Monday, 26 June 2017

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

                                                     image credits: theodysseyonline.com



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 Behera, Dr Salikyu Sangtam, Nungchem Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Naga Society: A Cry for Hope - Rukusheyi Rhakho, BA 3rd Semester (English Honours)

                                                               image credits: deviantart.com


What is the youth’s opinion about our Naga society today? Read on to take a deeper look into the mind of a youth, who strongly feels disenchanted with the way Naga society has progressed. Rukusheyi Rhakho voices out in downright frustration about the state of affairs in our State. It’s time we asked ourselves, are we giving enough hope, guidance and the right environment to our youth to believe in a positive future for Nagaland? Can we give hope to our future?

Naga Society: A Cry for Hope

Lately, I have been numbed out of my senses by the idle talks that my parents and elderly neighbours are engaging with. They seem enthusiastic to share and talk about the Naga Political Groups (NPGs); the stories of their exploits and the heroic sacrifices they made in the hands of the occupational forces.  Naturally, these narratives seem interesting and there is no doubt that some of them were real heroes. Yet, relating and comparing them to how much of a hero they were, and the counsel to never forget their sacrifices on almost daily basis seem to astound me. And so I usually stop paying any attention to what they say. However, on pondering, something strikes my head - a brainstorm.
Imagine them on the battlefield during the final moment of their lives. They surely must have thought or presumed that “I’m doing this for my country; I’m doing this so that the future generations don’t have to go through what I have gone through”.  And the notion “for a better future” must have emboldened them to sacrifice.  But sadly, somewhere along the way, the nation that they bled and died for has become so messed up. No doubt, our society has reached new heights and levels that things once unknown are within sights but sadly, not in a good way. Our society has gone down in terms of morality, integrity and values that the Nagas were once known for.
We have fallen to greed to such an extent that we have lost all our morality for the love of money and are ready to do whatever it is to get them. The new trend of trying to get easy money and become rich in no time has replaced our moral principles. Corruption has reached a new level that it is not only the government or the state that’s involved in it but the very nook and cranny in every level of the society. The love for worldly pleasures and comforts and declining morality (with topics I rather not mention) has taken root in our society. We were never this way so why now? The hypocritical extent of our society is that we are willing to sacrifice others even to the extent of killing our own brothers over petty differences but are willing to take and steal as long as it means profit to us. When we are the affected we cry foul saying “it isn’t fair, it isn’t right”  or that “ we should ban that or this”  but when the time comes we are in the forefront  indulging in it  (I have even seen people going  to the extent of  demanding tax on old age pension meant for the elderly). We need to know that we just can’t always get a ‘scapegoat’ for every fault done by us out there but need to own up responsibility and accept the fact that we have ourselves to be blamed for almost everything. Are we not responsible for degrading and destroying whatever little hopes we are nurturing?
We the Nagas have rather a subtle way of doing those things we claim we don’t do and so we fail to see the broader vision or the sight of what we are actually doing and as such we can always deny it on the pretext of one thing or the other. After all that has happened around us, do we ever think or realize that it all began when we decided to take that one wrong little ‘decision’? If only we could change what we did back then, not much can be said over the society that we have become.  Like me, I do believe, there must be lots of people who share the same value and resent what we have become. Yet, all hope is not lost as we can see people coming out and trying to change the society that we live in. Their endeavors to change what have been wronged are encouraging signs.  But the question remains can we accept the change? Can we accept that we too are at fault? If yes we are heading towards the rising sun if not we are heading towards the setting sun. As far as I’m concerned it would take a mammoth task to backtrack out of our mistakes.
Not that everyone has the foresight to see into our own mistakes and we seriously need one but our own ego and pride have stood as a stumbling block to everything. Have we become our own undoing? Are we the reason that our society is so messed up? Are we not the ones paying for the misadventure of some unmotivated idiot lost in his schemes? Can we hope in the new generation? Or will it be the same? To be honest, I have no hope on the present leaders in our society and on those who are in power now. Maybe the upcoming generation can instill the hope and endeavor and usher the will for a change.  On the ending note, if God could show them what would become of the cause of the nation our forefathers fought so reverently for, what would they say? What would they feel knowing that their dreams and ideals are degrading? Frankly, if I were in their place, I would have questioned everything.
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 Behera, Dr Salikyu Sangtam, Nungchem Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Who is the Right Leader for Nagaland? - Shitio Shitiri, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

                                                                                           image credits: huffingtonpost.in

Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore catapulted Singapore from a stagnant Third World backwater to the front ranks of the First World in just three decades of governance with his imagination, courage, political will, and benign execution of power. Similarly, in a State like Nagaland that’s desperately crying out for transformation, dynamic leadership is required for dynamic change.  


Who is the Right Leader for Nagaland?

One essential ingredient of a state is the existence of visionary leaders. Our state has a good number of aspiring political leaders, but sadly very few live up to the expectations. Whatever position we may find ourselves enmeshed, one thing is certain that the quality of leadership determines the destiny of a state. It is the deeds committed by us which degrade or elevate our standing in the society we live. If good deeds are done with actual labor, then nobody can stop us from attaining the much cherished goal in our life. But if we have sinister motives in our mind and heart, then the exact opposite will happen. To be honest, the prospect of our future depends upon how we choose our leaders. We first need to be responsible for ourselves before we can be responsible for others. American author, speaker, and pastor John C Maxwell has said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”.
Nagas at this point of time don’t need politicians, but leaders who think and live for the people. We need true leaders, one who can lead the state and its people out of ignorance, corruption, and all kinds of evil and wrong practices. Good leadership requires a combination of charisma and integrity, as well as the ability to assess a situation and make decisions based on what would be best for the masses. We need leaders with integrity. The people need a consistency of values.
Unfortunately, there is lack of transparency and honest politicians. The lack of transparency results in the lack of trust. The best leaders are the ones who accept blame when things are wrong and give credit when things go right. Leaders need to let go of ego and focus on the growth of the society. The lack of commitment, formation of new party or shifting of loyalties to another cannot change the personality of a leader. I wonder how politicians at one given point of time were best comrades and later turn out to be foes. Trust is immediately shattered impeding the flow of honest feedback and communication through the ranks and files. One needs to stop the bloody war of blaming or pointing fingers at each other. We need to focus on being a person of integrity, not a person who doesn’t make mistakes. I cannot believe the abundance of ego and pride among our selfish arrogant leaders taking Nagaland from bad to worse.
We have failed to recognize good leaders from bad ones. Our leaders have failed us because of poor and fickle visions and goals. They are happy within their comfort zones, satisfied with the status quo, and tend to be more concerned about survival than growth. Such hardened leaders succeed in passing the lie detector test and befool the people for a while, but the day of reckoning will certainly come. A leader who lacks character and integrity will not endure the test of time. It doesn’t matter how intelligent, persuasive, or savvy a person is, if they are prone to rationalizing unethical behavior, they will eventually fall prey to their own undoing. Nobody is perfect, but leaders who consistently fail are not leaders. If leaders don’t understand the concept of “service above self”, they will not win the trust, confidence, and loyalty of those they lead. We need leaders who are fluid and flexible in their approach.
“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2). We need fresh and young dynamic leaders for the bright future of our coming generation. Leaders are born out of you and me. The present holds the key to the future. If we want our future to be bright, we should be prepared to choose the right leader who can work honestly and incessantly in the right direction. It leads to the logical conclusion that if we want to gain something with one hand, we have to give up or sacrifice something in lieu with the other. Let not ‘creed, tribalism, money, selfish corrupted individuals’ vote bank’ replace ‘merit, competence, integrity, and honesty’. It’s a vicious cycle and the problem is somewhere inside and needs to be fixed. This is perhaps the most challenging reality for us to accept.
Politicians often promise the moon on a stick. When they fail to deliver, voters end up feeling disappointed and possibly even betrayed. Are the public leaders, the main actors in this play, satisfied with the way the government is working? Can we make a positive difference in the state? Where do we start? First we need to change our thought, attitude and behavior to ensure a better future and progressive society.
Public opinion, debate or discussion on a larger scale would be instrumental in minimizing the special advantages of the various interest groups that have often negatively influenced most processes relating to good governance.  We need to engage in some self reflection on why there is lack of political, economic and social growth. Indeed, we can be the change if we can change our mindset- ‘so be the change’ to contribute to the long term growth of good governance.
Election 2018 is approaching, and here we can be as clean as a whistle. Major changes start at the grassroots level. Perhaps you can’t save the world, but you can at least save your backyard for now.
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 Behera, Dr Salikyu Sangtam, Nungchem Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Power of Purpose - Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Vice Principal

image credits: dolcesoul.com




“Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon,” said the janitor when asked what he was doing. The janitor knew his role had a purpose towards the success of something bigger.



The Power of Purpose
When Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook, gave his commencement speech for Harvard’s Class of 2017, his message to the graduates was to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose. He said with technology and automation coming in rapidly, the meaning of purpose is changing with many people feeling disconnected and depressed, where the need is not just to create new jobs but to create a renewed sense of purpose to be truly happy.  
I don’t see why anyone would disagree with this, because having a sense of purpose is the truth of why we do what we do or even don’t do everyday. I think to take a look back at our lives, or a jump forward, is one way of measuring if we are able to fully live that sense of purpose.
Zuckerberg mentioned a story which corroborates the true meaning of accountability and having a sense of purpose.
“When John F Kennedy visited the NASA space center, he saw a janitor carrying a broom and he walked over and asked what he was doing. The janitor responded: “Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.”” The janitor knew he was part of a larger system, and that his role was integral to the success of something bigger - the man on the moon. He knew his purpose.
In the context of Nagaland, I think for some it makes complete sense, but for some others it might not at all. And it is that section of population who cannot relate, either because they really do feel like they are doing nothing at all – because of a number of reasons - they’re unemployed, they’re drop-outs or they can’t relate because they live on a hand to mouth existence, are frustrated with the whole system, feel a lack of equal opportunities, or are unsure if they’re in the right profession or aren’t exactly passionate about what they are doing.
To an observer, this already says a lot about the state of affairs in our State. If we were to trace back the reasons for having reached our current state, I think the magnitude of the problems would be overwhelming. It begins from the policies we already have in place to the way they are executed, where most times even the rule of law does not serve any purpose, and the checks and balances we desperately need to ensure efficiency. Then there are the tribal idiosyncrasies practiced in Nagaland, the power of brawn, might and money which we have just not been able to move away from.
How do we deal with this? Apart from some individuals breaking through the iron barriers, I believe it is so important to have leaders, managers, supervisors, visionaries who can bring everyone together to inspire, encourage, empower, and give hope to others that there is a sense of renewed purpose in why we do what we do everyday. It’s not that we don’t have any, it’s just that we need more, in every single industry; where we are all working together, supporting each other and not going against each other. Just starting from the grassroot is not enough, it is through the right advice, the right guidance and the right knowledge and information that actually reaches the grassroot that empowers everyone to start hoping and aspiring for something better.
And, not to undermine anyone here, but I don’t think it’s possible for everyone to perform that role either. Our social dynamics is complex in Nagaland. I believe that it is those who have the insight, intellect, ability and are also in a position of influence, are the ones who can create a greater sense of purpose for others too. But this also does not mean that the rest of us can’t and must sit and wait for our sense of purpose to be served on a platter either. But that these could be the first steps towards building a support system to be enablers for each other.
It is never easy that’s for sure. Adversities and challenges prevail everywhere. What Sheryl Sandberg wrote is very poignant - “The sad truth is that adversity is not evenly distributed among us; marginalized and disenfranchised groups have more to battle and more to grieve.” I think what she says is pretty accurate. But what’s equally important to remember is that what’s in our control is how we decide to respond to it - our attitude, our perseverance.
We can learn and we can grow. When we are growing we have a greater sense of self- worth. This is where I believe, education comes in, and not only of the formal kind. It is the kind of education that we learn from life’s experiences. The kind that can reason, critique and allow one to make sound judgements and the best choices. Mark Zuckerberg may have dropped out from Harvard, but the fact is that formal education systems across the world vary so that by the time we have reached a certain stage, some can thrive even on their own. It doesn’t mean that every student can drop out and be a Mark Zuckerberg. What’s essential are support systems too.
In Nagaland right now, the existence of different industries – commerce, education, and government functionaries, organisations, NGO’s and more are shaping the future direction of our State. We need all of these to be support systems for each other - working together and acknowledging each other’s ideas when credit is due or swapping them for someone else’s. Learning and growing together towards a common goal is so important to building that support system, so that we all feel a renewed sense of purpose; just like the janitor who helped put a man on the moon.   

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: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Think Out of the Box - N. Thomas Kamei, HOD, Economics

                                                                                 image credits: motivationalreads.com

Society is constituted by various institutions and systems. These systems go on to frame the kinds of values, principles, beliefs, and mores a given society adheres to. These get passed on from generation to generation further consolidating their legitimacy to which the society must conform. However, ever so often, with changing societal circumstances, a need arises to re-evaluate the existing system to meet the needs of the present day, rather than a blind conformism for a fear of change. Every society must in due time tackle this question of changing or adhering to a given system.


                                    
                                                        Think Out of the Box

I am reminded of a story I heard as a small boy. The story goes like this: Once, there was a head monk in a small town in China. He was revered by his followers for his wisdom. The wise monk had a cat as his pet. The cat was restless and would run around the monastery. Every day, in the evening, when it was time for prayer, the cat was bound to a pillar so that it wouldn’t disturb the prayer sessions. This became a regular practice. The monk became old and died, so did the cat. The monk followers bought another cat. Every day, they bound the cat to the same pillar when it was prayer time in the evening. One cat after another came and went, with the monastery continuing the same practice. I wonder if it is the same even today.
There can be different interpretations of the same story. However, it is true that different practices, institutions, and systems are established at different times to suit the requirements of that time. It is also true that many of us follow this without questioning the roots, the validity, and about their impact in our lives. Some of us are so conditioned in our mindset that we tend to think what is established is best for us. We thrive because of the system and perish because of the system. We often forget how and why the system was established.
The society we live in has many established laws and customs, systems and practices: educational systems, administrative systems, religious practices, and customary laws and practices. In all of these, everything is not what is the best for us.  We cannot say we have the best educational system because there are many defects as pointed out by many writers on the system. Defects such as one size fits all system hampering the creativity of an individual and its continual reliance on outdated syllabus. Likewise, we can detect many defects in other systems as well. Taking another example of religious practices existing among us: many of us feel a huge donation to the church results in abundant blessings; we are not made to think that the same kind of donation to the government will result in abundant blessings as well. No wonder, palatial churches are surrounded by dilapidated houses in our towns and villages.  My endeavor here is not about focusing on these defects. Rather, on the way, we are made to think that going against the system is always wrong. Perhaps, we’re imbibed to this line of thinking from our forefathers. And our forefathers were influenced by the existing systems of their time and we are cocooned in this mindset. It is difficult to come out of the web with an innovative idea, beneficial for all because we are conditioned not to do so. A ‘state of mind’ seems to have been established.  A writer, in one of the local dailies, wrote in the editorial: “there was even a time when people would smirk at a Naga girl attaining higher education”. Does the system in our society make us think that higher education is only for the boys? Times have changed, people have changed, and it is time to change our way of thinking too. Time has come to learn to respect ideas and opinion of others. Time also requires not forcing one’s idea and opinion on others just because we are in a position to do so. Time has come to do away with irrelevant established systems in our society. Certainly, this calls for a rational evaluation of different systems in our society so as to usher in an evolving, progressive, and dynamic one.
To buttress my point, let me take the example of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) led by Mr. Arvind Kejriwal (I am neutral to political parties). The party came with a bang in 2012 with prominent leaders like Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, and Ashok Agarwal, etc. with a lofty slogan of bringing change in the political scenario of the country. The party’s fight against corruption and unconventional way of conducting daily business by Arvind Kejriwal led to a landslide victory in Delhi in February of 2015, inspite of the in-fighting within the parties. The defeat in the latest election suggests a different story. When the fight for change in a system is for narrow and temporary gains, it is going to end up in a fizzle. To go against the system, we must be on the other side of the river.
It must be pointed out that not all systems are defective. It is also true that every problem in the society is not a by-product of that system. It can be an aberration of a system. In my opinion, we cannot blame the system for everything. It can also be true that not everyone who goes against the system is always right. The right idea at the wrong time can be a failure. In the same manner, every Tom, Dick and Harry cannot be a leader. Every organization, lobby group, and party cannot take the whole society into a ransom in the name of bringing change. Those movements, which are not well planned, well thought, bring more chaos and confusion than what’s needed. In my opinion, changes in established norms must be inclusive. The success of such changes should be judged by its relevance and it should maximize benefits.


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: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Road Rage & Road Woes - Tatongkala Ao, HoD, History



Frustration hits a high when driving along the roughshod roads in Nagaland. Add to that the non-adherence to road rules and driving irresponsibly, and it turns to frustrated rage. It’s time we learnt how to follow basic rules and practices such as using signals while entering or exiting the highways, avoiding rash overtaking, creating double lanes, driving sober without the influence of alcohol or other abusive substances. Learning to drive is one thing but being civilized drivers is another.


Road Rage & Road Woes
“Nagas are so modernised, and you people have the latest of everything. It must also be very exciting to enjoy the bumpy rollercoaster ride in those fancy cars, no?” said my friend sarcastically, who had come to visit Nagaland for the first time. I was at a loss for words and a little embarrassed too. She was referring to the long stretch of bumpy roads, which of course is not a new thing for us. Much has been discussed on the sorry state of roads in Nagaland and maybe it is making the government and the concerned authorities take notice in some way...or maybe not!
Another concern besides the bad roads is rash driving and driving under the influence (DUI) which is becoming more common, especially among the younger generation. Drunk driving and driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offence in India under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act. In 2016, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi, gave its approval for the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill, where the penalty for drunk driving was increased from Rs. 2000 to Rs. 10,000. That is a good start I believe, but the question remains: is it really effective in a state like Nagaland? There are cases of when a driver under the influence of alcohol is caught after causing damage and is taken to the police station, but instead of following the rules strictly, the culprit is let off lightly because the matters are settled amicably between the vehicle owners. It is sad because it only portrays the weakness of the police force. Strict measures must be taken so that it will set an example thereby making citizens to be more conscious about driving under influence. If we look at the latest report of National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) released in December 2016, Nagaland had the second highest percentage increase, 49.2%, in total accidental deaths in 2015 as compared to 2014. In a state like Nagaland which is legally a dry state, the cases for drunk driving must be zero, but according to the 2015 statistics, there were only 4 reported cases of drunk driving.
Owning a car has become a necessity these days; however, the problem arises when we shy away from being responsible while being seated behind the wheel. A good driver is not someone who can drive the fastest but someone who understands the rules of driving on the road.  The Nagaland Road Safety Act 2013 is already put in place and though the Nagaland Road Safety Authority Committee has been formed, there are many instances of road accidents on the news. Of course, the accident rate in Nagaland is neither high nor alarming as compared to the rest of the country; nonetheless, we do have serious accidents every now and then, with images of such tragedies going viral on WhatsApp. Many school-going students are seen driving cars, and this makes me wonder if these juveniles even have a valid driving licence. And when youngsters violate traffic rules and cause accidents, the guardians or the parents are equally to be blamed. Underage driving should not be encouraged. Young drivers account for many cases of road accidents. This is because they are, most of the time carried away by the idea of ‘the fast and the furious’.
Driving has its own share of responsibilities which we continue to ignore. Perhaps, having poor road conditions in Nagaland is a blessing in disguise for us. Otherwise, one cannot imagine the speed with which the cars will be plying on the road. This includes not only four-wheelers but even bikes. In our state, the roads are very narrow and therefore we need to be more careful.  However, we behave as if the rules are non-existent. Over-taking is a major concern in our roads today. Everybody is rushing to reach their destination and it doesn’t matter if that happens at the expense of causing harm to the other. Such is the attitude most of us have while on the road.
We talk so much about being decent with regard to our dressing sense, our moral behaviour, and so on. So, how about we talk about being decent while driving? From my personal observation, most of the people do not have the decency to drive. For instance, the use of high beam lights while driving at night. One must understand that the glare distracts the driver’s coming in from the opposite direction and this could sometimes lead to accidents. Hundreds of lives are lost every year in road accidents and in most cases, it could have been avoided.
While the state government is taking a pledge to promote road safety, cases of road accidents due to rash driving are rapidly increasing. Just recently on 30th of April 2017, we saw the news on the local dailies about the hit- and- run case where three people were killed when a vehicle rammed into a two-wheeler. In September 2016, a minor girl aged 9 was killed in a hit-and-run case. These are just two instances but there are still many cases which have been registered. And most of these accidents happen due to over speeding and careless driving. It is high time that we inject the fear of law among drivers who put the lives of pedestrians and other drivers in danger due to their reckless driving. Learning to drive is one thing but let us learn to become civilized drivers first.

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: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Hyper-reality: the Child of Yellow Journalism - Meliwe-u Elah, Assistant Professor, Department of English


Today, news circulates in an instant. Our daily lives are constantly bombarded with scores of information from every direction and from equally innumerable sources. In such a world, can the fourth estate, successfully prevent the occurrence of disinformation, and faithfully serve its purpose of informing the citizens of what’s happening in the society?




                                                 Hyper-reality: the Child of Yellow Journalism
Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan said, “All media exists to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values”. This statement might be decades old but continues to hold weight today. Media is a means where the news and information are transferred to the audience. It claims to be a representation of reality and is known as an agency of public knowledge. The mediums such as newspaper, magazine, television, radio, and internet condition our access to the world and saturate our views about the world. However, the news is released only after strategic selection and systematic arrangements, thereby altering reality. Media today is flooded with information. Most audiences accept and believe the content so generated as the ultimate truth. French philosopher and culture theorist Jean Baudrillard, in his theory of simulation, explains that media is not a representation of reality but rather an occurrence of something real which has no origin or reality. He calls it a “hyperreality”.
Media claims to be independent of any government bodies and institutions. The level of its “independence” becomes clear when we see journalists and writers being threatened and even murdered. The big media outlets are owned by few corporates of the western countries. Every day tons of information is thrust into our system, which appears to be a simulation of what they want us to know and believe.
Do you ever feel if all of it is the construction of an illusion of reality for us? We are told about who are the heroes and the villains. Malcolm X said, “The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power! They control the minds of the masses”. In connection to this, we are made to believe that the American or the western military are the heroes, and, doubtless, the terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and others are a threat to the whole world. But do we ever question the reason behind the formation of such radical groups? What compelled them to take such extreme steps?
When the World Trade Center was attacked in 2001 by Osama Bin Laden and his followers, the world sympathized with the Americans for their loss. The 9/11 attack was magnified, repeated on all the news channels, newspapers, and magazines. The photograph of the two tallest buildings crumbling down amidst smoke and fire is imprinted in everyone’s minds.
Didn’t America finance Al-Qaeda in the 1990s to overthrow Sadam Hussein? And what about the destruction in Iraq, Syria, and other Middle-East countries caused by the heroes? Their lands are destroyed, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians killed, millions of people and children are displaced from their homes and became refugees because of continuous war, conflict, and threat. Did the world come together to support them during such crisis?
When Paris was attacked by terrorists in 2015, the world mourned and prayed for the Parisians. They sympathized with them, they lit candles for the lost souls, they illuminated significant buildings with the flag of France, Facebook users created their temporary profile pictures featuring the French flag. This much was done because people were informed that the good people were attacked by the villains, and they must fight against the evil. But what happened when the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) was dropped on Afghanistan in April 2017? Did the world light candles to remember the lost lives? Of course not! Because we were informed that 36 ISIS fighters had been killed; the villains, not civilians. And we are informed it’s for a good cause! The President of America, Donald Trump, pronounced the mission as a “successful event”, and that he was proud of his military troops- “the greatest military in the world”. So their use of the biggest bomb against humanity was justified.
It is also learnt that the ISIS used war tanks and other weapons which were left behind by the western militariy after the war. Why did they leave these weapons?  It is obvious ‘heroes’ won’t leave the weapons for the ‘villains’ purposely. Period.
Murder is murder, whether it is done brutally or subtly. We should not be biased to the sufferings of the people regardless of what media portrays. The objective here is not to discredit the news in the media, but to be judicious when reading or listening before formulating opinions and drawing conclusions. We are all at some point in our lives susceptible to becoming the victims of media and its simulation. But it is our duty to see the story from both sides indifferently, instead of simply accepting and agreeing with everything we hear or read around us.
In order to get the attention of the audience and also market their news, media outlets, particularly those in the entertainment industry, manufacture sensation. The lives of the rich and famous are always updated and exalted, though the information about them will not be productive to the public. They also exaggerate minor events creating unnecessary commotion and fear among the people, thus omitting important news. The present on-going conflicts and cold wars might be more perilous than the reported news. “Newspapers (media) are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization”, once said writer George Bernard Shaw.
The important thing is that we should not lose our opinion and perspective to information and propaganda that may sometimes be disguised as truth and facts, as Malcolm X stated, “If you are not careful, the newspapers (media) will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing”. While we cannot do without media and journalism for information, let us also be sensible and prudent as to whom or what we allow to control our perspective, our reality, and truth. 

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: dot@tetsocollege.org.



Monday, 15 May 2017

Value Youth! - Heninle Magh, Assistant Professor, Department of Commerce


HSLC and HSSLC NBSE results are out! And so is the race for admissions and choosing the right place and institute, where our youth will be guided and shaped into the right kind of future we want for our society. This is why making the right choice and knowing the important responsibility of youths is so important. We need to work together with our youth to figure out what our society needs. Let’s value youth.



                                                            Value Youth! 
The youth of today are the future of tomorrow and this has been stressed upon many times. They are the driving force which can mould the nation for a better tomorrow. Many organizations, NGOs, associations, and institutions have been consistently working to empower the youth for the development of the society in turn changing the nation. However, unless the mindset of the youths is set in the right direction, no amount of outside work that is being instilled will harvest a good yield.
Swami Vivekananda, a great philosopher and saint, had immense belief in the potential of the youth. He described the period of youth as “incalculable and indescribable”. He believed that youth life is the most precious life and it is the best time.  The way in which we utilize this period will decide the nature of coming years that lie ahead of us.  He says that our happiness, our success, our honour, and our good name all depend upon the way in which we spend our youth. Hence, it is essential for us to realise the importance of our youth years and give our best.
We live in a realm blessed with different indigenous communities, cultures and festivals, and no matter what people have called this place, hidden somewhere on the face of the earth, Nagaland has always remained a demographic dividend for the youth. Astonishingly, in the past few years the government and various other NGOs and organizations has come up with some brilliant ideas to make youths participate in various developmental activities and awareness programmes. VLOG Street Fitness, Project 72 Hrs, voluntary contributions from different churches across the state, Young Indians (Yi), Youth Net, and even the Directorate of Youth Resources and Sports are all dedicated to facilitating opportunities to the youth. They focus on all round youth development and conduct youth festivals, adventure programmes, and outdoor learning programmes, awareness campaign, sensitization programmes, etc. In my opinion, this helps them (the youths) believe in themselves, and thus spreads hope through positive living, learning, and leading.
We have heard some stories about successful people who exclaim that they couldn’t have done it without that one or more special person. The contributions by these various organizations for the society will be remembered and acknowledged by the present and upcoming generations.
Youths have the collective power to influence leaders and change the world. The emotions, openness, understanding, and sensibilities of the younger generation are quite different from the older generation. But it is not wrong to say that the present generation has certain deficiencies as well. To ensure that they are moving in the right path and that they do not stay in a deep slumber of complacency, proper education should be given to strengthen and mould a youth’s mindset; learning not just through books but an education that makes one logical, open-minded, self-respecting, responsible, and honest.
In this fast moving media-oriented culture, the world is full of choices. Different generations have different needs and interests. Parents should not equate the success of their children with getting a government job. Waiting to be hired by the government is another contributing factor towards unemployment. The world is moving on and there is immense scope even in the private sector. 
The current scenario in our state is such that the youth have multiple degrees but still cannot find work that pays enough to sustain a decent lifestyle. Perhaps to a great extent, corruption is to blame, and this creates failure in the job market leading to unemployment. This in turn often triggers anger, depression, and frustration. But looking at the situation through an optimistic viewpoint, this dark scenario provokes the youth and in some ways makes them eager to bring about a change in the society. The youth are the powerhouse of the nation and if harnessed in a proper way, the nation can reach untold heights.
In December 2012, a girl was brutally gang raped in a moving bus in New Delhi. This left her critically injured and she was battling for life. Enraged by this, the youth organised a massive protest outside the Rashtrapati Bhawan and Parliament of India demanding a safer society for women and stricter laws against rapists. Similar protests followed throughout India, bringing India to international attention. This put pressure on the Government and laws regarding rape were amended so as to ensure speedy justice. The youth have massive power, and can positively affect the society, if properly channelled. In Nagaland, our roads are deplorable, LPG is often overpriced, there’s shortage of electricity, and results of students are sometimes delayed. Is there a way our youth can work together to address these issues? This I believe would be a rather productive use of the youth force. It’s not just about having meetings and fests; the role of the youth goes a long way.
To conclude on a positive note, I have to say that I am really impressed with the Dreams Unlimited Production.  Dreams Unlimited is a theatre and film production group based in Nagaland which often makes videos about the youth. Most of us will be familiar with their name and their short film The Demand (Part 1 and Part 2). In the film we see that a youth is tempted into evil ways. However, towards the end, the good triumphs over evil. It makes me hopeful, that better days are to come, and that the youth of Nagaland will be able to bring about a positive change. What I feel and want to convey to the present generation is that the decision you make today will have an impact on your tomorrow. Let’s make the right choices!

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: dot@tetsocollege.org.

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

                                                     image credits: theodysseyonline.com The problem of masculinity is not with...