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Youthscape

By Arun Babani

According to a recent census survey, 54 % Indian population is below the age of 25 years, which makes India the youngest nation in the world. According to the same survey the Indian 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 is not proud of contemporary India. In fact, when it comes to their national identity, they are apologetic about it. They have a craving for western acceptance, knowing 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 young Indian appears to be bored, doing the same thing and visiting same parties every day, so that by the time they are done with their teens, they have been there, done that. And then it is not surprising that they quickly reach the conclusion that ‘education sucks, religion sucks, life sucks’. Today one can’t see any groping, searching, questioning. Instead, there is a fake confidence of having all the answers, a phenomenon mysteriously known as ‘having an attitude’!

In youth one wants to shout from the rooftops and proclaim that we are different, we are unique. Youth, like any other stuff in society, has many brands, each decorated by a whole lot of matching accessories to prove that uniqueness. They may all look the same to a naked eye but look closely and you will find hidden clues that define their particular category or brand. For instance, there is the bespectacled and bearded intellectual, the shiny Bollywoodian, the gum-chewing macho, the simpleton, the IITian, the savvy elite, the ramshackled hippie, the management honcho…and then there are various sub-groups of these, like the metrosexual, the Buddha-bum and the party animal. Each of these brands, like any other product, is a complete package that includes a particular kind of look and attire , the kind of website  frequented, the magazine subscribed to, the  TV channel watched, the company they hang out with, the car they drive or would like to drive, the Rockstar poster in the room…and then, their eye colour, their accent, their neighbourhood, their hand bag would depend on their particular brand…Such a lot is needed to keep the promise they made to themselves, to actualise a dream they dreamt.

The old survival kit of Roti, kapda, makaan has recently been upgraded to Gaadi, bungla and dukaan. It seems hardly a radical shift of direction but seems like a MORE of the same old stuff. We were happy with a 2 BHK, but today it is 5BHK and more. One car a family was enough to impress, but today it is more the merrier. It is the race and greed for MORE of the same old stuff rather than a shift in values. More destinations to visit, more choice of foods, more partners to choose from…But the flipside is: Heart attacks at forty, stress-related disease on the increase. The greed to add zeroes has resulted in lifestyle that leaves you feeling like a zero. Previous generations worked till sixty and retired with a pension. Today kids become millionaires at thirty-five and seek medical help earlier than usual.

The generation of the western hippies of the 70s rebelled against just such a situation and decided to live in caves in Goa. Can we expect an Indian hippie movement any time in the near future?

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