Thursday, 29 September 2016

Coffee Culture - Yekili Cheryl Zhimo, BA 3rd Semester English Honours

From the dandy street cafés in Europe to mosaic cafés in our cities, coffeehouses provide a means to escape life’s worries. Stepping into a café, you enter a world of pheromone where the aromas entice you to linger in its subliminal realm. With a cup of coffee in your hand and soft music frolicking in the background, it affords an unspoiled setting to divest one’s cares for a brief life’s moment. Yekili Cheryl Zhimo’s beautiful writing transports you into the calm and enchanting world of coffeehouses.

                                  Coffee Culture

Hakuna Matata- Swahili for no worries. This place has got charm, that's for sure. Incandescent light bulbs hanging low from the cross lapped wooden planks, a mini-sculpture of feisty looking Havana Browns, a whimsical collection of books, ceramics, rag dolls, cacti, and a bunch of other antique and vintage pieces shelved on the cafe walls. I flip open to page ninety-seven of Chitra Divakaruni's The Palace of Illusions, just happy that I got to do this Hakuna Matata indeed, drifting farther, my tongue hugged by a cloud of earthy goodness.

We all walk in for different reasons, don't we? She waits behind the counter. Is she doing it for the money? Perhaps to meet someone new? Or is it just because she loves this place as much as I do- the ambience, the cookies...the coffee? He doesn't seem to notice her anxiousness, though. He orders cafe mocha, one iced tea, and two servings of vanilla mousse cakes, pointing to a table cramped beside a sturdy-looking bookshelf. His company sits there, his mother. The excruciating look on the Amazonian wood mask drooping beside her doesn't seem to intrigue her at all. She's too occupied to notice, checking her phone continuously and flipping through multiple newspapers. It’s not that she doesn't care. She's just too busy: a 21st Century Working Mom. She resigns from her aloofness and reassures her son, "I'll be there, don't you worry. Now drink that up before it gets cold." So adorable! They’re sharing pastries now, giggling.

It’s amazing how things have changed in a few decades. Back then the Naga society didn't take too well to working ladies, let alone mothers. ‘She’ seemed more valuable at home, doing chores, completely confined to the domestic world. Our society adapts pretty fast, sometimes too recklessly, though, as it skips stages, leaving loopholes. It’s too risky, for the world doesn't take kindly to the feeble rooted. Perhaps ‘she’ would have come much farther if it wasn’t out of necessity or subjective interests, but genuine thirst for equality.

Of all establishments, coffeehouses are the most admirable. As much as it is about the pastries and beverages, it has a lot more to do with socializing and spending some quality ‘me-time’. Unlike restaurants of course, where people are too occupied with their food that they can barely think straight! Coffeehouses ooze positivity, they are places where you could do a lot of productive stuff or simply de-stress. There’s no discrimination when you walk in alone because it understands just how important individuality is; selected literature, artwork, music, a one seat table near a massive glass window, it helps us think, understand, retrospect and reassess.

A hundred and ten...a hundred and eleven...they float in. Yes, they do not walk much like Della of O’Henry’s story The Gift of the Magi. They're in love. She receives a phone call looking a bit flushed. She tries to compose herself while her boyfriend places an order. I'm guessing it was her parents. The call…she didn't tell them where she was. Maybe her parents are still not comfortable with the whole idea of ‘dating’ we postmodern Naga kids are so into. For the sake of love she lives a double life. Do I call her a coward? Or is she a braveheart? I wish there could be more transparency in such matters. A hundred and fourteen, a hundred and fifteen...they come and they go, the people.

I feel like the cafe and I are close acquaintances now, sitting somewhere in the corner, observing. He tells me how T.S. Eliot walked in one day, looking a bit heavy and timid as always. He couldn’t help but smile a little after taking in a sip of sweetened coffee. Apparently, he wrote a poem mentioning "coffee spoons". He told me how 'Café Procope' was a major meeting place of the French Enlightenment, frequently visited by thinkers like Voltaire, Rousseau, and Denis Diderot. He then mentioned the Green Dragon in Boston where John Adams, James Otis, and Paul Revere planned rebellion. Maybe someone like them would one day walk into this cafe; a Naga Voltaire or Paul Revere, and entice change, bring clarity to our foggy society.

The young man walks back to the counter and converses with the barista. I think he liked the vanilla mousse cake a lot. Or maybe he didn’t notice her almost-hazel eyes earlier when he was busy scanning the menu. They're smiling at each other. It’s like a scene right out of the movies, except they're not exchanging numbers. Maybe he'll ask for it the next time he visits, maybe he won't. I plug in my earphones, and ‘Ride’ by 21 Pilots makes more sense to me than ever before. I rest my eyes for a while.

All this is like a mini-version of a Western cafe: the food, the music, the people, except for the decor maybe, which is a crazy mash-up of multiple cultures. I am happy that the coffeehouse made its way to Nagaland. The ideal that it embodies, and its ability to infuse itself into any culture is what are most admirable. It embraces change. Our society keeps re-inventing itself too; social norms, activities, and responsibilities; this cafe stands as evidence. In a world where change is the only constant, perhaps coffee and the cafe culture could be the other constant- a pivot of social life. Oh! It’s already seven thirty and I need to head home. But wait, all this reading, observing, and thinking has left me a little dizzy. Yes, another cup of coffee, a doughnut, and maybe a slice of cheesecake too.

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 recognized Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Dr. Salikyu Sangtam, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email:

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Road to Success - Tokali, Class 12 Arts

Mariyappan Thangavelu, a resident of Salem, Tamil Nadu, was born in a family of five children. His father abandoned his family early on, and his mother had to shoulder the responsibility of raising the children all by herself. She did this by working as a laborer and later selling vegetables, earning not more than Rs 100 a day. When Mariyappan was five, he was run over by a bus being driven by a drunken driver. He suffered permanent disability in his right leg. He however continued to work hard and train for high jumping since the age of 14. Due to his perseverance, he was able to clinch the gold medal for India in the Men’s High Jump during the recently concluded 2016 Summer Paralympics. Heroes are not created by destiny. Success can be achieved only by those who give their best and dedicate their lives towards excellence. This week we present to you the thoughts of a student about achieving success in life.

The Road to Success

Everyone likes to succeed. Success means that we have achieved something that we’ve wanted or have been trying to accomplish. Success is not an abstract idea; it means tireless striving; it means putting together the failures, the sideway blocks and hurdles. It is learning from errors. Winston Churchill said, “Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.”

This line reminds me of my cousin who worked hard to achieve success. Though he faced many obstacles and failures, he did not give up; instead he made them his lessons. He fell behind his friends, his parents stopped supporting him as he lost a year since he couldn’t pass the civil service exams. Friends talked about him in a negative manner saying he was too young to be giving exams, etc. Even his parents told him to stop giving exams. Nevertheless, he did not give up and tried his very best to achieve his goals because he knew that success smells better than failure. He worked on achieving his goal instead of listening to those naysayers. He at last got through. Now, he is enjoying the fruits of his labor as an ADC. By facing numerous challenges and in overcoming them, he attained success, he achieved his goals.

Success is the joy one gives to oneself and to others too. We have to perform certain things to get real satisfaction and joy. Success begins with one’s will. The fast paced world we live in today makes it even more necessary for us to learn and equip ourselves with tools essential to succeed in a highly globalized environment, and the more we learn, the better and useful we become. And education gives us knowledge and equips us with tools essential for success. It is like a flipper’s guide in magazines which helps the readers know the contents of the magazines. It is only when we read the articles that we come to know what they are all about. So too is education, it instils us with basic knowledge. It is when we make use of this knowledge, in practice, we attain our desired goals.

In addition to knowledge, I believe that hard work is necessary. Hard work is the key to success and there is nothing to be achieved without hard work. As the popular saying goes, there is no short cut to success; no one achieves anything through short cuts. John Maywood says ‘A hard beginning maketh a good ending.’ Only those who achieve success through sheer determination and hard work find full happiness in their success. Nothing is impossible for a hardworking person. I have an Uncle who told me that he attained success through his hard work. He said he was not a bright student; he was just an average student in the class and hard working.  As he was not from a wealthy family, his parents sometimes couldn’t pay for his fees. So in order to pay for his fees, he worked in the fields and earned money to pay his fees. And after a whole day’s of work in the fields, he helped his parents with household works. In spite of all these, he managed to study at the least, five to six hours a day. Because of all his hard work, he is a well-known person holding a Ph D. and is also the Principal of a well reputed college.

Success is like a flower. It is the finished product of series of efforts of preparatory stages. It is small things done with confidence which make achievements. “Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of small things”, said Frank A. Clark, the American politician. Nothing is impossible to a willing heart. So, if you want to achieve success, seize this very minute and victory will be yours.

Being a student, we all face many challenges, but we should know how to overcome them. As a student, one should be one’s own advocate. Stake a claim in the class room by making sure the teacher knows who you are in a good way. Be curious and ask questions. Moreover, one should be well prepared to face any challenges. We all want something great in life, I am sure. So let’s begin by working hard. They will all come true. The first and the most important step towards success is the feeling that we can succeed in accomplishing great things, and believing that we can. Take pride in how far you have come. Have faith in how far you can go. And, inevitably, success will truly be yours.

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 recognized Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Dr. Salikyu Sangtam, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email:

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Power of Youth -Z Tonikali Kiba, BA 1st Semester Political Science Honours

Youths are the future of our society. How our society will look like in the future—whether harmonious or conflictual, tribalism or unity, rampant corruption or accountability—depends on the kind of person the youth grow up to be. If they are taught to be respectful, assiduous and exercise sound judgment, then we no doubt have a cause for optimism. Indeed, the present generation and the prevailing conditions of our society have placed a herculean task on our youths. Yet, despite such an enormous task, the youths are ready to accept this colossal obligation with ‘responsibility.’

The Power of Youth

We always talk about what our youths will become in their later years. The more pertinent question however is, where are the youths when they are needed? What are you as a youth doing? Don’t you want to come out of your shell and raise your voice against violence, corruption and all the backdoor appointments? The youth are full of energy, power, and strength with voices loud enough to be heard, so why let your youth be a waste? The youths have the power to bring about change, express relevant views against all forms of dishonesty.

We young Nagas have a responsibility towards our state. We can, and will be the pillars of our government, our churches, and our societies. Why are we then allowing our voices to be tamed? We cannot expect a better tomorrow if we are wasting our life today in useless activities or by taking part in all the unwanted political activities. After all, our present represents our future. It is true that there are some responsible Naga youths who are striving to bring about positive impact, but what about the rest? Why do we delight in scoffing them?

For instance, can we really find a true political leader who deeply cares for the welfare of the people? More importantly, are we willing to get into politics for the betterment of our state? The dream of traveling peacefully in Nagaland seems to be an abstract concept, what with the abundance of potholes on the roads. Students bear the brunt of corruption at various levels when their scholarships are not given at the right time. When the Central Government has already sanctioned the money to our state government, why is there a delay?

Through various folktales and legends we know that our Naga forefathers were honest, truthful, and willingly volunteered themselves for the betterment of the society. Is our generation bearing any resemblance to the men of the past? If things go on as they are, with people placing their own needs ahead of the society’s, I can see a very dark future.

The first thing required to tackle corruption is awareness of what is happening. These days social media is playing an important role in creating awareness among the people, which according to me is really appreciable. Social media is important and necessary for all the people but thing is that people, especially the youths tend to misuse it. The youths don’t shy away from ‘poking’ each other and tagging friends in random pictures  but perhaps are ”afraid” to speak up on important issues and use this platform to fight for change. We do have The Naga Blog and other similar forums, but more active participation is required.

These are a few concerns which I as a Naga youth have.  Is the youth there only for blaming the local government? For instance, take the example of the politicians who we so blissfully blame for the bad roads and all the pitiable facilities. Aren’t we the ones who elected them? Many don’t vote for the deserving candidate for the person who bribed them, and of course, later blame them for not being responsible for social welfare. We are reckless and take decisions randomly. Do we analyse the possible effects our actions may have? At times we are like fire, unthinking, furious and upbeat, and later after everything has gone wrong, we turn into ice acting as if nothing has happened. Let’s think twice before we act!

In my opinion, the youths should raise their voice but not just for the sake of doing it, and then the change will surely come. If all of us unite and stand together with one motto ‘towards a better tomorrow’, then I am sure that we will be successful in whatever we do today. It will have a positive impact on our society. I dream of a better Nagaland, where the government functions without any corruption, where free and fair elections would be held, and the elected politicians give their best to help society improve, where we can travel in comfortable fast lanes, where basic medical facilities and education would be provided to all, where we don’t have to buy jobs, but get it through our hard work, where evils like tribalism, racism, and illegal taxations would all stop, where there is true equality of genders. The list is a long one, but I believe it is achievable!

It’s high time now that we, the youths, take our responsibilities seriously! The future is ours to build! Let Nagaland be known for its rich cultural heritage and dynamic citizens. Let’s make Nagaland a place where you and I would be proud to stand and say that, “I am a Naga by birth, and I am proud of being a Naga!” If you want to see the change tomorrow, then start changing your today. 

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 recognized Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Dr. Salikyu Sangtam, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email:

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

An Ode to Teachers - Dr Salikyu Sangtam, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

M’Choackumchild, a teacher in Dickens’ novel “Hard Times”, is criticized for ‘choking’ his students with facts. When we take a hard look at the education scenario in Nagaland, do any of us often wonder if there is any similarity with the expectations of this fictional character from a Victorian Era novel. Are we emphasizing too much on memorization and echoing facts to ace the examinations, while destroying the creative and analytical side of our students?

An Ode to Teachers

It is one of the greatest misfortunes of our society that where the meaningful significance of life is to be nurtured, there we find the cultivation of such to occur in the most uninspiring vacuous milieu. As a teacher, I find the educational environment of our state to be lackluster and devoid of any purpose, both for the learners and teachers. Numerous teachers and students wander aimlessly with no purpose to what they do and what they learn. Both ENDURE their respective duties: teacher to regurgitate the received information from the books, and for students to memorize and regurgitate the regurgitated materials. I say “ENDURE” because to endure is to TOIL and SUBMIT to circumstances, it is defeatist by nature. Besides, most teachers and students have, in most cases, unduly consigned themselves to circumstances. They have submitted not because they are fatalists, but because they see no meaningful purpose to what they do and learn. Certainly, I do not mean all teachers and students are as such, but most are. In such conditions, the whole purpose of education goes astray. This is detrimental to the well-being of a society, whether we admit it or not.

This is especially true with respect to teachers. Teachers are supposed to nurture and guide students realize their potential and creative abilities—whatever they may be. These require teachers to find purpose in what they do. Yet, when most teachers just TOIL away and ENDURE aimlessly, it evinces that they do not see teaching as something honorable; rather they see it as a JOB demanding them to simply endure the inconvenience that comes with the ‘job.’ Herein lies one of the problems: the problem is that most teachers see teaching as a JOB, but teaching is not a ‘job’ or a ‘profession,’ rather it is a CALLING, something innate. “Calling” involves passion and loving what one does, and teachers not only have to be passionate but also love what they do. Otherwise, how else is it possible to ignite students’ imagination and excite their spirits, which are essential to learning? Since teaching is ultimately intimate and personal, teachers must thus be able to stimulate and provoke students’ imaginations, thereby awakening their sense of self-awareness. This, I admit, is not enough to mend the educational problems; however, at the least, it does help students circumvent their disenchantment with the system, and why wouldn’t they feel disillusioned, given Nagaland University’s obsolete syllabi, with teachers’ emphasizing memorization rather than understanding or reasoning. Hence, instead of magnifying their disenchantment, teachers can facilitate a milieu of curiosity and wonderment. Thus, igniting an environment of learning at the most profound level, i.e. helping students’ find purposeful meaning in what they do and learn.

It is essential to note that teaching is about guiding students to think critically so that they realize their fullest potential. After all, for Aristotle, each realizing his/her fullest potential, which is, becoming what each is meant to become, evinces the profoundest expression of human life. Furthermore, in teaching, one implants on students a sense of wonderment that ignites their passion and innate creative abilities. Indeed, for Socrates, “knowledge begins in wonder.” In this way, students gain not only a profound understanding of the worldly realities but also learn how to live a meaningful life. Moreover, teaching is about cultivating each student’s unique talents and abilities, at the heart of which lies self-transformation, self-growth, self-awareness, and self-knowledge.

Ultimately, teaching, I believe, is about education of the whole person, from abstract intellectual ideas to the practical realities of everyday life. Raphael, the great renaissance painter, in one of his frescos, School of Athens, shows us the paragon of education. At the center of the fresco, we see Plato and Aristotle, the former points toward the heavens, toward the world of abstract ideas and intellectual ruminations, while the latter points toward the viewer, toward the everyday human world. This, I believe, is the essence of teaching. Teaching is educating students not only about intellectually abstract ideas but also about practical realities of everyday life; thereby the purpose of education is actualized: understanding of self.

Of course I do not mean in this monologue teachers are the sole problem and if they are somehow rectified then maladies would be resolved. Rather, what I want to convey is teachers are A PART of the problem and thus also A PART of the solution. We can start by ameliorating, at the very least, one of the problematic variables. Indeed, to mend our society’s educational problems require the rectification of numerous societal factors contributing to it. However, this does not mean teachers ought to wait for all the contributing variables to be amended before they play their part. It requires initiative and ingenuity on the part of the teachers to help students realize their entelechy, no matter the vacuity of the present educational environment.

I conclude by maintaining that throughout this philosophical soliloquy, the whole purpose was to elucidate the importance of teachers in playing a significant and meaningful role in students’ lives. It is an ode for teachers, though in a critical sense, to convey how essential they are for the betterment of our society. And whether I am right or wrong to voice this concern is a moot point. Ultimately, I leave it to the readers to decide on their own as to what should be done to liberate ourselves of the maladies afflicting our state’s educational system.

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 recognized Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Dr. Salikyu Sangtam, 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...