Thursday, 29 October 2015

Alcoholics and Drug Users: A different Approach - T. Thungdeno Humtsoe Asst. Professor, Dept. Of Sociology

We tend to stereotype people around us. We believe that individuals can be predicted to behave in a certain way based on their religion, caste, sex and race. This is of course a faulty way of understanding a person. Diversities exist within these groups. This week’s article questions the negative stereotyping our society has constructed for drug addicts and alcoholics. By having a hostile and unfavourable attitude towards these identities, we may be doing them more harm than good. An emphatic approach would help them realize that there is a chance for redemption. After all, they are also human and have as many flaws and virtues as any other person. 

Alcoholics and Drug Users: A different Approach
                                                                                                 T. Thungdeno Humtsoe
                                                                                                                     Asst. Professor, Dept. Of
Alcoholism or drug addiction is a form of individual as well as social disorganisation created by individual’s maladjustments with the complex conditions of the modern society. A grave social evil like this is the result of the operation of mixed factors. It could be  due to psychological causes like getting ‘kicks’ and ‘thrills’, relieving tension, avoiding boredom, easing depression, satisfying curiosity or physiological factors like removing pain, getting sleep or social causes like challenging social values, to become acceptable to friends, for companionship and fun, facilitating social experiences, to set new social trends etc.

Substance abuse is said to be an ugly diseases posing a big challenge to the society. It is associated with social disgrace and dishonour.This disease of addiction creates a lot of distance between the people who are afflicted by it and those who are not. The community, friend’s circle and even their own family members look down upon him/her.

There are a number of different stereotypes that people associate with drug addicts and alcoholics. These typical opinions are generally negative, and may consist of the belief that a substance user has been a victim of a bad upbringing, troubled background and broken family. They may also adopt the theory that drug addicts are unemployed, high school dropouts or even prostitutes. The reality is much more nuanced. The use of alcohol and other drugs among teens and youths is actually higher in middle or upper class families. And not all drug users are unemployed or uneducated or have had a poor upbringing, school dropouts or sex workers.

 Our perception of what a “drug user” or an “alcoholic” actually differs from reality. We wouldn’t call famous existentialist Jean Paul Sartre with his love of amphetamines and mescaline, a “drug user”. We wouldn’t call renowned mathematician Paul Erdos, who extensively used Benzedine and other stimulants, a “drug user”. We wouldn’t label world’s famous musicians like Elton John, Eminem, Elvis Presley, Bob Marley, Paris Hilton and Paul Mc Cartney as “drug addicts” with their reliance on drugs like Cocaine, Heroin, LSD, Cannabis etc. We wouldn’t call the world’s famous personalities like Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Angelina Jolie with their dependence on drugs and other stimulants, a “drug user”. We also should not tag the English romantic poet John Keats and a celebrated English social reformer and philosopher Florence Nightingale with their dependence on Opium as a “drug user”.  And of course, I think it’s safe to say that enough people believe that Barack Obama was a good choice for President despite his admitted cocaine use.
The point here is not to glorify neither to speak ill of such famous people who led successful lives despite diving into recreational drugs, but rather to illuminate the one caution to all drug use that people seem to forget. Maybe drugs and alcohol work differently for everyone. Some people have to go their whole lives without drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Some people can extensively use stimulants and become acclaimed academics, professionals, rock stars etc; others end up in gutter; and yet others end up somewhere in between. Thus, we need to understand that an addiction can be beyond a person’s control and it can be unfair to hold harsh opinions of addicts.

It’s all too easy to stereotype people when frightening buzzwords such as “drug user”, “ drug addict”, “drug abuse” or “alcoholic” pop up. It’s even easier to proselytize those people and easier still to condemn them for their behaviour. But the truth is often deeper than labels can manage to describe, and when our stereotypes lead to prejudice and disrespect, we commit the same mistake that everyone else does. Addiction does not and should not discriminate between different types of people as they are equal members of the society: people who are parents, employees, friends, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters. These people may be extremely successful in their work, more intelligent, talented, kind, helpful, honest and generous than the rest because an addiction does not define the intelligence, personality or other characteristics of a person.

Although it is understandable that an addict suffers the consequences for their dangerous and chosen involvement, the penalty should not extend to the point of being treated indifferently.  The negative stereotype associated with drug use could make it difficult for some people to find help. They will find it hard to admit that they are addicted to a drug if the common view of an addict is so undesirable and far from the truth. Many ex-users suffer discrimination that affects their well being and future due to their past mistakes, despite having gone through the process of getting well again. Employers are reluctant to hire an addict or ex-addict because they are viewed as unreliable- and rightly so in some cases. Yet there are many who have turned their life around and worked hard to do so.

We need to have a better understanding of the range of people it may affect and help and care must be provided to those who are struggling with addiction. They deserve a chance to live their life fully like the rest, a good future, a hope and they ought to be accepted by the members of the society. We, as a responsible and concern citizens should try to look past a person’s past mistakes or even current way of living and make an effort to simply consider them as another human being; one with family, perhaps a job, hobbies and primarily their personality. Personality is the foundation of judgement and the opinions formed on stigmas such as social habits are faulty and superficial. All of us need to work together not only to prevent people from becoming victims of this problem, but also to bring back the addicts and the recovered addicts into the mainstream of social life.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Overcoming Challenges, Can We? - Shitio Shitiri HoD, Department of Political Science

On 17th October 2015, a programme was organized on the “Leaders walk the talk” in Kohima initiated by ‘Leaders Arise Nagaland’ (LAN). Such a campaign is the need of the hour to awaken and challenge our leaders who have the responsibility to lead the people. Nagas have come a long way from being identified as hardworking and honest people to becoming a race of incongruity. We are at a juncture where people are slowly beginning to foresee the grim future if we continue on this path. People are now voicing out their concern for the much needed transformation in our state. This is a challenge not only for the leaders but for the entire right thinking citizen to commit ourselves in bringing the change and ‘walk the talk’ for the interest of the present and the future generation of the Nagas.

Overcoming Challenges, Can We?

After more than 50 years of Nagaland becoming a state, we continue to have more questions than answers. There is corruption all around, and social inequities continue as never before. They are now perhaps more embedded in the milieu of the society, thanks to the social engineering done by our petty politicians in the name of ‘resurrections’.  While other states, the ones that attained their statehood much after Nagaland, have gone on to make a name for themselves, our state is still struggling to create an identity of its own. To reflect on what we have not learnt since statehood would amount to writing an epic whereas writing on what we have learnt would be like writing a one-page note. In a state of  this state of ours, we have always put self before society.

India, being the largest democracy in the world, has adopted the universal adult franchise, and thus elections have become a demonstration of force in the state. Money and muscle power rule the roost.  Becoming an MP or MLA is probably more with the motive to control command than to help the society. Elections are fought on ‘isms’, and lives are no longer laid down for the state but for the glorification of the self. History sheeters win elections with big margins and in some cases while being behind bars. The bureaucrats, police, and politicians are hand in glove with one another. Nepotism and favouritism are the order of the day. The bullets rule the roost and ballots can be brought for pennies. We continue  to remain immature electorates, not realizing the power of voting. The state may degenerate into total anarchy and chaos if we remain apathetic to the political and electoral process of the country. We know about the failures, yet we don’t complain and suffer the injustice like slaves. The corrupt go scot-free because we have not learnt to teach them a lesson.  We never venture to take any action whatsoever because we have still not learnt how to protect our rights. We would not have ended up with so many unemployed youth in our state had we put a sound educational system in place with vocational guidance and technical education as the core.
Hygiene and civic sense seems to have eluded our state.  Whether it’s a state monument, an office, an institution or a street, it hardly matters. Dumping, littering, and spitting, has become a part of our daily life, and no amount of dustbins placed around the town seem to be doing any difference.. Punctuality is something that is not simply in our nature “coming late and going early seems to be in the mind of many  Nagas”. When will we learn the essence of time management? A move by one of the state government to check late comers by introducing the punching system (biometric attendance) was so severely opposed that it sent shivers down the spine of the ruling establishment. 

The roads present another story of government and public apathy. The horrible conditions of roads has made travel nearly impossible in many parts of the state. Transparency in public administration would empower the people, through information, to question the acts of the state. The Right to Information act is there, but how many of us actually make use of it? To what extent can we make use of this right?. The cases of arbitrary arrest, torture, and forced confessions by security forces remained common. Authorities used several laws, including part of the criminal procedure code and the AFSPA, to provide legal protection to members of the security forces who were accused of committing human rights abuses. The widespread impunity at all levels of government remained a serious problem. Investigations into individual cases and legal punishment for perpetrators occurred, but in many cases lack of accountability due to weak law enforcement, lack of trained police, and the overburdened and under-resourced court system create an atmosphere of impunity. No wonder the cross violation of human rights in the state lurk our hearts with fear, deep concern, anxiety and anguish.

The Nagas have no legal recourse in the face of such abuses. We want rights violations to be recognized and acknowledged, and violators to be held accountable.  To make these feasible, indicators must be developed that help to hold the state accountable for its policies, that help to guide and improve policy, and that are sensitive to local contexts without sacrificing the commitment to the universality of rights. Can it be done? It is a challenging dream, yet sooner the policy makers and stakeholders of society initiate a community wide dialogue, the better it will be to prevent violation, humiliation and injustice of our rights. Let’s realise the value of today and work sincerely to move towards a brighter tomorrow.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Keep My State Clean - Zuchano Khuvung, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Swach Bharat programme at Dimapur Super Market on 2nd October 2015. Volunteers of Tetso College, Bethesda Higher Secondary, Young Indians, Rincho Academy and Northeast India Academy of Performing Arts

Singapore, which has a population of 5,535,000, is considered one of the cleanest cities in Asia where strict laws exist for cleanliness and maintenance of the environment, and where even spitting is considered an offense. On the other hand, we find a state like Nagaland, with a much lesser population and size struggling to keep its cities clean and spit-and-litter-free. Recently, on 2nd October 2015, a Swachh Bharat Campaign was organized in Dimapur in a bid to promote cleanliness and sanitation. While such initiatives are encouraging, it also makes us realise that we can and need to be doing more to promote and educate one another on the importance of civic sense, and that our outdoors need to be just as clean as the homes we live in.
Keep My State Clean

Our society has adapted to do things the easy way. We do not see our people adopting the appropriate means to get work done. However, when it comes to exhibiting real values in life, we need the application of proper means to achieve the required end. As Christians, we should always remember the well-known quote ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’. There is no denying of the fact that our society is proceeding towards an era without a civic sense, which in the long run will be hazardous. This is an apprehensive discussion about the Indian society in general and Nagaland in particular.

In India, nationwide sanitation programmes started way back in 1986, restructuring and changing policies several times with a different name each time. We have spent millions on sanitation infrastructure but sadly, all have failed because the most important component of such programmes was left out ie. ‘Civic Sense’. I fear Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the latest restructured sanitation programme of India may be another failure for the same reason.
Civic sense is nothing but social ethics or the unspoken norms of society. It is not just about keeping the roads, streets and public property clean but also has to do with abiding with law, respecting other’s point of view, maintaining decorum in public places. Individualism, vandalism, intolerance, racism, road rage, etc. are all examples of lack of civic sense. People are becoming less and less tolerant of each other, of other's cultures, backgrounds, beliefs and behaviour. It is simply about understanding that every right implies a responsibility, every opportunity an obligation and every possession a duty. It’s about having consideration for a fellow human being, having concern for elders, women, children and disabled people, driving in one’s lane without meaningless honking, proper disposal of garbage, smoking only at designated places. The list can go on.
We absolutely lack basic civic sense and many of us are not even bothered. For instance, the roads in Nagaland are not dirty because nobody cleans it, but they are strewn with garbage because it is us who have thrown it there in the first place. Such callous littering has no place in modern society but it still exists in ours because we accuse everybody for it and wait for someone else to remove it. On several instances, I have seen people spitting on the roads, littering public places. The current state of public transport, for example, is disheartening. There are spit stains, urine, vulgar graffiti, random garbage and overflowing of sewers at every nook and corner.  Aren’t we all proud to live in a city that boasts a high standard of living and good infrastructure? Why is it that when it comes to keeping it clean, we turn a blind eye? We are enthralled by many things western societies do and the only thing missing is the sense of collective responsibility. Every single individual in our society seems to feel that the road belongs to him or her, be it the automobile driver, the two wheeler user or the pedestrian. At night, every driver tries to outshine the vehicles coming in the opposite direction, and the incessant honking which we all know is very annoying and of no use. Compare this with the disciplined silent driving in other countries. Land encroachment is another significant instance of the lack of civic sense, particularly in Nagaland. The Nagas today are so driven towards their personal gains that civic sense as an ethic has become a low priority and almost a nuisance to those who regard it as unnecessary evil. This attitude has proven to be catastrophic for our society. In addition, the developmental works carried out by various departments, viz. PHE and Telecom, which are supposed to be constructive initiatives, has unfortunately proven to be destructive in a way, because of the fact that after their work is done, they do not bother to take care of the dirt, and this undoubtedly creates inconvenience.
Ultimately, problems of such nature needs to be addressed in a pro-active way .The objective should be to create a sense of collective responsibility through education, participation and action both as a group and as an individual. The aim is to build awareness, knowledge and understanding the gravity of the situation and its impact on our society. The need of the hour therefore is to effectively address the problem, discourage behaviour that is detrimental to the society by instilling a set of values that can lead to creating the right mindset in people. Each of us should start practicing a culture of civic sense and sensibility, ensuring a future where everyone is aware of the importance of social ethic or societal norms which should not just be followed but should become a way of life.

Smooth functioning societies owe a lot of credit to the right amount of civic behaviour among its people. Civic sense does not come from just enforcement but from a "sense of belonging" which creates pride and a sense of ownership.  Law cannot be enforced on many things. As a society we have to address this problem in a pro-active way and need to build that sense of accountability.  Value formation as a determinant of behaviour is an important phenomenon that cannot be ignored or overlooked. Lack of civic sense has reached such a point of crisisnthat a single campaign will not be able to address the problem. We need to dismount our high sense of greatness and introspect seriously about our failings in civic virtues. Clean India campaign can address only a tiny part, and we as individuals shall have to find ways to switch on the civic sense button in our DNA. Civic Laws should be enacted and civic education should be introduced. Civic sense is something like a genetic trait.  As such, if the present generation can be made ‘a human being with civic sense’ the rest is simple, future generation will follow. 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Entrepreneurship in Nagaland: Challenges and Solutions - Lily Chishi, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics

Entrepreneurship is rapidly becoming one of the most dynamic forces in the Nagaland economy. A flurry of local entrepreneurs have emerged to tackle the market demands and create a self-sustaining economy that also generates more employment opportunities. Call them ambitious, risk takers, go getters, or opportunists, we have a wave of determined young individuals who would like to make Nagaland a commercial economic power hub. Yet, the road to success is not always sunshine and rainbows. To actually reap the benefits is a long winding road with challenges, set-backs and the know-how of dealing with the ground realities that exist in our State.   

Entrepreneurship in Nagaland: Challenges and Solutions

Today, with the rapid development of our society, entrepreneurship has become one of the most dynamic forces in the economy. Majority of jobs are created by small businesses which are started by entrepreneurially minded individuals. Entrepreneurs believe that they have more opportunities to exercise creative freedom, have a higher self-esteem, and an overall sense of control over their own lives. Nagaland has witnessed a surging growth in entrepreneurship over the years, especially in locally made brands of food products, fashion, restaurants and hotels, etc. One of the prime reasons for this development is the change in the mindset of the young local populace who prefer getting involved in small time businesses instead of opting for employment in the government sector or migrating to Mainland India.

The increase in the number of graduates has only increased the burden on the government to create more jobs. Wide scale corruption adds fuel to the spirit of discouragement among the youth. This has created a state of hopelessness in many youngsters who have resorted to even criminal activities to succeed in life. Today’s youth are unemployed not because they lack qualification, but because the system has been crippled politically, economically and socio-culturally. The government has done little to reduce the misery and frustration of the citizens. Owing to this, many seek employment outside the state where they have a chance for a better life. During the last few decades the phenomenon of entrepreneurship has gained unprecedented importance on a world wide scale in being regarded as a substantial source of new employment, innovation, and economic growth. In spite of the gloom surrounding the employment scenario in Nagaland, a positive change has been brought about by the growth of entrepreneurship. It has employed a large number of young people, especially high school and college dropouts, or those less qualified.

Entrepreneurship in Nagaland is coming of age, but the reason why it is not coming all together is the lack of resources, especially in the area of skilled mentorship, infrastructure, technical know-how, and capital. The major setback has been the lack of innovation. Common businesses like food and clothing are what the majority of the local entrepreneurs invest in. This has its own drawbacks. Even though it increases competition, it reduces individual profit. The one winning at the end are those who invest not only in the product, but also in a proper marketing plan. Each business needs to have a marketing plan that suits the uniqueness of that business and speaks to the target customer.
Nagas entrepreneurs find it difficult to make their products popular because the market of local products has not been well developed when it comes to promotion, distribution, and collection of customer feedback. In order to solve the problem of marketing, common production cum marketing, centres need to be set up and equipped with modern infrastructural facilities. That will help in promoting export business and enable close interaction of the buyers and sellers, thus avoiding the middlemen.

Another major drawback is the failure to maintain consistency in quality of the products. This is due to lack of availability of standard tool and equipments, and poor quality of raw materials, which affects the business in the long run. The unstable political scenario of the state has only made it more difficult for businesses to flourish. The need of the hour is innovative ideas combined with support from the government agencies and other organizations. Today, employment creation is no longer the responsibility of the government alone, but a collaboration between the public and private sector. By encouraging entrepreneurs and supporting them the government can easily help develop businesses thereby increasing the standard of living in the community.

In this line “Impact 5000 By 18”, a five year campaign on entrepreneurship and employment by Youth Net is functioning to enhance business, entrepreneurship, and employability skills of 5000 youths of Nagaland by 2018, through various programs. The focus should be on encouraging sustainable growth oriented and innovative firms, and not simply fostering more startup businesses. The government’s policy and programmes should create a better climate for starting a business.
The government and NGOs should help in creating a balanced ‘ecosystem’ that includes mentors and a strong support network. Networking and learning among entrepreneurs only makes their functioning more efficient. The local government can help in fostering connection and learning among entrepreneurs by organizing fairs and fetes. The power of entrepreneurship lies within the connections among businesses, the inspiration and mentorship they get. To harness these conditions, successful support strategies should concentrate on bringing businesses together.

The government should come forward to introduce entrepreneurial education in educational institutions in order to instill a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship in the minds of the rural people. That would enable the graduates to become job creators rather than job seekers. Nagaland has many resources lying unutilized. Entrepreneurship will help in locating these resources and mobilizing them to meet the challenges. The great need for entrepreneurship development in Nagaland today is more than ever necessitated by the rate of unemployment and its effect on both the people and the 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...