Thursday, 28 April 2016

Life is What You Make It! - Mughalu S Zhimo, BA 6th Semester English Honours

Tetso College Commerce Students of 6th Semester on campus

Armstrong Pame, a Naga IAS officer, built a 100 kilometre road that would link Manipur with Assam and Nagaland. This was done with the help of the villagers of Tousem, and no funds from the centre. The Government, in 1982, had sanctioned 182 crores for this project, however, for unknown reasons, this project never went into action. Building of this road ensured that the people no longer needed to walk for two days to reach the nearest hospital in the absence of a motorable road. When we are determined and know our strengths, nothing can stop us. This week’s article elaborates on the magnitude of willpower, determination and diligence in one’s life.
        Life is What You Make It!   

Life is not like a fairytale or a typical Bollywood movie that always ends well. Life is portrayed unrealistically. In actuality, there are no ‘happily ever after’s. We don’t always get what we want.  Life is full of ups and downs and we are just puppets of destiny.

Every human being on this earth has a specific goal. They work and dream to fulfil their dreams. Some are born with a full package: a good fortune, they know what they want in their life and work towards earnestly. Every individual is born with a specific talent. Cristiano Ronaldo, the professional footballer, can be a good example. What he is now is not because he was lethargic or a mere dreamer. We all dream, but he had the zeal to make it a reality. It was all because of his strong determination and commitment. At the age of 15, he was diagnosed with tachychardia, commonly known as the ‘racing heart’, in which a person’s heartbeat exceeds the normal count. Had he given up on his career back then and not had the surgery, the world would have missed a legendary footballer.

Believe in what you are and what you can achieve. If you are really good at something then you should go ahead and venture in that field. We never know what lies in our future. Don’t let laziness shatter dreams and prevent us from moving forward towards achieving our dreams. Get inspiration and be the channel of inspiration around you. Life is not an easy road where your journey will begin safely and end safely but it is full of bumping roads. At times you will feel low and at times you will fill fine. Your life begins when you start to encounter troubles in your journey and it is upon you how well you treat your problems in your way.

Life is not about what you are and what you want it to be, rather it is about what you can do with it. Life is full of thorns and unquenchable desires. The one remarkable thing which we can do with our limited time on this world is by living a simple and righteous life. When I was in my 4th semester, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe was prescribed to us. It was about a young man Robinson Crusoe who was told by his father to study law. However, Crusoe was not interested in law. He wanted to explore different lands and become a sailor. He has his own set of misfortunes when he starts sailing, facing storms and pirates, but eventually manages to establish himself as a wealthy plantation owner in Brazil. When he decides to buy in slaves for his plantations, he sets sail again, which results in him being shipwrecked off the coast of Trinidad. He learned that he is the sole survivor and began to seek shelter and arrange for food supplies on this island, which he now dubbed it as ‘The Island of Despair’. Crusoe begins to feel more optimistic about being on the island by describing himself as its ‘king’. He masters pottery, farming, carpentary, and baking. He spent 28 years, two months, and nineteen days on the island as a castaway.

Though fictional, the novel depicts the strong determination of human beings to live and strive on this earth. Each one of us is Crusoe who is struggling for existence in some way or the other. We each have our own problems, the key here being that we must not give up, no matter how difficult the situation is that we are facing. Crusoe’s determination to live was not an easy one, however he succeeded because of sheer determination, much like Dhirubhai Ambani, Mahinder Singh Dhoni, Bill Gates, and Mary Kom.

Crusoe’s success in overcoming his obstacles and controlling his environment shows the capabilities of what an individual can turn into, given they have the right willpower. We need to have a positive attitude even during the hard times of our life. As quoted by American animator and entrepreneur Walt Disney,”if you dream it, you can do it“. Life is a full package of joy, sorrow, pain, and success. It however depends on us to alter our bad times into good times. I always say ‘problem’ itself is the other name of life. Never lose hope, and know that in the history of mankind, no one has ever achieved anything through shortcuts.
“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought delves 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. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please”.

Monday, 25 April 2016

The New Woman - Yanbeni Yanthan, Asst. Professor, Department of English

Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton are amongst others ranked in the list of Forbes Most Powerful Women in the world in 2015, proving that women can be as successful as men. Yet, in many parts of the world socially constructed obstacles still exist for women, and sadly women empowerment continues to be a topic widely written and debated about in this 21st century, even in Nagaland. Despite this, a “new woman” is emerging changing the way society and the world works. So, who is this “new woman”?

The New Woman

In recent times, the world has seen the emergence of a new kind of woman. Cutting across classes and nations, this woman is reconstructing traditionally established notions of feminine and female behaviour, redefining female adulthood as an indomitable force to be reckoned with, and reorganizing class structures in society. This furtherance has been the culmination of a protracted two hundred and fifty-year struggle, starting from the fight for suffrage in the 19th century- pay equity, minimum wage, to the more recent movements pertaining to civil and domestic violence rights. We, as a race, are living in an era where women are no longer defined by their spouses or by their other halves, because today, women have agency. The agency of opportunity: professional, economic, social and familial. Among these, the most powerful type of woman that has been the source of a major restructuring of our citizenry, and whose presence carries with her vast implications in social and political consciousness is the rise of the single, working woman. Women are no longer dolls.

Today, to a large extent, women in developed countries have the freedom to choose and decide their own destiny; be it marriage or career. Such freedom is possible partly because, in these countries, men from a young age are made aware and sensitized to women's rights. Thus, the education system dispels the traditional notions of what constitutes female etiquette and the assumptions of femaleness that are internalized by previous generations. 
Last year in Canada, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau who considers himself a feminist, was asked by a journalist why half his cabinet members were women. His reply was "because it's 2015". Similarly, in Sweden, Margot Wallström Isabella Lövin, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, envisioned a 'feminist foreign policy' that "will help to achieve concrete results that enhance both gender equality and the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls".  Such changes have also had an impact in policy making where women empowerment is an important aspect of the political agenda and a crucial factor in establishing what a ‘progressive’ nation is made of. Issues which were deemed too risky, or non-conformist in the past are now being addressed by the courts, parliaments and civil society. 

Having said this, how do we fare in our part of the world? Women empowerment is still a burning issue that is catalyzed by evils (dowry, domestic abuse, gender discrimination, rape and sexual assault) still plaguing our nation. As far as Nagaland is concerned, indeed, Naga women do in fact enjoy many societal, cultural and familial privileges denied to women in other parts of India.  However, for some reason, it has not been able to translate itself into the grammar of the electorate.  If we as a society consider men and women to be equal partners, with no gender biases, the fact that women are without representation in the electorate itself speaks volumes about the attitude of the electorate towards women in Nagaland. Women are still, in several ways, deemed inferior in Nagaland.

This is especially evident in the predicament of women who want to be involved in decision making at the highest level. Their opinions are often trivialized (not by every man) and their candidature itself is viewed as preposterous by those who still believe in the bastion of man > woman. This has resulted in the public space becoming exclusively the domain of the male, endorsed and defined by patriarchal notions. Within the domestic sphere, we might take pride that Naga society doesn't practice many of the evil practices that are prevalent elsewhere. We might even take pride in the fact that women do not face violence in our society as the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures indicate (only 67 cases of crimes against women were registered). If these figures are to be believed, Nagaland is the safest state for women in India. But how much do the figures reflect reality? Are we sweeping our dusts under carpets, afraid that the language of taboo would render us stigmatised? Is the ideal of women empowerment in Nagaland a lived reality, a figment of the imagination or something that exists only in the realm of paper and pens?

Having said that, recently, there has been a slight paradigm shift. The role that women play in diverse fields – as managers, academicians, police, accountants, administrators, entrepreneurs, doctors, workers, artists etc – (domains that were before essentially a male preserve) is a testament to this. Education, exposure, and a creation of awareness of the Rights of women have brought about a radical upheaval in social and political consciousness, and the hierarchical and authoritarian nature of the male-female relationship is starting to get debunked. In fact, women are now attending village council meetings in some villages in Nagaland.

Suppressed under customary laws that had a litany of dos and don’ts for so long, Naga women are only now breaking the mould and shaping an identity of their own making. The struggle is still at a nascent stage because the shackles have not completely come off. Like women elsewhere, Naga women are the carriers of a legacy and a heritage that tried to suppress, silence and subdue them.  The more pertinent question that needs to be addressed today is whether we as a society are treating women equally in all aspects of experience? Are we allowing them to express the rattle of their vocal chords, independently, without fear or favour? If not, why?

“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought delves 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. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please”.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Survival of the Fittest! - Heninle Magh. Assistant Professor, Department of Commerce

Tetso NSS students participating at World Health Day

World Health Day was celebrated in Dimapur on 7th April 2016 in true fitness style as health enthusiasts took to learning zumba and other forms of exercise at an event organized by CIHSR. The urgency of living healthy is being strongly felt in our State with the increase in life threatening diseases and sicknesses. In most cases, it has been revealed that a lot of these sicknesses could be prevented or minimized by a simple change in our lifestyle. Both physical and mental health are equally important to live a sound, balanced and long healthy life, and there are different ways to achieve this. This week’s writer looks at health from a spiritual perspective, serving as a comforting reminder of the relation between physical and spiritual food for healthy living.

Survival of the Fittest!

Good health is an asset, a very vital factor for one to enjoy life and experience happiness in its entirety. There is no doubt about this fact. This article I am writing is based on this important part of daily life and might even probably run the risk of sounding clichéd if I stress on the usual dos and don'ts of  maintaining sound health. One can easily access the internet and fish out that mine of information and be immensely benefitted in this area. So, in order to infuse a different view on this popular topic, I want to share some views on health as a believing and practicing Christian, traversing through the pages of the Bible.
To start with, the source of good health and longevity is none other than our Creator God himself. As stated in Jeremiah 33:6 Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth”. Isaiah 58:11 says, “The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. 
It is disheartening to see that there is a deficit in health awareness in today’s world. Governments, health organizations, and individuals have come together and applied their wholehearted efforts in an attempt to make this world suffering and disease free. We have, starting from the apex authority on health, the World Health Organization (WHO) to local and primary level organizations tenaciously working to combat various health issues. Respect and kudos to all who dedicate their life and resources for this cause and this good fight must go on.

Health can be classified into three subdivisions 1) Physical Health, 2) Mental Health, and 3) Spiritual Health.
Many of us tend to focus on physical health alone and view it as the prime factor for well-being and longevity, and a key ingredient for happiness. But this is a very narrow understanding of the wholesomeness of health, for good health consists of all the three. In fact, in many cases, the mental and spiritual state has a tremendous   effect on the workings of the physical body.

According to the Bible, death and degeneration had already set in our earthly realm ever since the fall of man and the entry of sin. Longevity and fruitfulness of the earth had been declining. Many view the Bible as a source of moral standards and conduct and guide for spiritual living only. But if we look closely, we can discover that our much loved Bible is a very practical book that is applicable to every aspect of life, and it has even a lot to say about health and well-being.

There are many health ailments that have been categorized as lifestyle diseases. Naming a few would be obesity, hypertension, cancer, depression, stroke, heart disease, type-2 diabetes cirrhosis etc. When we look at our lifestyle and the choices we have made about our habits it has directly or indirectly led to many serious health issues.   Health conditions like STIs/STDs and HIV/AIDS have very much do to with the life choices of an individual. A very gloomy and sad reality I got to know just recently is that Nagaland has the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in India. There are 20-30 new cases every month just in Prevention of Parent-To-Child Transmission (PPTCT), Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) centers alone, with the bulk of patients being the  youth.

Let's look at what the Word of God has to say about our bodies: In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the Bible posits the question,  “Do you not realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who live in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself; for God brought you with a high price so you must honor God with your body.” This verse encapsulates the idea of what our attitude should be, with reference to our physical bodies. When we understand the original design that our creator intended for us, we won't waste our precious life making bad choices for our bodies. We will abstain and refrain from many foods and beverages as well as activities that the world deems pleasurable. When it comes to HIV/AIDS, again, the same principles apply. They say there is nothing as more effective as abstinence for this battle. This tenetis in accord with the word of God. Respect your body, keep it clean. God has our best interest at play. He knows the fragility of human beings and the consequences of sin in our bodies.

The Bible is also peppered with verses that deal with our emotional and mental well-being . “A cheerful heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit makes it sick” -Proverbs 17:22. “Peaceful heart leads to a healthy body, jealousy is like cancer in the bones” -Proverbs 14:30 are just some of them. Research has proven how our thoughts and attitudes affect health. The Bible encourages us to have a positive attitude and to speak kind and positive words even to others, not to think ill of others, not to be driven by jealousy ,and above all trust in the Lord. We have too many worries in life which lead to stress and mental breakdowns, and our careless attitude and harsh words often wound people around us emotionally and disturb them mentally.
It is true that when a person is physically sick, there are, most times, a deeper cause underlining the individual’s personality. Various researches, details of which flood the internet, point out that depression, anxiety, and stress are often very common reasons for various physical ailments. I had an uncle once, who always complained of high blood pressure. He consulted many doctors for treatment, but his blood pressure would always remain high. Eventually, through the intervention of his caring wife, he came to realize that the constant stress level his business gave him, was one of the main contributing factors of his ailment. As he would later learn to control his anxiety through healthy lifestyle choices and learning to live happily, his blood pressure levels finally came under control. Finally the Bible holds that sin is the main cause of physical sicknesses pointing out to stressing on our spiritual health and purifying our emotions, as without that, true physical health cannot be achieved.
This view may sound radical, idealistic or imaginary to some. But let us not forget the fact that The Bible has been proven true in many ways. God knows us intimately. How we are designed, how we think, how we respond, how our bodies function, and what is best for us. We have been given the gift of medical science to better our lives – prolong and nurture it.  As practicing believers, we are accountable to God about how we take care of our bodies. He is our source of life – the elan vital.  Wouldn’t He be pleased and bless us with more, if we are faithful in what He has already given us? I will leave you with this thought to ponder and act upon.

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. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email:

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Great Expectations of an English Teacher in Nagaland - Anjan K Behera, Assistant Professor, Department of English

Teaching is one of the most demanding jobs in today’s world. When it comes to teaching English Literature, the experience becomes even more challenging. In this week’s column, the writer sums up the problems faced by English teachers in Nagaland. The goal of a teacher should, in the end, be to inspire students so that their performance matches what we expect of them.

Great Expectations of an English Teacher in Nagaland

The first thing I tell anyone about myself is that I am an English teacher. There is a certain level of pride, which I cannot help but feel with exuberance, over having fulfilled this childhood dream of mine. To be candid, my childhood dream was actually to become a doctor and practice medicine. Quaintly enough, this delusional fantasy of mine started dying away the day I learned that to become a doctor, I would need to cut open dead bodies. So perhaps English was really my second love. As a teenager, the poems and novels I would read in class spoke to me; they took me into a fictional world where there was beauty and hope. I would walk with Michael Henchard, weep with Elizabeth-Jane, laugh with the Bennet sisters, and hunt with Crusoe, because as I always say, ‘When has reality been kinder?’

Once when I attended a workshop meant for researchers in the American Consulate, Kolkata, a man diligently asked me what my subject was. When I said ‘English’, he was of the opinion that it must be a very easy subject to teach since there is no right or wrong, that poems can be interpreted in as many ways possible, and most importantly, the presence of notes online. I frowned but did not want to engage in a pointless debate with a man who was so firmly rooted in his beliefs. Later as I reflected on his views, I realized he had been wrong. Teaching English to graduate students in Nagaland has not been a bed of roses. In fact, there is no bed at all, metaphorically speaking of course. There are a number of challenges which an English teacher faces here which would be actually unheard of in other parts of India.

The biggest problem faced by English teachers in Nagaland is the reluctance of students to read the texts prescribed to them. When I started teaching, I tried to force the first batch of students I taught, to read the work by themselves so that we could discuss the larger themes and aspects of the novel in class. No one could go beyond the first chapter. Eventually, I had to resort to discussing the summaries of these novels and dramas in class first so the students would be able to make any sense of the discussions which would follow. The result is that many classes are simply devoted to giving out the summaries of the prescribed works. It is a necessary evil.
There are several problems with this method of teaching. First of all, the student does not actually read the texts, hence grasps the teacher’s interpretation of the particular piece. Novels are meant to be read, never narrated. I have often come across two or three students each year who would actually read the novels, but would feel embarrassed to admit it in front of their classmates. This makes me feel old, for in my college days, the one who would feel embarrassed were the ones who had not read the novels beforehand. Trends are changing. Another reason cited by students for not reading is, they say, their inability to comprehend the text fully. I always tell them, read with a dictionary on the side. This will drastically improve their vocabulary as well. Reading improves language skills as well as a person’s imaginative power.

In the end, however, it is the duty of the teacher to complete the syllabus on time. Under the pressure of meeting deadlines, conducting and evaluating tests and assignments, perhaps it becomes easier to just give the summary rather than risk losing time and waiting for the students to read the novel. More effort is thus put into teaching, but what is the end result? Are we creating students who will always rely on someone else to know what’s happening in a novel? Isn’t this method of teaching defeating the very purpose of studying novels as a text? Perhaps I am an idealist, but these are questions which often haunt my mind.

Another problem rampant in Nagaland in relation to teaching English is the heavy reliance of the students on guidebooks and online notes. I am never ashamed to admit that I too used guide books and online notes during my graduation; but guide books were only used as guides, and online notes like a lighthouse to passing ships (forgive the usage of this odd metaphor, what else can you expect of an English teacher?). When an entire state uses the same guidebook, the answers become suspiciously similar and may be incorrectly branded as ‘copied’ answers. Guidebooks should be used by students to see the kind of questions that can be framed, and the basic structure of corresponding answers. Most students, unfortunately, end up memorizing the answers. I do not think examiners anywhere would appreciate mugged up answers. A creative personal interpretation of the subject matter is what is expected.

Poor vocabulary creates precarious situations in studying English. The reluctance to work on one’s vocabulary and improve it proves toxic to studying English. As a language, English is very potent and is growing in terms of new words and phrases each year. Many students in Nagaland have poor vocabulary and language skills. Perhaps over exposure to Korean movies is to blame? Or is it because students don’t read anymore? Students need to expand their vocabulary so as to avoid times when a question in an examination had not been attempted simply because the meaning of the statement wasn’t understood. This is only part of the reason. For this matter even reading Tinkle can help. Having a good vocabulary will go a long way; after all, won’t it be beneficial to be well versed in one of the most important languages of the world?

How can these issues be tackled? Here are some of my own solutions. To polish their language skills, I make my 4th Semester Honours students maintain a 30-day journal which is basically the first novel they end up writing in first person narrative. The results are always good and show a gradual improvement in writing style as the days go by, much like Anne Frank’s Diary. As they become writers themselves, a sense of appreciation towards novelists and novels evolves. To encourage reading novels, I make my 5th Semester Honours students attempt a critical analysis of novels. The previous batch studied Easterine Kire’s Mari. This year I plan to recommend her award winning novel When the River Sleeps. This enables students to develop a sense of original critical thinking and appreciation for novels, and inculcates a spirit of research, without hindering the progress of the syllabus. My 3rd Semester students for the General English paper always make presentations analyzing various short stories by writers from Nagaland, thus improving their vocabulary and familiarity with Naga authors.

A joke I once heard said that teachers would always get direct entry to heaven because of the hard work they put up during their lifetime. I do not know if carrying the tagline of ‘teacher’ alone can be enough. One needs to be updated with latest developments in their field and relay the information to the students, and also use modern means of teaching, thus creating tech-savvy citizens. As teachers, we need to come up with creative solutions for the best interests of our students. Our focus is to ensure our students develop and equip themselves to take on this modern world of cutthroat competition. The teaching methodology which works for one batch may not be equally effective for the next. Each student is unique. A teacher must make an effort to teach in a way which benefits all. We expect students to excel, but we must be the ones to inspire them. Having great expectations alone won’t work.

Thus, the life of an English teacher can be summed up in these lines by Robert Frost- “Miles to go before I sleep”.

“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. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Nivibo Yiki, Yanbeni Yanthan and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email:”.

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...