Friday, 27 November 2015

Room for Creativity - VeduvoluKhusoh, Assistant professor, Department of English

People are most productive when they follow their dreams and do what they are interested in. In the US, it is a common for students to enroll for career guidance and counseling programs which assist them in making and implementing informed educational and occupational choices. In India, the scenario is different. Youngsters are steered towards careers by the expectations of their parents and by the trends in society. Students in Nagaland are expected to join the Science stream if they score well in Mathematics and Science in Class 10, even though they may be interested in Humanities. Many sit for UPSC, NPSC, and other competitive examinations without any actual zeal for those jobs. A country can truly progress only if everyone is able to give their best, but which may never happen if careers are mismatched and creativity is curbed.

Room for Creativity 

Just a few weeks back I attended a “World Children’s Day” celebration. One thing that really left me flabbergasted from this celebration was when the speaker asked the children seating in rows what they would like to become in the future. Majority of the boys cried in unison “Engineer!” and the girls shouted “IAS officer!” The speaker was quite awed with the response. He stressed on the importance of Government jobs and exhorted them to work hard to become engineers, doctors, NP officers etc.

I don’t completely disagree with the speaker. Of course we need to encourage children to achieve these professions as we need them for ensuring the peace and progress of our society. But on the other hand, it’s high time we stop instilling only these ideas into their young and formative mindset – that only those who join these professions are high-water marks of human achievement.

Living in this 21st century, having a degree is just not enough anymore. With the increase in population and the number of students graduating every year, we simply can’t drill our children to focus on combating only for government jobs in our society. There are noble things that we can pursue other than government jobs. What is more important is to inculcate in them a creative and critical mind to uncover and unleash the power of each individual gift. We need to focus on their talents. We need to sensitize and train their creative mind to come up with new ideas and solve everyday problems.

I have seen scores of people grudgingly appearing competitive exams year after year just to fulfill the desire of their parents and some of them actually failing miserably. They have passions of their own. They want to be entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, designers, farmers etc. but are too afraid to thwart their parent’s dream or they don’t get enough support from them since they deviate from their parents plans.

Picasso once said “All children are born artist. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up, we don’t grow into creativity but we grow out of it.” I heartily agree with this because we have creative talents of our own. Not everyone is born to become engineers or doctors. Parents should understand this. We are all here on this planet to play our part with God-given talents. But along the way we educate ourselves or talk our way out of it. What a tragedy!

Unemployment problem in Nagaland will curtail significantly if we start fostering creativity at a young age and continue to nurture it as they grow up, adding more creative activities in schools and colleges. We start by not only encouraging them to have a mind of their own and pursue their passions in life but also reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity.

With the increase in population and subsequent decline of natural resources coupled by the advancement in technology at a sky-scraping speed, we are at a stage where we need to treat education and creativity equally. We do have a role model in this context. Our very own ZhokhoiChuzho, who started from a very humble beginning of acting in Nagamese movies, has now made his name in Bollywood. If we allow our children to be who they are and support their dreams, they would find a way to live contentedly and magnificently.

Here’s a short story of Gillian Lynne- a choreographer. When she was at school she was really hopeless. The school in the 30’s wrote to her parents and said “we think Gillian has a problem”, she was fidgeting in the classroom and disturbing her classmates. Her mother took her to see a specialist. She was made to sit while her mother told the doctor how Gillian was having problems at school. At the end of it, the doctor asks if he could speak to her mother privately. The doctor turned the radio on which was on his desk. The minute they left the room she was on her feet moving to the music. They watched her for a few minutes and the doctor told Gillian’s mother that Gillian is not sick- she’s a dancer. Gillian was taken to dance class and eventually auditioned for the Royal Ballet School. She later founded her own company- The Gillian Lynne dance Company. She has been responsible for some of the most successful musical theater productions in history. She’s a multi-millionaire today.

What our children need is the right push and strongest support from their parents. Our only hope for the future of our next generation is to influence them with creative imagination and ideas so that they can face the future independently with innovative ideas and live a more meaningful life doing what they love.

“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:”

Friday, 20 November 2015

Naga Peace Accord: A Young Mind’s Perspective - Anubhav Tiakaba Kar (BA 5th Sem English Hons) and Ahyulo Khing (BA 3rd Sem Political Science Hons)

For nearly 70 years, the history of the Naga people has been filled with tragedies and atrocities. Countless number of dialogues and agreements have been made between the Government of India and the people of Nagaland. A lot of viewpoints and opinions have emerged and everyone has an opinion on the latest framework agreement but they are also apprehensive to voice it out. For a lot of the younger generation in the colleges and schools today, they have no first-hand experience of what transpired in the 70’s and the 80’s. Accordingly, a glimpse into the minds of Generation Y was provided during the Tetso Autumn Festival 2015. An essay competition was held on the topic “Give your views on the signing of the accord between the NSCN(IM) and the GOI. Will it result in a viable solution to the question of Naga sovereignty?“ Below is a compilation of the two winning essays. Kindly note that the views expressed are an attempt by the youth to understand the situation. While every attempt has been made to check any factual information stated in the essays, errors if any are inadvertent and regretted.

Naga Peace Accord: A Young Mind’s Perspective

Nagaland has always been independent long before the British came to our lands. When India received its independence in 1947 from the British, the British government had also agreed to make Nagaland an independent state. But the British left India without giving sovereignty to the Nagas. It was the greatest betrayal. . Since then Nagas has been fighting for its freedom from the Government of India for decades. Many Nagas have lost their lives and families, villages have been burnt to ashes. Countless women have been tortured and raped. Under the leadership of A. Z. Phizo (President of Naga National Council), the Nagas have fought hard to regain its freedom and realize the dream of all of being an independent state. Over the years many groups have come up in Nagaland with the aim of attaining independence from the Government of India.
On 11th November, 1975, The Shillong Accord was signed. It was an agreement made between the Government of India and representatives of Nagaland's underground organization, to accept the supremacy of Constitution of India without condition, surrender their arms and renounce their demand for the secession of Nagaland from India. Many people in Nagaland who believed in forming an independent nation saw this accord as a denial of their rights.
NSCN was formed on 31 January 1980 by Isak Chishi Swu, Thuingaleng Muivah and S.S. Khaplang opposing the Shillong Accord. In 1988, NSCN split into two with NSCN-IM headed by Isak Chishi Swu & Thuingaleng Muivah and NSCN-K headed by S.S. Khaplang. Peace-talks amidst incidents of violence pursued ever since. A ceasefire was finally signed between the Government of India and the NSCN-IM in 1997 as a way to peacefully negotiate terms.

The NSCN-IM has become the main focus of media attention after signing another Peace Accord with the Government of India on 3rd August, 2015. “We are making a new beginning today. 60 years is a long time of fighting, the wounds are deep,” Modi, standing alongside NSCN-IM secretary general and co-founder Thuingaleng Muivah, said in a press conference following the signing of the Accord. This agreement is said to be a landmark agreement in the history of the Nagas and is supposed to lead the Naga people to sovereignty, but even though months have passed, the people do not know the exact details of the agreement. Though this agreement is supposed to decide the future of thousands of people, the public seem to be kept in the dark and they still don’t know what was decided between the leaders.

This mysterious agreement also raises other questions. Will Nagaland receive its sovereignty through this Peace Accord? Who do we turn to for answers? Hypothetically, if the Accord clears the pathway for India to grant sovereignty to the Nagas, will the public agree to be an independent nation? If the Accord prevents the Nagas from demanding a free nation, then perhaps it isn’t a great thing after all. By the looks of it, right now, keeping in mind how the details of the agreement are still unclear, the talk about sovereignty may be sidelined for a while.

Why have Nagas still not achieved independence? When these questions arise, there are many views which can be discussed. Firstly, the factional groups through taxes, extorting money from the public, threatening of the people has caused havoc in our society, our society is filled with chaos and confusion as to whether to trust the factional groups or to be on our own. Secondly, there are still those who work sincerely for true cause of our land and the remaining simply spoil the system. Suspicion, mistrust, uncertainty has led our people into chaos. Unless the Nagas as a whole are united, there is no meaning of attaining or achieving sovereignty as it would lead to more conflict and chaos in the future.

This so called ‘solution’ that has been debated about for so many years now, still seems to be far away. As long as the leaders continue to be secretive and keep the people in the dark, no real solution can be achieved. In the end, it is the people who should have the authority and freedom to make the right choice for themselves. To arrive at a real solution, public opinion, voices, and grievances should have been heard and taken into account while framing the Accord. Therefore, this “Framework Agreement”, needs to be scrutinized and explained in detail to the Nagas.

Thus, this alleged “Landmark Agreement” may be a milestone in Nagaland’s race towards sovereignty, but it is still only a milestone, and the destination is still far away. Let us not forget that. May we never give up hope, but strive for a better world where we all have our rights, and are treated equally, and live in a free Nagaland, free from oppression of any kind. Our dreams are yet to be achieved. But if it comes down to this recent agreement, I hardly believe it is going to solve our problems. 

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Who is Responsible for the Problems in Our State? - Kahor Raleng, Head of Department of English

Nagaland recently witnessed the ‘Walk Against Corruption’ organized by ACAUT on 30th and 31st October 2015. When events such as these are organized it makes one realize just how important the role of the public actually is in shaping its success or failure. Similarly, when it comes to the governance of our State or society, it is not just the politicians but the public that play a huge role. Although it is easy to blame the government, the politicians or leaders for all our problems, we fail to realize that blaming them also means blaming our own selves, because we are all responsible for creating the kind of environment we live in. The most basic example would be something as simple as our State’s cleanliness. It does not make sense to condemn the Municipality for not maintaining our environment, and then go litter the streets and spit on the walls. So then, we ask…

Who is Responsible for the Problems in Our State?

Life in this generation is interesting. It poses several questions and for this article I am especially preoccupied with questions concerning the politicians and the general public. Allow me to ruminate on a few. How will life be without politicians? Whom shall we blame for things gone bad or things not done? Without them whom shall we point fingers at, to criticize? Our politicians are so fortunate. They are at the core of all our criticism. Bad roads, they get the brunt of the public. Erratic electricity, they are at fault. Water shortage, again it’s their fault.  Everything has to end with the politicians. They are supposed to be magicians and perform tricks, be the maker and create jobs and repair things, and most importantly play God and make everything perfect. Well, it is not surprising that they do feel very important and pretend to be; after all they are the ‘can do it all’ class of people in the eye of the public. Granted, they have a huge responsibility, but dearest public, let us remember that they are not God.
I do not have any inclination, whatsoever, towards any politician, neither do I plan to become one, but let us be sensible and take a look around us. There are some questions we need to ask ourselves. Who dumps the garbage in the street, or clogs the drainage and river with garbage? The public. Who uses excessive electricity and also leaves it switched on, the whole day and night, though not in use? The public. Who pays money to buy a government job? The public. Who has a government job but still looks around for a private job in order to appease their wants? The public. Who builds houses or horrid structures on the road and does not leave space for pavements? The public, again! So whom do we blame?

With advancement and modernity, it is taken for granted that a society and its lifestyles improve. But our society seems to be benefitting nothing from advancement, modernity, and education. Rather, it is on a rush downhill and degrading at a speed not even the fastest driver can achieve. Our civic sense seems to be on the verge of extinction and it looks like we have left behind our principles, our values, and our decency in the past with our ancestors. In our society today, every act of the public comes along with a justification. For instance, it is perfectly okay to buy a government job because everybody does it and that’s the only way to get a government job. Reality check- no matter how honest you are, paying someone or bribing somebody to get a government job is still CORRUPTION: nothing more, nothing less!
When the public itself is corrupt, how in the world do you profess to eliminate corruption? When we have lost our civic sense and are fine with dumping garbage in the street, how can we expect our surroundings to miraculously become a paradise overnight? Let us be rational. Half of the problems around us are all self-made. We have nobody to blame but ourselves.

I applaud ACAUT and all the other several organizations for their efforts to make our society a better place to live in. But my dear public, just a group of people cannot bring complete change. The general mass has to play its part. Until and unless the general mass is willing to sacrifice, we cannot expect total change in our society. We ask for four-lane roads but are not willing to give away an inch of our land. Are they supposed to make four lane roads in the air? We ask for regular supply of electricity and water but we are not willing to be careful with its usage. It doesn’t materialize from Narnia. We ask for a clean city but we are not willing to clean our surroundings.

A humble request; let us stop pointing fingers and stop putting our politicians on a pedestal, but work in our own little spaces to bring change for the better. Let us ask ourselves, “What do I do regularly?”, because what we do regularly has the potential to become a habit, and habits develop into the character of an individual and eventually become the essence of a society. Change has to ultimately begin within. Every individual is responsible in order to bring change in our society. We have to move out of our comfort zone and stop doing things for selfish motives. Our mentality is such that we are obsessed with what will we get in return? If everyone becomes this myopic, development is going to be a difficult goal.

All said and done, our politicians and leaders are still accountable to the public. They have been elected by the public to lead and so lead they should. Let the public be good followers and be wise when they elect someone to lead them.

Friday, 6 November 2015

NAGAS AND MODERNISATION: ARE WE LOSING OUR IDENTITY? - Amenla Jamir, Asst. Professor, Department of Education

The Nagas have come a long way from our grandparents’ culture to the present day lifestyle. There has been a paradigm shift with the onset of modernisation and the affluence towards the Western culture; and we have effortlessly adopted the ways of it. But are we modern in the true sense or are we just trying to be a part of the trend? Trying to act modern will not do any good to our society unless we have the right attitude and mindset about it. There have been developments of superficial Westernisation in matters of dress, food, habits and other activities which have seriously challenged the Naga traditional way of life; and while we are in the race of imitating the West, let us make sure that we do not lose out on our good old traditions that create our identity. 


Nagas today impose certain social and economic entities in defining the concept of modernity. It is disheartening to see that very often Westernisation has been confused with modernisation, and vice-versa. It is obvious that one cannot be fully understood without the other, but that doesn’t mean they mean the same. Modernisation can be understood as the process by which a country moves from a traditional agrarian society to having a more secular urbanised society and in the process it remoulds the cultural system into a new mode. On the other hand, Westernisation would mean that a certain indigenous cultural element is replaced by the Western element, and the functional role of the former is taken over by the latter. Modernisation is advancement towards betterment and moving forward with positive results. In Westernisation there is no newness or innovation because individuals only tend to follow the ways or archetypes that are already prescribed by the Western culture.

Like other traditional societies, the Nagas also possess a rich tradition and heritage. They have their own set of values and moral standards preset by the cultural paradigm. In the past few decades, immense modifications have crept into the Naga society. The introduction of Western education and Christian faith brought about tremendous changes in the Naga way of life and belief systems. This has also resulted in a drastic shift in the socio-cultural system. Modern education improves livelihood and health status. The spread of Christianity in Nagaland has both positive and negative impacts on the Naga society. The changes are observed in the belief system, mindset’ and attitudes of the people. Today many young people do not even remember the traditional stories, the songs and dances. They do not understand the significance of the patterns on their tribal shawls, nor do they revere nature as once their ancestors did.

Naga society changed drastically and completely within the span of just one century. Today traditional Naga attires, dances, and other cultural symbols can be seen only during important occasions and in celebrations like the Hornbill Festival. Are trends like driving expensive cars, going to discotheques, eating out every weekend considered being modern? Today in the Naga society, everyone wears Western clothes. There is nothing wrong in it, but believing wearing Western clothes makes one modern is a flawed ideology.  People tend to think of ‘Western’ and ‘Modern’ as synonyms, which is erroneous. What makes a person modern is evolution of thoughts, not imitation of the Western culture. Certain celebrities imitate Korean trends in terms of dressing and grooming, and we mindlessly emulate these thinking we are being modern, while at the same time we don’t think twice about littering our roads and spitting paan juice all over the place. Musicians today, are they actually expressing the Naga voice, or are they trying an imitation of the Western popular culture? People here rush to KFC and Pizza Hut with the concept in mind that eating there makes them hip and modern. It is sheer ignorance of the philosophies of the west, coupled with blind desire to imitate them that actually results in the decadence of our true identity.

The Western countries are already modernised and advanced. There is no such harm in adoption of Western patterns. But it is really harmful when in the shade of adoption we start condemning our own great cultural patterns and heritage. Western countries are financially better off than we are, and they can afford to lead the lifestyle they follow. Instead of focusing on more crucial areas, why are we trying to mimic them? Are we spending more than we earn just because we want to be a part of a trend? It is morbidly humourous to see some of our youth going to the fish market in attires fit for a party at a 5 Star Hotel. We just don’t seem to know when to start and when to quit the art of copying.

It is the choice of the individuals: do they want to be developed and advanced and be modern in the true sense, or do they simply want to become mere imitators? The Society must respect its own culture and heritage first. Following other cultures and lifestyles should not be done at the cost of losing respect for our own culture. Adoption of any Western patterns and norms is not wrong when first the society becomes self- sufficient and knows how to strike a right balance between adhering to their own cultural patterns and adopting foreign cultural ideologies.
The Nagas are indeed in the fast lane when it comes to developments, be it in terms of infrastructure or pop culture. Many dramatic transformations have been taking place in the society. Today in our society this process of modernisation is overwhelmed with Western ideas, images, and concepts. With this trend continuing, the external pressure is so strong that it is sweeping the treasures of our rich tradition. Now the question that we need to ponder is the perception of Nagas modernity. Today the level of modernity is measured in terms of materialism and power of wealth.

If our society has to catch up with the fast changing world, it is imperative that we forego part of our traditional beliefs and practices to meet the demands of the time. Our immediate task should be to sharpen and broaden the scope of our modern education which will lead to a better understanding of the West and changing times it will help us to cope with the fast changing world. Our main concern should be to fill the communication gap between the West and the East, otherwise our culture will soon vanish. In the quest for modernity, let’s not be deluded into accepting Westernisation as modernisation. Let our own culture not metamorphosize into an alien foreign culture even without our realisation. Let us not allow our own culture to become a thing of the past.

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...