Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Don’t Stop Dreaming - P. Patomi Yepthomi, Assistant Professor English


Have you ever dreamed of becoming a world leader, a singer, an actor, a lawyer, or a businessman? Everyone needs dreams to give them hope and the drive to go for it. While being realistic and setting achievable goals might seem like the smart thing to do, we also need dreams to helps us aspire for higher goals and bigger possibilities.

Don’t Stop Dreaming

Every single thing accomplished by human beings was once someone’s dream. Dreaming is a wonderful outlet. Dreaming is pregnant with creativity and imagination which enables manifestation. It is a gateway to discovering your passion. But dreaming alone won’t make a dream a reality. Once you dream big, then it’s time to do big things. Were it not for the dreamers, we would not have all the wonderful things that our present civilization needs. The television, telephone, flying machine, the automobile etc, all of these and other innumerable inventions were at one time only a dream in the minds of someone whom the world called a visionary.

Dreamers are inventors, innovators and the curator of hope and yet it appears that our society or the church offers minimum support to nurture the dreamer. Usually, we call them foolish and unrealistic. We tend to dismiss both the dream and the dreamer. This attitude of the world can be quite hard on the dreamers, but on the brighter side, it does not mean that they have failed. Dreams become reality eventually, even with the passage of time. It never grows old, instead dreaming and doing new things gives us strength and determination to control our reality. As Abdul Kalam says, “Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended.”

Today, the world needs more daytime dreamers than ever before, dreamers who will do or die to achieve a dream and make it a reality. People who have the guts and persistence to go for their dreams and make things happen are like heroes to the rest of us. They are beacons of possibilities. What if we all went for our dreams like them? What would this world look like? Everyone would encourage each other and things would get done with unprecedented speed and creativity. Ideas tend to flow when people are open to them. If everyone was encouraged to dream and to create, many of today’s problems could be solved and inventions could soar to an all time high.

What the world truly needs today is peace  in all areas. The only wish of the world is to bring an end to war, violence and hatred. Every dreamer has this yearning to make a difference. But on the contrary, there is so much turmoil and unhappiness in the world today. What are our goals, dreams and ambitions, our hopes and fears? It is time to imagine a future dominated by love, peace and harmony, and therefore we need dreamers who will sit back and focus on changing the paradigm, dreamers who are willing not just to think out of the box, but to jump out of it and envision a higher expression of humanity. Every individual passionately believes in making it a better world for us and others.

On 28th August 1963, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. presented one of the greatest speeches in the history of mankind. He said:

 I dream of a better world.
A world in which we can all live together in peace.
A world in which we celebrate each other’s uniqueness.
A world in which we co-operate and overcome the most severe challenges ever faced by our race.
A world in which our children no longer die of starvation.”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream for America is powerful and inspiring: “I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up to its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.’”

Martin Luther King Jr. was a dreamer who made his dreams into a reality.
Another inspiring saying about dreamers is by John Lennon in his eternal song – Imagine all the people living life in peace. The lyric reads:
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.” - John Lennon
All it takes to dramatically improve our world today is a few committed people who really believe in their dreams and who’ll do whatever it takes to make those lofty dreams come true. We are moving into a turbulent phase in which there is a risk that events could overtake us. Now is the time to sit back and really look at what is going on with the world and ponder. Now is the time to focus with complete honesty and clarity on what your spirit and soul desire. Your thoughts create your reality and so once you control your thoughts, then you control your reality.

“All men who have achieved great things have been great dreamers.”- Orison Swett Marden.

Every measure of success we have ever known emanated from a dream. Sometimes the only obstacle between you and your goal is you. Every individual has greatness within ourselves and we shouldn’t be afraid to realize it. If you have a dream and believe in it, you will do anything to make it a reality.

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”-Sarah Ban Breathnach.

We should take inspiration from these sayings which give us hope that the dreams we have do not end up in vain. To stop dreaming would be to stop living. We owe ourselves the opportunity to experiment with our dreams and we may even fail at times, but this also creates the opportunity to learn how to wildly succeed. Let’s dream big - our world needs dreamers.


“The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of Tetso College. 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, 19 November 2013

Purposeful Living - Kahor Raleng, Head of Department of English


What kind of future do we envision for Nagaland? One of the keys to a prosperous future is our children. An important question we must ask ourselves today is if we, as parents, educators and elders, are equipping our children with the right information, guidance, skills and maturity necessary for positive growth and development in order to lead a purpose driven life.

Purposeful Living

Observing my students in the classroom today, it struck my mind that they are so easy to impress. The young confused minds can grab each and every word we utter and it can leave an impact on them. With thoughts running through my mind, I started questioning myself: ‘Are we preparing them to face their future? Are we guiding them to choose the right path in life? Are we moulding them to be better citizens?’

Youngsters today are smart enough to know and perceive everything we say, yet confused enough to misinterpret it. Sadly, we are living in an age where there is no distinction between truth and lies, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable. We are willing to compromise as long as we gain something. There are times where confusion reigns and honestly we, the older generation, are the makers of it.

We, the Nagas are very fortunate as our people are not infested with psychological problems faced by people in other places, where incidents like shooting in schools, killing of teachers or classmates occur frequently. Before we are touched by this evil, we should prevent it as prevention is better than cure. This is where the need for mentoring and guidance and counselling arises. It is extremely essential and it should be realised at the earliest.

Producing good results should not be the sole purpose of institutions nor of education. Education means the overall development of a child. If institutions cannot produce exemplary citizens, than the purpose of education is not fulfilled.

Through some interactive sessions with my students, I have gathered some important facts. They are confused about the system, about their beliefs, about certain treatments, about social and family issues and most importantly about who they want to become in life.

Here are some comments made by students:
Student 1: ‘I study because I am forced to, out of compulsion and there is no actual learning. Compulsion to score well and pass.’
Student 2: ‘I don’t have a specific aim, I just want to try out everything that comes my way.’
Student 3: ‘Music gives me pleasure and peace of mind. It makes me creative and expressive. But music is not a career option.’
When asked what they want to become in life, some simply replied ‘no idea’, ‘don’t know’, ‘confused’. Remember, they are college students, a stage when they should have some idea about what they want out of life.

Youngsters today are confused with the direction that their life is heading towards. Choosing the right path has become complex and frightening. As parents/guardians and teachers, do we take time to talk to them, clarify their doubts and guide them, or are we in our ways contributing to their confusion?

To mould a child does not solely lie in the hands of institutions or teachers. Parents play a huge role in shaping a child for a better future. Parents/guardians should equip themselves with necessary information. Some questions parents can ask themselves are: Do you carry out research work before admitting your child to a new school? Or do you simply admit them because it is a prestigious school, or it is convenient or because somebody says that it is good? Find out the facts before sending your child to a new environment. Parents should also be aware of scholarships and the possibilities they offer. Even a class seven student can study in Singapore through scholarships. There are even instances where a rickshaw puller or peon’s son or daughter has become a doctor, an engineer, or an IAS office by securing through scholarships. And now with the implementation of RTE act, many doors have opened for those who are smart enough to look for greater opportunities.

As for the institutions, they should make it mandatory to assign mentors for every student. Seminars on career guidance and counselling should be conducted regularly. Every institute must make it a priority to have a guidance and counselling cell with trained counsellors.

Workshops and seminars should be conducted for teachers. Educationist should regularly reinforce their knowledge by attending refreshers courses. They should be well informed and knowledgeable. But most importantly, they should be inspirational and motivators.

I wonder, is it too much to ask to give a little bit of effort for the future of our children? Aren’t they the future that we dream? I believe every parent or teacher has a dream for their children or students. Let us help them live that dream. Let us guide them live a purpose driven life.

“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, 12 November 2013

True Democracy? - Zuchano Khuvung, Asst Professor Political Science

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." – Winston Churchill.


Winston Churchill stated this quote in 1945 after losing the elections. Even though he was responsible for guiding Britain to victory in World War II he still lost the elections. Naturally, he was bitter with the ungrateful British public when they voted against him. Fortunately, he took it like a gentleman and wryly remarked, “They have a perfect right to kick me out. That is democracy.” The system of Government in India and Nagaland is democratic so that the leaders who are elected are the representatives of the people. Our experiences with democracy have not been perfect. Democracy as an ideal form of government has complex demands but it also requires the protection of liberties and freedom, respect for legal entitlements, and the guaranteeing of free discussion and fair comment. When this happens, the right people can say the right things and the right people come to power. Churchill recontested in 1951 and came back to power.

 True Democracy?

When we look back at what happened in the twentieth century, we encounter many events and developments – the downfall of the European empires, rise and fall of Fascism and Nazism, rise of Communism and its fall, and we even witnessed two terrifying world wars. However, we cannot deny giving primacy to the ‘rise of democracy’ as the most preeminent development in the twentieth century. No doubt the idea of democracy originated in ancient Greece and was seriously put to practice, though on a limited scale, before it collapsed and was replaced by more authoritarian forms of government. We might as well find its traces in the contributions made by the contractualists like Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Rousseau in the 17th and 18th centuries. The basic assumption of their theory was that, the existence of political authority must be based on the consent or will of the people. This reflects the contemporary concept of democracy. Thereafter, democracy emerged gradually and it was in the twentieth century that the idea of democracy became established as the ‘normal’ form of government to which any nation is entitled.

We are all aware of the fact that India adopted a democratic system of government. So, the question here is what really the implications of democratic government are? When we try to analyse that, I want the rational faculty to relate it with India in general and Nagaland in particular. How well have we adapted to this system. The basic implications underlying democracy is popular sovereignty which implies popular opinion is sovereign or the basis of government authority is the will of the people. Popular sovereignty and representative government are the terms that we use synonymously for democracy. Can we say that “Popular opinion is sovereign in our society” and “We have a government that represents our thoughts, opinions and our values”? Whatever means the governing authority adopts, the end must ultimately be “welfare of the people.”

Equality is another important implication of democracy. It is a principle that a democratic government will always uphold. Taking political equality in particular, it implies the equal distribution of political rights. The citizens must enjoy their political rights like the right to vote, the right to participate in public deliberations, right to public offices etc., on equal basis. If the citizen of a state has access to all these rights, then, we may comfortably say that that particular state has achieved one of its fundamental democratic ideals. Democracy as an ideal form of government has complex demands, which certainly include voting and respect for election results, but it also requires the protection of liberties and freedoms, respect for legal entitlements, and the guaranteeing of free discussion and fair comment. Even elections can be deeply defective, if they occur without the different sides getting an adequate opportunity to present their respective cases, or without the electorate enjoying the freedom to obtain news and to consider the views of the competing protagonists.
Thus, we have the following different ways in which democracy can enrich the lives of the citizen. First, political freedom is a part of human freedom in general, and exercising civil and political rights is a crucial part of good lives of individuals as social beings. Therefore, to be prevented from participation in the political life of the community is a major deprivation. Democracy also has to act as an important instrumental value in enriching the people’s expression and support their claims to political attention. The practice of democracy in any state must give the citizens an opportunity to learn from one another and help society to form its values and priorities. Even the idea of needs, whether it is economic or social needs, requires public discussion and exchange of information, views and analysis.

Our society has not been able to achieve all these requirements. We can always find a common answer to this i.e, inequality of opportunities and resources. In states where decentralised market economies are not sufficiently regulated, they will eventually produce large inequalities in economic and social resources, from wealth and income and education to social status. Generally, what happens is those with greater resources tend to use them to influence the political system to their advantage and the existence of such inequalities constitute a persistent obstacle to the achievement of a satisfactory level of political equality.
Social justice is another inevitable feature of democracy. It simply implies the balance between individual’s rights and social control ensuring the fulfilment of the legitimate expectations of the individuals under one existing law. Therefore, if a state is professing social justice, it must be efficient enough to maintain the balance between the distribution of individual’s rights and the obligations laid on them. But unfortunately, in a society like ours, the latter is weighing us down. In addition, social justice also relates to the eradication of social evils like unemployment, poverty, diseases, etc., which have their stigmatic expression on the face of the developing countries.

Having analysed the implications of a democracy or what it takes to be a democratic set up, we may undoubtedly mention that we do have a democratic system but it is related to the elitist notion of democracy. Expressions like “voice of the people” or “rule of the general will” are discarded and instead we have a democracy that stands for “the rule of the chosen few”, implying minority rule. We are now left to decide what kind of democracy we want and need – a democratic government which represents the privileged minority or the one that will represent the toiling majority. It is high time to stop the blame game and start acting positively, as responsible citizens. We are gifted with the power of reasoning and this is what should determine our decisions, even on political issues. What we should be asking ourselves is whether we are pushing hard enough to bring about positive change in our society. In the light of these challenges, amongst some countries that have made the transition to democracy, the new democratic institutions will probably remain weak and fragile, and others might even lose their democratic governments and revert to some form of authoritarian rule. Therefore, if we are to survive in this system of governance, first, we have to fulfil every requirement of having a democratic system and second, we must equip ourselves to meet the challenges, both old and new.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Naga Literature: An ignored Shangri-la - Anjan Behera, Asst. Professor English




They say the pen is mightier than the sword.  However, the pen can only be mightier than sword if people read what has been written by the pen. 
Nagaland has a lot of literature that not only tells us of our past but also pulls us into their worlds of sorrow, happiness and love. 


Naga Literature: An Ignored Shangri-la

It was the summer of 2010, and I was in the Kolkata airport, waiting to board my flight to Dimapur. A delay of 3 hours prompted me to pull out a copy of Easterine Kire’s Mari from my backpack. Totally engrossed in the book, I was almost taken aback when a voice asked me what had I been reading. Turns out he was an English Lecturer who had belonged to the state, and yet, had never heard, or read of Kire. The remaining two hours of waiting time was thus spent in telling him all about the wonderful works of Kire. However, my surprise continued even later when I moved back to Dimapur. It was a struggle to find anyone who had read novels and literary works from our own state. People are blissfully unaware of the rich and diverse literature that our state has begun to produce.

There are a couple of factors that have been behind this. Easterine Kire in her interview with CNN-IBN stated, “About thirty years ago, there wasn’t much literary production from the Northeast in the sense that we were not getting published, we had very little translated literature in English and whatever was available was poetry and writings by anthropologists on the region. So, the mainland universities cannot be blamed for ignoring literary input from the Northeast. Things have changed drastically in recent years and more Naga authors have been published. But Naga Literature, still being a fairly new phenomenon, remains largely unknown to the readership population. Needless to say, the westernised mindset also plays a role here, where in local works are deemed biasedly as inferior.  

It is true that Mainland-Indian academia has ignored literary work from the state in the past. But how is it that most of the universities still do not have any literature from Nagaland in their syllabus? Nagaland has produced several notable works like A Terrible Matriarchy, The Gift of the Sand Castle, These Hills Called Home, and Monsoon Mourning. Passing off works by Assamese writers as ‘Literature from the Northeast’ is a brutal attempt to wrongly equalise the diverse literary tradition of the eight states. Novels from Nagaland usually have a very subtle anti-Indian stance. Could this be the reason that Mainland-India has ignored the literary tradition of Nagaland? Probably. But in a democracy, shouldn’t everyone be allowed to express their views and opinions? If controversial works of Ismat Chughtai and Taslima Nasreen are welcomed in academic circles, why aren’t works from Nagaland? Although this does not explain the scrawny popularity of these works in Nagaland itself.

Whatever the reasons maybe, one cannot deny the fact that these literary works are art, art which should be judged on its aesthetic appeal. Literature is the reflection of the society that is written about. Hence, these works cease to be just works of fiction, but transcend into becoming a record of the glorious culture and society. A general characteristic of fiction from Nagaland is the harking back to the past, and presenting the deep impact and importance of the days gone by. The past has taught us valuable lessons, and these works remind us of the struggles our society has undergone; from the World War, to the forceful occupation of the terrain by Indian forces, and from alcoholism, to the changes in culture and religion. How can we then ignore these faithful representations of our heritage and our past?
     
Naga writing in English is still a relatively new phenomenon, but we do have many works in local dialects. Kongshir Ken by S. Longkumer, is a wonderful fictional work in Ao, but has a limited readership since they have been composed in the Ao dialect. To make sure these works have a larger readership, and a stronger influence, they should be translated into English as soon as possible. I realise translated works lose their originality to an extent, but well, something is always better than nothing at all. The writers and publishers need to promote their works better so more people come to know of it. More of these works need to be included in academic courses around the country. Enough of the ignorance! Kudos to the Department of English, Nagaland University for including many works from the state in their syllabus for the Bachelors Degree courses. We live in a society where people are losing touch with their roots and traditions, their customs and its values. These literary works are all that remain that have the power to tie us back to the magnificent past.

The literary works of Nagaland is something that should be read by all people of the state. The budding writers need encouragement, and an increase in readership would encourage the evolution of a rich and powerful Naga Literature. It would also ensure the past is always cherished and treasured, and the sacrifices made by the ancestors of this land is remembered. In times when people are more familiar with Korean culture than Naga culture, these literary works can be a Shangri-La for the legacy of the days gone by, as well as provide wonderful insight to outsiders about the evolving culture of the state.

So the next time you want to read something, skip the Vogue and the Sidney Sheldon, and instead, pick up works by Easterine Kire, Aaron Kikon, Monalisa Changija, and Temsula Ao.

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 are not a reflection of the opinion of Tetso College. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email:

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 ...