Wednesday, 29 June 2016

"Let me take a #Selfie” - Zujanbeni M. Lotha, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

An article published in the Daily Mail suggests that over 17 million selfie portraits are uploaded to social media every week. Selfies have revolutionised photography by eliminating the need of a photographer. There's absolutely no occasion for it, and no limit in frequency. Eskimos may have 50 words to describe snow, but people today have thrice as many to describe the vast range of self-portraits - the driving selfie, the morning selfie, the food selfie, the bed selfie, the sad selfie, the travel selfie, and many more. Is this a mode of free expression, or are we simply being narcissistic?

“Let me take a #Selfie” 

It’s a busy day at Dimapur. Shopkeepers are opening their stores, mothers are bargaining with unreasonable hope, and there, right in the middle of the sidewalk, two girls are staring into a phone held high and making duck faces! Welcome to our world where posing without warning and taking self-portraits in expectations of validation is the ‘in thing’! In today’s digital obsessed world, the selfie culture has ingrained into our society new dimensions of modern style and outlook.

The word ‘selfie’ has been incorporated into the Oxford English dictionary and was the ‘Word of the Year’ in 2013. For a child, a selfie is playing with one’s expressions; for grownups, selfies are a part of daily lives. It might be a hobby, or an obsession when the first thing they do in gatherings and occasions is click a selfie, and upload it onto various social medias for ‘likes’ and comments. It might be a celebration of friendship, reunions, achievements, or good food. Selfies are now common in our society, and for those who own a camera-phone, have taken at least one selfie, irrespective of age or gender.

The trend is particularly strong among youths. The youth today are more conscious of their looks, as evidenced by the presence of a multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry. They consider their looks to be important when it comes to making friends, or impressing their romantic interests. Hence, youths beautify themselves for their selfies. Its magnitude is such that for some, a day is incomplete without a selfie. Students spend much of their time taking selfies editing them, and uploading them to Facebook and Instagram, while neglecting their studies and distancing themselves from actual conversations with people. I see people erroneously preoccupied with the ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ from people they do not know. People are obsess over their selfies so much so that they begin to compare themselves with models and celebrities they see on copious media outlets. Such unhealthy and unrealistic comparisons afflict especially the precarious teenagers with depression, anxieties, and other psychological maladies.
Each time we face the lens, we are conscious of our looks, and everyone wants to give their best pose and smile, yet how conscious are we of our decency? While selfies, in a way, indicate fast advancing and   modernised lifestyle, it can also tarnish one’s image if not used wisely.  Dinners, dates, shopping, and even sleeping is documented via selfies. People obsessed with selfies tend to be narrow-minded and selfish, as their primary focus is only on their own self. Nothing is as low and pitiable as self-advertiser.

Selfies have their consequences, positive or negative, depending on how individuals utilize it. Selfies used for a good cause as campaign or awareness will have a good impact on the society. It is true that selfie helps boost one’s confidence to face the camera. Certainly, it is not abnormal to take selfies, but to take selfies compulsively is abnormal. Uploading ‘unpresentable’ images can never be equated with ratiocination. Some selfie users even invaded dourly places and funerals, which is not rational at all. Even the style, the place, and the angle of selfies, experts assert, can disclose various secrets of a person’s personality. They say the facial expressions, emotions, and other personality secrets could be judged through selfies. If a person looks happy and is smiling in a selfie, he or she is likely to be kind hearted and co-operative. People who take selfies below their face are able to adjust themselves in any kinds of circumstances. Similarly, people who take selfies in public places, experts argue, are honest. Hence, let us be mindful of what we are doing. Moreover, people taking selfies are more interested in taking selfies than in heart-to-heart interaction with another human being. The values of human relations among persons have weakened.

As a person, I am not a fan of taking selfies. Why do I need to constantly boost my ego by taking high angle photographs while distorting my face? Why do I need to hide my chin fat? I am happy with the way I look, and I don’t need others to ‘like’ and validate my looks. Let us not be easily carried away by vanity. Instead, live free, healthy, and do something meaningful for the society. If one is not happy with the way one looks, remember we are all wonderfully created by God. It is not our task to add or subtract anything from the perfect masterpiece of our Creator. And if one is not satisfied with one’s bodily features, it might be time to put one’s phone down. Remember, we are not too weak to be controlled by technologies invented by us.
Selfies are fun, let it be decent. It is a hobby, let’s know the limit to sharing decent and admirable pictures.  Let’s use selfies in a better way and not commercialize ourselves for the ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ of virtual friends. Let not this culture lead us away from our cultural heritage of being social.

“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, Kvulo Lorin and Dr. Salikyu Sangtam. For feedback or comments please”.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Dimapur: Hell or Heaven? - Tsukhumla L. Yimchunger, BA 5th Semester English Honours

Dimapur during the Christmas festive season

We are shaped by our surroundings.  Surroundings—be they cities, towns, or villages—tend to be an influencing force in molding, not just our sense of belonging, but also our sense of citizenship. And as citizens, we have, to borrow Henri Lefebvre words, ‘the right to the city,’ where we transform ourselves by changing the city, for we are what we create. Indeed, the cities we build are the narratives we have of ourselves and our communities. Hence, it is essential to recognize these implications of the city on citizen’s well-being, especially in societies torn between tradition and modernity.

Dimapur – Hell or Heaven?

As the popular saying goes, every coin has two sides. Here is one side of the coin with regards to our city, Dimapur. Dimapur is the largest city in Nagaland, and rightfully, is known as the commercial hub of Nagaland. It is the city with one of the fastest growing economies.  I have lived in Dimapur for a decade, and things have changed drastically in every field. Dimapur is a city of great variety. One can find tiny shops, and next to those, large stores.  Dimapur is also, as some would say, a city of education, where students from different backgrounds come in search of knowledge. I see Dimapur as a city where there is no discrimination, where everyone has the right to follow their dreams. But is Dimapur really this wonderful city of dreams as one would want it to be? Well, I don’t think so. And this is the other side of the coin, the uglier side.

The first problem that one can observe in the Dimapur is the horrible condition of the roads. The abundant potholes, varying in different shapes and sizes, give the public an amusement park sort of ride, which is pathetic. If we wanted an amusement park ride, we would go to an amusement park. Dust fills the air and gives it a translucent aura, resulting in the drivers being barely able to see the road. In fact, if the roads where in good condition, there won’t be any difficulty in traveling. The condition worsens especially during the monsoons. To add to it all, we have traffic jams, mostly due to rash drivers unwilling to follow traffic rules. In most cases, a minute of work can be stretched to an entire day. Students get late for classes, passengers miss their trains, it’s a mess. There is an obvious solution, repair the roads so that we, the public in Dimapur, won’t have to feel that we live in a remote village. As a matter of fact, some villages have better roads than Dimapur.

The second major problem is the poor drainage system. Rainy season comes and Dimapurians are given the opportunity to enjoy the “natural” swimming pools. Even when there is a light rain, the footpaths are filled with dirty water. Cans, bottles, wrappers, the garbage floats everywhere. It shows that Dimapur also lacks a proper garbage disposal system, or maybe we aren’t disposing garbage the way we are supposed to? Whatever the case may be, it’s the pedestrians who suffer the most. They have to do “long-jumps” in order to avoid open manholes and puddles.

A city growing commercially is of no use without proper maintenance. If we don’t have good roads, drainage, and proper garbage disposal system, no matter how extravagantly we want our stores to be, how fancy we want our cars to be, and how trendy we want our clothes to be, it’s just a disaster at the end with dirty water flowing all over.

When we look at the above-mentioned problems prevalent in Dimapur, perhaps it really is a ‘hell’for the public. 

It isn’t all negative. The other side of the coin is that Dimapur is a beauty. The outskirts of the town still have nature in abundance, and not to forget, the ever graceful ‘Dhansiri’ which meanders lazily through, much like the chimney smoke in Charles Dickens’ Hard Times. Dimapur is home to the scenic Kachari Ruins, the ever fun Zoological Park, and even the street markets, it’s absolute bliss. Vendors from far and near come together to sell their local products:  medicinal herbs, delicious and organic vegetables, hand-made products like baskets, shawls, and all household products at reasonable prices. And come December, roasted maize or ‘butta’ is sold on the streets, its warm and irresistible aroma colliding melodiously with the chilly winter atmosphere.

That’s another thing about Dimapur in December, its Christmas time. Dimapur is transformed into a magical land. Stars up in the sky and colourful ones down below, Christmas trees with twinkling lights sparkling and dancing around it, varieties of shops popping out in every corner, and of course, the fairs where one can enjoy delicacies like the pani puri, grilled sausages, barbecued meat, baked muffins, hot coffees, all laid outside in the Christmas air adding a fuel to the exciting environment.

So, the other side of the coin says, there is a part of Dimapur which is an absolute ‘heaven’.

At the end, it is down to us, do we really need our city to have two sides? Let us try to look around, analyze, think, and decide whether Dimapur is a hell or heaven. Dimapur is our home, and maybe it’s time we all work together to create it into an ideal city, a city we would be proud to live in, a city which we would pass down to our future generations with much pride. Before we expect the Government to come and solve all our problems for us, let’s do all we can to make Dimapur into a ‘heaven’.

“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, Dr. Salikyu Sangtam, Anjan Behera, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email:”.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

A Father’s Role Isn’t Easy - Anatoli K Rochill, Asst. Professor, Department of History

Literature and media has presented the ideal father many times. One of the most iconic portrayals is that of the strong minded lawyer Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s bestselling novel To Kill A Mockingbird. By being what he wants his children to be, he teaches them to be moral and not discriminate against anyone. Perhaps the presence of all these archetypes is what makes the job scary. Patience, humility, morality, creativity, love, protection, a lot is expected from fathers. As Father’s Day approaches, this week’s article reviews the beginnings of this celebration and the role of a father.

A Father’s Role Isn’t Easy

The word ‘Father’ is derived from the Latin word “Pater” and is defined in several dictionaries as a man who has engendered a child, a male parent, or a person who takes responsibility for protecting, caring, rearing, and nurturing children. The definition itself declares the amount of responsibility placed on the shoulders of a father. Christian evangelist Billy Graham has said, “A good father is one of the most unsung, un-praised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society”.

As a special event, Father’s Day was first celebrated in the United States of America, and thereafter the tradition spread to other parts of the  world.  The celebration was first initiated by Miss Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, from Washington, while she was attending the Mother’s Day service in 1909. She felt that if there is a day to honour and respect the mothers, then why not a day be kept aside for the fathers? Ms Dodd’s father, Mr. William Jackson Smart was a civil war veteran. Her mother died due to complications related to childbirth. Sonora was just 16, and Mr. Smart raised his newborn daughter and his five other children  all by himself.

Although the father’s day was celebrated in different countries, yet they are observed differently  and at  different times. In Germany, Father’s day is celebrated on Ascension Day (the Thursday, forty days after Easter), which is a federal holiday and it is also called men’s day, where traditionally groups of men go hiking tours. In Haiti, Father’s Day is celebrated on the last Sunday of June. Fathers are recognised and acknowledged with several gifts. They are also treated to  special meals at the beaches or at the hillsides. In France, lighter manufacturer “Flaminaire” introduced the idea of Father’s Day in 1949 to promote sales of their products guised as the perfect gift for the occasion.        

American writer Clarence B Kelland quoted, “My Father didn’t tell me how to live, he lived, and let me watch him do it”. A Father plays a vital role in the family as well as in the society. Several books, films, and stories have presented the character of an ideal father. areas I reflect on what I have read, and what I have experienced in my own life, I feel these are some of the roles  a father should shoulder:

A father should play an active role in providing financial, emotional, and spiritual support to his family. His family looks up to him for safety. He should share his knowledge and wisdom to his children, and also provide spiritual guidance in order to let them grow and develop in all aspects of life. He should show the act of kindness, loyalty, and compassion to his family members. A father disciplines his children even though he may find it unsettling to punish his children at times, nevertheless, he must do all he can to ensure his children do not go astray. He should live an exemplary life, filled with integrity, righteousness, and humility so that his children will carry on his legacy.

The person who inspires me the most is my father. We have eight siblings in our family and my father, as the head of the family, not only administered us but also taught us several other good qualities. He treated all of us equally and was never partial. I still remember when I was a kid he taught us about cleanliness: to keep our surroundings, neighbourhood, and town clean. Daddy, as we affectionately call him, taught us to be hospitable to all, even strangers.  

Even to this day, he reminds us that we are the image of our society. A health freak, he has instilled in us the zeal to wake up early, exercise, and have a proper diet. Not surprisingly, one of his favourite quotes is “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise”. It wasn’t just the big things, he ensured all of us had proper etiquette and posture. He told us to have strong ambition and determination, to work hard and labour in order to achieve one’s goal. With a smile, he’d quote, “Little drop of water makes the mighty ocean”, and “Rome was not built in a day”.  What I’m today is because of my father, he had taught me so many things about life. I can always find in him a person I can depend on. All credit goes to my dad for his unfailing and unconditional love, for his advice and valuable teachings.

It must be nerve wrecking for all fathers at times. They must wonder if what they are doing is right, and if their ways are ideal. As children, we may feel that our fathers are unfair at times, too strict, failing to understand us. What we must realise is that behind that facade of a hard exterior is a man who loves us beyond all measure. His love is what powers his actions and a father will never, in no way, think evil of his children.  Maybe, all we need is patience, and the willingness to see things from their perspective, and then the love they bear for us will be evident.

“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, Dr. Salikyu Sangtam, Anjan Behera, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email:”.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Church, the Change Maker -Thungdeno Humtsoe, HoD, Department of Sociology

Our lives in Nagaland are strongly centred round society - the way it thinks, behaves, and functions. Besides our distinct tradition and culture, for many, the church is one of the institutions that plays a major role in creating the ideal society we wish to live in. We take a moment this week to reflect on the kind of society we have created for ourselves as the Church. What are the existing problems, how can we improve and what are our roles to be a positive change maker in our society?

The Church, the Change Maker

Many churches: small, big, and mega churches, have been sprouting up in Nagaland. Most of these mega churches are led by missionaries and charismatic leaders and usually have a large number of people attending services that makes one feel good. The church is the lifeline of any society. It is a unique place that should instil a change in people’s lives. To understand why we gather each week, it is pertinent to ask what purposes and functions the churches have. How far are churches and religious organisations maintaining a positive social influence?

In the world today more and more children are growing up in broken homes. Life is hard for single mothers. Alcoholics and drug-users are seen with prejudiced. Corruption and crimes are on the rise. Human rights are being denied and there’s no justice for the poor. Many church goers are struggling to make ends meet in their everyday lives, and we feel the pang of reality just like everyone else. Does the church have any role to play at these drastic times?

I remember a sermon conveyed by a pastor in a Sunday service. It was about demonstrating the greatest lesson of meeting the people’s needs when the Messiah fed the 4000 gathered to hear Him speak. Jesus showed by his deeds the church’s purpose and function. He gave us the blueprint for successfully meeting the needs of the people. Jesus did not just preach, he fed those who were hungry. Both the physical food and the spiritual food was imparted. Both their physical and spiritual needs were met. It is important to show by action rather than by empty words. Every community has its lost sinners who need to be recovered, has it’s downtrodden who need to be lifted up, and has its poor who need to be helped. The church is here to offer help and service, and to change the community. Our service is our action, and our actions form our service. Thus, the church has an active role to play in the community, lifting Christ up to a lost and dying world, preach His word, and most importantly, demonstrate true Christianity through their service to the needy. The church is responsible for the community’s welfare. Churches are a public service to surrounding communities. I am not advocating that each church should have the expertise and know how to deal with all kinds of situations. However, the church should have access to resources needful to guide an individual in the proper direction. It should be able to meet the needs of the community because let’s face it, the church is truly about people. The problem for the church today is just what it has always been - reconciling the just aspect of Christian duty with a sense of evangelistic mission. Typically, churches are reluctant towards involvement in civic affairs and are timid regarding issues of societal change. While religion makes a much-needed contribution to society, sometimes it focuses on benefits towards the advantaged or the ’haves’ and against the oppressed or the ’have-nots’. This I believe is contrary to the Biblical examples. The church should not discriminate. The Bible does not provide us a choice between offering the gospel, and lifting the burden of oppression, as if the two activities have a separate agenda.

Are we attempting to reach out to the world while ignoring our own people and community?  Are we genuinely concerned for humanity? Let’s open the doors of our hearts to those around us so that others may see through our deeds the love of Jesus Christ, and glorify God. This should be the primary role of the church in our society- helping without discrimination.

In the world, many people are seeking the truth, love and integrity. They do not know where to find it. They have not been able to find truth and love in the church as expected, in the representatives of Christianity, and in the parts of the community where they lived. The church must distance itself from the social system which harbours injustice and prejudice if it expects to hold on to the vitality, power of Christ, and the gospel He preached. The church began with an active role which should not die out today. It is inconceivable that any institution as financially strong as the church should exist without some role to play, some duties to perform, and some mission to accomplish.

This is My Story - Tenyebinlo Himb, Class 12 Arts

A true account of a student who stepped right back up from the setbacks and challenges of being a failure to become a dreamer, and with an even fiercer determination to set his life back on track.

This is My Story

We are often in a dilemma whether we should or shouldn’t do certain things. We tend to doubt our capabilities and are afraid to fail when we face hurdles. We all have our ups and downs, and my life has been a testament to the unpredictability of life. Wrong decisions and a desire to get back to what I was perhaps supposed to do made me take a U-turn in life. This is my story.

At a very young age, I was a victim of peer pressure and was unable to pursue the dreams I had set for myself. It was hard for me to believe and understand what was actually happening to me. I gave up all hope of studying because I felt like a failure. I thought it would be too difficult to study again and sit in a classroom. I thought my life had no meaning and I wanted to give up. I would often find myself questioning God as to why He is making me suffer?

In the August of 2013, I ventured into cycling and gradually started to feel alive. Participation in various events made me realize my love for cycling. My passion continued to grow and I formed The TNB Cycling Club in 2013. After the ACAUT Rally in Dimapur, I told myself I will be the change. I realized the real meaning of life is to live for others and doing greater deeds with what we have and can do. And I finally realized that I must be educated. I have to graduate at least so that I can become a successful person. A game of badminton with my friends led us to share stories about our lives. I realized everyone has problems. My friends encouraged me not to give up and it is never too late!

Unsure of my decision, I shared my thoughts with my parents.  I remember Dad told me there is never any harm in trying again. So here I am today, a proud class 12 student who is running on my 23 years of life’s experiences. I decided to continue my studies after a gap of 5 years and joined Tetso College. I had my doubts about whether I was making the right decision. For starters, there was a huge age gap between me and my new classmates. The key was holding on, and never giving up. Friends and family joined in their advice of ‘better late than never’, which I think was true.

Phew! It wasn’t easy for me to go back to being a regular student again, but learning never stops and has no limit. Many of us dream of becoming somebody who is honoured, respected, rich, and influential, but there are only a few who achieve it. Dreams should be transformed into actions. With hard work and perseverance, we can achieve our dreams.

There is a great saying, “Rome was not built in a day”. We should remember and know that it takes time for good things to happen, and for it to happen, we have to be patient and work hard without giving up. Abraham Lincoln was defeated eight times in various elections, but then he went on to become the 16th President of the United States of America. Success comes to those who do not give up. We are the author of our destiny. Nagaland can and will change only if you and me together as ‘WE’ march united, thinking for the greater good and transforming it into action.
Change will not happen overnight. It’s time we think out of the box and proclaim to ourselves “I will be the change”. So much is possible, so much is indeed possible, and I repeat, so much is possible! At times, we are too concerned about what people will think of us and our actions. This is something which we really have to change. We have to live a life where we can express freely and aim for a better world.

A few weeks ago, my mother showed me a video. In it, a person shows kindness to a young boy who was probably homeless. He feeds him with food from a restaurant and when the bill came, to the kind man’s surprise, it was printed, “We do not charge for humanity”. The manager smiled at the man. It was a lovely video indeed. By being humble, united, thinking out of the box, and not caring about what people might think, the person and the manager did something good. I was touched and amazed to see how two strangers can do a miracle, and a thought came to my mind, if they can, why not we?

I end with these words from an anonymous writer, “First I was dying to finish high school and start college. And then I was dying to finish college and start working. Then I was dying to marry and have children. And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough for school so I could return to work. Then I was dying to retire…and suddenly I realized I had forgotten to live.” So much is possible if only we don’t ever give up.

“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:”.

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...