Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Thoughts On ‘Solution before Election’ - David Hanneng, Assistant Professor, History Department.

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The call for ‘Solution before Election’ seems to be the most catchy slogan of the day, but what if India goes ahead with the call. Can the cost of confrontation outweigh a more peaceful and patient approach? David Hanneng, Assistant Professor, History Department expresses his personal view on the current situation.

Thoughts On ‘Solution before Election’

The Nagas today have a funny way of being united for everything, be it against 33% reservation, against corruption, or against the government (read ACAUT rally). But soon, in a similar rally that was held by the ruling party, the Naga People’s Front, in Dimapur, thousands thronged again. We seem to be at a loss as to what we are really standing for!

Now, when the call for ‘solution before election’ is ringing again, we see almost all the civil societies and underground groups coming together. Has “the call for unity” become the fanciest thing in Nagaland to assert our ‘Naganess’? And for what!
To go more deeply into the issue, we stand at a crossroad for which we need a more matured understanding of the situation. To call for ‘Solution before Election’ seems quite appealing but let us look at the issue more closely. Firstly, if the Government of India (GOI) is sincere enough with its intentions and declares ‘the Solution’ before election, will all the civil societies accept it suo motto? Do the NNPGs already know the contents for which they are so eager for solution?

Secondly, if the GOI by heeding to the demands of the Nagas, and out of compulsion, give us a piecemeal solution, will we be ready to accept it (haven’t we had a similar situation in 1963 and 1975?) The Naga demand is unique in ways incomparable to other ethnic groups, and since it involves cross border issues, it makes it all the more complicated. Moreover, the NSCN-IM as well as the NNPGs has promised too much and when it’s time to deliver, the reality becomes different, and what India is willing to concede is diametrically contradicting. When Neiphiu Rio, the former Chief Minister of Nagaland, decided to contest Lok Sabha election, there were simmering hopes that he would ultimately deliver the Naga Deal. But let us remember that the RSS, which can be considered as the parent body of the BJP, is principally opposed to even the special privileges which Kashmir enjoys under Article 370. However, since the GOI of India has recognized Nagas’ ‘Unique History’, they might consider our situation. But can it be done through black mail?

Thirdly, boycotting a democratic country’s Assembly Election is a direct challenge to the Constitution and Sovereignty of a country. Our fore fathers might have opposed the early general elections in the 1950s, but today, India has changed and so has the Nagas. What if the government decides to go ahead with the election tooth and nail, how would we respond? If we respond by confrontation, do we expect India to watch silently? The heart of the matter is that if things turn violent, it can even impact the peace talk and delay it further which can be counterproductive and a monumental loss for the Nagas.  Let us not repeat the mistake that our fore fathers did when they showed their torso to Indian Prime Minister Nehru and U Nu, the Burmese premier, in Kohima. Hope Prime Minister Modi does not take things personally! Since we have already waited for 20 long years, why not wait a little longer for the process to take its due course.  India will have to give solution, and the world is watching. But will we be the one to derail it?

There is so much more to do before a Naga deal is signed.  As a people group, there are just too many internal rumblings within the Naga tribes itself, and if we are not even half-prepared to receive the deal, there might be greater bloodshed than we have witnessed hitherto. Besides, if the Naga deal is imposed by certain Naga political group, there would again be an equally strong reaction. Thus, at least some important contents have to be divulged and discussed. Moreover, setting the entire North-East India on fire because of the Naga deal would be too selfish an act.

Fourthly, what if there is no election? Will the present government continue and are the civil societies happy with it? Interestingly, the same civil societies which were against the misgovernance of the present government are now fighting indirectly for the continuance of their rule. Promulgating President's Rule in our state might have been a good short-term solution, but who will bell the cat? The youths which are fed up of the present dispensation are craving for winds of change but anyway, who is even bothered about the interest of youths in our society! The educated youths ourselves are mute spectators.

Lastly, what about the NSCN-K? This might be the most uncomfortable question for the Naga Political groups as well as Civil societies. But to not have them onboard would also mean that this Accord would not be the final Accord because once the present Accord is signed without them, the ‘underground’ gap in Nagaland would be filled by them and there would be ready youths available to join them for whatever reason. Besides, they would emotionally exploit some oldies’ dream for Sovereign Nagaland (which NSCN-IM and NNPGs have failed them, though NSC-K’s intention is also doubtful), and with them sitting strategically in Burma, arms supply should not be an issue. Thus, though the wait is painful, for the sake of our peaceful future, we just can’t ignore them.

Thus, there seems to be a need to set certain things right before we can welcome the solution. Confrontational attitude and chest thumping might seem ‘manly’ but our little steps of miscalculation in this big Indian chessboard might ruin an opportune moment of peace. Whether the government is really serious about Naga Solution is difficult to say but let us at least not be the one to spoil it.

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, Tatongkala Pongen, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email:

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Only One Life to Live - Namsurei Thomas Kamei, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Economics

How do you want to be remembered? Every day we makes memories, we leave behind a history of ourselves. What we make of our self today will tell a story about us after we are long gone. 

Only One Life to Live

History is replete with many great people ranging from various walks of life. They can be sportspersons, singers, soldiers, historians, scientists, statesmen, politicians, actors, humanitarians, doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs and from many other fields of life. Some of them are remembered for their spectacular successes, some for their unprecedented attempts and some, even for their monumental blunder. What is common in all of them is the fact that; they leave behind their history which is uncommon, and which is remembered for a long time; if not forever. Common people leave behind history too. The only difference is that their memories are not remembered by many and definitely not for a long time. Great people lived their lives while common people merely existed. Those who want great things in life must have fun while trying to achieve what they desire. 

According to an author, “Here’s what too many in society do: Get up in the morning; Work, thinking inside the lines the entire day; Come home; Watch TV and sleep. It is an altogether unremarkable existence. And, those people probably produce ultimately unremarkable results and lead average lives. Their memories are likely to be remembered for a short period of time. If you wake up in the morning and aren’t inspired every day to throw yourself to your work and life with 100% passion, you’re not living your life fully but  merely existing along. Perhaps they’re in the wrong field or have lost that creative spark.”

In many cases, inspiration may not come easily. Perhaps, we can start by thinking about the kind of memories we want to leave behind.

Different people have different aspirations. Those people who are likely to succeed are mostly the ones who live their lives with zeal. And these types of people have certain  common characteristics. Though it is not possible to make a complete list of all the characteristics, but by studying the life of well-known people; past and present, observing people in our daily life and learning about people in our own society, a comprehensive list of things that these people follow are given below.

Desire to achieve in life: No doubt people have wants in their lives and they go the extra mile to get it. Sometimes they can be obsessive about what they want. It is fine to be obsessive about what one wants because there is only a thin line between a genius and a lunatic. Moreover, you find means to get what you want no matter what.

Thinking minds: People who are inquisitive are likely to have a fuller life. Their minds are always at work making their  minds more sharp . Such people  are likely to achieve more than an average mind.

Connecting  with people: Engaging with people who you admire or respect or look up to will fine-tune you to be the person you want to be. However, being in the midst of people who give you false praises will distort you. With personality distortion, you will never be what you really want to become in life.

Competitive and ambitious:  The moment your ambition and competitive spirit are gone, you are likely to be where you are and achieve mediocre results. Being competitive with oneself and with others gives an opportunity to step up to the occasion. People who are likely to live fuller lives, find opportunities to refine themselves and are always competitive and ambitious.

Completing things: People set goals but only a few achieve them. One of the characteristics of successful people is they finish the things they started. It can be as simple as a word puzzle or reading a simple book. They will find ways to finish it.

Never stop learning: It is said that knowledge is endless. No one can acquire all the knowledge. At best, to live a fuller life, we can never stop learning. Changes take place constantly and it is probably impossible to keep track of all of them, but always trying to keep up with change  gives us the confidence to live and not merely exist.

Building trust: Relationships are built on trust. People, who have the trust of others, be it their bosses, their friends, colleagues or any acquaintance have more chances of succeeding and moving ahead in their life. However, building up trust can take time. Some say that it is an art. And, those who know this art are likely to live a fuller life.

It should be noted that people with the above-listed characteristics will not, all the time have a meaningful life and leave behind memories which will be remembered for a long time to come. It will not be possible for a single person to possess all the characteristics. However, the more the characteristics, a person has; the more likely he/she will live an impactful life. Recently, I lost a close relative. How he lived his short life (35 years) was known only by the number of attendees at his funeral. In my opinion, he possessed at least 4-5 characteristics mentioned above. He was passionate, eager to learn, mingled with people he wanted to be, never procrastinated and was always obsessive of what he wanted in life. This had me thinking; he left so many fond memories not only for the family but also for many others he came across in life. He lived his life.

We have only one life to live. So, let us  not waste our time but live our life in a way to leave fond memories behind.

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, Tatongkala Pongen, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email:

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Not Afraid To Learn - Amar Ranjan Dey, Assistant Professor, Department of Commerce

We usually associate learning with educational establishments and consider a person educated, if he or she has gone through the schooling system, completed college and graduated from a university. That is supposed to mark the end of learning. But in reality, learning is a lifelong process and acquiring a degree is only a small part of it. To be successful one has to keep learning and progressing at every stage of life. With the right attitude this is possible. 

 Not Afraid To Learn

In life everyone learns through experience. The more we experience in life, the more we learn and accumulate. Here, I would like to share an experience, which helped me realize that if we remain scared to explore and learn new things, it will only lead to further ignorance. A year ago, I went to Nepal with my family to spend our  winter vacation. During our stay there, I was expecting an important email but because of the change in my location I faced some difficulties in opening my gmail.  It was unfortunate again that I forgot my password and I kept entering the wrong password. After trying frantically for few times, I decided to change my password but it did not work either; since the code to change the password was sent to the number which I use in India and hence I had no access to it since I was using a different SIM in Nepal.   Sadly, I had to wait till I returned  to India to change the password.

All this time  I was unaware that there are ways to recover our Gmail account by filling up a form online. All we have to do is follow the link and answer some questions that Google will throw at us. By the way, it is always a good idea to review what information we have inserted in our Google security settings.

I had to learn about this from a friend of mine who is 15 years younger than me. And the moment I learned about this, it didn’t seem so difficult. Most of us are scared of diving into the unknown, of uncertainty, of unfamiliarity, of not knowing what’s going to happen. We are scared that things could go wrong, that things will be uncomfortable, and that things might not go as expected. The day I experienced about Gmail I realized one thing, that it was rightly said by someone that learning is a continuous process and a true learner will always look for avenues to learn from anybody and everybody. There is no bar on a learner’s age or for that matter the age of the teacher. Even a young child can teach us something which we may have not learnt till now. Similarly, an old man or a poor man can teach us something very important in life.

We often come across people and hear them say; “I’m too old to learn” Should we believe in such sayings? I hope not.

No matter what our age is, we can always start learning something. Teachers who adopt a lifelong learning mindset have access to information, and use it to collaborate with others. Learning teachers also view mistakes and challenges as part of the learning process rather than as failures. By embracing a student-like mindset and learning to turn self-education into a daily habit, we can sharpen our current skills and develop new ones while enriching our mind. Then, when the time to adapt arrives, transitions are less bumpy. And nowadays we have access to so much information through our computers that it is really easy to learn new stuff. So, age is no bar if one wants to learn. One learns about things through experience. People learn from their success, failure, achievement and disappointment in life. Learning is possible at every stage of life.

Again, hesitation is also one of the massive barriers in our life to progress and hold us back to know the unknowns. Unfortunately, it can also hold us back. If we are stuck in our life, we probably need to realize that we need to stop hesitating and start acting. We need to let go of our perfectionism and set goals for our self and then only we can see change in our life. If our goals are vague, we are less likely to get things done. However, if our goals are specific and measurable, we are more likely to achieve it. So, we should remember that hesitation does not mean doing something, which has consequences of its own. We all hit moments in life when we feel helpless. The test is how we react to that feeling. We can either learn from it and move forward or let it drag us down. 

People with open mind set and positive attitude pursue their passions relentlessly. There is always going to be someone who is more naturally talented than us, but what we lack in talent can be made up through our passion.
I would like to conclude by saying that regardless of our age, there is always room to expand our minds and explore the unknowns, follow our dreams keeping in mind that nothing is impossible.

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:


Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Reckoning of ‘Naga’ Day- Phajathung Ovung, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Today, 10th January 2018, Nagaland observes Naga Day in a courageous call out for renewed hope and reconciliation for the Naga people. A day that will be recorded in our Naga history, we take a painful look at, what in the views of some, our society has become or is gradually turning into - A society where social mobility no longer exists because the right to equality of opportunity and the right to live a dignified life have been curtailed by the already privileged class is no longer a healthy society. That society reflects a caste structure, and such a society in Nagaland is doomed for decay.

 The Reckoning of ‘Naga’ Day

The present Naga society is in a tectonic transition. Stark inequality of class division intensified with nepotism cannot co-exist with the idea of a free society and democracy. A social environment where everyone can thrive based on their labour, where there is freedom of opportunity and the right to live a dignified life can be brought about only if the society is built on the principle of justice and equality. The present Naga society however reflects these principles poorly.

Hoarding of wealth by the elites and leaders of the society has created a Brahmin like caste in the state where social mobility is literally impossible for a certain section of people in the society. The evergreen Naga saying, ”study hard if you want to make it big in life”, no longer includes people coming from the rural and sub-urban areas as education in the government institutions are in a sorry state of affairs, while the good institutions are too costly for everyone to afford. It looks like right to (proper) education is a privilege and not a claim anymore, reserved only for the well off sections in the society. The spillover of this privilege extends far beyond even to job opportunities.  From reservation to backdoor appointment, opportunities are reaped by the Naga Brahmins. It is also a harsh reality that the reservation system for the backward tribe has benefited only the creamy layer of the said tribes, simply flushing the goal of affirmative action and social justice into the toilet. And if that is not enough, backdoor appointments are also hijacked and bought in wholesale by our Brahmins for their sons and daughters (job security.... they say) until they clear the NPSC or start their own parents financed hi-fi imported business. No wonder we have a lot of government teachers and LDAs who move around in their own SUVs with private drivers. Justice and equality of opportunity in Nagaland has become like our tribal church announcement, “I would like to apologise if there is any non Lotha speaking friends, as we will be conducting the rest of our service in our own dialect”; an acknowledgement with an indifferent ease. The bottom line is, if you want to become, you have to belong.

While the whole society today talks about employment in the private sector, the harsh reality is, very few private firms are paying their employees enough to support a family. The rest of them either underpay their employees or exploit their labour to the fullest, and if that is not enough, some hospitals and educational institutions even cease the documents of their employees to prevent them from unceremoniously leaving their employer. It is slavery wearing the mask of employment. The idea here is not the abolition of private sector but unregulated minimum wage giving birth to a huge inequality in income artificially inflated because of greed and status quo. The impact of such denial and discrimination is not one generational, but inter-generational disability. In such a scenario, the sons and daughters of the low earning parents who cannot afford to send them to good educational institutions because the private institutions are too costly to afford, and the affordable government ones are rotting, will become the servants and employees of the privileged outside the state educated children of the emerging upper cast.

A cancer that is already growing in our society are the egoistic, pseudo guardian tribal bodies and clan organizations who would walk the extra miles of summoning and excommunicating anyone that challenges its status quo. The irony here is most of these bodies are controlled by the existing and retired bureaucrats and politicians sitting in their once upon a time government reserved land turned Beverly Hills like mansion, trying to shape the destiny of their community and tribe according to their own convenience. But what is even more dangerous is the forceful suppression of ideas, opinions and the right to dissent. Liberty has no meaning unless it means the liberty to go against the opinion of those in power and against an already established and accepted idea.

It is the right to conscience that gives meaning to civil and political rights and thus economic rights. In fact, the only real property that a person possesses is his right to exclusive control of his ideas and beliefs, and when this right is taken away, the human is stripped out of the being. In such a state the person is easily manipulated, controlled and used as a commodity. Such is the plight in our society today, which is further intensified by economic dependency on the elites by the poorer unfortunate sections. The unfortunate, whose decisions are dictated by the elites, can be seen during all elections (both general and village council); a mockery to democracy and a convenient dismissal to the idea of a clean election campaign. When basic rights such as this are robbed by the people in power, how do you expect the right to opportunity and right to live a dignified life from the same people?

“Revolution” is what is needed. Revolution not to overthrow the government or abolish the private sector as both are essential and imperative for the growth and prosperity of the state, but a revolution that strengthens the idea of a true social welfare state to protect and empower its citizens and a revolution challenging the existing status quo where few are thriving by enslaving the many. The problem however is not the lack of thoughts and ideas but courage.

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:

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Celebrating Hornbill Festival in 2018 - Meliwe Elah, Assistant Professor, Department of English

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“It is not that I am against the celebration [of Hornbill Festival], but a lot has to be done to make our state presentable to the world beyond.” Thoughts from Meliwe Elah, as we welcome the New Year, with a head-start towards getting our priorities right. Let’s now focus on the importance of hard work and true merit, in order to have a valid reason to celebrate by the time December 2018 arrives again. 

Celebrating Hornbill Festival in 2018

If we are to compare Nagaland’s level of development in various areas with the advanced world or even states in India, we are far behind. The undeniable truth is that, though we do not make an effort to work hard like others, it often appears more like we know exactly how to party hard like them. We do not have the knowledge and standard of civilization as theirs, yet, we know how to imitate their lifestyle perfectly well. We lazily toss aside the struggling process and jump straight to extravagant celebration and party.

Tracing back the observance of festivals of our ancestors, they celebrate after their year-long labour and toil. They take the time out to rest, to enjoy, celebrate, feast, and make merry after a bountiful harvest. They truly deserve a treat for their sincere and honest hard work. Now let’s shift focus to our dear ‘Hornbill Festival’. In examining the Hornbill Festival, I am not reading it from an economist point of view, but rather the social and cultural aspect of its celebration. Does still the Hornbill Festival hold the same value and meaning as the olden days? Have we completed our annual assignment to merit the time taken to rest and celebrate? Or do we just apply temporary makeup over our incomplete task at the last minute and rush to celebrate?

The wave of “festival of festivals” came like a hurricane in December 2017 and  successfully concluded yet again. It’s amazing how enthusiastically people gear themselves up each year to participate or to celebrate this festival. Over the years, its exoticness has captured the international audience, consequently opening many opportunities and boosting our economic prospects. Many foreigners come to know about Nagaland through this festival. They arrive with great curiosity and excitement to explore, learn, or simply enjoy.

This festival is tied to our history and identity. After the arrival of Christianity and British invasion, things have changed rapidly. Many old beliefs and practices were discarded as we embraced the western religion and education. As a result, the present generation is far removed from the original identity and heritage. Hence, the Hornbill festival serves as a gateway to let the young generation have a glimpse of our ancestors' way of life and history and also acts as a significant string which keeps us attached to our true identity with all its splendid culture and traditions,  thereby keeping us grounded to our origin.

The ultimate purpose of Hornbill Festival is to preserve, revive and promote our rich cultural heritage and traditional values. This festival has also provided a platform to the various local artisans, craftsman, artists and talented individuals to promote their creative works and talents and enabling them to lay down a solid foundation on their establishments and entrepreneurial undertakings.

However, besides, the entire positive outcome, there is clearly a flip side to this festival. The image of our culture that we reflect isn’t authentic. There is a huge influence of so-called 'modern culture'. Certainly, we need to compromise, adapt, and make some adjustments to make the tourists and visitors inclusive. But, in my opinion, we tend to go overboard and sometimes misuse this festival.

If we are to stick to the true sense of festival, aren’t we celebrating before the harvest? There are exceptionally few individuals amongst our society who are working hard to make a positive change. But in general, what fruit, what grain, what achievement have we yielded that we rest to celebrate at this point in time? Isn’t it a premature celebration?

What we have harvested so far are corruption, division and chaos. Be it development or civilization, we are sinking. From students to officers, many are yet to be called truly educated and civilized citizens. Our social, political, and economic sphere is hitting its rock bottom.. Perhaps this festival serves as an anaesthesia to escape from harsh reality to whimsical dreaming, to switch to the ‘laughter and fun’ button from ‘tears and disappointment’ mode of our present state.

On the other hand, if this festival is to promote our culture, are we doing justice to it? There are many outsiders who came, saw, and perceived how or what Naga culture is through this festival alone. Do we send them off with a genuine culture of the past? Or does it end with just our traditional attire, ethnic food and drinks, art and crafts, and a confusing mixed culture?

It is not that I am against the celebration, but a lot has to be done to make our state presentable to the world beyond. Certainly, the tourists will form an impression of our state from the few days events at Kisama, but they will also be wondering how the colourful Nagas are tolerating the dusty-muddy-bumpy ride of the roads.  

Each year huge amounts of money and resources are spent for hosting this phenomenal ten days Festival. Kisama looks magnificent and beautiful. What if we give the same importance and invest in various areas for proper development of our state, the urgency of which is greater.  If we are to hold on to our true culture, why don’t we first do our duty and then celebrate with immense satisfaction? Our ancestors stick to the adage of 'work and eat', they celebrate only after the harvest. Likewise, have we gathered enough harvest to celebrate? Looking at the present scenarios of our state, the priorities have to be set right. Why don’t we first achieve something that’s worthy and deserving of a true celebration at this years’ Hornbill Festival 2018?!

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:

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...