Thursday, 26 May 2016

Tribalism: A Menace to Naga Society - Pakinzinliu Chawang, Assistant Professor, Department of English

Naga culture is beautiful because of the array of cultural practices and customs that are practiced by the many Naga tribes, numbering to more than 17, that live in Nagaland. But sometimes beautiful can become ugly when it hampers the overall unity, prosperity and well-being of a society, owing to bias, partiality or corrupt practices. In a State like Nagaland, tribalism is notably prevalent all around us, both in conscious and unconscious ways. Recognizing this is important, so we can refrain from the negative impact it bears on the future of our society.

Tribalism: A Menace to Naga Society

 What is tribalism? Ism has more evils in its message. It is an exclusive attitude of a person making him feel proud of whom she/he is in the given society. It can also be termed as a social evil and vice that destroys human cordiality and relationship in the society.

In the Naga context, tribalism is rooted in ones’ identity-based egoism. It is considered to be the pride of a person to be a member of the community they belong to. Nagas are a people with different tribal distinctions based mainly on the variation of languages, yet culturally and traditionally identical. In the perspective of mainland Indians, the Nagas are a hill tribe, but, to the Nagas, they are of a nationality. This mixed feeling of Indian treatment and Nagas’ identity has opened and created a curiosity to know who they really are. They further find differences and distinctions among themselves and discover their identity apart from the common ‘Naganess’. Interestingly, the Nagas living outside their homeland are viewed as a whole identity, but the reality is that in our homeland, vast hierarchy is prevalent.

The problem lies in the foolish pride of exalting one’s own tribal identity. From the common Naga brotherhood which was evident in the days following the Indian Independence, which I am going to term as ‘Naganess’, there is now a shift in the mentality: tribal hierarchy. Naga tribalism has thus subsequently weakened the concept of Naga Nationalism. Nagas today are being posed with two kinds of identity crises - tribalism and nationalism.

This fact is a menace posing on the Naga society as a whole, and the remedy is yet to be initiated. This contending conflict between tribalism and nationalism within the Naga society has to be resolved through the peoples’ choices and decisions. If the Nagas allow tribalism to continue, Naga Nationalism may suffer a fatal blow, similar to the fall of the Soviet Union, or how I sometimes visualize it as, the fall of Humpty Dumpty. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put the Naga nation back together again.

The sad reality is that we Nagas are enslaving ourselves to this dominating spirit of one tribe over another on tribal lines. The present social scenario is that the major tribes, or the so-called forward tribes, receive more benefits and opportunities - politically, socially, and economically, and along with the growth of infringing elements that override conventional probity and moral values. We Nagas are contending against each other for power and position corrupt ways and thus poisoning our own society. This foolish greed will lead to a falling into an abysmal pitch and eternal lost. The remedy may be transformation of Nagas’ mentality from an illusory tribal pride and glory, to a national sentiment based on morality.

The well-being of a society depends as much on the independence of the individuals composing it, as on their close political cohesion. History tells us that Greco-European-American culture, and its brilliant flowering in the Italian Renaissance, put an end to the stagnation of Medieval Europe. This was based on the liberal thinking and equitable humanity. Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the satisfaction of felt needs and the assuagement of pain.

We must live up to the standard of being fully humane, as designed and created. We must get rid of all pride, greed and selfish tendency to exploit the right of the other individual or people. When we survey our own lives, we observe that our actions and desires are connected with the existence of other human beings, and we are interdependent as social beings. Therefore, we must live with respect to other fellow humans and recognize his/her person on equal footing. A man's value to the community depends on how far his/her feelings, thoughts, and actions are directed towards promoting the good of his fellows. The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he/she has attained liberation from the self-inflicting vices.

We Nagas need to be self-analytical and self-critical and know who we are, and where we are going from here. To me, we (Nagas) are one racial group designed and purposed for a common vision and destination. We are in a battle to prove ourselves a nation, and journey towards a common destiny envisioned as the Naga National homeland, to be a nation among nations on the face of the earth.

There can be neither progress nor achievement without a sacrifice, and in order to go forward, it is essential to give up what is holding us back; human greed and the negative inflated pride of tribalism. The higher a man lifts his thought, the more blessed and enduring will be his achievements. The universe does not favor the greedy, the dishonest, and the vicious but the honest, the magnanimous and the virtuous. The measure of our sacrifice will determine our triumph. The vision we glorify in our minds, and the ideal we cherish and enthrone in our hearts will be rewarded. Let us cherish a lofty ideal of humanity and someday all the human vices will hopefully vanish from our world.

“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 email:”.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Power of Teachers - Daniel M Khan, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Daniel M. Khan with some of his students at Tetso College
The new academic session has kicked off in a flurry for the batch of students who recently cleared the HSLC and HSSLC exams, with the race for admissions, narrowing down on the right institute and acquiring the required study material going on. In the midst of all this excitement, among the teaching community, the pressure builds up as they prepare themselves for the enormous responsibility and commitment of molding and shaping young lives. 

The Power of Teachers

Henry Adams, an American historian once said, “A teacher affects eternity. One can never tell where his influence will end.” Teaching is one of the most challenging professions in our world today. Teaching demands sound knowledge of the subject matter, skills of leadership, a knowledge of technology, creativity, and patience. Many view it as a sacred responsibility accountable to God. The transformative power of an effective teacher is something we have experienced and understood on a personal level. If we were particularly fortunate, we had numerous exceptional teachers who made learning an exciting experience. Those teachers possessed a passion for the subjects that they taught, and genuine care for their students. They inspired us to play with ideas, think deeply, take on more challenging works, and even pursue careers in the particular field of study. I have also been blessed, inspired, and motivated by the good teachers in my life who encouraged and mentored me, and whose life and works inspired me to become a teacher myself.
American educator, clergyman, and author, Henry Van Dyke described the profession of teaching in a rather interesting manner, “There you have the worst paid and the best rewarded of vocations. So, do not enter it unless you love it.” Teachers will understand this better than anyone else.  A teacher should be dedicated, hard-working, and strive to build a joy of learning for each and every one of their students.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). One thing that teachers have to understand is the powerful influence we have on the students that cross our paths. Students tend to seriously consider, and often believe without question everything we tell them. Nonetheless, we can and should use our call to influence them positively.

The Bible believes that indeed, not all have the potential to become teachers, and for those who do, the expectations are high. “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers; because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1). Thus, if one takes on the mantle of teaching, he has to understand that teaching is not just another job, an occupation, or pass time, but I strongly believe that a good teacher will consider this as a calling to be God’s instruments to mould, shape, and guide the young lives who are placed in our care.
Teachers can instruct and kindle interest in their students. There is a saying which comes to mind, “there is no uninteresting subject, only uninteresting teachers.” If teachers are not excited about the subject they teach, why should the students be excited about it? Teachers need to set examples in conduct and character. Teachers need to teach with love and gentleness. As change agents, a good teacher could impact the society and children positively through their words and life. Teachers also inspire children to dream and achieve great things.  They can give a new vision to the younger generations, visions which will improve the lives of people and build up the nation.

Teachers invest in the lives of their students. They are like a candle illuminating the darkness. They shape and set the direction for the next generation by sowing knowledge, love, values, and hope in the lives of the youngsters who are going to be future leaders of the nation. As innovators, teachers can use their creativity and innovation to encourage children to explore, experiment, and develop new thoughts and ideas.  Knowledge can never be stagnant. New thoughts are emerging each day. A teacher must encourage students to think critically. As counselors, teachers can guide the students in many aspects of life, including life skills. They can help with things like time management, anger management, and handling peer pressure. They can warn against bad habits like smoking, alcoholism, and educate students about gender equality. They also can provide career guidance.  

Apart from classroom teaching, teachers have tremendous opportunity to get involved in the community. Teachers are highly respected and regarded in the society. This influence can be used as a positive channel for bringing about change and motivating the society to challenge age-old norms which may be hindering development.

How many of us go about being a teacher without really pondering on the indelible impacts that we are having on the lives of our students? I end with this quote from the American writer and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, “This is the value of the teacher, who looks at a face and says there's something behind that and I want to reach that person, I want to influence that person, I want to encourage that person, I want to enrich, I want to call out that person who is behind that face, behind that color, behind that language, behind that tradition, behind that culture. I believe you can do it”.

“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 email:”.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Naga Youth and Popular Culture - Azono Chusie, Chaplain

There was a time in Nagaland when most of the Naga youth had hairstyles inspired from their favourite Korean film stars. Today, Korean influence on the Naga youth is being replaced by other cultures; one of them being the South American culture, owing to the recognition of several sports celebrities and Hollywood stars. Our youth today are inspired by fashion choices of celebrities like Lionel Messi, Neymar, Christiano Ronaldo, and Rihanna. However, popular culture isn’t limited to looks alone. Popular culture can have a massive effect on the culture of the land, especially through the influence of the younger generation strongly promoting new trends. So, how do we respond to this and how can we better understand our Naga youth today?

Naga Youth and Popular Culture

Popular culture is an amorphous, continually changing subculture characteristically reflected and fostered by the mass media. It expresses itself through artifacts, clothes, visual art, lingo, cult personalities, and music. It is one of the most changeable aspects of our way of life and is always dynamic. If we look into our society, culture is always evolving. Globalisation and the development of technology have led to the creation of a uniquely shaped environment which our youth are living in today. They are caught in a whirlwind of change.

Tension is heightened when adult’s expectation to let young people continue with their past lifestyle comes into conflict with the youth who want to be a part of the present popular culture.  In this advanced and technological world, the youth are drawn heavily towards popular culture. The power of youth culture is everywhere- from fashion trends to vehicle designs, movies to television shows, video games to sports and music. Advertisers recognise this power and gear their advertisement to youth and the culture industry that caters to the youths’ needs and desires.

It is also no wonder that many church leaders have given their opinion about popular culture as degrading their traditional moral values and considered it as disadvantageous. They may be right in some ways but the sensitivity of the issue requires us to understand the generation in which the youth are living. The youth today are hard-pressed in the history of Naga society; they live among people whose character and ways of life are formed in a setting very different from their own What is obvious in the Naga society is that instead of recognizing the differences, the older generation suppresses the needs of young people, whereas the younger generation is prone to adopt new culture, “degrading” the moral values of the tradition. To have a better relationship between the adult and youth, it is necessary to evaluate the impact of both popular culture and traditional values. Both the groups should realize that both the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ culture are equally important.

The youth are influenced by popular culture both positively and negatively. Popular culture plays a great role in shaping the lifestyle and worldview of a person by helping them have a more global outlook. Popular culture isn’t necessarily an evil in today’s society. It can be harnessed and used for good purposes besides the normal entertainment values that it holds in everyday life. However, it is also true that a lot of the cases of drug and sexual abuse arises from what the youth sees on the various facets of popular culture.

If we look at our present scenario, a majority of the youth have labelled traditional values as “outdated”. No doubt, there are some negative impacts of traditional values, like gender biases, but the youth cannot just make excuses to do away with all the traditional values. The youth should appreciate the positive morals and values of their roots and be proud of them.

The fact that the current generation of youth are often more adept with popular culture than their parents adds an additional level of concern for the latter. The speedy and easy access to the world through the web of cyberspace clearly has an effect on the subsistence of youth. Parents as a whole have a greater responsibility than ever. They must comprehend popular culture in order to know their children’s culture.

Parents play a significant role in a youth’s life. We need to make the family unit a place where children are closely guided, moulded, corrected and given the right amount of freedom to thrive. It is our responsibility to train up a child in the right way. We should also be accountable in equipping children with morals and values. Parents should realize that different generations have different needs and interests.
In this fast moving media-oriented culture, the world is full of choices and it is because of this that life is more interesting. The adult generation should help the youth to impart Christian values and beliefs so that they can make healthy choices. Perhaps adhering to religious values may be a good way to balance between traditional beliefs and the fluid cultural values. The youth should also be encouraged to cultivate spiritual disciplines. They should be given proper information to educate themselves about the issues that confront them. 

The Church leaders and parents should help the youth to utilize the positive aspects of popular culture. They should give the youth room to grow, but at the same time, exercise a certain amount of restraint. This will enable the youth to see and prepare to face the realities of our world. The youth are searching for meaning and purpose in life. They are in great need of parental and adult love, care and guidance. They also need space to develop themselves as individuals in order to live a meaningful and purposeful life.

“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 email:”.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Changing the Face of Education - Mhabeni Tungoe, Assistant Professor, Department of Education

Students working on assignments in the Tetso College library

Education is undergoing a rapid transformation with new age technology and modern teaching aids. Students and teachers are integrating technology into their lessons and classrooms. An example of technology being used to be more efficient is the way the Nagaland Board of School Education now releases the HSSLC and HSLC result. It is either online or through sms. Technology is now also entering classrooms like Google apps, an online collaboration tool which has been integrated at Tetso College or through smart boards and other teaching systems. Different generations have different habits and it’s also becoming very clear that they also learn differently.

Changing the Face of Education

In Nagaland, to some extent, improvement, changes, and developments are taking place in every area of life - social, political, economic, culture, technology, etc. This is taking place mainly due to education. Education is an important instrument which helps and has equipped us to live an enriching life, abreast with the changes that are going on in this world. Due to the efforts of the state government, private organizations, and community support, many changes and ongoing developments are visible in the education system. In Nagaland, the many government and private schools and colleges has everyone, who is involved and working, trying their best to give enriching education to the students. At the same time, there are some loopholes which are hard to ignore. One area which I observe and think is lacking behind, in general, in Nagaland’s educational institutions is the insufficient usage of modern teaching aids. I consider this to be very important in the teaching-learning process, considering the fact that we are living in the age of vast technological advancements. I know that some institutions, especially the privately owned schools and colleges, are using modern teaching aids in the classroom which are proving to be extremely beneficial for the students. The majority of the institutions, especially the government-owned institutions, are not using modern teaching aids in their institutions.

Teaching requires different types of techniques, and teaching aids. The selection of the pedagogy depends on the nature of the content, learning objectives, learners’ abilities, and entry behaviour of the students. The main focus of teaching is to bring about a desirable change in the behaviour of the learner. It is brought about by the teacher using different methods and strategies, and supplementing it with teaching aids to achieve an educational objective. From the morung system of the past to the present day education system, we have witnessed a great transformation in the way we teach and learn. Traditionally, we grew up with teaching aids like blackboards, chalks, maps, flash cards, and posters. These aids, although good, now has limited scope. We can observe that the type of students, along with the times, have changed. Some of the students already have access to smartphones, computers, and the internet, because of which traditional teaching aids are not very effective anymore.  A teaching aid is something which makes teaching easier and makes learning more effective and enjoyable for the student. It adds value to the process of learning.

Modern teaching aids engage the students’ senses, and increase interaction with the content, leading to increased better retention. Teaching tools now used in classrooms are multidimensional in their nature. It allows the students to really enjoy the process of learning. Students are now very much advanced in the process of learning. We cannot consider them as empty vessels to be filled in by facts and figures. They are now exposed to media and the internet, accumulating learning experiences from all sides. These days the students are more inquisitive and knowledgeable, and try to think and learn independently. This increases the need of modern teaching aids in the classroom. Some of the of modern teaching aids used by teachers inside the classroom are the overhead projector (OHP) or LCD projector, charts, laptops/computers, edu-softwares, educational toys, models, audio and video clips, voice recorders, powerpoint presentations, etc. Apart from using these tools, with the help of internet connectivity, the students can be exposed to newer and better teaching aids. They can access ebooks, ejournals, video conference with scholars around the globe, and make use of educational apps like the Google Classroom.

Using these modern teaching aids in our state can be problematic. This is because of several reasons. The most pertinent of these would be the shortage of electricity in our state. Load-shedding and power failures owing to several problems complicate the usage of technological tools in educational institutions. Many of the students belong to families which may not be able to afford the fees charged by institutions using these modern teaching aids. Due to the shortage of financial resources, the institutions cannot afford to provide their students with these learning tools.

I understand and know that to have these modern tools, equipment and facilities can be quite a herculean task. It cannot be achieved all at once. A lot of financial resources and cooperation from every sector will be needed. The goal may be challenging but we must start now. The government and management of educational institutions must take steps for proper planning and utilize the institutions’ income and government funds effectively. This will enable providing the basic and necessary modern teaching tools for the teachers and students so that our education system is more techno savvy.

“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”.

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...