Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Art of Living - Zuchano Khuvung, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Everybody wants to be happy and everyone has different ways of achieving it. It might be a new car, a new house, a new job, finding the one or getting married, a promotion or performing a random act of kindness. Whatever it is, happiness has a great deal to do with the manner in which we choose to lead our lives. No matter how we define happiness for ourselves, a sure shot way of experiencing it everyday is to have positive energy around us at all times. 

The Art of Living

It is a well known fact that every human being wants to live a joyful life, a life with content. So, how do you achieve that or why can’t you achieve it? It may be because you are missing out the very implications of a contented life. There are many ways through which we can achieve this, but most importantly we have to be a grateful person and need to have a good conscience, count our blessings, focus on giving and keep low expectations. People who have all these see the world differently and know that there are always good things behind everything that happens. We human beings tend to see only the negative side of things and overlook the good things. Try to see things differently and be observant of all the good things happening in and around you. If someone calls you a friend, that’s something you should be grateful for, or if you see a child smiling, that should remind you that there is always hope. One should know that bad or unwanted experience gives us valuable lessons and when a person has this mindset, it is not difficult to see the benefits one can get out of unpleasant experiences. Focusing on giving can also significantly help a person to be grateful. By giving, your mind will automatically focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have. Most people focus on receiving which makes their mind focus on what they don’t have – this is where greed creeps in, an insatiable want. No wonder it is difficult for such people to be grateful. This is when I want us to think about the things we possess, and the important thing is, we do not need them actually, which in other words would be wastage and a sin. . So what happens normally is, we do not physically go and hurt or kill someone but things are happening the other way round. In the pursuit of amassing wealth and prestige we may, in one way or the other, rob others means of survival which would be no less hurting them physically. So the question is do we feel guilty about that?

Aristotle opines that no one tries to live well for the sake of some other goal, rather than being happy, which is the highest end. All subordinate goals like health, wealth and other such resources are just means to achieve the highest end – happiness, because they promote well being, and not because they are what well-being consists of. This is what most of us fail to differentiate – means and the end. We make the means which in this case, can be wealth, our highest end and somewhere in the struggle, we lose the most important thing called happiness. Meister Eckhart rightly quoted, if the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, then that would suffice. Gratitude may mean many things – thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means being aware on a continuous basis of how much you have been given. It shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. When people become oriented towards looking for things to be grateful for, they find themselves starting to appreciate simple pleasures and things that were taken for granted earlier.

Furthermore, a person should have a good conscience which is indispensable to self respect because no one can really respect oneself if we do not keep a good conscience. Without it, you can have but little influence over others. We should first set our conscience right and live according to its dictates, and then only a time will come when people hear and regard what we say. Keep your moral sentiments strong and be an example and a blessing to others. The reputation of a good conscience will give you such a character that whatever you say or do will have weight and you become a person with a most valuable power of influence for doing good. For those who are not blessed enough to have a good conscience are never aware how they appear to others and they never have thought about this. They are self-opinionated that they would be so blind to their own real character and not aware of the impression they make on others.

If we are to regard ourselves as good human beings, it must have something to do with being human, and what sets humanity apart from other species is our capacity to guide ourselves by using reason. If we use reason well, we live well as human beings or to be more precise, using reason well over the course of a full life is what happiness consists of. Happiness is possible through virtuous activities like justice, courage and temperance. Living well consists in doing something because ethics is never theoretical alone. It is always accompanied by practice. It consists in those lifelong activities that actualize the virtues of the rational part of the soul.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Follow the ‘right’ Leader - Sosangmar, B.A. 2nd Semester (Political Science Honours)

Disasters can happen anywhere when there is wrong leadership. A State, a society or an organization cannot progress or function effectively without right-thinking leaders who can inspire, educate and connect with the masses, which also makes it crucial for the rest to know how to determine who is the right leader. Sosangmar, a 2nd Semester student writes about the differences between a true leader and a boss.

Follow the ‘right’ Leader

“Who is the Boss?” If you happen to ask this question to a Nazi during the 2nd world war era definitely there will come the answer “The Fuhrer” (Hitler). The same question to the Russian, “Stalin”; to the fascists, “Mussolini” and to the communist’s china “Mao Tse-Tung”. However, that bossism era is long gone and the modern era is now what is referred to as the ‘Leadership era’ synchronizing with ‘boss’. Nonetheless, Hitler was driven by Nietzsche’s philosophy of “the will to power” and “the death of god” while the Russian was motivated by Karl Marx’s “from every man according to his ability to every man according to his needs” only to be followed by more denser philosophy like Hegel’s, Hobbes’, Rousseau’s etc.. However, most of their philosophy emerged through conflicts and revolutions.

As long as we are concerned, we are sure Nagas are not engulfed by any of these ideologies and Nagaland is believed to be a place where it is said to have found the purest democracy. To steal some words from Karl, I want to express it by a phrase like ‘from every man according to his instinct to every man according to his duty’. We Nagas are unique in various ways than most other people. However, like a firefly in the midst of the darkness, we can clearly see a very mind twisting word that is spelled awkwardly as “Boss”. Our society is at the brink of tearing to pieces by failing to differentiate between a ‘Leader’ and a ‘Boss’. We also have another wonderful word which can hypnotise people and it is spelled as ‘Great’, which by mentioning it, can easily lure sensitive minds into an abyss of perplexed mindset where they are forced to wear black goggles inside their SUVs and ignore the one who put them inside those wheels.  ‘Leader’ and ‘Boss’ carries a very different meaning to each other but has the same appearance. One is a sheep while the other is a ravening wolf clothed in sheep’s skin. Whatever the case maybe, If we are given the freedom to scrutinise our leaders, I am afraid there will be many ‘bosses’ with flat fangs, who in their quest for ‘greatness’ have every possible chance to fall down from the height and land as a brown stain in the mattress rather than ‘leaders’ who work with honesty and with pure nationalism contributing toward the development of our nation. This leadership quality doesn’t just apply to our political leaders only but also to those people who were given a ‘responsibility presented in opportunity’ whether it be in school, college, student bodies, various societies and NGOs, etc. We must feel proud to be one among many. Let us take pride in who we are but sometimes life is not all about who we are, it also means the One behind our back that defines who we really are. A leader is a follower of Christ. If your vision is Christ-centred, we really are in need of a God fearing person who can bring a change to our degrading society.

George Washington, the 1st president of America, prayed every night at 9 O’clock. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a one day fast for the entire Americans. Nonetheless, Joseph was a dreamer; Moses was short tempered, David, a shepherd, Esther was a captive in Babylon, Daniel and his friends were just another four ordinary young men and you all know they were the one who rocked histories. Jesus’s disciples were also once a rookies like you and me but He was right when he said “For he who is least among you all will be great”, and they were the ones who spread the gospel all over the world. God does not play dice. When He says ‘The least is the greatest’, He meant it.

Take Edison and Einstein for instance. They were branded unfit to learn. Joe Satrini, who was kicked out of his band by his manager for not maintaining appropriate hair; but without hair or not, he sold millions of his debut album; 14 presidents of USA came from ordinary family; John Adams, Martin Van Buren, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter were all sons of farmers; Andrew Jackson was the son of immigrant from Ireland; Milliard Fillmore was born in a small farm; Abraham Lincoln was the son of a carpenter; Ulysses S Gr ant,- son of a tanner; James A Garfield, born in a log cabin in a small farm; Calvin Coolidge, son of a store keeper; Herbert Hoover, son of a blacksmith; Dwight D Eisenhower, son of a mechanic and Barack Obama, a black man; Also not to forget our former president APJ Abdul Kalam, son of a fisherman. All these people are great leaders. I am reminded of a quote from my classmate notebook “Great leaders don’t do different things, they do things differently”. They were all ordinary men but they set their priorities right and if we, the Nagas in general and students in particular, could just humble ourselves by being pulled down to the earth, I am sure God will raise us to a height we could never imagine even in our dreams. After all, dreams do happen and the vessel of our life does change its course. Hope for the better but keep the hope alive in Christ.

Politics With or Without Ethics?- Shitio Shitiri, Head of Department, Political Science

Politics and ethics – they are supposed to go hand in hand. Yet, while they may easily do so in theory, they often do not in practice. Unfortunately, politics in Nagaland appears to be a mixture of three “M’s”- Ministerial power, muscle power and money power. The words of Lord Acton rings strongly in our ears, “Power corrupts and absolute powers corrupt absolutely”. As doubt, frustration and concern plague our minds, we are left with many questions about the future of our State.

Politics With or Without Ethics?

Ethics does not mean what the government prescribes, but what ought to be prescribed. In our practical, day-to-day life, it means a moral justification for every political action. Ethical politics, therefore, means a political system based on some morality. A state will end in disaster if the political activity is shorn of its avowed moral base-both for the ruler and ruled.

Every political decision must be ethical in order to prevail. No state will get moral support from the people if its political decisions are based on selfish motives or consideration and not on ethical and moral values. The purpose and objective of state are guided by moral values. What is morally wrong, cannot be politically right because a good state ought to be based on sound moral principles.

In India, this moral and ethical base for political activity can be traced in the preamble to the constitution of India. As long as Indian state honors the moral precepts enshrined in the preamble, it is said to be practicing ethical politics, but if it begins to deviate from these moral precepts and deny its people Justice- social, economic and political or liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship or denies them equality of status and opportunity etc., prompted by political motives, its action becomes unethical. Practically it clearly provides that state action should be legally and morally based on sound precepts. In other words, constitutional provision should be honored in both letter and spirit.

After more than half-a-century of statehood, most of the Naga citizens are wondering what good governance is or what are the key aspects or why is it important for economic and social development? What lessons have been learned from the past? Where will the state stand ten years from now? To our utter surprise the answer to the questions is void! The government can speak but no actions or measures to implement.

The problem of unemployment, socio-economic disparities, regional prejudices, concentration of wealth in few hands, low standard of living, lack of industrial and economic growth, proper health care system, road connectivity, lack of technical and vocational institution, law and order issues, corruption and political intrigues have assumed unmanageable proportions. Unfortunately politics in Nagaland has been a mixture of three ‘Ms’- Ministerial power, muscle power and money power. In the words of Lord Acton “Power corrupts and absolute powers corrupt absolutely”.
Whenever a VIP or VVIP has to travel on any stretch of road, martial law like conditions are created treating all ordinary travelers, office goers and people running errands as suspects and criminals. Sometimes perfect gentlemen “Mr. XYZ” get a good beating or scolding at the hands of the protection forces simply because he happened to be travelling on the same stretch of road at that particular time. A pseudo democracy has been imposed, not to speak of liberty, equality and fraternity for the common man, even his fundamental rights are more in breach than in observance. Value based politics has become a rare commodity. There is always contradiction between what the politicians preach and practice. The followers and admirers of the hero try to prove themselves to be more loyal than the king himself. In handling the mass media, they use technique to create, foster and spread myths which have no substance because they are mere phantoms. The struggle for power survival and opportunistic politics degenerate the socio-political scenario. Down the years, we find that greater the mediocrity of the ruler, greater the number of intellectual pygmies hovering around the ‘Actor’. We feel badly let down, rather cheated because countless rulers have betrayed the trust of the people.

Writing about the shorn of ethics, which pervaded the Mughal courts after the death of Aurangzeb, historians have recorded that too much of wealth, luxury and leisure had softened the character and degenerated the Mughal nobility. No Mughal family retained its place for more than one or two generations. If the achievements of noble man were mentioned in three pages, the achievements of his son occupied nearly a page and the grandson was dismissed in a few lines such as “He did nothing worthy of being recorded”. Now when we look at the past and read stories of deeds and misdeeds of the politicians and bureaucrats of our present age, we cannot fail to notice the close similarity of unethical politics of the past Mughals.

People’s hearts are filled with deep concern, anxiety and anguish. The truth of the matter is that the political condition or art of affairs is creating a very unhealthy impact on the psyche of the people, which stands deeply wounded and bleeding. Glimpsing over the past we have to clip down the ugly feathers of unethical politics for progress and prosperity. The foremost need of the hour is good governance, leadership, technical and managerial competence, organisational capacity, reliability, predictability, accountability, transparency, participation and decision making across a spectrum of social, economic and other areas. The bricks of politics cemented by ethics can lay the strong foundation on which a peaceful and prosperous Nagaland can be built. Today we are faced with stark alternatives of ethics in politics or twilight disaster of the Naga society.  

We Need Dialogue - Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Director-Student Services

Dialogue. It is a necessary process to arrive at solutions, identify shortcomings, negotiate and brainstorm ideas. For Nagas, talking about issues and expressing opinions, is often at the heart of every social gathering and meeting, sometimes going much beyond to the extent of even gossip and rumours. Our close knit community life in which everyone seems to know everyone could be one reason why we particularly enjoy interacting with one another so much, besides the fact that man is no doubt a social animal. There are also cultural implications to it as Nagas come from a very strong historical oral culture in which orality was once the dominant mode of keeping our tradition alive.

We Need Dialogue

In the present day, constructive dialogue and honest talk is considered a necessary step towards bringing about the first stirrings of change in society. It is needed to adopt the right mindset and approach for a progressive society, after which directed action can spring forth. Creating a space for dialogue suggests that there is room for ideas, differing views and opinions, and that sometimes there is no single solution to solving a problem, but requires many ideas to work together. After the March 5th lynching episode in Dimapur, Nagaland, I heard a lot of people complaining about the sudden barrage of articles and write ups that were being published, many of which attempted to analyse and assess the entire incident. Views and opinions, much to the chagrin of some, were being expressed both on print and in news media. I believe we learned a lesson from it all that we must be careful and wise about the propaganda we create, and also of which we are fed and eventually led to believe. It showed to us that we may not always be in control of the unpredicted directions in which dialogue and propaganda can go, and therefore increased the urgent need for a public that knows the importance of deciphering, negotiating, handling and understanding divergent views and opinions. While we may not always agree with each other’s opinions, it would be shallow to disregard what others have to say. We must be open to criticism, to feedback and suggestions in order to create a right thinking society.         

On 14th March 2015, a panel discussion consisting of individuals from different sectors such as entertainment, administration, media and entrepreneurship came together at Tetso College to discuss on the topic “Opportunities and Issues in Nagaland”. The panelists were Aochuba Yaden, Director, Nagaland Post, Akuonuo Khezie, Managing Director of Northeast Institute of Arts and Performing Arts, Samuel Changkija- IFS, and Tomtsa Vinito, Programme Manager of YouthNet, and the session was moderated by Shonreichon Sareo, a Senior Analyst from Deloitte.

One of the reasons why the panel discussion stood out was its ability to deliberate on a broad range of issues plaguing Nagaland by the accomplished younger generation who are trying to make a difference in their own respective fields. The discussion was a revelation into the issues and challenges that hinder us today, while also looking at some of the brighter aspects of our Naga people. With students from approximately 15 colleges present at the panel discussion, the panelists gave insight, advice and answered the student queries.    

It began with a look at the challenges of the growth of entrepreneurship in Nagaland. According to Tomtsa Vinito, one of the greatest challenges was the mindset of the local people. He stated that Nagas just do not want to work hard and instead want easy money. Re-affirming this view was Aochuba Yaden, who cited one of Nagaland’s problems to be the huge reliance on Government jobs through competitive exams such as UPSC and NPSC, which fail to promote work professionalism, and supplemented this with the classic example of the number of proxy teachers that exist in the Government schools in Nagaland. With a fixed salary and absence of a reliable evaluation system, government jobs encourage laxity. To change this, Samuel Changkija stressed on the need to have emphatic government officials with a clear conscience towards actually developing the society. He confessed that practically speaking, because of the prevalent challenges in the system it actually becomes difficult for visionaries to survive in the government sector.  Further, Tomtsa Vinito believed that the inability in the Government sector to promote hardwork also lay in the lack of provisions of incentives for quality of work and a system in which people get paid without showing any credible output for it.

There are however, many ways in which the Government can help the State progress. Panelist Tomtsa Vinito, believed that one way of doing this was to help establish private-public partnerships that can benefit both the sectors. Samuel Changkija believed that the Government should just act as a facilitator, while Akuonuo Khezie was of the view that the Government should be a supporter, but not actually interfere in the running of private businesses as interference in the functioning of private industries often led to a subsidization in the market value of the products, which in turn negatively affects the private sector.  

The discussion was an apparent indication of the current friction that existed between both the private and public, as they attempt to negotiate with the rising demands of the general public all the while working within diametrically opposing functioning systems.
On the brighter side, there were also many positive qualities that the panelists attributed to the Nagas. Samuel Changkija believed that Nagaland has a vast talent pool of Nagas in various fields. Akuonuo Khezie highlighted that Nagas are hardworking, honest and hospitable with a strong value system, as a result of which they tend to stand out in the hospitality sector. In addition, Nagas possess a unique culture that set them apart from the rest. Aochuba Yaden stated that Nagas, especially those working in the corporate sector were doing extremely well across India and abroad, adding that Nagas have a flair for the creative arts.

A very poignant message was sent across to the students after a question was raised during the question and hour round: “My parents always tell me to study, study, study. But isn’t there something more that students can do besides just studying? What roles can we play in our education process?”

To this, the panelists emphatically agreed with parents that if anyone wants to become successful the only way out of it was to actually study, study, study. Hardwork is key towards accomplishing any amount of success. Besides this, Samuel Changkija added that it was also about using time wisely, by which he stressed on the importance of studying smartly and knowing how to manage time well even while not studying. To supplement the wisdom of using time wisely, students were encouraged to participate in co-curricular activities, generate and approach their institutions with ideas and work together to initiate competitive events, formulate platforms where they can learn beyond the classroom too.

Discussion veered further towards the education scenario, in which it was agreed that students and parents also need to move beyond the shackles of a single field of study and explore the possibility of moving across disciplines in the Commerce, Science, Arts, Vocational streams etc., in order to find out what one is truly passionate about.    
If there is anything more we can take from the panel discussion, as I saw the muted and rapt attention of the students who were glued to their seats during the entire session, it is that in a place like Nagaland, where there are as many challenges as well as opportunities, we still need more dialogue to help guide and produce right thinking citizens.       

Article is reproduced from a Panel Discussion organized during Pow-woW 2015: Inter College Fest held at Tetso College on 14th March 2015.  

Monday, 2 March 2015

Educate Our Girls-Monjit Roy, Assistant Professor, Department of Commerce

Educate Our Girls

Education is a must for everyone. Without education people are like an empty glass. In 1950,the British government established an education system but after independence the real effort for education in India started. Even after so many years of independence, women in India continue to suffer socially as well as economically at different levels and in different forms. One of the most horrific of violence's against women in different parts of India has been the branding of them as witches. Scores of women are regularly killed on charges of witchcraft across the country. This largely happens in states like Assam, Bihar, Jharkand and West Bengal annually. Women, mostly widows, are beaten and often paraded in the village and sometimes forced to eat excrete. According to a recent report by NGO Association for Social and Human Activities, between 2001 and 2008, 452 women were killed in Jharkhand’s economically backward classes, and a low literacy rate of 53.6% and 38.9% for women have led to prevalence of superstition and violence against women.Women have been the victims of violence all through the ages in all societies, cultures, regions and religious communities of the world. The doors of educational, economic, social, political, and cultural opportunities were gradually closed for them. The birth of the son is an occasion to rejoice and that of a girl of grief. Women’s personal freedom in respect of movement, dress, diet, marriage came to be dominated by man.  As time progressed several ills began to creep up in the society.Violence against women further increased when young girls began to be forced to serve as the Devdasis in the temples, which encouraged prostitution in the religious life. Girls began to be married off at a young age and in certain communities the newborn girls are killed by the parents themselves. Women are perceived as the weaker sex and dependent on man. If she is uneducated, unskilled and economically dependent, she seldom has any choice but to bear all the atrocities heaped on her.

According to the report of the National Committee on Women’s Education (1959), it cannot be denied that the general picture of the education of women was the most unsatisfactory and women received practically no formal instruction whatever, except for the little domestic instruction that was available to the daughter of the upper class families.The education system of India, like many other social institutions has long been discriminatory towards the women. It was believed that women should aspire to become good wives and mothers, not intellectuals, doctors, lawyers etc. Women used to wash clothes, cared and served meals. They were forbidden to speak in public. However, the proportion of women students have increased steadily and mostly in the last decade. The society needs to be sensitized to the fact that women are not meant to be treated as a doormat or a punching bag.The government also took the responsibility to promote education for women in general. In the year 1870, training colleges for women were opened to train the girls to become a teacher in girl’s school. As a result of these efforts, great progress was made in girl’s education in the last few years. Though women have made much educational advancement in recent years, they still have a long way to go before their historic educational disadvantages are eradicated.

Today, the education system for women has improved a lot which has a large impact on the health and economic future of young women, which in turn improves the prospect of the entire community.Education of women is more important because I believe that if you educate a man you educate an individual but if you educate a woman you educate a family. The mother is the first teacher of a child and when the mother is educated, the child gets the best education for life.As we all know the saying that behind every successful man there is a woman.We can make our country a developed and prosperous nation if both men and women work together towards the nation’s progress.Women’s education is a must for the family, society and country. Therefore, we should educate the women and work together as a team then only we can develop our nation.So let us help them, guide them, support them, trust them and believe them but never destroy them (Padega India tabhi toh badega).As the U.S President Barack Obama mentioned in his speech during his visit to India that if countries wanted to develop effectively, they must educate and empower their daughter as much as their sons.
“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...