Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Culture of Reading - Sizonuo Keretsii, Assistant Professor English

Does Nagaland have a reading culture? Built on the foundations of a strong oral culture, Nagas eventually learned the art of writing and reading along with education. But have we been able to thrive in reading? Reading extends far beyond the four walls of the classroom. It is more than just studying textbooks and what’s in the syllabus. Through reading we learn more about life, cultures, values, smart decisions and it inspires us to dream big. 

“Reading is a means  of thinking with another person’s mind; it forces you to stretch your own” - Charles Scribner Jr.



Culture of Reading



Talk of reading and its consequent importance and everyone will nod their heads in agreement. Reading is every second person’s favourite hobby or pastime, and the fodder for endless essays and discussions. The benefits can never be overstated as the mindful delights of reading simply call for another humble say. From our childhood fairy tales and bible stories, with their simple and endearing themes that first enchanted and captivated us to developing our individual eclectic tastes, we indulge in the fascinating world of books. Once an avid reader, reading becomes pretty much an integral part of life, nurturing and defining one’s personality.


The joy of reading, whilst to a discerning few, may be in one’s ruminations of Tolstoy or Charlotte Bronte or Thomas Hardy, to the common man equal pleasure is found in non-literary works such as Chetan Bhagat, Malcolm Gladwell or the daily newspaper.

One of the best habits a parent or individual can inculcate in a child is the habit of reading. To encourage a child the pursuit of reading in the early stages is to ensure a continous process of discovery and learning, bridging the gap that the shortcomings of a formal system of education may have, which makes reading even more imperative. Reading books has many benefits both mentally and morally. What was once a preserve of the affluent and elite in society is now a tool of empowerment to the common man. Philosophies and ideas that once seemed grand or enlightening but for a few, are now finding mass appeal or even redundant through critique.

Coming to the Northeast, or for that matter, India, reading is predominantly done in the English language. Modelled on the European system of education and learning, English remains the core medium of learning and instruction, heightened in importance with a majority of literary works in English or translated into English. While the preference for English may be justified as it is the global language today, the lack of interest in reading in ethnic languages and local dialect is disheartening, and not in the least due to the scarcity of material. Many articles and books in local dialects by gifted and diligent, albeit lesser-known Naga authors or writers are available which deserve a read. With the abundance of English literature and more being produced on a daily basis, the works of literature in the ethnic languages and local dialects represent a literary treasure trove, something we in the Northeast have failed to appreciate and give due credit.

At our own expense with regard to English reading, the North-eastern states seem to have fared better than those in mainland India. A recent survey that appeared in The Hindu, shows that the percentage of young English readers in the Northeastern states, including Nagaland, was among the highest in India, with fiction being the most popular category.

The advent of technological innovation has revolutionised reading. Google, Kindle, etc are bywords in today’s world of reading. Greater access to the internet and development of newer and better applications have opened up new avenues for readers around the world. The popularity of smartphones and tablets is ensuring faster and cheaper access to hardback editions, and newsprint and magazines worldwide are increasingly focussing on the digital version. The discussion of reading is bound to touch upon the vitality of libraries and the need for them; from the earliest civilisations of the Egyptians, the Greeks, to India’s own world-returned universities of Nalanda and others, libraries have recorded and dispensed knowledge to civilisations and their people. They have formed the backbone of man’s quest for knowledge in fields as diverse as mathematics, economics to astronomy and poetry.

Educational institutions today, take much pride in having a well furnished library for the benefit of both teacher and student. Nagaland has its own state library although much change could be made to make it more reader-friendly and efficient. As a lecturer in Tetso College, I enjoy easy access to a great many books provided by the College library. Tetso College library provides great facilities along with e-resources and a good, comfortable reading environment, and I encourage all students to make the best use of it. In this way, we need to develop a reading culture with the help of better libraries amongst educational institutions and in our State, for our children’s educational growth and development.

As more and more libraries get digitalised, ease of access to books, and hence knowledge and emancipation becomes a reality. The experience of reading can be for everyone. It brings out the rationalist in you and at the save time teaches you to dream. It takes you on journeys to far-off places and brings you back with a better realisation of the worth of your place and your own. It lets you like the lives of unknown men and women, feeling their joys and tears, getting carried away in their causes. Some inspire, some are lessons in introspection. For those who came in late, it’s never too late to begin. To not experience the joys of reading, therein lies the travesty.
“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. Tetso College is a
NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College.
For feedback or comments please email: admin@tetsocollege.org”




Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Who is the Naga Woman? -Thungdeno Humtsoe, Assistant Professor Sociology

Naga Mahila's(Women Police Battalion)  Patrolling town 
The divide between genders is a topic that never seems to grow old. The Naga woman has evolved from a complex history of struggle and tradition, shaped further by similar views about the position of women in different parts of the world. So, what about our Naga women? Where do they stand in Naga society?

Who is the Naga Woman?

In the chequered history of mankind one finds that different and disparate cultures, however distant they may be in time and space, have at least one thing in common and that is the question of the position of women. It is customary everywhere to classify the human community on the basis of sex - ‘men’ and ‘women’. The biological fact of sex has created a divide between them. Especially in a country like India, women have not been able to lead a life exactly on par with men, in spite of their desire for equality. This is also true of the Naga woman.


A frequent topic of debate is the unequal treatment of women. Gender inequality too has its roots in the history of Naga patriarchal society. During the course of evolution, females were subject to more restrictions unlike the males, whether it was in the performance of certain rituals or everyday practices. This led to the prominence and therefore dominance of the male. B.B Polk writes,’’ Power over women in personal relationships gives men what they want, whether that be sex, smiles, chores, admiration, increased leisure or control itself.”

The social structure of our Naga society eventually came to be based on patriarchy, patrilineality and patrilocality. This social base means that after marriage the daughter leaves her parental house and resides permanently at the house of her husband or affinal kin, where the lineage is traced in the line of the male members. The Law of Inheritance and The Right to Property are both predominantly patriarchal in our society. In this social base, women are not considered equal with their male counterparts.

Tradition expects that each and every woman should conceive a male child to the family. The male issue was considered very valuable, whereas the female child was regarded as a great economic as well as social burden on the parents. The male child inherits the customary heritage and parental property, and must also earn money and provide social security to the parents during their old age. With such a mind-set, a significant proportion of the family-budget is spent on the well-being of a male child. On the contrary, a girl child was untended. As they were to leave their parent’s house permanently after marriage, spending money on their dress, education and health was considered a wasteful expense. Moreover, after marriage, she has to change her surname, depending upon the surname of her husband. The legitimate child born to her takes on the surname of her husband. This mindset dominated the way in which women were perceived, resulting in loss of her real self identity and individuality as a member of the society.

Gender discrimination prevailed even in consumption habits. Consumption habits were culture specific. Women had to consume their food only after the male members. The male members had to be fed sufficiently and satisfactory as they were considered the main bread winners for the whole family. Therefore, a mother also discriminated in providing her own breast milk between a male and female baby. Because of all this women received less protein and energy in accordance to their age and physical strength, resulting in affliction of health problems like anaemia, malnutrition and other diseases.

Gender discrimination prevailed even in the arena of work. Most of the women were engaged in the primary sector such as cultivation, agricultural labour, livestock, plantations, forestry, orchards and in different household chores. Most women welcomed these responsibilities as housewives but surprisingly their labour was highly exploited and went unnoticed. Their participation in decision-making was insignificant.

Today, due to the influence of education and values like freedom of women, democracy, individualism etc., the condition of Naga women has improved. Women are now enjoying better social status compared to our traditional society. This is primarily because of the fact that the women are very hard workers. Their contribution to the family economy is no less than their male counterparts. This is not simply because the Naga women, by nature are hard workers, rather they are so because they are socialised and cultured in that direction as society and culture both demand that males and females be very competent to visualize their future. Unlike in our past Naga society, now, a bride is selected for marriage primarily depending upon the ability to work and manage the home including modern education, and certainly not on her beauty. Women are now considered as economic assets for both the consanguineous as well as affinal kin i.e., the parents before marriage, and husband and her family members after marriage. In this regard, the parents consider marriage of their daughters as a great loss of economic hands. This is why in our society the parents demand bride-price instead of giving dowry on the marriage of their daughters. A vital factor evidence of a higher social status of women in our society is when physical or mental harassment or torture on the bride may necessitate the wife to divorce her husband and maybe later remarry. This freedom and choice of a woman is sanctioned by our society today.

Women are comparatively in a more respectable position than before. Some of the problems which had been haunting the community of women for centuries are not prevalent anymore. Many women who could grab the opportunities extended to them have proven that they are capable of discharging the responsibilities assigned to them as efficiently as men.

Women today are more liberated from the chains of traditionalism. They stand on equal footing with men. Women now play not only domestic roles but also economic and political roles. Democratic ideals and values are in currency today. The Constitution of India provides equal rights and opportunities to women, absent of any discrimination on the grounds of sex. In turn, women are also responding positively to this changed socio-political situation.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and
research work, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Institution.
 
 
“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. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College.
For feedback or comments please email: admin@tetsocollege.org” 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Small Talk in a Big World - Dr. Temjenwabang, Assistant Professor History


A zealous school reformer, wearied by jousting with the status quo, heard about a spiritualist who was able to make contact with the dear departed. So one evening, he went to one of her seances. And when his turn came, he asked her to make contact with John Dewey. After struggling for a while, she reached America's greatest philosopher. The reformer was thrilled. "Professor Dewey," he said, "We have labored for 15 years to improve America's schools without success. Please tell me how we can create the kinds of schools our children need and deserve?" Dewey hesitated a moment and replied: "Well, there is the natural way and the miraculous way. Which do you want?" The reformer, his idealism faltering, asked for the natural way. "The natural way," Dewey said, "Would be for God to send down bands of angels to visit every single public school and transform them into places of true learning." "Good heavens," gasped the reformer. "What then is the miraculous way?" "Ah," said Dewey, "The miraculous way would be for the people to do it themselves.


Small Talk in a Big World

Well said Dewey! No word has ever pricked my senses more than your ‘miraculous way’. It took me years to come to this enlightening fact, well, past my prime’s best, yet never too late. Let us picture this as a metaphor in our life’s trudges and the environment around us, say for instance, my struggle for a sensible interaction with the world around me. A big word of regret still lingers in my thought, ‘only if I gave myself the chance to make life easier when I had the opportunity to do it’. Talking about opportunity and chance, let me share this subtle yet thought provoking experience for all of us to learn from.

I remember it was years ago while I was a research scholar at Hyderabad University when to my horror, I discovered the inadequacies of my communicative side. I lived on a beautiful campus where everything seemed perfect to me. Well, almost perfect, until I began to have conversations in ‘English’ with friends or with members of the faculty. I wondered why every time I faltered whenever I have those conversations. My tailored-English simply ran out within two hundred words, to be precise. The rest was history with generous amounts of grins and fake smiles and nods. The right words fail me when I need them the most! And every time this happens, my memory goes back to that unforgettable July day in the summer of 2003…

In a small hall drenched by beams of sunlight filtering through the gaps of the curtains, I awaited my turn to have an audience with a teacher of my old school. This time, it was not for the usual punishment; I was meeting my ex-teacher!
My turn came as soon as a parent crossed past the threshold of the Headmaster’s room, perhaps having dealt with another case of a mischievous child. But as I brushed my musings aside and turned towards his room, nervousness gripped me…

Knock, knock!

“Come in!”

I was sweating profusely but I managed to address him with a feverish grin, “… May… may… I… I come in … Sss… SIR?”

“Ah, my old naughty boy! Good to see you,” boomed the Headmaster. “I hope you are not here for another round of mischief… punishments having improved lately my boy Ha! Effective ones I’d say… no pain involved, only pure guilt, just enough to bring you back on track… Ah! thanks to the innovative teaching methods, corporal is out, my boy. Good news, nah? You wish to be back in school again, don’t you? Well, anyway let me hear from your end, my boy…”

And just as I made an effort to answer: “I… ” I was flooded by a volley of questions – “How was your trip back home? How is your institute? How about your teachers? Any plans for research?”the queries went on…!”

Much to the amusement of the Head, our eventful meeting was marked by numerous “stammers”. I could see his silent grins when I made the effort to converse sensibly.
Our conversation drew to an end, and as I walked out, the Head uttered his parting shot, “It’s a big world boy, make the most of it… you’ve got more than you have right now.”

I understood!

I came out of his room ashamed, but wiser. I learnt an important lesson; ‘silence’ may be ‘golden’, but not always! Conversation is an important human interactive art; I was well versed when it came to speaking on my subject-matter. However when it came to ‘speaking’ or ‘conversing’ sensibly with the world, I felt terribly suffocated. I was tongue-tied in most instances, the more I made an effort to speak, the more I stammered!

I was seriously asking myself as I walked out of the school, “Is my speech selective to subject-matter, or is it the reaction to situations that determine my speech fluency?” Though the answer may lie anywhere at any stage of our lives, in my case, I realised that I had rather faithfully adhered to ‘Omerta’ (the Sicilian code of silence), with the self-assurance that ‘equipping myself with writing skills and my subject-matter is more than enough’. I shouldn’t have!

That, I am sure, was where I missed out on an important aspect; ‘speaking’ or ‘conversing,’ an area I thought was of no importance to me. However, experiences down the stammering years affirm that ‘conversing’ is as important as writing or any form of communication.

They say that a skill is not only intuitive or acquired, but it also needs nurturing for an individual to sustain it. I still wish to revisit my school days and pick up on things I have missed; debates, extempore, book reading sessions, discussions and jabbering with my old friends. If only I had heeded my teachers’ encouragements to actively participate in activities involving human interaction, I know they could have given me something more that I struggled with–good conversation skills, one of the important keys to human communication. As for you, young readers, you have the time and opportunity with you now, Go! Grab it! Before the good times are past your reach.

“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. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email: admin@tetsocollege.org

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Making Our Lives Count - Rosemary Apon, Asst. Professor Commerce


The book, The Man Who Makes A Difference written by Jim George inspires Rosemary Apon, Asst. Prof. Commerce to reflect upon the impact our lives can have on others. An important question asked is: How can we make a difference with our lives? As for the Nagas, we are a diverse community of the upcoming private entrepreneur, the secure government employee, the powerful politician and alongside them the agriculturalist and daily wage earner. Notwithstanding the kind of professions we are in - a teacher, farmer, politician, businessman, student or housewife - all these require accountability and are avenues through which we can be a shining role model for others.   

Making Our Lives Count

An individual is recognized by who he or she is. Each person’s profile consisting of habits, principles and beliefs determines who an individual really is. For instance, as a teacher I have a specific profile. If you were to look at my life as a teacher you will see that I fit into a certain category of teaching endeavour and promotion of child development.  Similarly, all professions such as writer, pastor, speaker, teacher or student also shape a certain profile. Every profession or area of work has a specific profile.

Do we ever stop to think about our profile? Do we wonder if our life has created a lasting impact? If someone were to take a long look at our life what would they see? And what if they were to publish their findings about us? What characteristics would they report about the pattern of our life? What kind of qualities and habits would be present for whoever goes through it? How or in what way are we impacting the lives of others?

We can see from the life of Paul the apostle, that he was neither a well built nor a good looking person but the work that he did throughout his lifetime has influenced so many people even to this day. The lives that we lead have great impact even after we are long gone. The profile that we make during our lifetime is the most important of all. However, making a good profile is not easy as it is counted through our everyday living.
No man lives in a vacuum. We are all influenced and impacted by persons or things around us. Every one of us can point to someone or something that shaped our life in some way or other. Undoubtedly, our parents have contributed a lot towards making us the person we are today, but beyond that there is always someone or the other who has impacted our life to a great extent in every direction of our life. They can be our teacher, country leader, coach or pastor.

For instance, America has had many kinds of presidents but the name of President Abraham Lincoln is well known to one and all.  His contributions made towards the society and his role in helping to abolish slavery have made him stand out from other presidents. That’s the kind of profile he made for himself. Another famous personality - Mahatma Gandhi is known to everyone young or old as the ‘Father of the Nation’. His love for peace and non-violence and the sacrifices rendered for the welfare of the people in India is a noteworthy example of an influential profile. The simple life that he led has influenced so many people around the world.

For some, it may not just be a person that influenced their life but it can even be a life altering experience such as a brush with death at the time of duty or maybe a life threatening illness. History has shown us that influence isn’t about numbers, but about individuals with a passion, a focus or intensity or all of these that drive us forward. Most men of influence down the centuries have been influenced through a crises, cause or mandate. So then, as every individual is always influenced by one thing or other, we also need to have goals in our lives. Each person’s goals will be different from the other. We just need to set it.

Goals help us develop a streamlined life; they help us drive each day of our life and display the stewardship of life. They also help us design a life of influence. To portray a life of influence we need to achieve excellence in whatever we do. As we set our goals, we need to strive for excellence. Excellence simply means giving our best. Many of the world’s greatest people were committed to excellence because they saw their life as stewardship. An example can be cited from our very own state. The renowned personality and sportsman, Dr. T Ao was the first Naga to play football at the international level. His story is inspiration for the younger generation even today.

Our life is full of choices. Each day we choose what we will or will not do. Are we supposed to do the same thing every day?  Or give it a change. Are we supposed to use our free time to work for some social cause or just keep watching television? Do we want to make a difference or continue to remain just as we are. The choice is ours to make. Each one of us has a role model in life that we try to emulate, whether it’s their values, the way they eat, drink, walk or dress. Can we be the same for someone else?
Reference: George, Jim. The Man Who Makes A Difference. Harvest House Publishers. 2010

“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. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email: admin@tetsocollege.org




Mixed Martial Arts in Nagaland - Hivika Shohe, Class XII (Arts)

The world of fitness is flexing its muscle and within it Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is becoming a rapidly growing sport. Conor McGreg...