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Showing posts from 2010

'Development is the Best Contraceptive'

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If population is a bomb, Nagaland needs to be very afraid. Here’s why. Every year, a new Australia comes to India. The meaning is that the population of India grows so fast that the size of the total population of Australia is being added into India every year. By 2045, India will overtake China as the most populous country in the world. Now, Nagaland has the one of the highest fertility rates in India (only next to Bihar, UP, and Meghalaya) and this is a cause of serious concern. This fertility rate of 3.7 against the national rate of 2.7 is not from the last Census, but from a more reliable source, the latest round of the National Family Health Survey III (NFHS III), 2005-06. Worse is that the State’s rate has not declined since the previous round NFHS II (1998-99) while the national figure has.

Overpopulation is often linked with depletion of resources (food, ground water, etc), environmental degradation, unemployment, social unrest (e.g. youth bulge theory), illegal migration, com…

Someone's music, someone else's noise

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One purpose of folk songs that I was told by my Aunty goes like this; it is from a story. There was once a man who realized that he has not been good to his wife. But it’s not in our Naga nature to express apology or affection easily and openly. So, he composed a folk song which says, “One cannot change one’s ugly looks, but one can certainly change one’s bad character”, He changed and since then, he remained loving and caring to his wife. Folk songs are a medium of communicating things which cannot be expressed in normal conversations. My critic of the music remains (Ah, its repetitiveness) but I’m able to appreciate it better after hearing that story. There may be people who think that everyone likes Kenny Rogers (I know one such guy). If there's anyone who doesn't, he/she ought to love Rogers. When I was in Patkai, the vocational students used to organise Christmas concerts. But even if they sing difficult songs and classical music of the highest quality, very few would s…

Starting Out

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In writing, anything is possible. As a writer, you can finish off the hero in the middle of your story by throwing him into a cave of one and a half eyed monsters. You can create a fantasy world like Narnia, make people laugh and cry at the same time, or transform a society forever. My love for writing began when my dad asked us (me, my brother, and sister) to write an essay every day. Though I always have the passion, I had this fear, ‘what if I’m the only one who enjoys my writings?’ I had bad experiences when I was a co-editor of a newsletter of college students’ fellowship in Imphal. Thank God I did not stop. Writing also became an escapade and a compensation for not being able to speak well. In a NCF-Delhi camp, I shared my testimony starting with, “even as I am going to speak, I have written it down”. This is not the story of an accomplished writer but an amateur whose effort is starting to pay off; many thanks to the Eastern Mirror for this breakthrough. There seems…

The changing meaning of health

It is a good thing that Nagas are increasingly becoming aware of their health. Some of the people are very well informed, now that a lot of health information is just a click away and many newspapers reserve certain space everyday for health news and tips. Diagnostic and treatment facilities are getting more sophisticated each year. Disease patterns are also changing over the years. Tuberculosis is not the dreaded killer disease anymore, Small Pox is wiped out from the world and even Nagaland has achieved and maintained the elimination rate of Leprosy. These infectious diseases are giving way to non-communicable diseases like cardio-vascular diseases and cancers. With the antibiotics revolution, many of the infectious diseases have become treatable while non-communicable are on the rise, largely because of change of lifestyle, diet, and change in the physical and social environment. However, this disease changing trend is not clearly demarcated, not least in Nagaland. The world has vit…

A very Killing Killer Story

Today is the most boring day, so let me tell you a story which kills. I have not thought of it yet, but let me invent here and now. There was once a boy named AK47 who was super-multi-talented. He makes people doubt if God is indeed just. He does things with ease and speed. Teach him anything new and he will pick it up and beat you in your own game. He disappoints students, sportspersons and musicians who labour hard to make it because all these skills come naturally to him. So, friends who were jealous of his talents kidnapped him one day and ripped off his intestines. No, no; that is not how the story goes. No wonder his friends were jealous of his giftedness (something like Salieri and Mozart in the movie Amadeus) but they did not kill him. Let’s let him kill himself. Let’s say, like all people, AK47 has his weakness. His Achilles Heel was the result of his being gifted: He became proud and lazy. Booh! Boring story. Now we know where the story is heading; the plot is predictable. H…

A Very Crazy Nutcase Story

There was a mad person who was very wise in his own eyes. People simply tolerate him out of pity while he lectures about anything and everything. He carries a briefcase as he roam in the village acting like an educated person carrying some important papers. He talks about all the VIPs he brushed shoulders with and the degrees that he received in the college while he was in Kohima. He said he has the certificates in his briefcase. People did not bother to check what he was carrying; in fact they knew he has never been out of the village.

This went on until the man started to terrorize the kids in the village primary school with his wisdom. It got worse when he demanded to preach in the church on Sunday mornings thereby, disrupting the worship services. The villagers have had enough; so, they had a meeting and decided to stop him from giving unsolicited lectures. But how? One Gaon Bura (GB) proposed that the man be locked up. However, since the man has no family, who will feed him? Besi…

Saramati Apple Festival

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The first Saramati Apple Festival was held at Thanamir Village on September 29 with Dr N. Benjong Aier, Mission Director (TM-NE), Directorate of Horticulture, as the chief guest.

The Festival was organised by the Department of Horticulture in collaboration with the Nagaland Missions Movement (NMM) and Thanamir Village Council.
In his speech, the chief guest pointed out that the apples in Thanamir Village came as a gift of God, a gift that grew out of friendship between an Army personnel and J Yungbokhiung of Thanamir Village. He has urged for a partnership among the villagers, the NMM and the Horticulture Department to develop apple cultivation so that the present state of apples being used for personal consumption could be turned into a rich source of income for the villagers. The Department has already provided few thousand apple plants last year brought from Himachal Pradesh which are also doing very well. He emphasized on following the specifications as given by the Department ba…

Should we tell Nagas to stop eating smoked meat?

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Nagaland has the highest incidence rate of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) in India. Though mouth cancers are common in India, NPC is rare except among the specific ethnic groups like the Nagas. The incidence rate of 4.3 per 1, 00,000 population in Nagaland falls under the intermediate category while the highest incidence rates are found in southern China (10-20 in males and 5-10 in females). In most parts of the world, the incidence is less than 1 per 1, 00,000 population. Though this is a serious health concern for the Nagas, it doesn’t get sufficient attention in the national scene, similar to its political struggle. There has been a lot of research done in China and South East Asia but Nagaland gets mentioned only on a passing note. As far as I know, apart from hospital statistics, there are only two researches done in Nagaland (One by P.K Chelleng et al, titled 'Risk factors for cancer Nasopharynx: A case-control study from Nagaland, India'; published in National Medical J…

Price to pay

Some people who are concerned for me think that I run after trouble. One fine very early morning, I was going for a walk around Bayavii hill in Kohima. I saw nice cars parked outside the homes of the residents. This thought came to me as I admired a fine one, ‘who wouldn’t want to have this car? Yet, I’m running away from it!’ It was in early June 2010 when there was much pressure on me and frustration in the family because of my decision to go to a remote area to work. It was not that I didn’t know what I’d be missing. It was not that I didn’t count the cost. I’m aware of the money I can earn as a Public Health personnel in some other places. I’m aware that I blew up a golden opportunity by brushing aside the good political connections. People envied my chances. I don’t need to be reminded that my marriage prospects are not as good after my decision. I knew my family needed me to be near after being away for so long. Just to clear the air that I’m not reckless and running after troub…

Clicking pictures with dirty children

Among others, Some celebrities and church groups go to ‘backward’ areas and click pictures with dirty children. They go there as ambassadors of some relief program or on a short mission exposure. Moved by the situation there, they come back, challenged, and I suspect, feeling good about themselves, pleased with what they have done. Those pictures become prized possessions to show off to friends, used in sermons/lectures or uploaded in facebook. I admit I also enjoy such experiences, when I come back exhausted but feeling proud of what I have done. But I don’t feel good to have such photo sessions and I’m here to tell why.
I chose to work in a less privileged area where people are poor and help seem far away. This decision brought me ridicule and honour, some call me a ‘fool’ some a ‘hero’. Every day, I have the privilege to come across poor people; not only in their poverty, but also in their time of sickness. As I take their hands and examine their palms, I get a glimpse of the lives…

Saramati Apple pics from Thanamir village

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The Story of ‘Saramati Apple, Thanamir village’

Some people have probably tried sowing the seeds of Kashmir apples bought from the market, but it is a fact that they usually do not germinate. However, to the disbelief of experts, that is how the story of the now famous ‘Saramati Apple, Thanamir Village’ began. It was during the years of armed conflict and some Indian soldiers were killed by the Naga army. In response, curfew was imposed and a check post was also set up at Thanamir village. J. Yungbokhiung, a Village Guard and Village Council member befriended a Nepali Naik of the Assam Rifles posted at the check gate. He requested the Naik for apples that the army get from supplies dropped through parachutes. In 1981 the Naik gifted him a Kashmir apple with the instructions to carefully plant it, to keep animals away from it; and an assurance that it will one day be a source of blessing to many. Out of three seeds that he planted, one germinated which grew to become the sweetest and the juiciest apples in Nagaland and arguably at …

Census and spirituality

Be it Census, Electoral roll, or date of birth certificate; Christians are called to be truthful. Many appeals have been made to give the right figures for the census, some pointing out that it wouldn’t affect the development funds. But Christians are supposed to be committed to the truth even when others aren’t. Even when the other tribe/community/family/individual benefits more than us by stating what is not true, it is the call of Christians to be committed to the truth. A wrong, just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right. Census exercise is therefore in a sense, a test of our faith. Do we cry, ‘Lord’, ‘Lord’ on Sunday mornings but do not obey him, or will we try to please him in all that we do? What will it show as a Christian witness to the rest of the country and the world that a State which has over 90% of population as Christians has the most inflated census in the country?

Observe, Read, Think, Live

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Observe:‘Look at the birds of the air’, ‘look at the lilies of the field’; the Bible exhorts. It pays to be observant, and it is exciting too. Just a scoop of earth on careful observation shows that there is a world in that small mass. Watching a plant grow is medicinal as we marvel at how a simple seed falling and dying germinates and grows into a giant tree. The observant photographer captures frames that we might have simply ignored and convert them into sights of great delight. A researcher carefully observes phenomena and makes connections where we saw none. Read: There are books that I have literally kissed after having read them. There are so few things that can be more enriching to the mind and soul than a good book. It is not enough to intellectually survive by feeding on newspapers and text books in the syllabus. Students need to read other good books. Book selection is very important. Some books are to be read simply to be critiqued, some to be digested and meditated upon. …

Sharing at youth service, 29th May, 2010

It’s always a relief to hear the speaker say in the beginning, “I’m not going to speak for long”. I proclaim that good news to you as I begin to speak. But in this short sharing, I want you to pay careful attention because in simple sentences, there are deeper messages embedded that I’ll be trying to get across to you. For the sake of brevity, the points are almost given in bullets and elaboration is needed. Therefore this hand out is prepared for further reflection and fleshing out of the points. It’s good to be with you. I’m thankful to be back for good after more than a decade of stay outside. I’m thankful to God for he has been with me throughout my journey of life-from Patkai, to Imphal, to Delhi, and now here back in our hometown. As we look at Nagaland today, or our town Pfutsero; we see that there are many believing Christians, but so few practising Christians. God is often on our lips, but we struggle to find any Christ-like character. We pray, ‘Lord, Lord’ but do not obey …

The Good Meitei*

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A man from Kohima was travelling down to Dimapur to attend to some business affairs. It was soon getting dark when he was stopped by highway robbers near the Patkai Bridge. They seized his Maruti Alto, took all that he had, beat him and left him half dead by the road. At that time, a pastor was coming back from a Bible camp held at Dimapur. He praised God for the many souls saved, but exhausted after the 4 days of tight speaking engagement, he was more than happy to be travelling back home in Kohima for a well deserved rest. His wife and children will be eagerly waiting with warm water to bathe, and a hearty dinner prepared for him. He saw the man lying by the road side as he looked out of his white Bolero and felt sorry for the poor guy. He thought, “Shouldn’t I stop and take care of him? I need to. But if I do, I have to turn back and take him to a hospital in Dimapur. Since there’s no one with him and if he or his relatives cannot be identified, it will be my responsibility to ca…

Something good out of April Fool

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The earliest record of April 1 as "April Fools' Day" or "All Fools' Day" goes back to the Canterbury Tales in 1392 although there are different stories as to it's origin. Interestingly there is a view that links it to the Bible. The first day of the Hebrew month corresponds with April; the day Noah sent out his dove too early before the waters receded. April fool can be fun or nasty and disastrous as you read the stories here. But why I say it can be good is because of this: It reminds us by showing us how important trust for one another is. In subtle human interactions of everyday lives, we depend so much on trust. It is not only in occasions of 'under oath' in a court, but we expect people to speak the truth and be sure to a large degree that they are not fooling us. When I was new in Delhi, I ask for directions from strangers. And I expect them to point me in the right direction if they know. When they don't (sometimes they simply give…

Is biblical justice leftist?

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On the one hand, we are Bible believing Christians. On the other hand, we work for justice. But we don’t seem to have a good biblical basis for justice. Our concept of justice in JNU campus is influenced by the leftist political parties which see justice in the light of power struggle. We have the oppressed and the oppressor, and structures that are oppressive. So, when we work for justice, we argue for the underprivileged and dismantling the unjust structures. As Christians, to this we simply add compassion for the poor/underprivileged and other Christian virtues. However, the biblical basis of justice and the call of the Christian to work for justice do not primarily stem from a noble concern for the poor and the oppressed; but first of all, because we believe in a God who is just. A God who is just and merciful. A God who has mercy on us though his justice deserved us to be punished. A God who not only is just and merciful, but a God who loves us and redeems us back by paying the …

Miroslav Volf: Exclusion and Embrace

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Miroslav Volf laments about his country “Did I not discover in oppressed Croatia’s face some despised Serbian features? Might not the enemy have captured some of Croatia’s soul along with a good deal of Croatia’s soil?” in his book, ‘Exclusion and Embrace’. Here’s another quote: "Cultural identity insinuates itself with religious force; Christian and cultural commitments merge. Such sacralisation of cultural identity is invaluable for the act of piety. Blind to the betrayal of Christian faith that both sacralisation of cultural identity and the atrocities it legitimizes represents, the “holy” murderers can even see themselves as the Christian faith’s valiant defenders". But the best I’ve come across so far is (I’m yet to finish the book, but can’t wait to put this up): "It is a mistake, I believe, to complain too much about Christianity being “alien” in a given culture...There are, of course, wrong ways to being a stranger, such as when an alien culture (say one of the we…

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Before going polemical, we need to check the ground beneath our feet and watch our vocabulary

Crippled Masters

12th in the 50 worst movies ever...But it sure is very funny

Cock fight

JNU Spring Pictures

Guitar piece (finger practice actually)

Three things Delhi can learn from me

There are three simple things that Delhi can learn from me: I do not throw paper cups anywhere. If there is no dustbin nearby, I put them in my bag and properly dispose them laterIf I meet friends in a busy place, I do not stand in the middle and talk, blocking the whole traffic/footpath/corridor etc. I have 'sorry' and 'thank you' in my vocabulary.No offence meant

Denis Alexander

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A strand of hair fallen on his shoulder caught my attention as he sat in front of my row. The person I’m referring to is none other than ‘the’ Dr. Denis Alexander, director of Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Cambridge. That was when this silly thought came to me. I imagined myself picking up the hair and putting it in a poly bag like a forensic expert taking specimen. However, not to do any test with it, but like a cricket fan who just had an autograph of Sachin Tendulkar, to put it in a frame and show it off to friends and generations to come. It will be a proof that I met Denis Alexander and sat for his lecture. But that would be a silly thing to do. (Sweet nothing from the recently concluded short course on Science and Christian Faith. For downloading mp3 lectures, videos, photos etc, go to breaking barriers website.

Pic tales2

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Traditional footpath Rabbits. The mother plucks its own fur to warm the newborn. The mother would abandon her babies if fur from another mother is put here Christmas meat: After it was believed that smoked meat causes throat cancer, smoking of meat over the fireplace is very much reduced. Instead, people dry meat in the sun as this Mesulumi Youth Society Lock up :-) Each plank with the bull horns are carved out from the same tree

Pic tales1

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Traditional water pond, now converted into a modern one under NREGA. The old one was said to be spooky, and where during Siikriinyi, the men folk go early in the morning for ceremonial bath Local tea: Grinding of leaves in progress. After this, it is dried in the sun. Good that we are becoming self reliant in this, but it still doesn’t taste as good as Assam tea Thin snow over our house. Vepiilii commented, “Who dropped salt bags up there?” You have to know vepiilii to get the real punch of the joke The oldest TV set in our village, still in working condition The Pumpkins are a blessing from a misfortune. Some miscreants burnt up a huge pile of wood that mom and dad collected at Dachokiilii. The ashes were used to grow pumpkins which became so good, they were distributed to Kohima and Pfutsero here as you can see