Festivals of India: Sekrenyi Festival

Also known as Sokre-n and Phousanyi, Sekrenyi is a major annual festival of the Angami Nagas, in the northeast Indian state of Nagaland. It is observed for ten days from the 25th day of the Angami calendar month of Kezei, usually corresponding to 25 February in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is a time for purification, renewal, and thanksgiving, and is celebrated with a variety of rituals, feasts, and dances. It is a purification festival held to wash off all past sins. The objective of the festival is to renew and make holy by cleansing the body and the soul of the village as a whole, and to bring forth unity among all communities of Nagaland. It also marks the initiation of young people to adulthood and is considered an identity marker of the Angami. Christian converts among the tribals have gradually rejected these rituals.

Sekrenyi is a compound word formed by Sekre meaning sanctification and Nyi meaning festival. The festival calendar is linked to the agricultural cycle, which varies from village to village. Thus, the celebration is held between the months of December–March, and the duration also varies from ten to fifteen days. It is celebrated by both the Kruna Angami or Pfutsana and Christian Angami. The duration is reduced to five days for the Christian villagers who had earlier converted to Christianity but belonged to the same ethnic group; they participate in the festivities but they do not follow any of the rituals connected with it.

Many rituals and ceremonies are involved with the festival. On the first day, which is known as Kezie, people sprinkle themselves with a few drops of rice water drawn from a pot named Zumho. The water drops are first gathered into leaves, and the chief lady of the house reverently fixes the leaves at the three main corner pillars of the house. This is followed by the men assembling at the well to bathe. On the second day, young men of the village assemble in the village to perform ablutions. They adorn themselves with two new shawls, and then ritualistically sprinkle the holy water on their chests, knees and right arms as a mark of washing away all their sins and ill luck. When they come back from the well, a sacrificial offer of a cock is performed.

The fourth day of the festival marks the New Year of the Angamis. It begins with revelry by singing and feasting which lasts for three days. The young people, both men and unmarried girls with shaven heads gather and sing traditional songs the entire day; the songs relate to past days of valour and bravery. For the revelry of music and dance, the men and women of the community wear the traditional dress; while men carry head hunting spades, women carry baskets. The seventh day is devoted to hunting by the young men of the ethnic group. On the eighth day, the ritual involves pulling down a gate and replacing the old gate that demarcates the property. This is followed in the next two days by the people of villages formally exchanging visits and offering greetings. During the period of the ten-day festivities, field operations are suspended, In local terminology, this is called Penyu. Following the completion of the festival period, when men of the villages have cleansed themselves and sought blessings, cultivation, house building and marriages may restart for the year.

One of the most important rituals of the Sekrenyi festival is the offering of food and other items to the ancestors and the gods. This is done in the form of a feast, known as the Thuwali feast. The Thuwali feast is a grand affair, with a variety of dishes being prepared and served to the community. The food is prepared by the women of the community, who spend days preparing for the feast. This feast is a time for the community to come together and give thanks for the blessings of the past year, and ask for continued blessings in the coming year.

Another important ritual of the Sekrenyi festival is the performance of dances. The Angami people are known for their traditional dances, which are performed during the festival. These dances are performed by both men and women and are a form of storytelling. They tell the stories of the Angami people, their history, and their culture. The dances are accompanied by music, which is played on traditional instruments such as the nga or a bamboo flute and the dama or a drum. The dances are a vibrant and colourful spectacle and are enjoyed by the entire community.

The Sekrenyi festival is also an important social and cultural event, bringing together members of the community from across the region. During the festival, people from different villages come together to participate in the rituals and ceremonies. This is an opportunity for people to reconnect with friends and family, and to strengthen the bonds of the community. The festival is also an opportunity for young people to meet and mingle, and for potential partners to be introduced.

Are you a Fox or a Hedgehog?

The ancient Greek poet Archilochus wrote a now-lost parable with the following moral: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” The general gist of the line is this: Some people see the details in everything they do, like the fox, while others are great at having one singular vision, like the hedgehog. This animal-centric adage is at the heart of a lesson in “On Grand Strategy,” an instruction manual for would-be leaders based on popular seminars by Yale professor John Lewis Gaddis. Taking a cue from a 1953 essay by British-American philosopher Isaiah Berlin, Gaddis discusses how great leaders and thinkers can be categorized as either hedgehogs or foxes. Berlin went so far as to say that this split is “one of the deepest differences [that] divide writers and thinkers, and, it may be, human beings in general.”


Typically, a generalist is someone who has a broad range of knowledge and skills across multiple fields, while a specialist is someone who has deep knowledge and expertise in a specific field or area. Generalists tend to have a wider range of job opportunities and can adapt to new situations and changing circumstances more easily than specialists. They also tend to have a better understanding of how different fields and disciplines are interconnected and can often see connections and opportunities that specialists might miss. Specialists, on the other hand, tend to have a more in-depth understanding of their field of expertise and can contribute more to projects and teams that require specialized knowledge and skills. They also tend to be more sought after and command higher salaries in their field of expertise. Generalists can understand and see connections between different subjects, while specialists can focus on and solve complex problems within their area of expertise. Generalists are often more adaptable and can work on a wider range of tasks, while specialists have a deeper understanding of their field and can contribute significantly to its advancement.

While a specialist systematically hones skills related to their domain, a generalist seeks to sharpen a wide range of related skills that will prove useful in multiple domains. The proliferation of startups and small businesses has surged the demand for generalists who come with a vast spectrum of knowledge and experience. However, when the requirement is for deep technical knowledge in critical fields, the skills of a specialist are much more marketable. When a company is looking at upscaling operations within its domain, the specialist is more progressive when it comes to creative ideas. Generalists are progressive when it comes to accepting a varied number of clients with different needs and expectations. Owing to their interpersonal skills and a broad-based learning curve, generalists can handle uncertainties efficiently. In terms of transferability, generalists fare better than specialists as their wide range of specialities is easily transferable to different domains. Specialists aren’t able to transfer their domain-related expertise to another field or even to another discipline within the same domain.

Both generalists and specialists have their own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the particular situation and the needs of the employer or organization. It’s also worth mentioning that, while some people may naturally lean towards being a generalist or a specialist, it is also possible to develop skills in both areas through continuous learning and development.

Specialists have expertise in their area of specialisation because they are focused on one domain, which attracts high-paying clients since subject-specific expertise gaps are more difficult to fill. The ability to undertake extensive targeted research and a quality understanding of the domain earn specialists attractive remuneration. Specialists are also more equipped to handle any new technological complexity in the field as they dedicate years to exploring the different facets of the domain. On the other hand, because they are focused on one area of expertise, the lack of diversity within the job profile hinders growth. A specialized portfolio has limited scope for independent expansion. With rapid technological advancements, specialists risk falling behind if they don’t update their skill sets frequently. Specialists usually perform within a narrower domain than generalists. As they dive deeper into their domain, the relevant working fields surrounding them gradually shrink.

Generalists cover several domains and envision the bigger picture as they combine multiple perspectives from different departments. A direct result of being open to a lot of unique challenges is acquiring strong critical thinking skills and this enables generalists to offer actionable insights into their areas of expertise. Their ability to explore various domains and a high multitasking quotient make generalists excel in leadership roles. A large number of skills arm generalists with the capacity to diversify their services which helps them swap career paths easily and give their clients a lot of alternatives to work with. But a lack of specific expertise in any domain puts them on a back foot as they aren’t that competent in niche projects. A high percentage of generalists work across multiple teams and tackle a host of responsibilities, especially if they are in leadership roles. This often leads to psychological burnout. Generalists are also easier to replace owing to their overlapping or vaguely defined work responsibilities and so these positions are prone to lower pay scales as compared to a specialist.

Whether it is better to be a generalist or a specialist depends on the individual’s goals, interests, and circumstances. For some careers, such as medicine or law, specialisation is required to achieve a high level of expertise and be successful in the field. In other fields, a generalist approach can be beneficial, as it allows individuals to have a wider range of skills and knowledge, making them more versatile and adaptable in the face of changing circumstances. In many cases, a combination of both generalist and specialist skills can be advantageous, allowing individuals to understand the broader context of their area of expertise and effectively communicate and apply their knowledge. Ultimately, the choice between being a generalist or a specialist is a personal one and should be based on individual strengths, interests, and career goals.

Some of the questions one needs to ask themselves are if one seeks a diverse breadth of knowledge or if one prefers deep research on any specific topic. Do they change their career perspective often and prefer taking time to find the niche they are interested in? Or have they already determined their career trajectory? One also needs to work out what kind of work ignites their interests and passions and if it requires them to hone different skills or demands specific subject-matter expertise. The ideal workforce of today is a carefully balanced group of specialised generalists who recognise their varied strengths but rely on others’ domain-specific expertise, and generalised specialists who are people with core competencies who also delve into other related areas.

So would you rather be a fox or a hedgehog? I am going to ask BB and GG this question after making them read this article.

Poem: Seasons

The leaves fall gently to the ground
As autumn breezes swirl around
The trees stand bare, stripped of their dress
Nature’s beauty in a state of rest

The snowflakes dance and whirl in play
As winter takes its hold today
A blanket of white covers the land
A peaceful, quiet, winter wonderland

The sun begins to peek its head
As spring awakens from its bed
The flowers bloom and the birds sing
Nature’s symphony, a joyful thing

The heat beats down, the day is long
As summertime comes into song
The fields are green, the sky is blue
Nature’s bounty, a sight to view

Each season brings its own delight
A new chapter in nature’s rite
A cycle of change, a natural flow
Nature’s beauty, forever aglow.

2023 International Year of Millets

Millets have been an integral part of our diet for centuries. In addition to a plethora of health benefits, millets are also good for the environment with low water & input requirement. Millets are a group of small-seeded grasses that have been cultivated for thousands of years in many parts of the world, including Africa, Asia, and Europe. They are known for their tolerance to harsh growing conditions, such as drought and high temperatures, and are often grown in areas where other crops are not able to survive. Because their surface is rough, millets are known as coarse grains and include sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet, little millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, and kodo millet.

Millets contain higher amounts of protein than other cereals and are even considered nutritionally superior to wheat and rice. Millets are also known to have a more balanced amino acid profile and are a good source of phytochemicals, which possess anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties. These coarse grains are abundant with nutrients like carbohydrates, protein, dietary fibre, good-quality fat, and minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc and B complex vitamins. The health benefits of eating millet include improving immunity and preventing infections, helping in detoxifying the body, reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases by lowering bad cholesterol levels, supporting metabolism and helping in managing diabetes and obesity because they are low in glycemic index and high in fibre, aid in the regulation of blood glucose levels. Millets contain both fibres and phytonutrients, which may help reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Millets, especially finger millet, contain a high amount of potassium that is essential for the proper functioning of the kidneys, brain and muscles. They are also gluten-free, making them a suitable option for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

In addition to their nutritional benefits, millets also have the potential to improve food security in many regions. They have a short growing season and can be planted and harvested quickly, making them a reliable source of food even in times of drought or other natural disasters. Furthermore, they can be grown on marginal lands, which are often not suitable for other crops, and are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen, which allows them to be grown in low-fertility soils, and also helps to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.

Another important aspect of millets is their role in sustainable agriculture. These grains require less water and fewer inputs compared to other crops, making them more environmentally friendly. They also have a low carbon footprint and are able to sequester more carbon in the soil than other crops, which helps to combat climate change.

To create awareness and increase the production & consumption of millets, the United Nations, at the behest of the Government of India, declared 2023 the International Year Millets so that these ancient grains can become more mainstream.

Millets are incredible ancestral crops with high nutritional value and can play an important role and contribute to the collective efforts to empower smallholder farmers, achieve sustainable development, eliminate hunger, adapt to climate change, promote biodiversity, and transform agrifood systems. Greater millet production can support the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and can provide decent jobs for women and youth and the revenue created can boost economic growth. The possibility of a health cereal alternative with millets, the risks associated with production shocks can be mitigated. The International Year of Millets 2023 and the push towards increasing millet production will contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. IYM 2023 hopes to galvanise interest in millets among various stakeholders like farmers, the youth and civil society and push governments and policymakers to prioritise the production and trade in these cereals.

Despite their many benefits, millets are often overlooked in favour of other crops, such as wheat and rice. The international year of millets will be an opportunity to raise awareness of the potential of these grains to improve food security and nutrition, support sustainable agriculture, and combat climate change. The UN is encouraging governments, civil society organizations, and the private sector to take action to promote the use of millet in food and agriculture. This includes increasing research and development on millet cultivation and processing, as well as promoting their consumption through education and marketing campaigns.

India overtakes China as the most Populous country of the world

Sometime in 2023, according to the United Nations, India will officially overtake China as the world’s most populous country, a dubious honour I feel should have not happened in the first place. India probably already has overtaken China, but because the next census has not happened (the last was in 2011), it will only be confirmed sometime later this year.

India is fast becoming the world’s most populous country, surpassing China. According to United Nations projections, India’s population is expected to reach 1.7 billion by 2050, compared to China’s 1.4 billion. This shift in demographic dominance has significant implications for both countries and the world at large.

According to the U.N.’s World Population Dashboard, China still had slightly more people than India at the end of 2022: 1.4485 billion, compared to India’s 1.4066 billion. But China’s population has stabilized and is set to shrink, while India’s is still growing pretty fast.

More babies are born each year in India than in any other country in the world. The U.N. estimates more than 24 million annually, but the true number is likely higher because many births never get registered. Compared to previous generations, these newborn Indians are more likely to be born in a hospital than at home; more likely to survive to adulthood; more likely to become literate, educated and multilingual; and more likely to migrate within their lifetime, to different parts of their own country or the rest of the world. And if efforts to eradicate female feticide are successful, the next generation of Indians will have more females than in recent decades.

One factor driving India’s population growth is its young and rapidly growing working-age population. While China’s population is ageing, with a rapidly growing elderly population, India’s population is relatively youthful, with a large number of people in their prime working years. This demographic advantage is likely to fuel India’s economic growth in the coming years and support its rise as a major player in the global economy. Another factor contributing to India’s population growth is its high birth rate. Despite a decline in recent years, India still has one of the highest birth rates in the world, with an average of 2.5 children per woman. This high birth rate, combined with increased access to healthcare and improved living standards, has led to a rapid increase in life expectancy, further fueling population growth. However, India’s population growth also poses major challenges, including pressure on resources, infrastructure, and social services. The country is already facing major challenges in providing adequate housing, healthcare, and education to its rapidly growing population, and the government will need to address these issues to ensure sustainable economic growth.

The impact of India overtaking China as the most populous country in 2023 is likely to have several implications. As the world’s most populous country, India is likely to gain increased political and economic influence on the global stage, but with a rapidly growing population, India may face challenges such as providing adequate employment opportunities, housing, healthcare, and education to its citizens. The growing population is likely to put pressure on the country’s natural resources, such as water, land, and food, leading to potential resource scarcity and environmental degradation and there may be a population shift as a result of migration from rural to urban areas, leading to increased urbanisation and the need for infrastructure development in cities. Changes to the labour market, potentially affecting industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and the service sector are also very likely.

From an economic perspective, the impact of India becoming the world’s most populous country will most likely be mixed. India’s large population could provide a significant labour force that could be an advantage for the economy in terms of increased productivity and economic growth. With a large and growing population, the country has the potential to become a major consumer market, attracting investment and driving economic growth. But the rapid population growth may put pressure on resources and infrastructure such as water, food, and energy, potentially leading to resource scarcity and inflation. Providing adequate infrastructure and services to a rapidly growing population, such as housing, healthcare, and education, can be a challenge and may require significant investments. If the population growth is accompanied by a favourable age structure, with a large proportion of working-age people, it could lead to a demographic dividend, driving economic growth. As the world’s most populous country, India may face increased competition with China for global economic influence and market share in various industries.

Having a large demographic of young people gives India an edge over many other economies, which are facing an ageing population. With more than half of the country under the age of 25, India has a massive potential workforce to propel economic growth. While India does not face an ageing workforce, the challenge is ensuring there are enough jobs, and that its people have the right education and skills for those jobs, according to experts.

Since 1947, India has transformed from a subcontinent impoverished by British colonial rule to an Asian regional power with big urban centres of technology, innovation, constant construction and growth. There are projections that India will overtake Germany and Japan to become the world’s third-largest economy, possibly by 2030. China will achieve its peak population size in 2022 whereas India will continue to experience momentum for several decades to come, before the population stabilizes and this represents a great opportunity for the country. But the challenge is for India to create enough opportunities in education and employment for all of these young people streaming into India’s big cities or being born in them. The country needs to keep pace with the growth of the population by providing health care, education, and the conditions for jobs. In a country where women and girls don’t have decision-making power, especially in rural and semi-urban areas where they have lower levels of literacy and where they’re not able to exercise their reproductive rights and choices, it is important to give them the voice the need and deserve.

India’s rise as the world’s most populous country has significant implications for both the country and the world. While its youthful population and high birth rate hold the potential for economic growth, the government must address the challenges posed by rapid population growth to ensure a sustainable future for its citizens.