Are India’s young an illusion?

Everyone in India thinks that the youth is a very powerful, decisive, changing agent for a super power India to emerge! And with 2/3rds of Indians below the age of 35 the young certainly look a promising large number to make some powerful changes if they decide to.

At the risk of sounding naïve and simplistic I’m not sure we can conclude that young Indians have a unique and independent political preferences and views – my own sense is they are out of depth and out of sorts with the world of politics and that they’d rather not dirty their hands or brave hardships to change the status quo in the country.

They are happy to sit on the sidelines and continue to be apathetic and indifferent to the political governance in the country but are opinionated and trigger happy with words and points of views which continue to spew forth, without a break.

I guess much stress does get put on the youth of our country because the youth are supposed to be the carriers of change and transformation. If the past 3 phases of polling were to be taken into account then this myth feeds on a perception that the youth does not confirm to any of these beliefs including the angst of 26/11 which seemed to have overtly galvanized them into action but now seems long forgotten!

The youth seem less politically active than ever despite so many “voting driven” communication campaigns – with John Abraham, Aamir Khan and so many other large Bollywood stars. Obviously there are more active priorities and anxieties in life they seem to be consumed by a) how to earn money furiously quick b) how to prepare for a professional career c) how to circumvent controversies and not stick out with any point of view!

If I were to draw inferences from all the tv debates and real life instances I have seen thus far, then there is no systematic difference between the manner in which the young and the not-so-young vote. In opinions, there is simply nothing like a generational jump in Indian politics that can form a dividing line between an emerging point of view and an old generation thinking!.

The young support democracy in much the same way as the old do.

The young are about as traditional and conservative as the old. Even on questions like inter-caste marriage, live in relations, son preference over daughter - the opinions of the young are not actually very different from the rest of the population.


Anon said...

Mee…Its too brief ... I think you should give some hard hitting examples to substantiate this more.

I have a mixed opinion…as the question is ‘Circle of Influence”


Sunil said...

You've taken only one aspect of our being (albeit, an important aspect), which is politics, and viewed the youth only through that filter. That, to me, is lop-sided. What about the spirit of entrepreneurship (far more vibrant than the older generation). What about the willingness to embrace diversity (an openness we haven't seen in India before). What about resolve (steelier than their predecessors).
Incidentally, can the dismal performance of the electrote in Bombay be blamed only on the youth? (a) Our parents and grand-parents had icons, such as Gandhiji and Patel and numerous others, who could be emulated. We had fewer of them. And the generation of today has none. If they're disillusioned and can't decide whether they should chose the dacoit or the murderer (there being no third choice), can one blame them? And (b) the older generation in Bombay has surely behaved just as badly. We don't have the figures yet (or do we?) on what the demographics of who voted and who didn't.
One thing is for sure. Bombay is all talk and no substance...non whatsoever. Even some of those who acted in ad spots to convince the electorate to vote, didn't vote themselves. What hypocricy!
I can only hope that Delhiites behave more responsibly.

Arundhati said...

interesting views mee. but much too short. I am sure you can make this into a longer article. I have seen this for myself.The young are as good as the old in giving reasons/ excuses for not voting, not participating, not asking how much do I give but instead continuously complaining about how much do i get! and its a sorry state since this particular selfishness among the among is brought out by the old since the parents teach the kids to mind just their own and not share anything with anybody be it tiffin or notes from a class lecture! When I was in college participating in college politics (which I think has taught me so much about the world) was seen as a much needed thing - today no more. Its a waste of time.

Mee said...

@Vandy - at the risk of sounding apologetic, I was running out of patience with a zillion things screaming for attention- so I took the short cut and posted this one:( point well taken, will ensure next time:)

@sunil - this post is my view:), and I am hugely upset with 21yr olds when they say they didn't vote because it was too warm!! its the same guys who were mighty upset when the terrorists attacked iconic bldgs of what do you call this double speak when not backed by action. Sure I take your point well- tho once again thr is no difference between how the youth react or the young react to the same issue of not having iconic leaders showing the way today. I wonder aloud (and I dont right or wrong here- would we be better off not voting at all or would we be better off voting an independent who is neither a criminal nor a thug belonging to a national party? At what stage will change occur? We all know our system is rotting..change has to start with small things- and will eventually become cacophonic!:)

@Aru - true:) Thats why old and young - ALL- need to get involved. With active action! Fence sitting days are truly so uncool now!

Neelu said...

It's the upbringing. If we ourselves don't care, our children won't either.

The youth is passionate, it's up to us as parents to help channelise it.

Even if they are adults, some pressure is needed to galvanise them.

In fact, I think all those who have the werewithal to vote and don't do so, young and old, should be penalised.

Mee said...

@Neelu - easier said than done:) chances are the youth's parents too didn't vote:)

melinda said...

My world view on this- there was indeed much expected of us young, but it didn't have any follow thru for various reasons, part indifference-apathy-lame excuses and part pathetic laws n systems that didn't have names of legible voters!! Yes I also tend to agree that Bombay youth tend to arrogantly gloat much and don't follow it up with action and the voting turnout of youth in middle class india bombay sucked!! And what abt ur instance?:) so enthusiastically u reached the polling booth, u were booted out! Why? Becos your name wasn't reflecting on any of those lists! So here is someone who went thr to democratically vote but the govt bodies were anything but helpfu!! Wasting 2 hrs thr to eventually caste ur ballot was courageous by you:) I sincerely hope thr r more driven people like you:)

Anon said...

Actually I think we young have got it real easy all our lives. Thr has been no struggle for the basics ever. And yes parents have either playd a role in helping us walk the strt n narrow or they haven't! Whr we see releavnce and truth we shld not shy away but stand firm n sort it out. But I see many of my friends not stay rooted on shaly ground. So to some extenbt what is being debated here does feel correct. I don't think we need a ghandhiji or vallabhaipatel today, but instead need a common collective goal for which millions of heartbeats come together. And I wonder will it be a political cause or will it be something else? RUNA

ashish said...

The question raised here or the observation made is the young- are not really path breaking in their way of life,

Shld they be? And why?

From a national perspective it sure makes much sense if the young i.e. Us, were more motivated:)

So y r v not ?!:) maybe because thr is no struggle? No defined goal post to chase? Shld someone define the goal post or will we define for ourselves? I am not sure we think like that right Mee:) you know its abt being fast paced n living on the edge from one party to another - don't like overloading of responsibility at all:)

Jim said...

Mee ever reflected on why it is easy to drive people to the cinemas, and film promos and events do that well. But people (young n not so young) have little faith in the intellectual or political understanding beyond entertainment. And there is no reward either i.e. none will get their picture on page 3 when they vote:)

Its a strt fwd reward motivation theory at play I think

Raj said...

We all know Indians are emotional and passionate and am afraid also behave like herds. In addition I also believe we are superstitious, ignorant, parochial, bigoted (when it comes to religion and caste) and in general stupid. Democracy promises to give us the best govt, but the price to be paid is constant vigil else we would end up with worse than theocracies and crackpot autocracies. Thankfully we are not that bad. But the most worrying trend is that the more educated a person becomes the less likely he is to vote. So in effect we are getting a govt which is less educated. That is the simple equation.

SOmeone said whr is the Gandhi or Vallabh of today? Am afraid my friend he/she has to emerge from among us. And they will come only of we choose them. Only if we send them the message that we are willing to stand up for them.

But I feel only dismay that some of us are demanding an option to 'vote for nobody'. Honestly this is one of the most nonconstructive suggestions to come from our illiterate (what else cud one call them ?) junta.

Anon said...

10 reasons why Mumbai didn't come out to vote on April 30:
#10 Clashed with Salsa class
#9 Election whites not drycleaned
#8 No candidate a hottie
#7 Tony Jethmalani contesting from suburbs. Sigh
#6 No valet parking at booth
#5 Spotted servant in queue ahead of us
#4 Driver not come
#3 "Elections over dude, Obama won!"
#2 No party tackling real issues, eg, reduce Gold Gym rates
[ and .. drum roll.. (Abhinav is a drummer)...]
#1 No home delivery!- Abhinavs notes!

Yakub Merchant said...

hi meenakshi, i agree. we are a bunch of self-serving hypocrites with a distorted sense of self perception...

feels like most 'brands' and 'concerned' celebrities were only looking for more exposure and will exploit any opportunity to get some eyeballs

case in point, the so called youth icons were hogging so much air time 'jago-ing the janta' etc. and then sleeping through the election day! what a bunch of hypocrites. over promise, under deliver seems to be the mantra of the nation. why blame politicians, we are all the same.

yes, i do see the spirit of enterpreneurship too, but gain seems to be tainted with greed. unfortunately, what i've discovered in the short time since i've returned, the enterpreneurs in india are not looking to make a profit but instead they're trying to squeeze for all you've got!

and then, in every deal, there's always the option of the 'grey' chanel that's on the table! and most people i know prefer the grey chanel to save a few bucks or a few hours. corruption is deep rooted in our being. corruption all types, economic, political, and spiritual...

we don't believe what we say, and don't say what we believe...

and then we rave and rant...

welcome back to india :)

Mee said...

@Mel- we've got to stand firm for what we believe in:)

@Runa- your suggestions are most welcome.

@Ash- true and how. Will that bring us the change we are clamouring for?:)

@Jimmy any ideas on how to motivate/reward? Valid point made,I think, need to think thru this myself:)

@Raj - the educated junta does not need the govt, do you or me stop living if we dont interface with an mls? we dont need an mla in our lives. we live peacefully without them. which is why the illiterate who get swayed by the bad elements bring the bad elemnts to power- and those r the non desrving mlas'I think if we exersiced our power to vote- we will at some stage bring about a hnage, keep the bad guys out and hopefully have a more efficient running govt!

@Yakub- I so so so totally understand those frustrations dude:)- I hope you will go thru less pain from now on and settle in more peacefully.