Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Raise your Hands to Help our Special Needs Children - Kahor Raleng, Head of Department of English

Special needs children deserve every bit of our love as does every child. It is sad, however, that there are times when they are not always treated fairly – it may be as slight as a remark, an expression or a reaction from another that makes them feel excluded or unwanted. Life can be very demanding and challenging for a child with special needs. To help them battle through it, society needs to give them additional support and encouragement all the time. They need the constant support of parents, doctors, therapists, teachers and others who can help and make them feel as independent as possible every single day of their lives.

Raise your Hands to Help our Special Needs Children

I have a niece who is 2 years and 8 months old. She is the most beautiful and loving child that I have come across. She never complains as long as she is fed on time. Nobody could ask for a more loving child. But she cannot walk nor can she talk. She was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in October 2014. When she was 6 months old she started showing some problems. At first we thought that it was some kind of respiratory problem. She was treated by several doctors in Nagaland and Manipur but none of them could diagnose her problem. Her condition deteriorated so she was taken to GNRC, Guwahati. The Neurosurgeon there diagnosed it as a non-convulsive seizure but the cause could not be ascertained. She started her medications and her seizure was controlled but she showed no signs of cognitive development and motor skills development. Then Dr. Simpson in CIHSR, Nagaland diagnosed it as a case of mild autism.

It is said ‘Ignorance is Bliss’. Is it really Bliss? Now that I am aware of this condition, I reflect back on my years as an educator. Due to our ignorance especially regarding disorders like Autism, ADHD, Schizophrenia, Dyslexia, Seizures, etc, many lives are wasted. Several individuals live with these disorders and are deprived of a normal life because of wrong diagnosis, untimely intervention or mere ignorance. Society also plays an important role in the way these disorders are perceived or treated. Parents try to cover up the condition of their child because society stigmatizes them. There is a stigma connected to all these disorders and the superstitious nature of humans regards it as a curse or some form of black magic. I was left aghast and saddened at the response of some of my VERY EDUCATED friends when they were told of my niece’s condition. Some were horrified, some gave me an awkward look with a lot of pity, where as some haven’t even heard of the term. Just a handful of them knew about the condition. For many, they don’t like talking about it because the topic is a kind of taboo or it distresses them.

Many special needs individual go through life without receiving any attention. It is not their fault that they are born like that. Nobody asks to be born with special needs. It’s the way of nature and God’s purpose. Let us show some humanity and help them by educating ourselves, spreading awareness and by giving them the special care that they deserve. The Government should take the initiative of providing special needs teachers and fund schools or institutions for special needs individuals. Unfortunately, in our state, the special needs teachers have to fight for their right and have to beg for attention from the Government. I would also like to urge the youths who are on the threshold of deciding their careers, to opt for studies in these fields as it is the need of the hour. We need specialists in these fields, trained therapists, trained teachers and also trained counselors to guide and counsel the parents, guardians and professionals who interact with children.

Autism is not reversible but can be managed through early diagnosis and extensive therapy. If ignored it can be life threatening and an individual will be dependent on others for life. It is not possible to diagnose a dysfunction in a child through some symptoms or behavioral patterns so it is very important to refer it to a doctor, development specialist, occupational therapist etc. When a child does not exhibit behavior patterns which are expected or they exhibit behavioral patterns which are not expected, the child should be immediately referred to a professional. Apart from autism there are several other disorders or learning disabilities which a person can suffer from. It can display as attention deficit, poor memory, poor mathematical abilities, difficulty in reading etc. If the parents or teachers are not aware they can be labeled as ‘lazy’, ‘disobedient’, ‘lethargic’ and countless unreasonable names. The good news is that many of these individuals can lead meaningful lives if the right interventions are given at the right time. In fact they have more talent than many ‘normal’ individuals; this is testified from the fact that many of the leading scientists, inventors and famous personalities had some form of disability: Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Pierre Currie, Thomas Edison, Orlando Bloom, Jennifer Aniston, Leonardo da Vinci, John Lennon and many more.

My niece has been undergoing speech therapy and physiotherapy for the last few months along with her daily medication. She is showing signs of improvement and gradually we hope and pray that she will be able to live a beautiful and meaning life with her God given gifts.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Make Room for Women-Naomi Aye, B.A. 6th Semester, Department of English

(image: a few of the worlds most powerful women)

heartfelt article on the position of woman in the world today, Naomi Aye, a B.A. 6th 

Semester English Honours student invites readers to respond to the urgent need for 

sensitizing the public on respecting the women of the world.    

Make Room for Women

Who is she? Why is she always the victim? Why does she alone have to bear everything? Is it because she is a woman? You can’t do that, or do this because ‘you are a girl’. This is the mindset of the people. We don’t want to acknowledge the fact that women are an equal being. She is the one who bore, molded and guided you and me to maturity. Without her, no life would have been possible. When she plays a crucial role why does she need to go through thorns and nails? Why does her exceeding care and unconditional love go unnoticed? She never lost to atrocious days because you were her hope; she did everything to mend you to be the finest; but sadly, what does she get in return? Endless, unlimited crimes upon her; how can any human be so heartless? She is made not of metal; her flesh bears your bruises but it does hardly matter to anyone. People just let the world go on with ruinous crimes on her; all they do is act as mere spectators. This is because of our mindset that consider women as inferior and weak. In fact, such feelings have become a culture especially in a patriarchal society like Nagaland.

God did not create women to be inferior, nor did He create them to live in fear.  Who are we then to decide or judge who is inferior and who is not? Who are we to infuse the feeling of fear on her? A man commits crime against a woman; yet ‘She’ is the one to be blamed. Why is a victim always guilty? Is it because she is a woman? I have come across many men folk who said that a girl is raped because of the way she dresses. If it is the sense of her dressing then why are the women in purdahs still being raped? And if you blame her for going out at night, do not forget that she is still being raped in her own house. Where in the world is a place safe for her?  A woman has an equal right to raise her voice just as any man. Do not ask her to keep mum. She doesn’t need to bear all the atrocities just for being a woman. They are the ones going through the ugly things of life. Why then does the world still need to point at her? When you are biased let this thought hit you that ‘She’ is the one who gave life to you.

It makes one cringe when flipping through the pages of the newspaper. Brutal crime on women all over the world has become something that is happening every now and then. The only response to this is a sigh of pity and then followed by the blame, where the victim becomes guilty.  Law itself is loose and flexible when it comes to women victims. The system never improves because ‘She’ is always the victim. Things will get better only when each individual decides and changes their acts and mindset for real. A woman lives in fear each day - at dark, at daylight and at any moment. Every place seems unsafe for her. Where do you think ‘she’ should go? Where should ‘she’ seek peace when the entire world is stoning her with crimes and humiliation? She is an equal being so then why can’t there be an equal treatment towards her?

The biased view of the world has gone to the extent that it has even changed the mentality of women towards their own self. She now takes crime on her as something inevitable. She is also made to feel weak and valueless. She now feels that nothing is going to change and that no one is going to hear her cry. She sheds her tears in vain. One undeniable fact is that ‘she’ is a priceless being and yet the world needs her desperately. She is an inspiration and a role model to many. She breaded you and yet her own breed betrays her. Nothing seems fair when it comes to women. Women were confined from the very beginning. She was expected to work within the four walls of the house. It takes a life for her to walk the street alone. She faces eve teasing, molestation, faces an assault, rape, murder, etc.  I have a feeling of fear that women will once again be confined. In myriad ways, she is threatened from leading a normal life. In fact, her life has become hideous. All these can be done away with if you have the will to change the world for better, simply by changing our attitude and mindset towards her.

A woman can be faithful and trustworthy in the form of a mother and a sister who will hold you till the end. When everything fails you, you will still find her by your side.  As a wife she shares all your ups and downs of life keeping her vows.  As a daughter she obeys, respects and returns your love. No matter what, she tries to stand to your instructions. Despite knowing all these, yet we still deny our acts of discrimination. Realization comes from pondering, yet we hardly do so. If your mind is set against her, nothing will ever change what is happening towards her. She, scalding her tear, is pleading for a safer world. ‘She’ says just a scanty is enough if you promise her a safe world. We people need to hear her cry.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

How About Becoming An Entrepreneur? - Rosemary Apon, Assistant Professor, Department of Commerce

“If we have an entrepreneur in every family, India’s economy would sky rocket. We would then be able to take our rightful place as an economic super powerin the community of nations. Entrepreneurs create jobs. They create wealth. They create  products and services.”
 – Rahul Bajaj, Chairman &Managing Director, Bajaj Auto.

How About Becoming An Entrepreneur?

There are hundreds of students passing out from colleges and universities each year. Now, the question is, what do they do after the completion of their formal education? Usually, deciding one’s own profession is one of the most crucial tasks. Each individual has their own dream and aspiration. A dream can be anything big or small. As Azim Premji said,“People wonder if having unrealistic dreams is foolish” To this he replied “dreams can never be realistic or safe. If they were, they would not be dreams. But one must have strategies to execute dreams and slog to transform them into reality.”To achieve the desired goals and dreams of life one has two career options, i.e. wage employment and self employment. Wage employment refers to those jobs in the government, public and private sectors earning a fixed amount of wages or salaries. Self employment on the other hand, is pursuing one’s own endeavour or enterprise, where the income is also flexible. In other words, it is becoming an entrepreneur. Entrepreneur is one who starts a business and is willing to take risks. An entrepreneur can be an artist, home maker, restaurant owner or an inventor. What defines an entrepreneur is the desire and courage to strike out on one’s own, in the world of business, instead of working for someone else. Accordingly, self-employment has a larger scope and a higher capacity of earning than wage employment, which is the charm of becoming an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur does not only generate income for oneself but also provides employment opportunities to our society. In order to be an entrepreneur one need not necessarily have the entire so called complete package for venturing into a new establishment. Our experiences along the way will be in itself a guiding star for us. The general perception of our society about a successful entrepreneur depends on one’s financial security and the many other resources needed for starting a business. We wait for the perfect opportunity to start a business instead of striving for it. We are too reluctant to come out from our comfort zone and face the challenges. In regard to this, I want to cite an example from my own experience with a couple of friends who aspire to be entrepreneurs. One of them has a strong financial status but with no definite business plan where as the other friend has no financial aid but a fine business plan ;however both are not enthusiastic and ready to take the risk to execute their dreams into reality, which might include meeting different and unexpected challenges.  There are also certain other criteria besides financial securities and a good business plan like willingness to take risk, determination to achieve the goals, good public relations and many more. A good business plan should be feasible accompanied by a good nature of business, purpose and execution. As Shri Hari Shankar Singhania stated,“I have always followed the dictum that success comes only with 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. There is no substitute for hard work. One must have the focus to achieve his or her vision. Nobody gets a clean slate to write on and has to start with the dirty slate he gets. If one waits for the ideal situation the time will never come.”

We want to earn but are not ready to put in effort. We become lethargic to work. To accomplish big, sometimes we need to have a humble beginning with hard work and perseverance. In fact most of the famous businessmen had their own humble beginning of their business. Some of which are like- Lakshmi Mittal, son of a scrap dealer, who is today  one of the world’s largest producer of steel having its plants in 15 countries including India producing 18 times more steel than Tata Steel Co.; Shri Dhiru Bhai Ambani one of the India's top business tycoons has inspired many to dream and dare. He went to Mumbai to start his business with just Rs 15,000 and lived in a one rented room with his family of seven. Today the family owns India’s largest private sector organisation; Kiran Mazumdar- Shaw started her business with a capital of Rs 10,000 from her car garage. Today she is the chief executive officer of Biocon Group. She is recognised as India’s Bio tech Queen by The Economist and India’s mother of innovation by New York Times and the list goes on. The beginning of a business is important but where it stands in the end is more important. Talking about this I remember an accomplishment in this area which was initiated by the Youthnet through a program called the ‘first cut’ which provided a platform for students to develop their entrepreneurial skills and talents. Students from different colleges participated by coming up with a business plan and executing it. It may be a miniature program but it had a positive impact on the students to have real life experiences on how to run a business. It helps in exploring talent among the youths as well as producing skilled personnel who would be responsible for our economic progress. In our present society this is the type of opportunity we have to create to have a stable economy and self -reliant individuals.

“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, 9 April 2015

The Simple Life - Veduvolu Khusoh, Assistant Professor, Department of English

“I am going to the Galapagos Island to live as long as I can and die there,” was the response of a grand old man whom this writer met while travelling from Ecuador to Peru. As Confucius believes, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”, and this old man was soon on his way to fulfilling his dream of leaving behind the complicated for a simple good life.

The Simple Life 

When I was traversing down the road of Ecuador to Peru, I met this “grand old man” who was 75 years old from the United States. I wasn’t at my best when I saw him that day. I was rather disappointed that one of my dreams of backpacking around the rest of South America came crashing down on me. When I went up to get my breakfast, all the tables were occupied except for this one table where this old man was sitting alone. Although I wasn’t in the mood to talk, I joined him and asked where he was going. To my utter surprise he said, “I am traveling alone”. Before I could gather myself, he gave me yet another jolt but of a far more unusual kind with these words, “In fact, I am going to the Galapagos Island to live as long as I can and die there.” Apparently he bid farewell to all his beautiful children and grandchildren so as to live and complete his dream – a rustic comfort in a natural setting.

He didn’t leave any sort of inheritance to his kids; he didn’t seem to be affluent as we normally think of the Americans. But he certainly appeared satisfied. He shared his little-big secret: his satisfaction comes in the fact that all his children turned out to be content, independent and happy people. Contrary to my expectation that a conversation about death over breakfast would sadden him, rather he seemed pretty peaceful and happy with his decision. My whole perspective about life changed that day. After months of living a hippie kind of life in Montanita Ecuador- a place that makes simplicity of life so much easier - I realized how fulfilling life is when it is simpler, when you surround yourself with positive and engaging people, when you don’t need a lot of stuff to make you happy; the less we have, the more attention we can give to those we own and truly need.

What a stark contrast life in Nagaland is! Life is so hard. Often I am made to wonder if returning back to Nagaland has been the right decision at all. I tend to be frustrated easily when people for no reason take so much pleasure in judging others for what type of car you drive and so on and so forth.. Once while I was window shopping with a friend, it pained me so much to see how a teenage girl was bullying her mother into buying her a leather jacket, the cost was almost Rs. 6,000. Her reason is that all her friends owned one. The more astonishing part was that her mother didn’t protest much. She bought it for her along with some other stuff. The total bill was more than Rs. 10,000 and it wasn’t even Christmas! (You have to excuse me for judging but I have to make a point here).
Can we Nagas really afford such a lifestyle? And yet this lifestyle seems to rule our society today. For instance, look at life in even the fringiest part of Kohima where even the stairs are so steep and the condition of living so challenging? But from one of these houses, anytime of the day, you will see a youngster coming out looking like a million dollar celebrity. Is this the reason we so willfully embraced modernity? Whenever I think of this, I get stupefied. Nagas do have a good aesthetic sense and we do have to appreciate or celebrate our sense of style. And no, I’m not condemning anyone for buying all these fancy stuff. What ails me is the kind of society we are creating for ourselves where we try to fit in when we don’t look like a million dollar worth celebrity.

In these 3 years of teaching experience in Nagaland, I’ve never met a parent who personally came asking about the progress of their children, besides the parents-teacher meeting day which happens once a year. I am not even talking about those Naga youth studying or working outside of our state, especially those who live lavishly with their parents’ hard earned money. Don’t we suppose it’s high time we take some time to really assess what is happening to our youth? Suppose we Nagas become very rich in future, will we be happy if our society is run by lazy and inefficient people? Instead of being busy hoarding wealth for the future of our children, why don’t we slow down a bit and spend quality time with them, motivate them to work hard, teach them to become independent individuals, to appreciate and to enjoy the simple things in life, and to be content with what they have?

Probably then we wouldn’t have to deal with all these social problems we are facing in Nagaland. Especially alcoholism – which I believe is sabotaging our land and our future. To satisfy our wants is limitless: the more we have the more we want. The houses will never be big or luxurious enough. It doesn’t matter how much you have, when money is the motivator, you always need more. I still think about this ‘grand old man’ and feel envious of him and all his accomplishments. He isn’t someone who had a luxurious life, but he loved his wife dearly during the worst of times, believing in their children and encouraging them to love, learn and live independently. He didn’t leave any inheritance but he did give them the biggest gift of life; he provided them quality education to pursue their dreams. To end with a moral on the lesson from this man’s story, he did not add to the woe of the society by producing a bunch of dependent specimen; rather he lived simply and contributed a bunch of hard working successful children towards securing the future of the society and nation.

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...