Volume 12 : Issue 2

Published : April - June 2013

Group : And Life Goes On

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By Arun Babani


Everyday in the morning, as I open the curtains I see a little boy of eight or ten years, washing vessels from a dirty water tub under a Vada-Pav stall and my belief in civilization comes tumbling down. That one sight, early in the morning refutes all claims of progress and shine. I’m sick and tired of millions of such tiny shots, at every nook and corner, while the groups of management students with red daghas and kadhas on their wrists and silly dog-like badges round their necks looking like pirated Americans having a good time !

What has happened to the dreams dreamt by our elders, where are the signs of culture and civilization, what happened of the sacrifices made by our forefathers?

Everywhere I see young people, their buttocks suffocated by the tight jeans, buying cheap T-shirts at Hill road footpaths, oblivious of life, arrogant and cold. Where are the Greek learning centers of greatness and elegance, what happened to the following generations of Renaissance artists, has the Raj Ghat shut its doors to the youth and cancelled its agenda for a new India as M.Gandhi promised?

Wherever you look, in the streets, malls and beaches, youth looks giggly and foolish in their beards, ponytails, tattoos and earings, chasing stardom, chasing crores or chasing US Visas. They get all their answers from dial screens of their deities! They have discovered that fast is somehow efficient and slow and steady is a loser.

Nowadays I deeply miss the sights and smells of the ancient times, that dark Medieval period that I watched in certain films…the forests, the little huts in the villages, the long empty roads going nowhere, quiet and peaceful…I seem to have forgotten our past that has been superimposed by these ugly city sights, our roots where men and women could laugh and live a simple, graceful life, where little toddlers fell silent at sunsets and where old people gathered together and sang songs…dreaming of great times.

Where did we take a wrong turn? What kind of a human being did we want? This greedy, frightful and ambitious guy is too ferocious…Why was he conceived and brought to life?…I’m sure there’s some mistake some where…because if you look closely he himself is sick and tired of being the winner or whatever, why is he being promoted and preserved? Why did we ever want unabashed greed to be the central motif of achievement and good life? The three thousand year history of man does not qualify or support such an image…What went wrong? Can it be corrected, put right? Think and tell me…my mobile number and e-mail id is with the editor…Call back.

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When we are young we want to shout from the rooftops and proclaim that we are different, we are unique. Youth like the other stuff in society, has many brands, each decorated and surrounded by a whole lot of matching accessories to prove and confirm their uniqness.Each brand or category of youth is a complete system that includes a total worldview and an entire lifestyle. They may all look the same to a naked eye but look closely, there are hidden and not so hidden characteristics that define that particular category or brand. For instance there is the bespectacled and bearded intellectual, there is the shiny bollywoodian, there is the gum-chewing macho, there is the simpleton, there is the IITian, there is the decent elite, there is the management honcho, there is the ramshackled hippie…these have various other sub-groups like the metro sexual, the Buddha bum and the party animal.

Each of these is basically a brand and an image and like any other product comes with a complete package that includes the kind of look and attire they wear, the kind of website each frequents, the newspaper or magazine they subscribe to, the TV channel they watch, the company they keep, they hangout they hang around in, the car they drive or would like to drive, the rock star they have a poster of in their room…everything changes with the brand you belong to. Your eye color, your accent, your neighborhood, your handbag and much more depends on whether you belong to the bollywood or IIT or hippie…such a lot, so many accessories are needed to keep the promise you made to yourself, to actualize the dream you dreamt…

By the age 50 or 60, this trip is likely to wear off, but then its quite late, unfortunately life does not give you the second innings and depending on whether your brand materialized you or not, you might come of age and …shed a tear or two and carry on…So, choose your brand, your self proclamations, your identity kit after much thought and research, including inward and outward, because that is the only stuff you have to call your own, your own choice, your agony and ecstasy, your destiny…Wish you a happiness of a life time …!!!

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The old survival kit of Roti, Kapda and Makaan has recently been upgraded to Gaadi, Bungla and Dukaan. It is hardly a radical shift of direction and focus but is a MORE of the same old stuff. Previously we were happy with a 2 BHK but today it is a 5BHK and more. Previously one car a family was enough to impress the neighbors but today it’s more the merrier. But as we said earlier it’s the race and the greed for more of the same old stuff. More destinations to visit, more foods to choose from, more women to marry…

The sky doesn’t have limits but the mortal body has. Today you hear of heart attacks at forty, blood pressure and stress related diseases are up. The greed to add zeroes has resulted in life styles that leave you feeling a zero. Previous generations were prepared to work till sixty and retire with a pension without any tension. Today kids become millionaires at 30-35 and seek medical help earlier than usual.

There is nothing exceptional about all this, considering the American invasion of our values and culture. Can we expect an Indian hippie movement of rebellion in the next decade or so? It’s possible and even desirable because that’s the way evolution works in cycles. The generation of western hippies of the 70s hated computers and high-rises of Manhattan and decided to live in caves in Goa. Similarly once the present generation feels Coca Cola to be the colored tap water there is the chance of revolution…Hope keeps all of us going

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According to a census survey 54% of the Indian population is below the age of 25years, which makes India the youngest nation in the world. According to the same survey  the youth today is growing up in the thick of an information revolution, connectivity boom, coalition politics and e-related everything. That’s the good side of being a young Indian today. Now the bad news: the report says that the Indian youth are not proud of contemporary India. In fact, when it comes to their National identity they are defensive about it. They have a craving for western acceptance. They know very well that they are being negatively perceived by their American friends.

Youth in all times and climes have always known to be a rebellious and impatient lot. But today’s Indian youth appear to be bored, visiting the same parties every day, so that by the time they are done with their teens, they have been everywhere and done everything. And they quickly reach the conclusion that ‘education sucks, religion sucks, life sucks’.

It has often been heard that today’s Indian youth don’t have any icons to follow. One such survey revealed that the youth in search of suitable icons name heroes as diverse as Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela. During the same period, Mr. Anil Ambani was voted the MTV youth icon of the year. Maybe they are not being taught as to what to want from life. One young man, appearing on TV answered that he hasn’t given the choice of a career any particular thought, but “whatever I do “ he said “I have decided to become a public figure.” Another young man, being interviewed by a newspaper, said “all I want in life is family and two good cars.” Having no causes to support, the youth have made themselves into a good enough cause to celebrate. Having no curiosity for life, they seek to make themselves into a curiosity.

An average young person of today is infinitely better informed than his predecessors. But information without a center often lacks depth and balance. Today one can’t see any groping and searching. Instead, what one encounters is the fake confidence of having all the answers, a phenomenon mysteriously labeled as ‘having an attitude’. So if they have no use for traditional values, they can at least take pains to discover original paths. In the past, when people did not know what they wanted, when they had lost their sense of direction, they had generally found relief in changing the focus, by switching their attention. When priorities change, we need different sort of spectacles to observe them. The youth today can connect with and claim human memories and try to find a direction for themselves which can dignify and uplift them instead of walking on the beaten tracks of careers and cars and amusing themselves with stars and stripes.

When wisdom is made to stand on its head the conclusion is usually like the Cola Ad that goes ‘No gyaan.Only Cola.'