishment. It was not psychological teaching where the focus should be on the student’s capabilities and interests. Learning was never exciting as we were not taught about its utilities and relevant examples were absent. Teachers nowadays are well qualified and teach not just the subject but use all the sophisticated educational technologies for effective learning. Teachers are expected to evaluate the students continuously for remedial teaching and also present their topics with relevant practical examples to make learning useful and applicable for the learners. Being a teacher, we do influence the life of students directly or indirectly and so a teacher has a huge role to play. Besides doing our bit in educating the child, it happens that parents sometimes expect too much from the teacher not realizing it’s not just difficult but alsoquite impossible. As a result, the student’s entire success depends on the teachers’ effort which is not always the same with each individual student/children.

Having mentioned about what teaching is and the importance of teachers, let’s get to the most important part of this write-up, which is, “Does the society appreciate my hard work and effort?” Being in this profession I always get the sympathy of others but not their respect and appreciation. Our society does recognize all types of government employees, except the honest efforts and contributions of educators. In my five years of teaching profession, there are only a handful of parents and students who actually appreciated me for my work as a teacher and I have also seen my fellow colleagues being given the same. Having had our last parents-teachers meeting in September where I personally met around forty parents and guardians, not more than five actually appreciated the forgotten effort. Our society has to change for the better by showing respect and gratitude to these teachers for educating our children. In my present work place we don’t teach just the subject but punctuality, sincerity, respect for individuality, team work, integrity, hard work, etc. and many more, which is true education. It is high time we should recognize and appreciate our teachers and not just blame them for the failure of our children. As it is famously pointed out, "Teachers are the maker of society”. Here’s my experience; one time while travelling back home, a co-passenger asked my profession, not knowing and least expecting what I was about to tell him. When I told him that I am a teacher he did not lose any time asking me, 'private or government?’ After that I got the sympathetic expression along with the last question which is an advice really, “why don’t you try competitive exams?" You can imagine how I felt at that moment. First of all,my co-passenger, did not realize the extent of the contributions of a teacher. Secondly, the incident goes to show how easy it is to break or make a teacher's conviction knowingly or unknowingly. Of course,I don't blame my co-passenger for that. It is a testament as to how teachers are perceived by the society. For that matter, perceptions ought to change. Respect and appreciation should not be based on how much money one makes in a month or in a year but it should be earned based on one’s contribution to the society. It is said that on an average, even spiritual gurus save much more than a teacher. In my profession we don’t expect awards and cash prizes from the society but a little respect from society and a small gesture of "Thank you” from parents and students will go a long way. It will help us shape better leaders in the future. It’s time to realize that teachers can do a better job if motivated and appreciated by parents and society, therefore understanding the fact that we all love to be appreciated, be it for a small achievement or a big one. Our development in all fields depends on the kind of teacher and the appreciation we show.
“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”. 

Celebrating Christmas - Daniel Khan, Asst. Professor, Dept. of Political Science

The festive season is in the air! The towns and villages in Nagaland have never looked as bright and cheery as they are now, flooded with Christmas lights and decorations, food and fun. However, as we celebrate this season, let us also make sure that the true meaning of Christmas is not lost on us and keep our Saviour close to our hearts. 

Celebrating Christmas

Christmas is supposed to be a special time of celebration and joy. It’s a time when families get together and recall old memories and create new ones. We give presents to many family and friends and they do the same – it’s a wonderful tradition. But in the midst of all our Christmas festivities we may forget that it is Jesus’ birthday we’re celebrating.  For many people, Christmas is just another holiday. Even those of us who know the real meaning of Christmas have to fight against the tendency to get caught up in the busyness and frenzy. In the midst of all the marketing, Christ becomes an afterthought and frequently gets left away in the manger. We are so busy shopping for gifts, preparing and hosting dinners or get togethers, writing and sending cards, that we forget the greatest gift that God, the Father, has given us- the gift of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As it is, the world we live in makes it a challenge to remember Christ even though it is Christmas.

The commercialism of Christmas is a major distraction. During the Christmas season we are bombarded with advertisements on television, in newspapers and magazines. The noise, glitter, shopping hype and commercialism make it easy for us to take our eyes off the true meaning of Christmas and also Christ. Don’t get me wrong! I do love this season, and with all the lights and festivities, I find this time of the year magical. I love celebrating Christmas with family and friends but there is much more to it than just that. I want to make it meaningful. I want Jesus to be the focus this Christmas. I want my family, friends and neighbors to know what the day and celebration is really about. They won’t hear it at school, colleges, or see it in commercials. They will know from us if we live and show an example to this new generation.

If you carefully observe society today you will find very few who know the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas celebration has become a fashion or decoration competition in the society. Most of the people think that by cleaning and decorating their homes, wearing new clothes, organizing parties, helping the needy, attending church and fellowship, singing carols, etc., Christmas can be observed. These are secondary things and unimportant obligations in the Lord’s sight. If we think and practice these as if they were the ends in themselves, then we are wrong. Celebration of Christ’s birth has to mean much more than all these.

I want to draw your attention to the first Christmas more than 2000 years ago. Our Lord Jesus Christ was born among his own people, but they were not ready to receive Him, nor believed or accepted Him. In spite of more than 300 prophecies (Isaiah.7:14, Micah 5:2,) about Jesus in the Old Testament, no one was ready to receive Jesus! There was no room for Him, either physical or in the hearts of the people. “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:11). If we compare the way we are celebrating Christmas, we can easily tell how different it is from the first unprepared Christmas. Will our lives, our families be prepared to receive Him this Christmas or will we still continue to repeat the same blunder of telling the Son of the Most High God that there is no room for Him in our lives, this year too?   

1 John 5:11, 12 says, “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”.  We cannot celebrate Christmas meaningfully if we do not have Christ in our lives. Jesus came to give us salvation, which is eternal life, so then, how can our celebration of Christ’s birthday be complete without Christ in our heart? The Holy Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Christmas should remind us of the matchless gift ever that Our Heavenly Father gave us-our Lord and Savior, Jesus. God sending His Son to our rescue is a gift that words cannot fully comprehend. Christ came that we may have eternal life. John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God”. Dear friends when you receive Christ, you will be “Born again to eternal life with Christ”. That is the real purpose for which Jesus came to this world:  to give you and me a new everlasting life. (Is. 53:5). John 3:3 also says, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God”. Unless we are saved and born again, the celebration of Christ’s birth will be meaningless. Let us open our hearts and receive the most precious gift from our heavenly Father, Jesus Himself.

Having received the gift of eternal life through the Son, should we also not present our Lord and Savior a gift as we celebrate His birthday? What gift could we possibly give to Him? There is no gift as precious to the Lord as one Soul! The best gift that we can therefore offer our Savior is our hearts, our lives, our total trust. As you give Jesus your trust, make Him first in your life, give what you value to His work, and bring other people to Him. You are giving Him gifts far more valuable than the ones the Wise Men brought.

So then, can we make this Christmas meaningful? Definitely! We can start by making choices that matter, choosing not to allow the urgent things that characterize the Christmas season to crowd out the important values that signify what Christmas is really about; choosing to build, nourish and cherish those we love in new ways. Christmas is “God with Us”. Christmas is Christ becoming man so that He might “give His life a Ransom for many”. Christ came to give Himself for others. Let us reevaluate our priorities in light of our relationship with Him; recommit our lives to grow in Him. Let us remember that Jesus is the reason for the Season. This Christmas, let us celebrate and share the love of Christ in our lives, our families and in our churches, for Christ Himself is what truly matters!
“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”. 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Our History Matters - AnatoliRochill, Asst. Professor, Dept. of History

Today we celebrate the final day of the Hornbill Festival 2014. The 10 day long festival is a significant reminder of the history that has shaped our land and our people, telling us and the world that our past cannot be forgotten. History, is an important part of our lives, whether it pertains to an individual, a society or a country. It is not just a textbook or a subject that we have been made to study, but a truth that helps us understand the way towards creating a betterfuture for ourselves. 

Our History Matters

Does history matter? If it does, then what is history? History simply means study of the past that is significant and true. It is derived from the Greek word ‘Historia’ meaning ‘enquiry’ or ‘knowledge acquired by investigation’.Francis Bacon used the term Historia in the late 16th century when he wrote about ‘Natural History’. The word history first entered the English Language in the year 1390. History is a continuous, systematic narrative of past events as relating to a particular people, country, period, person, etc. which took place in the history of mankind It includes an account of the rise and fall of a nation as well as of other great changes which have affected the political, social, religious, cultural and economic conditions of the human race. According to G K Chesterton, ‘History is a hill or a high point of vantage, from which alone men see the town in which they live or the age in which they are’. Charles Johnson has rightly said that, ’you can’t escape history, or the needs and neuroses you’ve picked up like layers and layers on your teeth’.

Herodotus, a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century was known as the ‘Father of History’. He was born on 1484 BC at Halicarnassus in Turkey and died at the age of 59 years in 1425 BC. He was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically and critically, and then to arrange them into ahistoriographical narrative. Historiography is a study of historical writings. It refers to both the studies of the methodology of historians and the development of history as a discipline, and also to a body of historical work on a particular subject. The historiography of a specific topic covers how historians have studied that topic using particular sources, techniques, and theoretical approaches.The book called ‘The Histories’ was his masterpiece and the only work he is known to have produced. He helped form the foundation for the modern study of human history.

History is divided into three periods or ages namely: ancient, medieval and modern. We study the culture, religion, polity, socio, etc. of the various periods and how it developed over the passage of time.  During the ancient period, people wandered from place to place in search of food. They were unaware of the use of metals; had no idea of civilisation and probably did not know how to produce fire. Their implements were of rough stones, mainly of quartzite. They lived on the fruit of trees and wild animals. In the later period they started to cultivate land, domesticate animals, built houses; they buried or burnt their dead bodies, used skins of animals as clothes and learned to cook their food. People of this age started to live a settled live which results in the rise of towns and cities and development of trade and commerce which also marked the beginning of the medieval period. During this period, there was proper town planning and people were engaged in internal (trade within the country) and external trade (outside the country) practices. With the advancement of science and technology the modern era began.

Ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging and includes the study of certain topical or thematic elements of historical investigation. The people of the past are those who came before us and it is interesting to see how some of the thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and practices of today can differ so drastically from those throughout history. Ancient cultures devoted much time and effort to teaching their children family history for they thought that the past will help the child to understand who they really are. However, modern society has turned its back on the past.We prefer to define ourselves in terms of where we are going and not where we come from. Our ignorance of the past is not the result of lack of information but of indifference.

We no longer believe that history matters but I should say that history does matter as there is a sayinghe who controls the past controls the future. Allen Nerins has rightly defined history as, ‘a bridge connecting the past with the present and pointing the road to future’. In life, we face situations where we have to make crucial decisions.It is the past knowledge that is going to help us make the right choice. For instance, when we go to visit a doctor for any kind of sickness, before beginning with the session we are asked to fill out an information sheet of our medical history. Some of these forms are so detailed, asking questions that require information from rarely accessed memory banks. Why are we asked such a question? It will help the doctor to understand the accurate picture of our health. Our health is heavily influenced by the past like heredity, past behaviour, and past experiences, etc. If our history were not that important then we will not be questioned, but we are, and this is why we need to give importance to our past to tell us how we should move ahead into the future.
“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...