The frog in the well: A call for cultivating the culture of reading

BY | Friday, 10 May, 2024
(PC: Mohamed Hassan/Unsplash)

A few decades back, books were not easily accessible to Nagas owing to our geographical distance and turbulent past.

Reading and the access to good books were luxuries and privilege only the elites could afford.

Today, that is not the case. With the abundance of bookstores, online shopping sites, free downloads and affordability of books, everyone can access books.

Yet, compared to many communities, the culture of reading has not been a popular one among Nagas. This is clearly obvious in our ‘barely there’ public libraries and lack of libraries in educational institutions. It is only in recent years that a few conscientious citizens and student groups has initiated community libraries, as well as few educational institutions introducing reading programs or setting up libraries for its students.

Reading is perhaps one of the markers of a cultured and cultivated community. Despite the abundance of information online, the culture of reading books provides a unique feel and experience. It takes us to places we cannot afford to visit, introduces us to cultures we’ve never experienced, broadens our small world, helps us develop empathy, understanding and respect about people and places beyond our territory.  Researches have shown that young people who read tend to be more empathetic towards others. Books, among many other elements, humanizes us.

For too long, many Nagas has been confined to our limited knowledge, like the frog in the well. And we continue to internalise these limited narrow perspectives to our young generation.

The frog in the well is a fable and phrase popular among many civilizations, which refers to someone who knows nothing beyond its territory, like the frog in the well who knows nothing about the big sea. It can also refer to the pride of thinking: nothing can be greater than one’s own knowledge, own people, land or community.

There is a dire need to cultivate the culture and habit of reading in Naga society today. There is a dire need for our young minds to think beyond a partisan world.

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