Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Comfortably Silent - Kvulo Lorin, Director-Administration

Corruption is rewarded but is bad because it discourages hard work. Free money is bad because it does the same. It discourages those who are working so hard, to give up.

Comfortably Silent

I remember when I was in College I could wake up, brush my teeth, wash up and pick my least wrinkled clothes, and reach class in under 10 minutes. It took me just five minutes to get ready, another five to catch transport and reach class on time. Getting an extra five minutes of sleep was more important than food for me those days. I pity the students trying to do that in our state right now. Despite living in this new modern age of high speed internet, fancy cars and sleek cell phones, students of Nagaland can forget about trying to reach class in 10 minutes. In fact, some students can probably forget about even using their own car to reach class on time. With bridges around us, either collapsing or on the verge of it, students dependant on it to reach their destination on time, probably need to climb, run and swim to their schools and colleges. If a student is being dropped by their parents by car though, it gets even better. They get enjoyable forced family time for up to 3-4 hours while using our national highways to reach their destination. Idea: If you want to have a long meeting or conversation with someone then take a car, and ask them to accompany you from Dimapur town to Chumukedima. It is just as fun to travel the Kohima - Dimapur National Highway (National Highway?!... you got to be kidding me) because you get this amazing sense of accomplishment that you actually managed to reach your destination. I am sure many people with SUV’s have been able to traverse this great national highway at faster speed and times but I heard taxi’s can take 5 hours at two to three times the cost. 

To be fair, I shouldn’t be so partial and rant on roads. There are so many other government departments doing just as well, if not better (sarcasm intended). We are in the news for our police department, education department, supply and I think I recall a whole bunch of names for Illegal appointments (?) for various Assistant Professor positions at some of our higher educational institutions.

The amusing thing is, we have a very convenient scapegoat for all of these problems… the PUBLIC.  We are all to be blamed, we took money during the elections, we can’t think beyond tribalism, corruption is a way of life… etc. I quote a part of my Facebook Friends status here “When we say that the public is also to be blamed for the messy situation we are in, does that mean that the baby girl who was born last night in a remote village in Myanmar border is also to be blamed?” He also points out that using this as an excuse to legitimise corruption is just not valid. It makes sense because the magnificent personal mansions, cars and whatever the corrupt acquire during their time in power does not revert to the public again. Logically speaking then, rather than using the public as a scapegoat, shouldn’t the public blame the authority who has the power and position to take decisions?

What we are experiencing today is not something that has happened overnight. It is the fall out of years of corruption. It is almost scary to read the views and expressions of unadulterated emotion on social media. The sarcasm and mean humour of our leader’s memes circulate fast and thousands probably silently lurk and while a few boldly comment. Back in the real world though, we seem to be comfortably silent. Many Non Government Organisations are silent in the print media and their leaders do not seem to take a stand often enough, nor seem to be able to work together to get our government to fulfill its own duty. The government also has often remained silent on critical issues and adopted a silence on sensitive issues. So, how does a common man get heard now if NGO’s only echo the view of the government or remain comfortably silent? It would almost seem that many of the NGO’s have some political affiliations and many influential people are scratching each other’s back.

To be fair, our leaders have their work cut out for them. It is not always easy to be a leader, especially in Nagaland. The current system of governance seems to propagate the loyalty system, albeit a unique loyalty system that may be called the “short term loyalty system”. If you are “loyal” to the leader then there are better chances of stealing from government funds, if you are related then you have an in-born right to have special privileges or make taller demands. People believe the ministry takes cuts for every project, people don’t really trust the bureaucracy, our infrastructure is crumbling, unemployment is a ticking time bomb. How do we even get out of this mess?! Will deft political manoeuvering and changing of portfolios actually fix the roads and improve our economy? Technology is advancing so rapidly that it has already begun to outpace the law and regulations. Confidential official documents are being widely circulated in social media and government decisions are now kitchen talk among one and all. In this type of environment where every move of our leaders is being brought out to the open, under micro scrutiny, to be questioned, dissected and also challenged, can our leaders hope to appease the entire population by doling out sops and favours to a select “loyal” few?

It is not easy to be a leader in Nagaland, but if someone truly wants to be a leader then maybe it is time to start leading and providing solutions. Everybody already knows what the problems are. The government is a powerful entity which greatly impacts the economic, health and education policies of the public.  Our leaders need to hold themselves accountable for the current state of affairs we are currently facing. It is they who take the final decisions and not the public, the public has absolutely no direct say over many of the policy decisions they make. We expect our leaders to represent us at the Centre and likewise our MLA’s to represent us at the State Legislatures. We expect our leaders to fight for our basic necessities… not fight among themselves. If Nagaland is going to get better then I think leaders need to realise they need the respect of the public. Having power alone will not be enough to get TRUE respect. But respect is earned. Never given. It is time to hear and see leaders acting on their promises and word. If things keep on going in this manner then I fear the so called public will not always remain comfortably silent.  

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.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

My Adventures with Zumba- Kahor Raleng, Supervisor, Higher Secondary Section

image credits- pinterest.com

Nagas are great foodies! And yet, many of us find it difficult to maintain a healthy routine in our active lifestyle. Staying fit and healthy could be challenging with our busy schedules and we often come up with excuses to avoid working out. But it is just a matter of priority and our commitment towards healthy living.  It’s time we understood that the benefits of a healthy life go far beyond aesthetic satisfaction.

My Adventures with Zumba 

Over the past few days, there has been enough hullabaloo over the political scenario, clean elections, the flood situation, broken bridges, condition of roads, and the overall mess in Nagaland. It appears like there is nothing to be desired in Nagaland. I will not present you with another depressing scenario, neither will I give you my ‘know it all attitude’ answers, just for the simple fact that I don’t have any. In fact, I shall not dwell on this depressing topic but rather propose to take you on the interesting topic of ‘Life of a healthy (read that as overweight) person’.

I have always been on the heavier side, and have never exceeded a weight of 60 kilos. But one fine day when I weighed myself, the scale read 62 kilos. I did a double take and was totally shocked. I was on the verge of becoming obese! Overweight was okay....but obese? And at this age, the age when everybody around me wonders why I am still single! No way! I decided to take some drastic steps, and that something came in the form of Zumba classes, a dance fitness program, for a month. I joined immediately and felt so good about it. The classes were to be for an hour which would consist of dancing and some body combat. That sounded easy and simple enough.  I had dreams of losing several kilos by the end of the month and even imagined wearing those petite dresses I could not wear anymore. The future looked very bright and promising.

We were all excited and ready to go. Half way through the first session, I realised that I was so lost trying to catch up with the steps. I looked around to see whether the others were as disoriented as me, and was relieved to discover that they were also equally lost. That was a huge consolation. It will be an understatement to say that it takes time to get the steps. We came to the end of the first session and I was all sweaty, breathless, and dazed. That ‘feel good factor’ was so high and I ignored all the aches and pains. By the end of the week, my body was literally screaming out with pain. I felt like I had been beaten all over. My face looked thinner, and my skirt appeared looser at the waist.

My confidence level sky-rocketed and this feeling of confidence made me feel that it was okay to have the chowmein in the college cafe, whose aroma been tempting me as I passed by. I reasoned that it was just a plate of chow. Then it went on to become ‘just’ a plate of fried rice. When I finally realised that it was stuffed with oil, I opted for Galho (the healthier version). The galho was delicious and so within no time, a bowl of galho became two bowls of galho. My confidence level was still very much intact to remind me that I needed food to give me stamina for the Zumba & Body Combat sessions where I will be losing more weight. Our instructors had also told us to eat right and not to go on an extreme diet, so that justified it. Our Body Combat levels were upgraded and so I had to upgrade my food intake too.

The workout had become aggressively intensive with lots of squats and other tough moves by the third week. The pain in my body had also become extensive that I had to drag myself to Zumba classes. At the same time, I had to drag myself away from food because my appetite had grown. Even chapatti, which I normally hated and had just two pieces for dinner, was now upgraded to four within no time. And to top it all, this wonderful niece of mine was on her summer break and thus received me every evening with tea and all sorts of calorie filled cookies and cakes.
By the final week, I have gained a lot of insight into the way foods taste and had developed a fascination with the different flavours. I started experimenting and even had a bowl of sticky rice cooked in dollops of butter, sugar and milk with axone pickle. In normal circumstances, I would never have eaten a spoonful. But these were not normal times; I was supposed to be losing weight and my urge for food had heightened to an uncontrollable horizon. I have also developed a liking for Zumba, now that I can follow the steps to some extent.

Anyway, one whole month has gone by and now it’s time to see the results after all that hard work and so I weigh myself. Alas! I had lost 1 kilo.

This whole experience has made me realise several things. Firstly, that we give too much importance to size. My motivation for joining Zumba was because I wanted to become thin. The way we perceive an individual depends on their size, our definition of beauty is defined by size and our motive for exercising is inspired by size. The ultimate goal should not be to become thin, but to become healthy! The benefits of exercising are numerous. Exercise enhances our body posture, refreshes our mind and keeps us active and healthy. It doesn’t matter whether I achieve a size zero, what matters  is that I stay healthy and fit. We need to do away with the perceived notion that only thin people are healthy. One can be on the heavier side and be healthy as long as one eats right and exercises regularly. A balanced diet along with moderate exercising should be a part of our daily lifestyle.

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.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Golden Garbage Rules: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle- Sushmita Bhattacharjee, Assistant Professor, Department of History

image credits- englishexcercises.org

The demotion of Dimapur from 13th (2015) to 277th rank in the nationwide cleanliness survey 2017, conducted by Clean India Mission, may be taken with a pinch of salt; yet, it’s undeniable that our city is besieged by a menace of garbage disposal. Should we just point fingers at the DMC for this mess or admit our share of responsibility here?

Golden Garbage Rules: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Our state is faced with great challenges due to urbanization and population growth but the most compelling one is the garbage problem. On one hand, the towns have progressed a lot in different fields starting from business to industries to the living standard of the people. But on the other hand, it is really disheartening to see the pathetic condition of garbage management in Dimapur which is the major commercial hub of Nagaland and Northeast as well.

As soon as the train starts chugging in, making its way to the platform, we are welcomed by several unpleasant sights of heaps of garbage lying everywhere. Garbage heap is a common sight by the side of the roads, streets, bus stations, hospitals, footpaths and so on.   A permanent stench in the air from the aroma of ripe garbage is everywhere. It is shocking to see how some hawkers even sell food and other stuff amidst the stink! However, the unhygienic state does not end there but extends beyond to the popular commercial and residential areas too. Our roads have become a dumping ground and every nook and corner is filled with the smell of urine. This clearly shows the lack of civic sense and absence of ethical behaviour among us.

Though the municipal corporation is trying to do their work effortlessly from 5 am every day till 8 pm, the public seem least bothered in keeping our environment clean. People start littering their surroundings immediately after the cleaning teams have cleaned the area. Instead of using the dustbins or garbage disposable bins which are provided in every locality, people find joy in dumping their trash in every open space they find. The educated Dimapurians also tend to ignore the boards which read: “No spitting” or “Dumping of garbage is strictly prohibited”, making them look like irresponsible and uncivilized citizens.  It is quite a common sight to find betel nut stains in any public places and empty packets of chips and sweet wrappers which further blow in the wind, clogging up rain gutters just in time for the monsoon.  Thus, the absence of civic consciousness is exasperating in our state.

Heaps of rubbish not only make our towns and cities stink and looks terrible, but it has more serious problems associated with it; it has adverse effect on our sanitation and public health. Food waste is all biodegradable and eco-friendly, but the problem is the plastic garbage which is non-bio-degradable and is the biggest threat to our eco-system. All these choke the sewage lines and often get into the waterways and degrading soil and water quality as they break down into toxic bits, giving rise to diseases like malaria, dengue, swine flu, chikungunya, and overflowing waste causes air pollution and respiratory diseases. And, as the summer and monsoon arrive the spread of diseases is only expected to get worse when the major drains in the city can be seen clogged to the garbage, which results in poor drainage and the dirty rain water gets spilt on the road leading to temporary or artificial flood.

Our state receives quite a good number of travellers every year during Hornbill Festival and occasionally throughout the year. Most of the visitors come to our state to know and experience our  rich culture, heritage and history, but instead, they experience a completely different prospect of dirt, stink and unhygienic living conditions. Despite that, we seem to have done nothing to clean up the heavily polluted and dirty areas. Are these awful sights what we want to project to the tourists? I hope not!

So, where does the problem lie? I believe in the very simple truth that garbage problem is an attitude problem and not a management problem, and unless the common man is given a stake in finding a solution, the garbage problem will only continue to grow. Our laid back attitude towards the problem of garbage disposal will lead to greater problems like pollution. We are so tolerant towards every wrong thing.  We are tolerant towards drivers who break the rules, tolerant towards our corrupt leaders, tolerant towards the garbage lying around us and so on. In fact, tolerance has become a part of our culture.  However, by merely pointing out the problems will not help us in any way.  We are getting so used to the problems being pointed out that it is reaching a stage where it would even fail to register. We simply compromise with it and get on with our life. But that is not an option.

It is time that we do something concrete.  Maintaining cleanliness should not be the responsibility of the government alone. Take a leadership role within your company, school or neighbourhood. If you have great ideas share it! Innovation moves us towards a more sustainable world. Would it not be great if all those living in the cocoons come out from their shell? Out of a hundred, if even a few feel the realization that their approach would help, it would be a small step in the right direction. Let us commit to follow the three R's in our daily lives, i.e. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This practice will benefit us immensely in maintaining our health and environment. Priority should be given to proper drains and garbage disposal.  Let us remember that no problem can be local in an interconnected world. Let no negligence be allowed as it is directly connected to the health of the people of the State.

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.

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.

Comfortably Silent - Kvulo Lorin, Director-Administration

Corruption is rewarded but is bad because it discourages hard work. Free money is bad because it does the same. It discour...