Wednesday, 30 September 2015

A Tobacco Free Life - Musom, B. A 5th semester, English Honours

Sukhato A Sema, the Mission Director of the National Health Mission (NHM), Nagaland announced this year that our State is the second highest consumer of tobacco in India. Cigarette accounts for 26.3 per cent as the most common form of tobacco consumed in the state followed by other gutka products. Tobacco is a recognized carcinogen. Most of these consumers are school and college going teenagers. To tackle this problem, Tetso College maintains a 'Tobacco Free Campus' with utmost austerity. Here is a true account from a student who was recently caught on campus in possession of this harmful substance. He narrates the episode and shares his afterthoughts on tobacco consumption.  

A Tobacco Free Life

Mistakes help us understand the existing theory of life about what is good and what is not. At times a mistake may appear overly good to confront it, while sometimes it may seem too dreadful even for our wildest dreams. But no matter how many mistakes we make or how many failures we face in life, it is certain that the success and happiness that we achieve through it will surely make us wiser. Though mistakes can't be undone, it does teach us a lesson which can make us wiser should we choose to learn from it. It is true that one can never wipe his slate clean and start afresh, but if one learns from one’s mistake, it has the power to change the person, his beliefs and practices.

Few days ago, I was unfortunately caught at our college gate in possession of ghutka and was penalized with a fine of Rs600. Embarrassed and frustrated, I was totally baffled about how/where  I could get the money to payoff for the trouble I got myself into for a mere packet of tobacco that cost just Rs5. The solution was simple "My parents!" But my mind was really disturbed and I found myself asking, "Is tobacco really that important in my life?" This was the first time that I had ever asked myself this question. In fact, I surprised myself within seconds with the answer. As the classes got started I took a seat, one closest to the fan. I could not help but wonder, what a thousand packets of tobacco could do to me in the future. I realized that the answer was just lying on the surface, waiting to be noticed. It did not require any research to find out what it could do to the consumer. The product itself had the answer written on its cover "TOBBACO CAUSES CANCER" and foolishly I was taking it everyday. We consume it everyday without a second thought. But actually, it is staggering to even imagine how cancer can be caused by just a Rs. 5 packet of tobacco. Right now, we don’t appreciate when the college charges fines to stop us from bringing or consuming tobacco. But ten, twenty years down the line, if diagnosed with cancer, hospitals will be charging us with lakhs of rupees for treatment. Then we will be left with nothing but "I wish".

I now realize that tobacco was/is not at all important in life. It is just a very bad habit which can be easily checked if we want, for this habit will not have any positive effect in the long run. Rather it is a suicide, with death staring at one's face. Here is an alarming fact for us to really think twice the next time we decide to buy this killer tobacco, "Worldwide, tobacco use causes nearly 6 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030".We know that death is the inevitable fate of every man and we fear it, but despite one's fear of death, we still tend to invite it by continuously indulging in habits that will ultimately destroy our lives.

Gambling is an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning. Although one's intent is to win, one is not sure what the outcome will be when the dice is rolled, and it is this uncertainty that gives the thrill and rush of adrenaline to a gambler. When we consume tobacco, you and I are gambling with our life, the only difference in this gamble is that there is no thrill, no rush of adrenaline and with the dice of life already thrown; there is no uncertainty about the outcome and it leads to nothing but us losing. It is hard to accept or even contemplate how such a habit so injurious to health has taken a deep root in our society, almost beating the pop culture. Ironically, every tobacco consumer is aware of the fact that tobacco causes cancer and this is very sad.

In life, at one point or the other we will all make bad decisions; but we should be smart enough to realize our faults and learn from it. Sadly, there are some who are too ignorant or arrogant to even admit one’s own mistake and try to change. We should try to remember that everybody makes mistakes, no one is perfect. Along the way, everyone is bound to make bad decisions or do something they really didn’t think they should have .But the trick is to realize where we have gone wrong and do all we can to do better next time around.

Now, what about you and me? Are we willing to admit to our mistakes and change? Are we going to admit that the decision to take tobacco is wrong and change for the better? Are we so weak that we have become slaves to this habit? I think not; I truly believe that we are strong, we can change; we have the power within us to be whoever and whatever we want to be. Let’s take charge of our lives and start living a tobacco free life.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Motivation as a Motto - Rajesh Tanti, Asst. Professor Commerce Department

In the education sector in Nagaland, a lot of factors affect the quality of education students receive. Challenges such as good infrastructure, strong management, an efficient system, positive learning environment and qualified teachers have a bearing on the type of education that is imparted to children. However, one of the most primary and key factors for the success of any institution or organization for that matteris a motivated and dedicated workforce. In the education scene, like a domino effect, the success or failure of a student is heavily dependent on the morale of the teachers, and their sincerity to help students discover their full potential. This article caters to both the employee and employer in working together to help make that happen.

Motivation as a Motto

I am sincerely thankful for all those teacherswho prepare good notes and do intensive preparations for classroom explanations.  It is not an easy job and especially not for private sector teachers. At times teachers working in private institutions may feel discouraged when they compare their salary and workload to those working in schools and colleges run by the government. But it is also a question of job satisfaction – how much one is learning, experiencing and growing. In spite of the difficulties, teachers give their best to produce a good result. Hats off to all these dedicated teachers.

As teachers we get so involved in our work that we forget one of the most important ingredients of teaching and learning, something which can make our work easier-  ‘Motivation’! Terrell H.  Bell, who was the Secretary of Educationin the Cabinet of former US President Ronald Reagan, has said,“There are three things to remember about education.The first one is motivation. The second one is motivation. The third one is motivation.”

As teachers, we go to great lengths to force our students to study. In the end only a few of them really study wholeheartedly. If we put a little more effort and try to motivate our students to learn then it will be like the much needed greasing in machines as it makes the functioning smooth. Neither they suffer nor we.

To support my point let me share one story:

A man had purchased a cow. He had never rearedcattle before and so he was trying to drag the cow by pulling its horns. The cow was very resistant. She wanted to go to her home, she wanted to go to her old owner.A Sufi mystic was watching. He said to the man, “It seems you are very new; you don’t know how to deal with cows. This is not the right way.”

The man said, “I am not that strong. What should I do? The cow is stronger, she is dragging me with her.” The mystic gave him some lush green grass and told him, “Leave her horns. You take this grass and just move ahead of her. Keep the grass very close, but don’t allow her to eat it. As she moves towards the grass, you go on moving towards your home.” And it worked. The cow came because the grass was so close and so green and so fresh. She forgot all about her old owner. The immediate problem was how to get this grass. Since the man moved ahead slowly, the distance between the cow and the grass remained the same. In the end she entered into the shed of the new owner, and he closed the door giving her the grass.

As teachers or parents we should also do something like this. Just think, why we try to become good and do good deeds? Because we were motivated by preachers or we read from holy books about Heaven. We do good deeds expecting a good reward. Similarly, if the employer promises better incentives or a bonus, the employees will definitely become more productive. Similarly,we shouldtry to find ways to motivate our students. We also should not forget that today’s students are more advanced. It’s not easy to motivate them with traditional methods.

Most of the students know what to study, how to study, and when to study. Not only this, they know if they do not study today,they will regret it. They know the meaning of discipline, punctuality, obedience, and hard work. To become doctors, engineers, CAs, IAS and IPS officers, lawyers, army officers, they need to study and pass their examination. So, ultimately the question is, why are they not studying? What is missing?

Most parents and teachers blame the students, but we should also ask ourselves are we really doing our part?Students are not experienced like us. Therefore, ultimately the responsibility falls on the experienced people because only they canfind a better solution.

In the private sector, there is a need for themanagement to also look into the grievances of the employees. It does not merely have to do with monetary benefits, but there are other ways that can be used to motivate employees. Non-monetary incentives can be given to the teachers to boost up their morale.Management should plan out a good strategy to motivate teachers, and once the teachers are motivated,students also get motivated automatically. Everything falls in line.

I end my article with this quotation of William Arthur Ward, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” So, which category do we fall under?

“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 September 2015

The Majority May Not Always Be Right - Thomas Kamei, Head of Department of Economics & Commerce

Leaders are elected based on majority votes. Board room decisions are taken depending on the majority. Most of the time, our choices and decisions are shaped by the view of the dominant, because it reassures us that we are doing the right thing. However, this may not always be true. Nagaland is at a crucial stage right now with the framework agreement being discussed and negotiated upon. Opinions are being shared and open discussions are taking place. Recently, there was a huge debate over the Rani Gaidinliu issue too, which only emphasizes the importance of being able to discern between what is right and wrong, without letting our egos or the majority stand in the way of rational thought. 

The Majority May Not Always Be Right

The public discourse currently on many issues like budget deficit, ruling government, Rani Gaidinliu and the Frame work of Peace-accord signed between the GOI and NSCN-IM is lively and one has the chance to read into the minds of many people who want to contribute their views in the interest of the public. It made me think. What is right and what is wrong? Is torture ever justified? Would you steal a drug that your child needs to survive? Is it sometimes wrong to tell the truth? How much is one human life worth? One of the pressing questions in my mind is whether the opinions of the majority are always correct. This write up is not about what is right or wrong about the issues mentioned above, but on what and how do we  believe on what might be right. 

The present trend seems so. The political system we are in is biased towards the majority. A person who is elected is one whom the majority favors. Whether the elected candidate is the most capable or not amongst the lot is a different question. In my opinion, it is not always the most capable who is elected. It is also possible that someone who is the most corrupted and the worst gets elected. Through this, I want to bring home the point that what the majority does or says is not always right. But the system in which we are in is such that, what the majority says must be at least politically correct. And it is always rightly viewed from the perspective of the majority, the powerful and the strong. This puts us in another situation. Truth and rights of the minority are not always politically right. So much is talked about issues which impact us remotely. In doing so, we talk the way we feel is right, and we talk in the way we are conveniently with the majority. Many a times the search for the truth is willingly giving up in our attempt to be with the majority. We tend to go along with the majority and believe in our own community, our tribes, our clan, our villages and our society not knowing what is right. We continue to stand along with the authority because of our fear of being out of their favor. Are we doing the right thing? Are we afraid of the conflict of interest for what is right? It is understood that things are right for us as long as it goes along with our perspective. But it is not right if we are tied up only with our own perspective without bothering about other’s point of view. Many of the contributors in the media seem to be the latter type, pushing down their opinion into other’s throat. Government, authorities and heads take decisions based on what the majority wants. It is natural when decisions favor the majority. However, is it not wrong when decision which favors the majority is made at the expense of the minority and at the cost of truth? Somewhere, in our quest to be in power, in our efforts to be in favor we oversee what is genuinely needed. We trample the rights of the minority. We forget that fishes survive by swimming against the current. We forget that truth will always prevail in the long run. Truth will prevail against all odds. Truth will triumph.
Many who claim to be the champion of the truth conveniently sideline the truth and say what the majority wants to hear. Many of us proclaim the wrong as right because it suits us. Truth is conveniently hidden under the voices of the majority. What good can it bring to the society? Momentary victory of the majority can be an achievement. In the long run, it corrupts the moral of the society. Imagine a society where there is no truth and every one resorts to wrongs for survival, for it is more difficult to stick with what is right all the time. Majority of the people in the society, I assume does that. The deterioration of the code of life and the increase in crime in the society are the by-products of such practice.  It begins within the family. How many parents ask their children to answer the phone instructing them to say ‘dad/mom is not at home?’ A society built on a system of lies will only deteriorate. Surprisingly, majority of us don’t take this seriously. This brings us to what I have started with - What the majority say is not always right.

Every right thinking citizen must wake up from this trend of siding with the majority for personal benefits and convenience which is resulting into more chaos and disharmony at present and also spreading the seeds for the near future. Everyone must learn to come out of the dreaded “ISM” (groupism, tribalism and so on), which is breeding not only disintegration but creating social unrest. Why not begin sowing the seeds of biasless judgment today to reap the good harvest tomorrow? And let us remember that “fishes survive by swimming against the current”.

*This write up is a personal opinion of the writer and in no way reflects the view of the community he belongs.  

“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, 9 September 2015

The Naga National Movement and the Final Settlement - Dr. P. S. Lorin, Principal

The framework agreement between GOI and the NSCN (IM) has been in the news, social media and the talk of dinner conversations ever since the signing. There is scepticism mixed with hope. If a final solution that is acceptable to all does come about, then it would be a game changer. It could result in opportunities and a chance for Naga society to focus on improving our quality of life without the distraction that a volatile situation brings. It could result in the public being able to focus on bringing corruption down. It might also allow the police to actually stand up and do their job without fear of reprisal from the groups. At the same time, there is also a possibility that the accord fails to bring peace and bloodshed and more factions emerge.

The Naga National Movement and the Final Settlement

I was born and brought up during the wave of the Naga National Movement. I have always wondered if I would ever see the matter being resolved. We Nagas have travelled thus far, and even after successive agreements and accords starting with the Nine Point Agreement in 1949 with India. Whenever these agreements are discussed Nagaland experiences a rollercoaster of emotions of both hope and despair. The latest “Peace Accord” signed on 3rd August 2015 is a small step after 18 years of negotiation. One will hope that the final agreement will not take another 15 years. The fact that the Indian Prime Minister did not sign the Framework of Peace Agreement may have the bearing that the final settlement is yet to evolve. It is going to take some more time. While time and tide will not wait for the Nagas, we see that the world will keep changing and developing. Yet, with this sensational step, can we begin to hope that this is the right time for a final solution?

India and the Nagas have not been able to see eye to eye for many years. Even now, the majority of mainland India continue to treat Nagas as foreigners and are even ignorant about our states location. For many of them, the Naga National issue is not a serious matter. A nation with a history of maharajas, kshatriyas and sudras, where the majority are from a different religion will not be able to understand the aspiration of the Nagas without enough dialogue. Nagas often quote Mahatma Gandhi’s statement “I want you to feel that India is yours. I feel that the Naga Hills are mine just as they are yours … I believe in the brotherhood of man. I do not believe in forced union”. But India had only one Mahatma Gandhi and many did not feel the same or think along similar lines. Successive Indian Prime Ministers in the past have failed in solving the Naga National question. However, the fault for being unable to resolve the issue cannot be solely placed on India’s Prime Ministers and interlocutors. Our own Naga leaders might not have been experienced enough in diplomacy and lacked the guidance and knowledge to bring about a negotiated settlement that could meet the expectations of our difficult-to-please Naga society. We Nagas were in our own comfortable world and have looked at it from a Naga centric view. But for negotiations to work, it always requires some give and take, and we probably need to have a different perspective and put ourselves in the shoes of the other camp. With the signing of the Peace Agreement, the mood of Indians and Nagas are again hopeful and fearful in resolving this long standing conflict. This time there seems to be less opposition from our neighbours Assam, Manipur and Arunachal. Our fates are tied together and a Naga solution would be beneficial for all. There will be challenges in industrialising and making the region economically independent as long as there is armed conflict in the region. It is in the best interest of all to avoid promoting political and emotional slogans such as territorial integrity and hard-line opinions but rather view things with an open mind and look at an option that is mutually beneficial for all. The leaders have to lead the way in by promoting brotherhood and peaceful coexistence. We and our neighbours must be reconciliatory and accept the fact that we each have weaknesses. Can we hope for better days?

The present ongoing consultation called by the NSCN (IM) is noteworthy. Stakeholders from all sections of society now need to step up and sensitise the masses. It is time we now realistically asked ourselves where we want Nagaland to be in the next five years and take concrete decisions to achieve that. Are we capable of creating our own world and taking advantage of the opportunities that being part of the global village provides or are we going to let things remain the same? There is a light at the end of the tunnel. The reality of a final solution is now at our door steps but it needs to be done right.

There is a relationship of interdependence in the world today. Something that happens in China affects the economy of many countries and indirectly Nagaland as well. The core features in the Framework of Peace Agreement such as “shared sovereignty” and the “Pan Naga Hoho” between the two entity of India and Nagaland must consider the ground reality, and fulfil the aspiration of the Naga people. Nagas cannot remain inconclusive or indecisive but accept the ground reality. We cannot be too sensitive and self-centered and bogged down with a rigid one track mind. As professed publicly the final settlement must be honourable by recognizing the “unique history of the Nagas.” The Nagas at the same time should respect the unique history and culture of the Indians. Building peaceful co-existence and friendship must be rooted with the impending final settlement. What must be agreed on is the deadline for the final agreement to be signed and accomplished. We should not have to wait another 18 long years. We can only pray and hope that good sense will prevail and our leaders egos take a back seat, so that we can soon witness a final settlement of the Naga National Movement.  

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Love Thy Teachers - Pakinzinliu, Assistant professor, Department of English

5th September is a day of appreciation and celebration for all teachers. It’s Teacher’s Day! Teaching is a noble profession they say, but how is this profession perceived and what is its significance in our society? Anyone can be a mere teacher but what does it take to become a genuine, excelling teacher? This week’s writer reflects upon the role of a teacher in a student’s life, their own share of pressure and fears as well as their strengths.  

Love Thy Teachers

Teaching is a noble profession and the tragedy of it is that not everybody gets into this job because they chose to be a teacher. The fact is that majority of the teachers are there by chance and not by choice. Why is teaching a last option for many of the dynamic and intelligent class of job seekers? Is it because teaching is a lowly paid job, or is teaching a less challenging job? On top of that with every school clamoring for 100% result, teachers have a daunting task at hand. Teaching is something that you can do only if you have a passion for it. It has its own challenges and the thrill of going through these challenges is really very satisfying. Your relationship with the students determines your survival as a teacher. Your good rapport with them can bring the best out of you. But it is still your attachment to teaching and your intense passion for it that will see you as a good teacher.

The place of a teacher in an evolving society has been debated over the years by intellectuals of the society. Teachers are indispensable and without them no society can grow. But with the emergence of mass media like internet, the role of the teacher has to a certain extent lost its importance. If the idea of teaching is to simply impart information, then the emergence of internet surely can diminish the importance of a teacher. Students can access information from internet and can rely less on teachers. If this is the real case, then teachers who teach non technical subjects can end up feeling less important. Sometimes ready answers given by a student because he has accessed the internet can be a little uncomfortable for a teacher even though the teacher is not supposed to feel so. But the fact is that the internet is easily accessible and there are students who are out there to test a teacher’s skill. For many of the teachers this can be a nightmarish experience, and therefore it becomes necessary for him to update himself in a very consistent manner. This might be a challenging task for a teacher. So what is the real role of a teacher, if the information that he is supposed to impart is already available and easily accessible to any student with one click of a mouse?  A teacher always likes to teach something that is not known to the class. But if the information is already available with the students then he/she becomes like one who is only repeating what they already know.  It can also happen that many of the school campus can become wifi zone in the near future where the students can freely use internet to get all the information they wants.  

So what exactly is the role of a teacher? Let’s contemplate about it and come up with an appropriate solution or answer. The answers can be different and solution varied. These are very subjective and the opinion given by one need not be accepted by another. Let us leave aside that standard role of a teacher that is given in every book. There are many articles on role of a teacher and all the articles are more or less the same. You have read them enough and these are readymade answers that anyone can easily give. Let us leave those aside and find out something new that makes a teacher a real teacher. There are teachers who can really inspire simply by their presence. I should call them the born teachers. That is not to undermine all those other teachers who picked up the skill of teaching in due course of their life like me. There are teachers who are very unassuming and short of lengthy speeches, yet they blend well with the students. They are charismatic in the sense that they are able to inspire and bring out the best in them. Being a shrewd observer he /she can identify the talent that is unique in a child.  Without a teacher this uniqueness in a child will end up being locked inside for ever without even the child getting to know about it.  The greatest obstacle a child faces is his lack of self confidence and his ignorance about what he/she can do the best. A teacher can be readily available for this task of igniting that fire from within the child that can awake him/her to a totally different world where he/she is face to face with his/her uniqueness. The fear disappears and out comes a completely new avatar. I don’t think any internet or mass media can help a child rediscover himself or herself without a teacher. In spite of all the information that a student gets from the internet, the presence of a teacher in the classroom makes all the difference. His towering presence and his movement within the classroom trying to reach out to all the students like a savior is just like life giving nectar to all the students present. It is just like he is there for them to turn to and seek enlightment. More than how much a teacher knows, it is very important how he delivers to the students about what he knows. Having said this, a real teacher is a teacher who makes his students comfortable and confident both in his presence and absence.

Above all, the role of a teacher is not only to impart bookish knowledge but also to help them develop ethical values; to be a good human being which is the need of the hour in our society, inflicted with untold anti social elements. I believe there is a rapid rise in anti social element in the society because we are emphasizing more on materialistic possession and status and leaving aside the true essence of education which should help a person to become better human beings.  At this present juncture, parents and teachers have an equal role to play in shaping and molding the younger generation with ethical values. Parents being the first teacher of a child cannot be ignored completely.

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...