Students of a Government Higher Secondary School in Kiphire town, Nagaland. (Morung Photo | For representational purpose only)
Dr Aniruddha Babar
Tetso College, Nagaland
“The so-called education that goes on in the world prepares you only to earn bread. And Jesus says, “Man cannot live by bread alone.” And that’s what your universities have been doing — they prepare you to earn bread in a better way, in an easier way, in a more comfortable way, with less effort, with less hardship. But all that they do is prepare you to earn your bread and butter. It is a very, very primitive kind of education: it does not prepare you for life.”
GOD has not only honored me with an opportunity to serve in Nagaland but also gifted me a huge number of friends of all ages and genders who became my guides, mentors and teachers throughout my adventurous life in Nagaland. It is a well acknowledged fact that most of the mainland Indians do not understand the soul of the Nagas, let alone the mysteries of Nagaland. There are a lot of misunderstandings, misconceptions, confusions exist about the Nagas and Nagaland due to lack of communication, preconceived notions and geographical distance. When I decided to settle here after accepting the ‘offer’ from Prof PS Lorin’s Tetso College I realized the huge weight of responsibility that I was to shoulder. It was never about becoming just a teacher of students, but was all about becoming their Companion, Friend, Brother, Mentor and Guru. I was to deal with those students who were from diverse and extremely complicated backgrounds. Even though I have always had powerful support from our society and leaders, especially my uncles, aunties, Bros and Sisters, I knew that the challenges and battles that I was going to face was to be a lonely struggle.
However, my students became my companions, my comrades and my soldiers. The responses that I received in my classes introduced me to ‘metal’ and ‘fire’ of my students. The decision to contribute something ‘constructive’ to the society was taken. I was made to realize that I was not surrounded by ordinary kids but men and women of substance who were determined to take initiatives to ‘construct’ the “New Nagaland'' with whatever little efforts they could make. In no time my existence at my workplace turned into a ‘progressive movement’ which started with a formation of ‘CRITICAL THEORISTS SOCIETY’ which was formed on 2nd October, 2018 in a running Car on “Dimapur- Kohima highway”. Mosa Sangtam, Putionen Jamir, Keneisediu Mezhu, Ghukha Chophy, Panglem Konyak, Vemudozo Tetseo, Kuku Yepthomi, Hipito Arkha Achumi, Holonto Zhimomi, Hika Yepthomi became the initiators of the great ‘Dream’ which later on carried forward by many more.
What did ‘Critical Theorists Society’ do? It produced thoughts, ideas, theories, views, opinions and fearlessly disseminated them primarily through “Degree of Thought Column”- an initiative of Morung Express-Tetso College collaboration, of which I was Co-Editor and continued to be one till August, 2022. Members of Critical Theorists Society produced a good amount of literature in the past four years in the public interest and also participated in debate competitions as well as national and international academic conferences while contributing their ‘research’ regularly to various newspapers in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur. The seeds that members of Critical Theorists Society sown in the ‘cultivated’ soil of Naga society and Tetso College will give fruits in future.
The work that “Critical Theorists Society” stubbornly started was further continued by Tetso Motorcycle Club and Tetso Mountaineering Club. Critical Theorists Society was a large group of silent, dedicated scholars whereas TMC 1 and TMC 2 is a large group of ‘action oriented’ individuals who believe in taking bold initiatives to give new dimensions to the conscience of modern day Naga society. Tetso Motorcycle Club (TMC 1) and Tetso Mountaineering Club (TMC 2) have been formed to help their members to connect with society and become an engine for its change and transformation that leads to active contribution to the Nation building process. TMC 1 and TMC 2, despite challenges, odds and critical barriers continued to serve the society by generating a positive force in the state of Nagaland to build the bridges of love, compassion, justice, unity and nationalism. “We climb mountains, swim the rivers and brave the dark jungles for the bright future of our people and our country, we are one nation, one people and we shall always remain one” Keakong T (Alex) former Commander-in-Chief of Tetso Mountaineering Club quotes with pride.
“We do not just ride, but we ride for a social cause and we look for opportunities to carry the message of hope, justice and unity, Tetso Motorcycle Club is not just any other regular Biker’s club, but a group of socially awakened students who are ever ready to serve anywhere in our country wherever and whenever we are required. Tetso Motorcycle Club is a social movement”. Benisha R Jishing (Former Vice President of Tetso Motorcycle Club) often expresses these sentiments through her writings and speeches about Tetso Motorcycle Club. TMC 1 has been heavily involved in social initiatives. Right from tackling COVID 19 to voicing for the rights of people, exploring new lands & cultures, connecting people-contributing to national integration and through which a nation building process- TMC 1 has always been at the service of the people, service of the nation. Tetso Motorcycle Club has also been felicitated by Assam Rifles, also appreciated by many other government agencies and civil society organizations.
TMC 1 and TMC 2-both the clubs have a close association with the Assam Rifles/Indian Army because of the common bonding of Adventure, sense of belongingness to the nation and common zeal & ‘Josh’ to serve India in whatever little capacity that the members of the club can. The Assam Rifles bestowed a great honour upon Tetso Motorcycle Club by permitting and granting an opportunity to receive and escort the Army Riders from Army Medical Corps who visited Nagaland-as a part of their Expedition, to their destination at the Army Base in Rangapahar, Dimapur. It was a lifetime moment to witness TMC (Tetso Motorcycle Club) and AMC (Army Medical Corps) riding together “Wheel-to-Wheel”-an ideal example of how civilians and the forces can join hands together to achieve common goals- the adventure, brotherhood, peace and glory. Moreover, a recently concluded Mt. Khelia Expedition wrote an altogether new chapter in the history of Nagaland. It happened for the first time in the history of Nagaland that a civilian Mountaineering Squad (Tetso Mountaineering Club) climbed a relatively unknown, dangerous mountain located deep in the jungles of Indo-Burma Border with Mountaineers of Assam Rifles.
What does it all indicate? The hundreds of students who contributed and continue to contribute to the Nagaland and the nation through Critical Theorists Society (CTS), Tetso Motorcycle Club (TMC 1) and Tetso Mountaineering Club (TMC 2) have derived an immense pride through their actions which have created a far fetching impact on Nagaland and the nation. These initiatives were not ordinary. Through thoughts and actions, my Naga students single handedly built bridges of humanity, truth and unbreakable unity-which founders of our great nation have envisaged.
My Riders and Mountaineers are the carriers and messengers of the pain and suffering of ‘invisible’ people living in remotest regions of Nagaland. They tell the stories of ‘those’ strange lands, mysterious mountains and Naga people of the East, who are ‘unknown’ not only to the people from mainland India but also ‘unknown’ to the Nagas of “mainland Nagaland”.
My Scholars, Riders and Mountaineers are carriers of message- a message of change, message of justice, they are carriers of “THE GOOD NEWS”- the news about a possibility of new world, a possibility of better Nagaland, a new Nagaland- where there will be no or lesser corruption, where there will be Rule of Law, where there will be no exploitation of poor-helpless Nagas by the rich, educated, resourceful Nagas, where there will be self-respect, where community will not imprison/control the ‘Independent, Free will’ of an individual, where justice-equality-liberty and fraternity will prevail, where schools and colleges will align their vision, mission and functioning approach with the needs of Naga students and society without getting influenced by profit motivated Western Business models or mainland Indian Business models in education sector.
Students of Nagaland want to write their own story. Let them write the way they want. They want to shout from the top of the Mountain that ‘WE TOO EXIST’- let them shout and let their ‘voice’ reach to the ear of each and every citizen of this country.
We need schools, colleges and teachers who are visionary and courageous enough to trust their own ‘students’. We need not make similar mistakes in the name of ‘education’ which have been made elsewhere in the world. In Tetso College, I think I was never a teacher, but I have always been a student and my students have been my ‘Teachers’ who unconditionally help me, support me, educate me, motivate me and transform me.
How many Teachers, Schools and Colleges/ educational institutions are willing to freely allow themselves to be changed, transformed by their students?
My own experience in Nagaland taught me that the Naga students’ needs help. They need help to be free from the prisons of their own world. Only a free, courageous man can construct a free, new world. Only free schools, free colleges and free teachers/educators can construct a free man of tomorrow.
Do you want a ‘New Nagaland’? Free Your ‘YOUTH’ First.