Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Stress Can be Sweet: Exam Memories - Noami Aye, B.A. 2nd Semester, English Honours

For a state where the majority of the employees are primarily employed in the government sector, Nagaland can actually be described as a very exam centric state. You have many people preparing for exams for employment or degrees, certificates, diplomas etc. all the time. The humorous part is that most of our people follow the typical last minute preparation method of cramming everything the night prior to the exam, right down to hunting for notes. It can be stressful, and it can be gruelling. However, it doesn’t always have to be like this. Naomi Aye of BA 2nd Semester English honours takes us through an inside story of siblings in a Naga family who don't just eat and pray together, but also study together.




Stress Can be Sweet: Exam Memories



Never pass on a chance to make memories. They are bound to warm your heart on the coldest of days. There are things in life we often take for granted and let go unnoticed. Until, one day, much too late, you notice they’re gone.


I would like to share a sweet childhood memory of mine. Oddly, it comes from a stressful student experience of examinations. Examinations are practised worldwide, whether one likes it or not. This practice is universally adopted to test the skills and abilities of the examinee. The word “examination” is equivalent to “stress” or “worry” for almost every student. Exams cause real stress, panic and turmoil among students and this feeling of fear lasts till the exam ends. As the exam approaches, exam fever touches its highest point. We worry about the questions. Will they be tough, average or easy? Every student goes through exam tension. Concerned teachers and parents advise us to have a healthy diet and sound sleep before the exam to avoid any hindrances during exams. But in reality, during exams, some students actually skip their meals and sleep, burning their midnight oil out of stress.

I still cherish the memory of how I prepared for an exam with my siblings. I was in the 11th standard, when my younger brother was about to appear for his HSLC and my elder sis her BA-1. We would end up studying for hours and hours, preparing for the exams. In the midst of our study routine we would burst out laughing at some silly joke cracked by my brother. Suddenly we would abruptly stop laughing. Weird?! And then continue with our serious study. After a while, we would stare at each other’s exhausted faces. Not sure if it was the studying or laughing that made it exhausting but we would continue studying anyhow, peeking a glance every now and then at one another to see if any of us would pop up with the idea of taking a break, which was funny.

However tired we were, we somehow had the zeal to continue studying, and tried to properly concentrate on our lessons. When we heard mom’s emphatic voice calling for tea or lunch, once again, we would take a peek at each other. Instead, we would try to go last, rather than be first at the lunch or breakfast table. This was because the last person would get to study more than the first ones. I, obviously, am the first one to walk out of the room, not out of hunger but to lead them to the lunch and breakfast table, otherwise we would remain rooted at our study table, until one of us stands up and walks out. I was the one who always needed to take the lead. If not I bet, we would have missed out every breakfast or lunch and suffered for the sake of our ego!

After a meal or during study break, we would take a walk together, for not more than an hour, and the whole time we talked about how we would spend each day after our exams are over. Then, as we always did, we would burst out in loud laughter at silly jokes. After a while, we would wonder about the time and hurriedly return to our books. Everything we did during exam days was to just study and laugh in between. Sometimes, we would be caught laughing by my parents and get a lot of scolding. But it did not matter and we continued our routine of “study and laugh”. In fact, during exams we enjoyed every single day. We shared an elated feeling every single moment. It was the first time in my student life that I ever loved exams and I am sure they shared this same feeling. There was a kind of competition and lots of fun moments. It was really the best exam ever, studying at home with elated moods and writing to our satisfaction in the exam. We made beautiful and sweet memories even out of the most stressful time in a student’s life.

The memory or the experience that I just shared might seem unusual and boring, but it is the most treasured memory that I hold dearest to my heart. It is still very fresh to me, warming my heart in my coldest days, and bringing a wide spread smile to my lips. It is a sweet memory that will linger with me forever.

Memories do not necessarily have to attract attention or be unique. It can be anything trivial; it might seem insignificant to others, but can put a smile on your face the moment you remember it. Memories are always the light in the darkest moment of your life. It helps you through tough times, lifts you up and gives you strength when you are weak. It is something that gives you hope to go through the miseries in your life, when it knocks you down. So, cherish your memories, because they are what will make you strive to be happy. Beautiful memories will delight your heart and paint your life with colours of joy. They are priceless experiences that one wishes to recall, each and every moment, to be treasured forever. Remember, whatever captures your heart is a memory you wish to cherish, so let it linger on and “don’t let go”.
“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, 18 June 2013

Peer Pressure - Martha Patton, B.A. 2nd Sem, English Honours

People everywhere usually want to be liked and popular. In today’s age, with so many things being highlighted through social networks like facebook and twitter, young adults and children are being pulled in so many directions. Learning how to deal with peer pressure is an essential skill to succeed in today’s world. Martha, a B.A. 2nd semester student does some research for us on its effects and provides suggestions to overcome peer pressure.

Peer pressure 

Peers are people who are part of the same social group. So the term ‘peer pressure’ refers to the influence that peers can have on each other. Peer pressure is the feeling when someone forces you to get involved into something you are not willing to do. It can be both a positive and negative influence. Peer pressure is not always a bad thing; sometimes a friend’s influence can be a good thing, because they might, for instance, stop you from doing something stupid that you’ll regret later.

Thousands of decisions are made between friends everyday, and they influence each other’s choice and behaviour. This often shows the tendency of human nature to listen and learn from people in the same age group. Just as an iron knife can sharpen the dull age of a battered knife, fellowship with good friends who have a mature and healthy attitude can sharpen one’s personality, helping him become a better person and promote a sense of unity.

Friends influence our lives in many ways, though we may not realize it. Friends who are good in studies and indulge in other healthy activities encourage  and stimulate interests in others to be like them. Good peers increase confidence and a sense of security because one knows that they can understand what is going on in our lives and help to work out the problem together. They also inspire one to the new and exciting things that one might not have thought of.

But there is also a dark side to peer pressure. Young people are susceptible to peer pressure because they want to be liked and fit in. Some common issues faced by them are need for status, fear of losing friends, attention, search for identity, need for support or approval and constant worry that friends might make fun of them. The idea that “everyone’s doing it, so why not me” can influence one to leave better judgment or common sense behind.

Peers can influence friends to involve in other risky habits such as smoking, drinking, drugs, partying too much or bunking class. The fact that adolescents become particularly vulnerable to peer pressure is because they find their friends more understanding and comfortable than their parents.

Some ways you can steer away from peer pressure are:
1. Value Common Interest: Try and hang out with people who like doing similar things like you, then you are less likely to be pressured to do things that you don’t want to do. Hanging out with the so called “cool group” may not be as much fun as it looks.

2. Say No:
 If you don’t have the habit of saying NO to something, you should know that sticking up for what you believe in feels really good. There comes a time when one must take a stand that may not be popular but right.

3. Try not to judge others: Respecting someone else’s choice may help them respect yours. People don’t have to agree on everything and an understanding of this will make both parties less defensive about their choices.

4. Overcoming the habit of drinking: It can be difficult to say NO to alcohol, especially those who are trying to quit. One can avoid places where alcohol is available and avoid the company of such users. Some excuses that can be used to say no to an offer are: “I am driving” or “No thanks, I have just finished one.”

5. Set goals: Many people don’t have any goal and that is why their lives are without direction and meaningless. Set goals in life so as to avoid unnecessary wrong decisions.

6. Change your mindset: Your peers occupy a major part of your lives and your thoughts and actions are controlled and influenced by them according to their views about you. Peer pressure is just a phase so one should try to reason out things and be determined, and firm in one’s own decisions.

7. Choose your friends wisely: Friendship is important to everyone and it depends on the individual to choose good friends over bad ones. Both will influence you either in a positive or negative way. One should choose to be in the company of good friends to develop healthy habits.

8. Be yourself: Be content with who you are and have strong principles.

The key is to resist negative pressure and take control of your life. In this way, you will gain others’ respect. Avoiding peer pressure will also help you stay fit by avoiding what may otherwise ruin your health and attitude. If you willingly submit to negative pressure, fully aware that it is bad yourself, you also lose the respect of others. Not to forget, the tension this will create between you and your parents.

Of course, no matter how skilled you are at managing peer pressure, there are some situations where pressure from other people can get out of hand. If you have ever been in a situation where you felt threatened or pressured into submitting to anything uncomfortable, you need to share this with someone reliable. As a student myself, I know the effects of peer pressure, so when it becomes too much to handle, please do not hesitate to tell a family member, a friend from outside the situation, a teacher or a counselor.

Reference:  
“Personality Development” by John Parankimalil
 
 
“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, 11 June 2013

Bringing Development to the People: Focusing on rural Nagaland - Amar Ranjan Dey, Assistant Professor Commerce

Zisunyu village in Kohima district of Nagaland
India is the second most populated country in the world after China. This can be both a boon and a curse. These two countries are seeing massive migration to their main urban cities. Coming closer to Nagaland, the trend is similar, with many leaving the villages and preferring to stay in the towns due to better facilities, educational needs and better infrastructure. To reverse or slow down this trend, we need to focus on the rural areas and bring development to them and not bring them to development. 



Bringing Development to the People: Focusing on Rural Nagaland

According to the 2011 census, out of Nagaland’s 19.81 lakh population, 71.03% i.e. approximately 14.07 lakh people, live in its 1317 villages. Approximately, 4.59 lakh population residing in rural Nagaland, even after 65 years of independence, do not have even the basic amenities of electricity, road, water, communication, education, sanitation and health. This is despite the fact that the government spends crores on rural development. Clearly, resource allocation is not the problem, but proper implementation seems to be the primary reason. The government system of disbursal of funds and implementation of projects needs to be monitored properly.  A complete overhaul in system and thinking is required.

However, it should not be the sole responsibility of the ministry of rural development but as citizens of this state, we must also take up the responsibility wholeheartedly.  A lone ministry is not enough to ensure rural development but it should be the mission of the entire state. The development of Nagaland depends upon the development of villages in Nagaland.  

So what are the primary motivating factors for the development of rural Nagaland? Availability of basic services like electricity, road, water and communication in every village would help initiate one of the largest grassroot capitalist movements, allowing more people to participate in commerce and trade. Firstly, regarding electricity, an example that might be worth duplicating is Tengging village in Arunachal Pradesh, which was electrified with two 10 kw wind systems in 1988. Due to the ragged terrain in the area, it was doubtful that grid power could be brought to Tengging. The largest decentralised rural electrification project in the world is based on wind generators. In China over one lakh locally produced 10 mw wind turbines have been installed in Inner Mongolia in the last seven years.

Secondly, for safe roads my recommendation would be that the construction and maintenance of roads and drainage system should be entrusted to a dedicated agency and specific tasks outsourced, if necessary, to ensure quality and efficiency. The current scenario is one in which one agency constructs the road, while another is responsible for ensuring that the corresponding drainage alongside is in proper condition. This lack of coordination results in blockage of drains each time the road gets a fresh coat of tar. Ideally, there should be just one body looking at both aspects.

Thirdly, water continues to be a scarce commodity. I still remember the days while I was  pursuing my Post Graduation while residing staying at a rented house at ‘D’ Block, Kohima where sometimes my roommate and I had to walk deep down to the valley to collect water at night, along with other neighbours. Although a lot of commendable work is going on, yet greater emphasis needs to be placed on the following areas by adopting a watershed, management etc.

Industrial economic activity which is highly concentrated in urban areas should be encouraged to spread to rural areas as well. Similar to the Chinese model, setting up a factory or an industry in rural areas might help to improve the economy and combat unemployment and low productivity problems, along with the added bonus of lower prices of land, labour and perhaps even raw material.

I believe that the government needs to be more properly structured and priorities defined. Let there be a debate in the Assembly, on the TV and in the Press to define the responsibilities of the government and for greater transparency. A well defined system might help create greater efficiency; but one where each department focuses on their own primary responsibility, for example:

Ministry of Power                                  Mission Electricity
Ministry of Roads                                  Mission Roads
Ministry of Water                                   Mission Water
Ministry of Communication                  Mission Communication
Ministry of Agriculture                           Mission Holistic Farming

Each ministry should have a vision and mission statement and measurable targets. After five years, the targets should be measured and made transparent to the public. The focus of the ministries should be towards execution of these vision and mission statements, and achievement of the interim targets. The purpose of this is so that although elections may take place, ministers may change, the vision and mission statement and interim targets stay on track. For the State’s sake, it is my hope that the residents of this state stand united and political parties put aside their differences so that there can evolve a ‘common minimum programme’ under the government’s rule and functioning, all in order that one day we will witness the Nagaland of our dreams!

“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, 4 June 2013

Hidden Bullies: Fighting the Odds - Kvulo Lorin, Director of Administration

"If you fell down yesterday, stand up today."
- H. G. Wells


Hidden Bullies: Fighting the Odds

Malala Yousafza, was only 15 years old when she was shot point blank in the head and neck in her own school bus for daring to defy the Taliban’s call against girls going to school. This happened in October 2012 in Pakistan. This young girl was often the only one who would answer reporters’ questions and had actually even dared to say on camera “They cannot stop me. I will get my education if it is my home, school or any place. This is our request to all  the world. Save our schools. Save our world. Save our Pakistan.” Fortunately, the assassination bid failed and she survived. Using religion as a pretext, the Taliban has banned many things like television, movies, music and education for girls – the reason for which Malala was shot.  "We do not tolerate people like Malala speaking against us," a Taliban spokesman told CNN after the shooting.


The Taliban probably wanted to silence and intimidate anyone else who would dare defy their diktats but instead, the opposite happened. They only made her voice stronger and awaken the many silent Pakistani voices against the violent and intimidation tactics of the Pakistan Taliban. Today, Malala is a symbol of courage and conviction for the world, nominated by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential people, she will also address the United Nations on July 12 this year and is the youngest person to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in history.

According to Edmund Burke on politics: "Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument (compensation) from it, even though but for one year, can never willingly abandon it." Power can not only become an intoxicant but if mishandled can lead to different forms of oppression or bullying. Bullies exist everywhere, especially in regions of conflict. However, they don’t necessarily need to be carrying a gun. The bully might turn out to be your boss, the interviewer at a job interview, a husband or wife or even a society that forces you to act and behave hypocritically for the sake of appearances. It reminds me of a few interviews I have attended where certain Interviewers would insult applicants or humiliate them as the applicants begged for a job. We also see many big shots who feel they need to be treated differently, can’t walk around without security guards and require traffic to be cleared and halted even if it inconveniences the public.

Sadly the bullies can exist even in our classrooms. Our Naga society has evolved from a rote learning system which has always discouraged younger people from questioning elders. Many people from the 70’s and 80’s grew up in an environment where the teacher would carry a stick to class. A wrong answer could mean a whack on the hand or red whelps on the buttocks. In certain cases the students are expected to reproduce exactly what the teacher has given in his notes or else receive less marks.

Premier colleges like St. Stephen’s Delhi are not immune to this, according to Thane Richard in his article “Academic Excellence and St. Stephen’s College: A response” posted on www.kafila.org. He writes, “In one economic history class the professor would enter the room, take attendance, open his notebook, and begin reading.  He would read his notes word for word while we, his students, copied these notes word for word until the bell sounded.  Next class he would find the spot where the bell had interrupted him, like a storyteller reading to children and trying to recall where he had last put down the story.  He would even pause slightly at the end of a long sentence to give us enough time to finish writing before he moved on.” In this type of environment, it is difficult to visualize a classroom full of students actively engaged with the teacher in discussions and clarification of doubts, not only because of our non-questioning upbringing but also because the boundaries have already been set by our ‘superiors’.  

Coming closer home, it’s interesting to see where education stands. The government has made a lot of effort to ensure that children go to school by introducing mid-day meal schemes and hiring the most qualified teachers. However, in spite of all this we know there is a large gap in the execution of the government policies owing to a multitude of factors. Though government institutions usually have the most qualified teachers, the better results from private institutes sort of prove that there are factors beyond just qualifications in the teaching and learning process.

I do believe that right here in Nagaland we have many Malala’s who are courageous and are determinedly pursuing education no matter how difficult. I know of a student who exemplifies this courage through the arduous route she travels every year to pursue higher studies. The student first has to travel 2 hours from her village to the nearest town. Apparently there are times when they have to walk and it takes eight hours by foot! From that town it takes another four hours to reach the district headquarters. From the district headquarters she must travel overnight to reach Dimapur and reach Tetso College. What was even more touching was her confession that till class 7 she couldn’t speak or understand English because all her previous teachers only taught in nagamese. Today she is one of the hardest working students and regularly tops the class.

While India as a whole struggles to implement its Right to Education policy - Delhi University works to implement a 4 year integrated undergraduate (BA/Bsc/Bcom) course(all over India it takes only 3 years) - Nagaland in particular needs to look in the mirror and take a closer look at what we need to work on apart from education.

Every day we read about the many problems in the newspaper. I know there are many more injustices and wrongs which don’t even make it to the paper. The blatant hypocrisy with which we live our lives showing disregard to laws and partiality to tribal and village, kith and kin are development pangs we need to overcome. Power and wealth are flaunted by what seems to be a well connected elite eager to live in a world of appearances with flashy cars and skewed aspirations equivalent to citizens of the developed world. The majority seem ever ready to indulge in whatever helps to elevate their personal standard of living at the cost of others.

Malala, a 15 year old girl stood up for educating the girl child. Our society needs to know the rights we deserve, but wisely too and without misappropriating them or taking advantage of the fissures in the system. Instead of focusing on the things we can’t do, it might be time to look at the things we can do. Amidst this daunting scenario where bullies, oppression and gold-diggers and more exist, maybe it’s time to wake up and prioritize what is really important and lend support to those institutions which are courageous and dedicated enough to make a difference. This is our state, our town and this is our home, whether we like it or not. It is not the Indian Government, foreign agencies, or outsiders who must stand up and make the necessary sacrifices required for our own people... its you and me.  We need to take responsibility in fixing our own problems because many of the problems actually begin and end with us.

“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 

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 ...