Youth Being Culturally Bound: A Necessity?

Posted on January 17, 2010 in Culture-Vulture, Society, Youth Affairs

Kaushik Narasimhan:

While most of us spent our New Year eve this year sitting at our homes, with our families, watching television, wishing we were partying somewhere instead, there were many as of that very night living our dream to the fullest. Twenty three yearr old Meha Bahuguna, a hospitality professional working in Bangalore was one among them.

The girl was attending a three-day Sunburn music festival at Candolim with friends after having won a VIP pass and return tickets to Goa. On the 24th of December 2009, her facebook status read “Still can’t believe it! Starting the countdown to Goa now…just a week to go!!” On the 30th night, at 7 pm she collapsed from suspected drug overdose and was taken to the hospital for multiple organ failure.

On the 21st of December her facebook status had read “RIP Brittany Murphy “, Tragically, ten days later she herself was no more.

New Year Parties have become a rage today. And in many cities, especially metros and the usage of drugs both on and off parties has been on the rise. On the 4th of March 2007, 246 people, young boys and girls, most of them still in their twenties were arrested and jailed during a bust in a Pune rave party. 92% of them tested positive for drugs that night.

The youth of the country ranging from college students to the successful younger working class people have off late found it very invigorating to get into a world of their own, away from the harsh realities of life with the help of these drugs.

And not limiting the argument only with drugs, the Indian youth have, to an extent, also made headlines for their actions involving other important matters. A prime example of one such headliner came only recently on the 29th of November 2009, when students of Osmania University were spearheading the agitation for separation of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh by hurling stones at buses, policemen and petrol pumps. They also caused movements such as the “Rasta roko“ and “rail roko“ movements which were indeed very effective in disrupting everyday life if not for any other purpose.

The youth in our country have constantly created headlines for one reason or the other, quite often than not for the wrong reasons. Headlines concerning issues such as rape, murder, suicide and also heinous acts of molestation, ragging and harassment have all featured the youth very prominently. With the everyday newspaper becoming quite incomplete without any of the above incidents, it really might seem to pose a question if the youth of the country is headed in the right direction, forget if ever culturally bound.

The impact of the westernization on the Indian youth may be more than just a hypothesis. This statement owing its roots not only to the above discussed issues such as drug abuse, violence etc but also on issues that have created a sense of change in the mindset of the youth.

Not limiting ourselves with the young and the immature, even the mature, sober and non- violent regular Indian of today’s generation has made his contribution to our change towards westernization.

Recent findings say that divorce rates in India have been rising alarmingly. In Delhi, the divorce rates have literally doubled over the past five years. In Bangalore, the divorce rates have tripled in the last four years. These are pretty shocking statistics, given the fact that India had one of the lowest divorce rates in the world a couple of decades earlier.

This can possibly be reasoned in terms of the new found independence, personal ambition and a lack of commitment in a highly career oriented youth. The above factors have also contributed to the preferred transition towards nuclear families rather than the orthodox joint families. Many of the parents of these successful career oriented individuals who taught them family morals and other cultural values find themselves sitting in old age homes all to themselves.

All the above factors may indicate that westernization may well have indeed taken its toll in our country’s youth. But it can again be argued that the section of the youth who make the headlines for the wrong reasons are a very small percentage to those who still lead a disciplined life in our country. A major portion of the country exists away from the metros and the other flashy urban cities, where there is limited access given to the youth. Quite a majority of them have discipline and values from our culture and tradition enforced upon them even as of today.

So is it fair to cast a shadow on the Indian youth itself based on the actions of a few misguided individuals?

If not, then does that mean that the Indian youth is expected to be culturally bound? If so, then is it realistic to hold the same beliefs and practices that our culturally bound forefathers hold, even now in a world as fast paced as ours?

Franklin D Roosevelt once famously quoted

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future”

Nothing could be more apt to our country’s situation than the above words of Franklin Roosevelt. I believe change is inevitable and to an extent necessary to survive coherently in today’s world. The question now lies on whether we can identify and mark the boundary that lines the way of life for the years to come.

Whether there is a line that can be drawn that enables both the youth to live aptly and comfortably whereas still allows them to lead a life without compromising on the boundaries that our culture expects us, as Indians, to fathom and follow.

Till then, we lie in search of that elusive line that when found will bridge the gap between our ancient cultural heritage and our contemporary lifestyle truly symbolizing Indian culture as an epitome of diversity.


The writer is a Raipur based correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz. He is an Electrical Engineering student from National Institute of Technology, Raipur with a passion for public speaking and parliamentary debating, aspiring to be a journalist someday.

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