By Anshul Tewari:
WOW! It’s been 63 long years since we became independent. A nation free from a dictatorship. A nation ready to challenge the world with its pure heart, soul and the lovable Indian pride. Ask your grandparents and they would give you the exact picture of how things were back then. How people were, how the youth was.
In the Indian freedom struggle the young freedom fighters had an essential role to play. From the protests and agitations, to the delivery of important messages, to being in the front and not bowing down without a fight and much more. But as they say, history is history; and we say, history repeats itself.
The last decade has been one of the most eventful ones. From the Gujarat massacre in 2001-02 to the very recent Kashmir conflict development (2010), the youth has been involved in all. But as I reckon, the youth that was — is not the youth that is. The youngsters who are fuelling India as a part of over 65% of its population are certainly not the ones who belonged to the same generation 63 years ago.
Most of us have not lived that era, but we are living this one. As a team, Youth Ki Awaaz has been closely watching and tracking the youth, for all that it does and for all that it can.
Today as I write this post, I do not wish to berate our generation, nor do I wish to pat on our backs. There are a number of recent incidents that might help me define my generation better. A generation that is rude, in the face and not so cool. In 2001-02, when Gujarat faced a massacre, it was the young and furious — but more frustrated due to their own problems — who participated in the unwanted and unfortunate riots. They had no respect for life, in fact, they were not even related to the issue. But they were there. Blindfolded. This is what we are. In Kashmir, it is the frustrated youth that has been played with, and is now pelting stones at the nation’s face. It is this generation that swears to be honest, but gets engrossed in the rat race to reach the top, thus taking all possible unethical paths. So much so that we cut off our roots if they stop us from going ahead. It is this very generation that has beconme self-centered and selfish, so much so that we don’t even care if that half injured person on the road is dead or needs urgent help. But, we love to shout out loud claims. As Rajat Upneja, a student and a part of our generation feels, “We can’t claim to understand the depths of what this freedom means… Most of it, like this piece, is pure opinion — and though I’m all for emotion, I think we almost cheapen the day with some of our social displays of Independence celebration and completing our formality.”
The young generation today has become over ambitious, and as they say, an extra dose of anything is not beneficial to health. The young is ignorant. In India, we have had a track record of bandh’s, riots, and much more. The fuel for such incidents has been the ignorant youth — with tall claims of honesty. Probably you would not relate yourself to this type, but the fact is that a majority of our age group comprises of this type, who are devoid of the right kind of awareness and education.
When a young lady walks down a lone street — or even if the street is well populated — this is the generation that stares at her, looks at her, up and down, scans her completely — virtually raping her individuality — until the visual pleasure is received. And then, a few from amongst us take to even more heinous crimes, crossing all levels of decency. Trisha Srivastava, a student of Amity feels, “Though the youngsters are modernised, girls still don’t have the freedom to walk on the roads due to lack of security, and more so, due to the lack of ethical mentality.”
Getting irritated with elders, having “fun” in a way that is objectionable to others — and much more — have become a trademark of our generation.
I can go on and on, talking about the well known reality, but as a fact of the matter, the obliviant will stay oblivious. This generation has a majority that is ignorant, ready to chop of the person next to them to sound right, but, this is the generation that can learn from the past, live the present, and change the future, because it is only when a complete generation awakens, can we put our words into the right action. India has not seen a mass youth movement since the past 5 decades (the last one being a pan India youth movement by the Samajwadi youth against the use of English as a language); but India has seen the consequences of distrurbing the truthful fabric of of the nation. When in 2006, reservations were being brought in, a group of young medical students got together to fight against this odd, and they did not bow down. When hunger was at an all time high in Madurai, a young N. Krishnan took the lead in his city and made sure that he delivered food to every young beggar, every morning. It is youngsters like Shibayan Raha who have left their luxurious lives to fight for their cause. There is a hero within us, a hero who has come out whenever the need be. And the time has come yet again.
Things are changing this time. As Youth Ki Awaaz’s Senior Editor, Shruthi Venukumar puts it, “Statistically speaking, education levels have gone up by generous notches since independence. We have come to a sort of unemployment generated due to deficiency of white-collar jobs open to graduates and above from unemployability due to illiteracy. Reservations, though widely denounced, have extended the education coverage to the minorities and made youth’s lives better and in the process, percolation of prosperity has taken place.
Open-mindedness in terms of social mores has come in, but a phenomenon that is seen only in a few parts of the urban India as even today there are perfectly educated young brothers murdering sisters for marrying outside the caste or within the same Gotra.
Awareness and exposure from almost all quarters (including social media) is making the urban youth well-rounded and giving them a platform to blurt out their feelings.”
When we call ourselves youth, we often forget about the youth that is in majority, a breed that lives in the real India, the rural India. The ones who are kept in the dark by our leaders, and the ones who we don’t care about. Because, they are so low class, right? There has been a great divide between the two Indias. Not only this, there has been a great divide within ourselves — between the two generations we live within us. One that dreams high, one that fears of dreaming. One that lives for tomorrow, another that lives with the fear of today. One that goes out and gets things done, the other that rests in the dungeons of yesterday. This is the generation we belong to. The generation that does not hesitate taking to alcohol for a more modern appeal. The generation that considers its culture as a berated piece of history that needs to be mugged up and forgotten after the exam. The generation that does not hesitate to insult an elder. The generation that has been trained by their parents how to make the other person look like a sham. The generation that does not hesitate to kill on religious lines.
The stages pass from the hopeful youth at the time of Independence to the disillusioned youth in the war years, to the privileged yet disillutioned youth of the liberalization period to the period of obsession with imports and fascination with foreign shores to this period when India has emerged as an investment spot with innumerable job opportunities.
As a video ad puts it, we have great responsibilities ahead of us, greater challenges, and above all, the greatest zest to see things change, to act against injustice, to rebel against the wrong, to see things differently. Leaving behind status quo. Lets make people understand that they cannot ignore us, because we change things. We will push the human race forward. We need to be crazy enough to think that we can change the world, change ourselves first. Because the people who are crazy enough, are the ones who do it. We need to take the lead and make this happen, and not let this be another piece of writing. Youth once gone will never come back. Think, act, do.
This independence day, the whole team of Youth Ki Awaaz wishes you the best of freedom and calls upon all to join the league of the aware change agents. Be the change you wish to see in the world.
“Ye kaisi azaadi hai? Chand Gharane chod ke, bhooki nangi ye abaadi hai.” – Jagjit Singh.
The writer is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Youth Ki Awaaz and holds special interests in development and tech journalism.