COPYCATS OF THE WEST? -Sentimenla Ozukum | Assistant Professor, Department of History

Tourists observing a traditional Naga Dance during the
Hornbill Festival of Nagaland

Nagaland has one of the highest literacy rates at 80.11% in the country and higher than the national average of 70.04% according to the Census of India 2011. We are literate, but are we educated? Our globalized world is bringing fashion, music and even culture into our villages and towns along with their positive and negative influences. While we promote Nagaland as a tourist destination and invite tourists to come and view our rich culture, are we slowly losing it as well? Today’s writer expresses her views on the nature of westernisation she sees in our society.


The Young Generation Nagas today live in a modern age, and are better educated, more sophisticated, up to date with the latest technology, and trendy too, which is a far cry from our counterparts a few decades ago.  Looking back at the bygone past, we really have come a long way but there is a big question mark to ponder upon. “Are we truly modernised or mimicking a westernised modernity?”
We may have accomplished, learnt and achieved so much. Yet what have we really accomplished so far? We are open to learning and receptive to new ideas, but most of us still have a long way to go. A common issue in our society today is our craze for western culture. A positive natural human trait is our wish to always become better, but so far, I think we have mostly assimilated the negative aspect. 
Someone has rightly said that the Nagas, especially the young Naga generation, have jumped from the Ancient Age directly to the Modern Age without passing through the intervening millennium of the Medieval Age. Because of which the Naga youth are lost and facing a lot of problems, without proper knowledge and guidance. Without knowing exactly what we are doing, we have adopted the western lifestyle very quickly, leading to disparity in mindset, outrageous lifestyles and unhealthy imitation.
In the long run, this may have severe negative impacts on our own community and most importantly our social life, if it is not carefully understood. The younger generation has been greatly influenced by western culture. If we look at our own commercial hub, Dimapur, one notices many indigenous local hip hoppers with rainbow coloured hairstyles and fashion. We show to the world what we are really not. The young Naga generation today have completely changed and transformed their way of life, change in attitude and outlook towards love, sex, marriage and even to the extent of our eating habits.
The youth are the first to try out and to copy the western culture, yet they don’t bother to take a deeper look at what they are mimicking. Civic sense and etiquette, I strongly feel, need to be revived in our society. We have completely abandoned our own culture and tradition to the point where our own identity has begun to fade away. We are gifted and endowed with so many inborn talents that and we have the potential to make the world sit up and take notice of us. My advice to the Naga youth is instead of being mere copycats, it would be better if we tried to be original in everything we do. The notable change and improvement in many areas and the progress in the past century are proof that we can advance at a great pace.
There is no doubt the literacy rate has increased at present in Nagaland but we still have a long way to go in terms of aptitude rather than in terms of study and our work culture. We hide behind a veil of intellectuality, which is superficial in most of us. It is to a large extent individualized, not generalized. Again, we also seriously need to ponder upon ourselves whether we are actually educated or illiterate. Why I say so is because, I notice many people particularly young people spitting right on the wall, in steps, in public place, in classrooms etc. where it is clearly written in big bold letters “DO NOT SPIT”. Dustbins are lying empty everywhere, yet roads and surroundings are decorated with wrappers and papers. Think about it!
It is high time for us especially, the present youth to sit down and think, to use our minds more wisely, without forgetting to act on what we think. It is true that the young generation are the strongest agents for evil and also the greatest power house for good as well. Making a difference depends on the youth. This is the time to wake up and see how the world is marching ahead, instead of being holed up in this area like the proverbial frog in the well, the younger ones must propagate and promote the spirit of common brotherhood, transcending religious, linguistic and tribal diversities. To once again mould our identity, value and preserve the rich composite culture and tradition not forgetting moral values.

Let us give modernisation a chance to grow and then let westernisation come after modernisation.

“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. Tetso College is a Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email:”

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