Tuesday, 25 July 2017

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility- Tabitha Assumi, BA 5th Semester (History Honours)

image credits- boldsky.com

Nagaland has been swept in a vortex of uncertainty over the past few weeks. From the floods and collapsing bridges, to the dramatic return of our former CM to power, our state is desperately in need of peace and stability. Where are we headed and what must we do to restore new hope in Nagaland? 

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Mankind, with no atmosphere of perseverance suffocates, and without a pillar of eminent leaders collapses. Over the past many years, grief has overpowered gaiety, and money power has been winning continuously over our voices. Our voices are vanishing in thin air with the wavering of the heart. Our hearts are undecided even when we are expected to strike a right attitude for ourselves and know where we are heading. We are living in a world that is literally half money-made where the guilt of losing one’s integrity is degrading and vanishing. There is nothing more deceiving and blinding than money. Thus, I believe the need of the hour is to realize our duty as stewards and work hand in hand for a good cause.

At present, there is so much need for positive growth in the society and that should begin with every single citizen. We are the leaders of today and if not, we are the leaders in the making. When we sooner realize this, then no responsibility will actually be viewed as a burden but as an opportunity and a chance to do something productive for our next generation. True, we have let go of thousand hours that could have made a huge difference around us, but we can still make a timeless impact with what we have at hand. It is time for us to work and say “watch me” as we begin to take new risks and handle our responsibilities.

When money talks, many hands quiver with greed and lust. It shuns people to utter the truth. It neither enables them to use their authority wisely nor makes them have the slightest concern for others besides their own. Suffice to say that money cannot talk and knows no one’s suffering and rights. It requires man’s right choice and decision over how it is used. However, many are voluntarily blinded by it at the cost of the others. How much more pleasant it would be if our attention could be diverted upon the face of the needful and our ears incline to the voices of the unheard. A better place it would be if we as leaders lust less for money and work more for the welfare of our brethren.

What we are compelled to witness today is when money talks, all mouths are hushed. Perhaps, when on the topic of elections is served on a platter, its sweetness coats the taste buds first, followed by a bitter aftertaste. Assurances are given to the masses, who believe in the empty promises and cast their votes. When fingers are pointed at a leader, we should instantly realize that we have slacked somewhere down the line by confusing ourselves with mere gratifications of basic needs. We ought not to be swayed for fractions of happiness, instead widen our vision towards a lasting impact with any possible opportunity placed before us. The need for healthy election had been made known to all and surprisingly the signatures may not work on its own lest there be a bunch of key leaders willing to unlock the door of development.

There is surely a heavy load for every leader as they face the struggles that follow. But considering the powers vested in them, such loads are justified, for “with great power comes great responsibility”. It is much easier to scribble than to have a masterpiece. In the same manner, we need leaders whose words and works would turn into a strong fortress for their citizens. If a man has a dream and a fire from within to build an ideal atmosphere, he would apparently begin to make a change. However, we don’t buy dreams in an instant; we just genuinely plant it in our hearts and let it grow. We dream of a peaceful Nagaland, but how much apart from ‘dreaming’ are we doing?

What if we could stoop a little lower than before and notice the coarse path we have been travelling all the while with bowed heads? What if every heart would melt to an innocent cry? What if we can open our eyes wide or maybe not, just because we are afraid to step into the light? There is surely something holding us back from doing what we need to be doing. Well, everyone is prone to hardships. Suppose a man meets with an accident and is critically injured. He really needs faster commuting, but our slow-paced bumpy roads will definitely limit his chances of survival. Then I bet we would uncomfortably sit back with our teeth clenched for we know that we have made this mess out of our state. It is not surprising to learn that we all asked for meat before we could even have a piece of bread stuffed in our mouth.

In broad daylight, we don’t need lullabies of false assurances, rather a resounding alarm to wake us from our fantasy and strengthen our feeble hands to work before the dusk engulfs us wholly. Though thousand signatures are imprinted upon a paper, only integrity will sustain its true form. Another right direction has been made known to us and we shall persevere till the concerned and burdened hearts take the lead and strive toward a better tomorrow. May we retrospect on the past failures and glory, for I believe, to retrospect is to reconstruct. May someone someday cry out that we are heading back to the shore where the waves of gluttony can drench us no more.

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 K Behera, Tatongkala Pongen, Nungchim Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Reality of Primary Schools - Inaholi Aye, BA 5th Semester, English Honours

Image credits- morungexpress.com

Charles Dickens in his famed novel Hard Times critiqued M’Choakumchild, a Victorian era school teacher who had all the degrees but choked his students with facts, giving no room for creativity and individuality to thrive. Centuries have gone by, yet we have a large number of schools in the state valuing the certificates of teachers over their skills. Here are the thoughts of a 5th Semester student on the issue.

The Reality of Primary Schools

Education is the process of facilitating learning. The main objective of education is to prepare the pupils to face the competitive world and be able to earn a living. In Nagaland, every household demands their children be ‘atleast’ a graduate, thus indicating how graduates in our society have immensely increased. The most common job these graduates look for is that of teaching.
The problem, however, is not at the college or secondary level but at the primary level and below. Children at this stage have greater learning capacity, but they need to be mentored as they cannot self-learn. Ironically, the best and worthy are picked as mentors for the higher levels of education. We see the lack of importance paid to the lower stages of education. Hardly any attention is given to enhance its quality. We cannot deny this prevailing fact. And I hold a valid reason to this, knowing how only a handful of schools pay good attention to the quality and qualifications of the mentors.
Proving myself as a well-wisher of our society, I choose to voice the reality, from my own observations and of a few others from the education industry and write about it. Being tremendously fascinated by some experiences, I ventured out conducting interviews with the teaching faculty of several schools to dig into the problems, and it proved to be very beneficial and enlightening. In most schools that I visited, only a single teacher was appointed to take charge of a class. In some cases there were two, the other being a matriculate helper. In most cases, such practices result in a single teacher educating the children on up to three subjects. The children end up confused, the reason being a single teacher teaching three different subjects a day. There is a lack of specialisation which is needed even at this level. Each subject has a specific teaching methodology.
During an interview I conducted, a teacher who teaches three subjects to the same class said that students are often confused about what she has come to teach. The next question I asked her was of the interest of the children; if a teacher is teaching three subjects and entering a particular class three times a day, are the students still able to show enthusiasm and interest? She thought for a while and gave me the most candid response. “Their interest, of course, is very less and sometimes they seem lost in their own world. At times they give me that ‘you again!’ expression when I enter their class for the second or third time.”
This conversation sheds light on how the learning environment for students has become dull, insipid, and monotonous. When students are already so bored and indifferent, it’s bound to affect their learning capabilities. This predicament brings us to the question, what should be the qualities and qualifications of a school teacher?
According to me, teachers should be precise, creative, and cautious in all that is taught. They should most importantly be lucid to the students. They should know the value of their job and the role their career plays in moulding the citizens of tomorrow. The pupils trust them to such an extent that they would deny accepting corrections the parents offer to make in their books. They should be familiar with the content and thorough with what they are supposed to teach. I came across an English teacher who taught in the primary section. She had graduated with just 45% marks, and could hardly speak in correct English. Thinking in a broader sense of how the society has brought us to this face of life; to choose quantity over quality, and in the same demeanour, choose certificates over grades.
I interviewed another teacher who taught English, even though she was a Sociology honours graduate. Lack of aptly qualified candidates during the time of interview led to her getting appointed for the particular post. She thus barred her pupils from gaining proper knowledge since she was not familiar with the methodology of teaching English. She was aware of her shortcoming but did not voice out her concerns. She needed the job. I asked her whether she was confident that her qualifications would help her secure a good job. Her look gave it all away.  She took a moment and said a no, her voice not firm. It’s a vicious system, and children have to bear the brunt of it.
We the Nagas, who dream big for the future of Nagaland, should question ourselves if the prevailing education system in the state is good enough. Is it running as it should? If we are to give a sincere response to this, there is much to rectify.
We are greatly aware of the financial condition of our educational institutions. Yet, despite financial instabilities, we still have the capacity to bring about a good amount of positive change to the ever-worsening conditions in our society. If there be just one teacher appointed, she/he must not only be well qualified but most importantly have good skills. She/he should possess graspable teaching qualities and be well-equipped to grab the attention of the mentees. Then we know the complications would be remedied to some extent, although not fully. Our educational boards need to give due significance to teaching skills too, and not just certificates alone. Teaching should not be treated like the default career for graduates.
A little risk and some courage, accompanied by a little sacrifice by the authority, society, and individuals for the sake of the emerging great minds can undoubtedly make vast changes that we are so much in need of.
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 K Behera, Tatongkala Pongen, Nungchim Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

The Absurdity of Masculinity - Anjan K Behera, Acting HoD, Department of English

The problem of masculinity is not with the behaviour itself, but over what society interprets and shapes the term into. A superficial understanding of the term enables the subjugation of men who must adhere to certain behavioural patterns to be deemed “manly”.
The Absurdity of Masculinity
It had been an agreeable wedding, and while I did want to sit and appreciate the beauty of the newlyweds, the hunger pangs from my stomach dictated my exit from the colourful tent. My mind was particularly mesmerised by the faint whiff of the succulent mutton cooked with an army of spices, which drifted lazily through the crisp winter air. As the distance between me and the decked up plates grew shorter, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that my mouth contorted itself into an involuntary smile. It was then when I could realise sniggers and remarks. I had committed the unforgivable mistake of ignoring the unsaid rule of “Ladies first!” which had surprisingly found its way to a remote village in Odisha, to taunt me during the reception I was attending. “He can’t wait for the ladies to serve first?” “He thinks he is a lady?” I ignored the jeers, served myself a plateful, and sat to eat like a king. It was a win for menfolk everywhere, or so I thought!
This isolated incident made me wonder, how much of freedom do men really have today? The world may be patriarchal; our language, our traditions, everything; yet, aren’t men also being subjugated to several expectations and demands? By expecting women to have a “correct” existence, society has also placed several limitations on men. Take for instance the television ad for ‘Wildstone Talc for Men’ where a man is about to apply an unnamed “ladies’ talcum powder”. The voice-over for the ad taunts the man for using a ladies’ talcum powder, saying he is exasperated with the sight of effeminate men everywhere, which apparently is a crisis of epic proportions, and a contributing factor is the usage of women’s beauty products. In conclusion, the voice-over says, “Use Wildstone Talc for Men, Be a Man!”
This sexist ad almost portrays feminine behaviour as a disease: that one could ‘catch it’ and be ruined. It establishes the kind of masculinity our society has traditionally expected from men. However, one must realise that masculinity and femininity are just behavioural patterns, with fluid attachments to one’s gender. Psychoanalysts Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud both concluded that the divide between masculinity and femininity is more of a social construct. Male children are taught to be masculine as they grow up. “Don’t cry like a girl!”, “Don’t throw like a girl”, and “Be a man”; reinforcements like these automatically create the pattern for masculinity in young adults, and then the cycle is repeated when these children have kids of their own.
Anything outside the set norm is considered ‘deviant’. Biological males who do not fit the standards set for them are often deemed ‘unmanly’, a term used to justify bullying. A study conducted by Audrey Ruth Omar of the University of Iowa found that men who tend to be masculine, are more accepting of violence, and often bully men who aren’t masculine. This was depicted in the ABC musical comedy-drama series Glee. Finn Hudson (played by the late Cory Monteith) being the quarterback of the football team, is at the top of the high school social hierarchy. He is considered masculine and even participates in bullying others. Later, he himself gets bullied after he joins the Glee club and performs in the choir. His football teammates feel Finn is turning effeminate, now that he sings and dances, and call him ‘gay’.
This fan favourite television show portrayed a fundamental fact, that orientation is unrelated to masculinity or femininity. The fallacy of a correlation is propagated by the society, which leads to shaming and bullying. Men have to be masculine to be accepted and respected by the society. The obsession with masculinity is a leading cause of homophobia. Several studies show that a contributing factor to alcoholism in men is to fulfill certain social expectations of ‘manliness’, with college men being the risk group for this kind of behaviour. In a research conducted by R L Peralta of the University of Akron, it was found that 68% of college going men reported that they equated the ability to consume large amounts of alcohol without vomiting or fainting as a characteristic of masculinity, and the inability to do this was considered as a sign of femininity, weakness, and even homosexuality.
It’s not just alcoholism. Across societies, men engage themselves in several risk behaviours to prove their masculinity. I have several male friends who think eating large quantities of meat while avoiding vegetables is manly. Manly behaviour also includes engaging and boasting about sexual promiscuity, which is deemed synonymous with masculinity. Men are venerated by peers for their sexual conquests and treated like the alpha male. This leaves them susceptible to HIV and STDs. Traditional masculine behaviour encourages violence; from images of Beowulf battling a dragon, and of the ‘knight in shining armour’. Tattoos and piercings are also seen as signs of masculinity.
In popular media, especially in advertisements, the ‘macho man’ stays away from domestic chores at all costs. He is never shown cooking or cleaning but emerges as the one who must be served and respected. Certain colours, professions, expressions and words are off limits for the manly man. Our society adores the masculine man, and men have over the centuries striven to be identified as masculine. I agree that women have suffered more owing to social norms and gender stereotyping; however, it is also necessary to acknowledge that men are definitely not free from this vicious trap they have unwittingly constructed for themselves.
Maybe the first step in doing away with these absurd identities is not obsessing over what she/he should be, but rather appreciating the uniqueness of each individual.

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 K Behera, Tatongkala Pongen, Nungchim Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

The Poverty Trap - Daoharu Basumatry, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics

Every year, the Central Government of India pumps crores of rupees into Nagaland for the purposes of development. Even the state government has collaborated with various social organizations in its effort to tackle poverty and ignite economic development in Nagaland. And in recent days, there have been demands made by the citizens asking the state government to do more in terms of economic development, production, and unemployment. This week’s article sheds light into the ailments inhibiting Nagaland’s economic development.

                                         The Poverty Trap

Poverty - the word simply refers to poor people, is not at all desirable for any economy. It may be understood both in absolute and relative terms. People may be poor in comparison to others which is basically a relative concept, and also people may be poor in the absolute terms, i.e. they may not even have all the basic needs to survive. In both cases, the conditions prevailing in an economy is not desirable for an economy, that is why Government of various countries are fighting it. In India, the fight against it has been through various economic and social programmes. Yet these problems of poverty are yet to be solved completely.

Examining the problem from the economic point of view, it (poverty) is really undesirable because it leads to poverty trap ie. the vicious circle of poverty. The vicious circle of poverty is a situation where poor people remain poor and they cannot accumulate savings. People with less or little savings have low purchasing power which leads to low consumption which in turn leads to low production, and low production leads to low employment (both labour and resource) and finally, low employment leads to poverty. So, poverty affects both consumption and production which retard economic growth and development.

Every country needs economic growth and development; however, poverty stands in the way of it so they try to solve it through various plans and programmes. The various Government plans and programmes designed to solve the problem of poverty in most parts of the world have been basically monetary in nature. They, however, have not yielded the desired results. The fight with poverty in Nagaland has seen the result as argued by the classical economists; they postulated the role of money to be neutral. Neutrality of money is a phenomenon where change in money supply in an economy affects only the nominal variables like price level, wage rate, interest rate, etc.; whereas on the other hand, real variables like output, employment, real wage rate have seen very little change. All the money that has been pumped into Nagaland has simply displayed how money has been simply displaying the neutrality of money. Nominal variables especially price level and unemployment has seen a huge rise. The need of the hour is that the rise in the nominal variables should be really controlled and there should be a gradual rise in the real variables, for the betterment of Nagaland.

The Indian economy is dependent on internal trade. This can be a great force in the fight against poverty and unemployment in Nagaland. But, sadly, internal trade has benefitted Nagaland in a very limited manner. To be beneficial, internal trade should be both ‘to’ and ‘from’. But the picture is very clear, internal trade for Nagaland has just been ‘from’. Commodities starting from A to Z are being brought to the state, which has led to huge outflow of money from the state. All the consumption requirements of the state have not been met through local production. Local production has been really confined to few goods. Had most of the requirements of the state been met through local production then it would have really contributed in the fight against poverty and unemployment. So, Nagaland has been losing both due to internal trade and lack of local production, accompanied by corruption, which is evident when we see the existing conditions of public properties, despite huge Union Government’s investments to develop the infrastructural facilities of the state.

Has internal trade favoured Nagaland? The answer to this question is not so favourable for the state. The need of the hour is that policy makers of Nagaland come up with better ideas and have a vision that its people also gain and not only lose when it comes to internal trade with other states of India. The Union Government of India has recently come up with the policy of ‘make in India’ (of course everything cannot be made in India since it involves cost efficiency and availability), which I strongly believe does not exclude the role Nagaland can play. In this regard, the Government of Nagaland can also come up with the idea of make in Nagaland or at least produced in Nagaland, and also try to ensure that it brings the desired result.

The scenario of Nagaland viewed from social perspective has also its role to play in the existing gloomy economic condition. It has been very much dominated by ism - tribalism, communalism, and so many more. Have all these “isms” served the cause in any way?  Though I am not the right person to comment especially on social issues, I can certainly say that these “isms” serve the economic cause in a very limited or even do not serve at all. There should be some common ground on which the problem of “ism” can be compromised with economic requirements.

Nagaland in so many ways has become a dependent state and the consumption requirements have to be covered up by internal trade. Yet, this very internal trade has just been a medium of resource drain from the state which has in so many ways contributed to poverty in Nagaland. It’s high time that a state, where Government funding has seen very little results, see that the plans and programmes to curb poverty and unemployment be really executed in the desired way to attain the desired results.

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 K Behera, Tatongkala Pongen, Nungchim Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

India Goes Cashless - Lily Chishi, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics

Source: The Economic Times, India

The economy of India underwent another massive change with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax on the midnight of 30th June 2017. The GST is ambitious and hopes to create jobs and raise national revenue. Over the past few months now, India has been attempting to go cashless. Technology is changing the way we live and work, leaving behind a trail of mixed responses. So, what does it really mean to go cashless?

India Goes Cashless

‘Going Cashless’ is now the big buzzword in India, and the ball is rolling as the world’s largest cash economy begins going digital. It has left citizens with mixed emotions because more than half of the country’s population either fears the new system or are unable to comprehend the idea of going cashless. Nevertheless, a cashless economy is really a bold move considering the fact that Indian people are quite reliant on hard cash. One is left to wonder how a cashless economy is beneficial to the country and its people. Is it going to benefit everyone?
In a cashless economy, transactions will be done by digital means like e-banking, debit and credit cards, point of sale (POS) machines, digital wallets, etc. In simpler words, no liquid money or paper currency will be used by the people. In a cashless economy, a third party will be in possession of our money. It will ensure a corruption free economy and attack the parallel economy. In India, welfare programs often suffer from the chronic problem of corruption and the non-implementation of schemes. A cashless economy would solve these issues since the movement of currency can be traced.
Any monetary help to the poor and the needy people can be made through bank transfer, even payments for rural employment generation schemes like MNREGP. This way there will be no instances of middlemen syphoning off the aids and exploiting the poor and illiterate people. A cashless economy would make it easier for tourists as well. The deplorable practice of buying votes by distributing cash to the electorates would also be reduced, and true democracy would be finally at work. It would enable the government to check the supply of money for terror activities.
No doubt the Central government is making a big push for the cashless transaction in the country to achieve its target of becoming the largest cashless economy. However, it seems like the country is not ready for such an immediate shake-up. Although the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana launched by the government succeeded in bringing millions to the banking system, the process is not complete and many of the accounts are non-functional. Hacking and cyber thefts are grave dangers that plague the digital world, and therefore a strong security system must be put in place.
One thing to be considered is the presence of rural and remote areas where the cashless economy initiative may take a few more decades to be fully implemented. Take for instance Nagaland. Our state has so many other crucial issues it needs to tackle first, like that of unemployment, bad road conditions, corruption, unresolved political issues, and most essentially, shortage of electricity, poor internet connectivity in many areas which can directly affect the execution of a cashless economy. Though this system may work wonders in developed cities, it won’t work in states like Nagaland, unless massive changes are made and various facilities are improved. The world is starting to exist in a digital realm, and states like Nagaland have a lot of catching up to do. I am positive that cashless economy, once implemented in Nagaland, would improve our state greatly.
Many of our business transactions had to be cashless after the demonitization. This proved to be especially tricky in an underdeveloped city like Dimapur where most shops still do not have the card swiping machine, nor do they have payment options like Paypal and Paytm. Do we have the equipment ready to support this system? Many of the buyers and sellers are concerned about the extra tax deducted when cashless transactions are made. These convenience charges may not seem very good for those living below the poverty line.
The availability and quality of a stable internet network will play an important role. People are facing difficulties in making electronic payments even in metro cities because of the poor network. Secondly, one of the biggest beneficiaries of this transaction, banks and related services providers, will have to constantly invest in technology in order to improve security and cash transaction. People will only shift when it is easier, certain and safe to make the cashless transaction. Thus, the government will have to find better ways to incentivize cashless transaction and discourage cash payment.
India may not fully become a cashless economy in the foreseeable future but it needs to reduce its unusually high dependence on cash to bring in much-needed transparency and efficiency in the system. India hopes to create a cleaner, more transparent economy via digitalization that will lead to an improved climate for foreign investment, boost economic growth, and ultimately prepare the country for the next chapter of its emerging markets stop.

There are also marked class issues which are built into India’s cashless transaction. India is a country that has one foot in the future and other in the Stone Age. This is a country that has one of the most vibrant and high-tech ecosystems in the world along with hundreds of millions of people living in villages who are comfortable with technology that’s hardly more sophisticated than a bullock cart and plough. Both the old and new India have a parallel existence. Only 17% of the Indian population currently has access to a smartphone. India culturally believes in cash and a paradigm shift in thinking will need time and resources. The way people pay for things is rooted culturally, and often hard to break. But once they are broken new ways emerge. A new pattern becomes solidified as societies update the way it functions.
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 K Behera, Tatongkala Pongen, Nungchim Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Special Economic Zone: Myth and Reality - Supongtemsu Longchar, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

As a Special Economic Zone, can Nagaland upgrade its existing infrastructure to not only utilize to its maximum capacity, but at ...