Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Let’s Get Cycling! -Supongtemsu Longchar, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

image source- metronews.ca

 As lifestyle changes and fitness gyms pick up momentum in Nagaland, can cycling be the next big thing? Cycling whether as a hobby, sport, or mode of transportation, there are numerous advantages to it, from being environment friendly to making us fitter and stronger, and even as a cost effective means of commute. Here are some more interesting cycling facts and examples of cities that have adopted it as an integral part of everyday life. 

Cycling has always been a global activity, and in the 21st century a marketing phenomenon. At its simplest, the bicycle is a functional form of transport that was invented sometime in the early 19th century, although attribution to a single inventor is not possible as there appear to have been a number of prototypes developed throughout Europe. However, for many, cycling is a sport first and a mode of transport second. The Tour de France, the most famous and prestigious bike race, began in 1903 as a marketing promotion for the French magazine L’Auto, and in its present form consists of some 200 of the best cyclists racing across 21 stages and covering well over 2,000 miles.

Perhaps the most famous country for bicycles as everyday transport is China, once reported to have as many as 9 million cycles on the road. But as affluence and car ownership doubled, bicycle ownership declined dramatically, by as much as 35% between 1995 and 2005. Bicycles were also blamed for congestion and road accidents with Shanghai actually banning them from some roads in 2004. But just like a cycle wheel, what goes round comes round and since 2011, as air quality has deteriorated and traffic jams are a daily nightmare for Chinese commuters, the bicycle has been brought back into favour with bike share programmes.

Another place renowned for bicycles is Amsterdam, a town designated by its cycle routes and when crossing the road you need to be very aware of both the bike and vehicle traffic. Amsterdam is completely flat and with 4,000 kilometres of bike paths it should be a cyclists dream, but you have to know how to cycle like a Dutch person and never leave your bike unlocked (55,000 cycles go missing every year).. Another bike-friendly city is Copenhagen, where most inhabitants bike to work; half of Danish households don’t own a car. Back in the 19th-century bikes were considered so good for Danish society that cycling unions developed with political goals. Although, like other western cities, the introduction of the car led to a reduction in cycling, in the early 1960s Copenhagen began reducing city centre traffic converting the main Street Stroget in 1962 to a pedestrian promenade. The energy crisis of the 1970s hit Denmark hard and car-free Sundays were introduced to save fuel. People also protested by painting white crosses on roads where cyclists had been killed, and with such pressure the cycle track network was rebuilt in the 1980s and expanded as fatalities and injuries fell.

We've always taken the greenness of bike transport as a given. But if one is just getting started, here are reasons to leave car in the driveway and start covering pavement on two wheels.

It's easier to finance a new bicycle than a new car. For the price of a single car payment, one can buy a well-made bicycle that should outlast most cars. Add a few hundred rupees more for rain gear, lights and accessories, and you have all-weather, anytime transportation.

A bicycle has a tiny manufacturing footprint when compared to a car. All manufactured goods have an environmental impact, but bicycles can be produced for a fraction of the materials, energy and shipping costs of a car.

Bicycles produce no meaningful pollution when in operation. Bikes don't have tailpipes belching poisonous fumes into the atmosphere. They also do not eliminate the oil, fuel and hydraulic fluids dripped by automobiles onto the road surface — which means less toxic runoff into local waterways.

Bicycles provide mobility for those who may not qualify or afford to drive. Not everyone can get a driver's license (or wants one), and the cost of purchasing, insuring and maintaining a car is out of reach for a lot of people. Almost everyone can afford some sort of bike. Other than walking, bicycles are the most cost-effective transportation on the planet.

Studies show that bicycle commuters are healthier, more productive, and require less time off at work. This is why most enlightened employers are eager to accommodate commuting cyclists. Healthy workers are better workers — and that's good for the bottom line. Bikes are smart business.

Chances for cities to become safer and better places to live in will follow when one adopts this mode of transportation. The growth of car use and the subsequent perceived problem of congestion, particularly during peak hour travel causes financial loss and negatively affects residents who live in the central areas. One of the solutions is to invest in a network of cycling infrastructure with strong government support to create priority for cyclists and to provide a safe, comfortable and attractive network that integrates with a spatial policy. The Dutch have followed a spatial policy promoting a compact building style offering mixed use that reduces travel distance, which can be easily made by bicycle. However, to be safe and convenient to use, government policies must, at least, treat cyclists on an equal footing to car users, public transport users, and walkers. If the spatial policy can make the car less necessary and convenient to use, government financial policy can reinforce this through car taxation and tangible restrictions associated with owning a car and using it. They could change the legal system so that there is an insurance bias to protect vulnerable road users. At the local level, promotion of cycling must involve more than physical infrastructure, it must also integrate across policy delivery areas including spatial planning, transport, health and education.

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, Nungchim Christopher, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Friday, 24 November 2017

The ABC’s of Teaching & Learning - Dr. Nonlih Chohwanglim, Visiting Faculty, Department of English

Arguably marks are indicative measures of your performance in an exam, but they don’t necessarily cover the entirety of what you’ve understood.  Studying just for marks is a short sighted approach and a waste of time in the larger scheme of things. Any academic pursuit must be a quest for knowledge, analysis and understanding, and not only accolades. 

The ABC’s of Teaching & Learning

Kindly respond (frown, smile, or nod) if there are teachers out there who have sent undergraduate level students outside of the classroom for not bringing the textbook in the class. Now, it is understood that every subject or topic at degree level cannot demand for a text, but as someone who teaches literature, I have no innovative idea to teach a play or a poem without the students referring to the text (print or otherwise). How am I to imprint the caesuras, enjambments, poetic devices, and the dramatic tone?!!

Perhaps someone could question the validity of insisting upon the presence of text in the class. In its simplest, truest, and most logical sense, the answer is to be able to TEACH in the best possible way so that the students LEARN in the best possible, accountable way. Being in the teaching profession for a couple of years, I sensed that the concept of teaching methodology is mostly focused upon. Teachers are encouraged and expected to sport innovative, engaging and latest methods of teaching.

However, the given article, by alluding to the presence of the text in the class attempts to focus on the art of learning. The text is seen as the line that connects point A and B of teaching and learning respectively. In some cases, the literal text may not be required, yet the concept of the topic must be constantly present in the mind of the learners, acting as the text. Whether it be the literal text or the conceptualised text, the epicentre is the concept of learning.

Let me highlight an encounter that I had with my students regarding the art of learning. In the process of teaching the Practical Criticism Unit (Poetry) our discussion turned to phonetics. Now, the students had already dealt with the topic of phonetics in the previous semester. The ‘WHAT!!!’ moment struck when many of the students responded stating they had ignored the topic because the vast topic weighed for only seven marks. Hence, even though they had come across the topic of phonetics, it was alien to them. The point here is that they had unfortunately missed out totally on the concept of the art of learning. Regretfully, they had followed the tradition of studying for marks alone, rather than for enriching their knowledge which will stay a lifetime.

In order to make them realise the significance of the art of learning I narrated an encounter I had once with a young student. This particular young student fared very well in all the subjects, except for one subject. When I inquired for the reason behind it, the young mind replied that he did not study the paper well because the concerned teacher was not strict. I felt deeply sad. This is what generally happens. The learner or the receiver fails to fully realise that learning should be for the SELF.

Targeting pass mark, studying depending on who teaches, submitting assignments depending on the strictness of the concerned teacher, attending classes depending on how interesting the teacher teaches and so on are external factors. The learners tend to sideline the essence within. Of course the external factors are very significant, but the learners should also have the will and enthusiasm to overcome any shortcoming of the external factors.

          There are aspects in life where/when we have to prioritise others first. But when it comes to learning, the SELF needs to be prioritised, in a very positive way. This applies not only to my students, or UG students, but to everyone in general. One could be an academician, an officer, an administrator, a musician, an artist, and so on. It is rightly stated that Education is a lifelong process; so learning is a lifelong process. And whatever we learn is for our own self. However, we tend to ignore or underrate the art of learning, and so we tend to make someone else do our work. We let someone else cook for us, draft an application, write a report, do our assignment and what not. The zeal of learning, and mastering the art of learning somehow remains laid back. When one masters this art, one can learn the best. Here, I would totally go with Matthew Arnold. The best that has been learned should be propagated. When the best has been learnt by best mastering the art of learning - sincerity, dedication, right knowledge, positivity are some of the perks that come automatically. And the right approach to learning calls to be instilled at a very tender age. My question is - are we successfully and rightly instilling the right approach to learning?

        Most of the school students are assigned project work. I noticed cases where the students do not lay a hand or a minute on the project work. Being young, they may not be able to complete the work totally on their own. Hence the guidance of elders is required. But unfortunately, there seem to be situations when the parents are too busy to guide and assist or the parents are too concerned about the grade that they do it or hire someone else to do it as they want their child to get the best grade. I doubt if these methods will be beneficial eventually. Could it be that the students suddenly lost track of the right approach to learning after hitting college level, or has the system gone  haywire at a tender age.

The best and right approach of teaching has always been debated on. What is more important is that education be valued as a personal experience, something the soul thirsts for. As long as our students study for getting pass marks, and teachers teach them just to secure pass marks, real education is lost, lost somewhere in the cacophony of erroneous attitudes.

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, Nungchim Christopher, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Rethinking the Issue of Migrants and Immigrants in Dimapur -David Hanneng, Assistant Professor, Department of History

image source- huffingtonpost.com

Migration is a basic human nature with a desire for greener pastures. In the process, when one community feels threatened or dominated economically by a migrant community, there always arises ‘uprisings’ against them. While the focus is mostly on how much they have taken away, we also need to consider how much they have contributed.

Rethinking the Issue of Migrants and Immigrants in Dimapur

The issue of ‘migrants’ and ‘immigrants’, whether legal or illegal, has dominated the discourses in the social media and the newspapers in recent weeks, especially after some unfortunate incidents.  While the discussions have been heavily biased towards a pledge to gouge out illegal immigrants(which hardly happens), I would like us to rethink on some of the benefits of having migrants and while at the same time deliberate on how to abate it. For our information, migrants are those who come for a period of time whereas immigrants are those who settle down permanently.

While discussing about migrants, let’s first take a re-look of the history of Dimapur. History reminds us that the original inhabitants were mainly kacharis who had their capital at Dimapur. Today, Dimapur is populated by many Naga tribes including migrants mainly from both Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Manipur, Rajasthan, Punjab and our neighbouring country Bangladesh. Whether the migrants are legal or illegal, I believe, is hardly our business. Our main concern should be how useful or harmful they are for our society.

Dimapur became a small town during the British rule with businessmen being mostly Marwaris and Bengalis. The trend still continues and the major businesses are still controlled by outsiders which today has become the talking point of many Nagas. Let us remember, however, that these businessmen had to work under duress for a long time facing threats and demands from multiple revolutionaries. They somehow kept Dimapur from turning back to the early days of jungles and wastelands. Many of us remember that Dimapur, even in the 1990s, was still a small town with hardly any building worth the name. Even businessmen from outside were afraid to invest lest they become the target of Naga insurgents. In the midst of that, the migrant workers persevered. The ceasefire agreement between Naga Insurgents and Govt. of India had changed the dynamics to such an extent that Dimapur today is comparable to cities like Imphal, Dibrugarh, Siliguri etc.

Migrants as a whole, bring in new ideas and fill up the gaps where we are still wanting. Infact, throughout the world, we see that it is the migrant community who brings in substantial positive changes to the economy and society. For example, in Dimapur district, the Bangladeshis were the one who introduced many new ways of work even in the field of agriculture or architecture. They helped replace the old way of thrashing the grain harvest by hand with that by buffalos. Besides, they are the ones who open up shops including pharmacies in remote areas providing very useful services.

The issue that worries most of us is “Bangladeshi immigrants”. If the problem is of their illegality, then that’s the problem of India and Assam to handle. Now, as for their dominance in trade in most districts of Nagaland and their permanent settlement, whom shall we blame? Aren’t they the go-to-man for all the works that we don’t want to do? Infact, we prefer them because unlike Naga workers, we can underpay and get away with it. The ‘uprisings’ against them in various towns, I believe, is just a sham. They are here to stay as long as we are not willing to do our own works. Infact, we should be grateful to them for doing most of the works which we were not able to do-at death cheap rates. They have ‘built’ up not only Dimapur but also the whole of Nagaland. If we feel threatened, bullying will not do. We have to just start learning to do our own work. If local people can be cobblers and Masons in Aizawl and Churachandpur, or for that matter open up tailoring shops and saloons, why can’t we? Why do the little shops or businesses that we do have to be over expensive or why do the local Auto drivers have to over-charge? The problem of migrants taking away all our business is our own doing.

As mentioned earlier, Talks about chasing away migrants and immigrants, especially those considered ‘illegal’ keep surfacing time to time not only from Dimapur but also from other districts. There is a general tendency here in Nagaland to look down on people categorised as migrants. What name may we give to Nagas who go outside to cities like shillong, Guwahati, Kolkata, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai etc. to study or to work? Are they tourist!  Infact, when one looks at Naga history even within Nagaland, we are one of those heavily migratory groups shifting from  one village to another or one village to town be it from Khonoma to Medziphema or from Zunheboto to Niuland. Most of us staying in Dimapur ourselves are migrants! Thus, migration is a universal fact starting from pre-history where people are always on the lookout for greener pastures. We live in a world where exclusivist mentality no longer holds ground. A person is a migrant one time or the other in his life. Thus the mentality of looking down on migrants should change.

However, there are areas we need to be deeply cautious. The probability of immigrants changing the demography of the state especially Dimapur, is a serious matter. Enrolling them in electoral rolls will have a severe consequences in the future as far as the political and social structure of the state is concerned.

The way forward is not about creating hatred and antagonism against them and it is not Christian to campaign their deportation. We might help ourselves and posterity tremendously with us ‘lazy people’ doing our own work and having political foresight.

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, Nungchim Christopher, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Can People Ever Be Content? - Malcolm Fernandez, Executive,Administration

image source- azquotes.com

The search for meaning in life seems at times like an endless pursuit. Some people find it through leisure, some through work, others through material possessions or a combination of all three and some more. What really makes us happy and content? And why do we feel the way we do? We may never have the precise answers to that, but there is usually always a reason behind it. 

Can People Ever Be Content?

“People are made to be loved and things are made to be used. The confusion in this world is that people are used and things are loved.”

I think this choice of being content or partially content actually starts from the time we are born.  You may ask why & how? Well I see it this way. From the time we are born our loving parents pamper us with a lot of love, which leads us to want more of it, followed by the best possible infant care, be it the best baby food, clothes, soaps, oils and so on.

As time passes with age comes the feeling of complexity, and when this happens, then we start feeling uneasy in the environment we were once living with ease.
Has it happened that you have set a goal, achieved it, and then moved on to set a higher one, or even had a good job but wanted a promotion to a higher post with a better and higher paycheck and more facilities. Do you have a car but still have your eyes pinned on the next latest model with enhanced features. These are some of the practical life scenarios we will experience in our human lifetime. Have we for a moment stopped and contemplated as to where we are going in life? Is our life going ahead, stagnant or are we living a meaningful life?

From the Stone Age till the present time, man has never been content with the things he has had. He was always in search for more and better things to make his life easy and fulfilling. It’s in our human nature to always search for more, which is also a good habit as it has brought us this far, but at what cost? And even though it has made our lives better and easier, where do we stand? I am sure if we check the past records some of the sickness and diseases we hear nowadays were not even present in the early 60 or 70 years back. So the question arises, have we progressed or have we pushed the human race to a faster pitfall than it was actually anticipated?

Green forests are being cleared for human settlement, wildlife is being displaced, ozone layer is depleting, polar ice caps are melting, the ever increasing garbage and not to mention the toxic and chemical waste which are disposed off into the ground and into the rivers, which is the only source of fresh water. What does this indicate of our progress? On the one hand, we have climbed up, but we are looking down at the most hurtful fall.

So, are we humans, in the first place, even capable of achieving satisfaction in our lives, or is it in our nature to always desire for more and more? Is it a thought that is practical? I don’t mean to be so pessimistic and show the dark side of humanity or in an utterly doomed situation but this is the time we are living in.

The desire of comparison is very far-fetched than we usually assume. Comparing ourselves to others in the field of wealth, social status, and intellectual aspects keeps us either happy or depressed about our lives. We rarely tend to focus on our own unique individual talents and abilities. When we compare ourselves with others, our focus shifts away from the positive aspects of our own life, and we tend to become disheartened, thinking about what others have that we have not acquired yet or never will.

We are always curious to find out more about objects or experiences that are new and unfamiliar to us. Human ambition knows no bounds, as long as there is determination and life we tend to move on. We have, in many ways, conquered nature and made our lives more comfortable and possibly more pleasurable. But being ambitious makes us strive harder to improve ourselves and acquire better things. Because of having future ambitions, we are never content with our present achievements and fulfilled ambitions.

Anything that is new and unexplored is very interesting at first, be it a travel destination, new friends, new flavors of food, drinks or even gadgets. But eventually these things get monotonous and outdated with time and experience and soon boredom creeps in, and there we are all set in search for something new.

It is very rarely seen that a person is actually satisfied with his/her life and the way it has unfolded. The only one true satisfaction of how I see it would be in the arms of our loving parents of whom we can never be tired of and doing positive deeds to better help society and humanity. To be content or not, is entirely one’s own choice, whether we see the glass as half full or as half empty, what’s more important is to live every second of our lives in doing the meaningful things that actually matter, touching the many lives we may encounter with our good deeds, keeping the human touch alive in the human race.

The Ten Commandments in the BIBLE are all simple instructions to follow, but practically, we have broken every one of them directly or indirectly. Human beings are so very complex, with a mixed array of emotions, it becomes really difficult to differentiate from our needs and wants.

I think humans can never really be content. But we can be satisfied with ourselves if we can determine how much is enough to keep us happy.

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, Nungchim Christopher, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose 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...