Tuesday, 29 August 2017

LIFE OF A LEFTIE - Amenla Jamir, Assistant Professor, Department of Education

image credits-calgaryharald.com

Gone are the days when left-handers were prejudicially stigmatised and even linked to the Devil only because they were few and different from majority right-handers. That same difference, today, is seen as a unique attribute.     

                                   LIFE OF A LEFTIE 

Are you one of the 10-12% of the world population who is left-handed? Are you sometimes the odd one out living in a right-handed world? Do people make biased assumption just because you hold your pen, scissors, knife etc. with your left hand? Yes, I belong to that 10% of the world population as a result of which I had to face a lot of misconceptions concerning my personality. I used to wonder, is it genetic? Or is it, because of the environment? Both my parents are right-handed, so are my siblings. Studies have suggested that even scientists aren’t exactly sure why some people are left-handed but, they know that genes are responsible for about 25% of the time.

Life as a leftie is very interesting. Every new person you meet will have something to say about you being a left-hander. People have so many preconceived notions about you if you are a leftie. Some are like, “Oh ... you are a leftie? That’s so cool! I guess you are very intelligent, creative, artistic, smart, and good at math and so on; while it might be true, it does get a bit awkward when people find out that you can’t draw to save your life or complete a calculus sum. While some mull over the negative aspects, they say, ‘I read somewhere that most lefties die of some kind of cancer or suffer mental issue, and your life span is shorter so be careful’. And there are some (even my parents) who say that it’s not very cultured to do everything with your left hand. The culture comment might be because I have food with my left hand, which for some people is an indication of lack in culture or maybe because people use their left hand for toilet purposes and their right hand for greeting people. In the Bible, the favoured sat at God’s right hand. Every mention of left-handedness had a ‘sinister’ connotation in the Bible, but if we look closely, no verse in the Bible considers being the lefty as a ‘SIN’. Even the word ‘sinister’ comes from the Latin word sinistra meaning left. The kind of prejudices against left-handed people was worse during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was said that during that time being left-handed was associated with the DEVIL, and the devil baptised his followers (left-handed) with his left hand. I for one am glad that I was not born during that time because surely I don’t want to be called a DEVIL’S daughter. This is not the case now since it’s been accepted with the changing times and mindset. People look at right-handers and lefties more-or less the same now.

But lefties still face some problems in the right-handed world on a daily basis. Being a leftie can be exhausting, and sometimes downright excruciating. But what choice do we have? We can’t suddenly train ourselves to be right-handed. It is NOT a myth that left-handers have trouble with all sorts of everyday articles and tools. From spiral note books to study desks, cords on kettles and pots to can-openers; the list is endless but I present to you some of the top leftie laments. SCISSORS are our great archenemy-NO you can’t turn right-handed scissors around. Somehow, the paper just ends up all crumpled and cut into uneven pieces. A pen which is regarded as a student’s best friend is not so for a leftie, every day we have to deal with ink smudge in our hands. And it is not just about the smudged area at the side of your hand but sometimes we even end up smudging our entire written work. Mouse-pad causes another problem; every time we have to change the position of the mouse-pad and bring it to the left side but even if you extend the cable to get it on the left side, the hand on the mouse is still intended for a right-hander. What a pain! Life inside the kitchen is not easy as well. Vegetable peelers don’t work for lefties, either. They only have one sharp side; they are designed for the right-hander. The sharp side of the blade is at the bottom while it is in the hand of a leftie resulting in uncomfortable peeling motion and ugly looking size and shapes of vegetables. Even our old saucepan lip is on the wrong side for a lefty so imagine trying to pour anything from the saucepan; it’s a struggle! These are only a few, but the list is endless.

We, as human beings, often end up complaining about our life in general and as a leftie the frustrations are double, but on the bright side there are some things that do work in our favour or so research says. Studies have found out that lefties are good at multitasking; lefties write faster as compared to their counterparts, they are adventurous (maybe, maybe not). There is even a chance that we might become the president of a Nation, the reason being that with the exception of George W Bush and Donald Trump the last six United States leaders have been left-handed. Interestingly, many famous and renowned personalities like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Paul McCartney, Tina Fay to name a few are all leftie. 

One thing you will not lack as a leftie is ATTENTION. Every new person you meet will undeniably notice you for the sole reason that you are a leftie. The stigma and shame of left-handed people have long disappeared, but the mystery and fascination remain. Maybe we will never know what really causes left-handedness, and how it makes such a difference in our lives.

Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Anjan K Behera, Tatongkala Pongen, Nungchim Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Comfortably Silent - Kvulo Lorin, Director-Administration

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

Comfortably Silent

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

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

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

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

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

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

Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Anjan K Behera, Tatongkala Pongen, Nungchim Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

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

image credits- pinterest.com

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

My Adventures with Zumba 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Anjan K Behera, Tatongkala Pongen, Nungchim Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

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

image credits- englishexcercises.org

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

Golden Garbage Rules: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Anjan K Behera, Tatongkala Pongen, Nungchim Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Musings on the Nagaland Legislative Assembly Elections 2018 - Amenla Jamir, Assistant Professor, Dept of Education

Now there is an unfamiliar lull in the political fever and drama that unfolded during the weeks leading up to the Nagalan...