ByÂ Tanima Banerjee:
India is sitting on the cradle of progress. With the massive change in the economic policy of Liberalisation,Â PrivatizationÂ and Globalisation in 1991, India has moved on the path towards modernization and great technical and professional advancement. There has been a tremendous growth of private sector enterprises in our country and a rise in number of school and college-going educated youth who are employed in these sectors.
India’s youth force is the highest in the world,which is extremely ambitious, tech-savvy and confident. The youth is seen as the prime agent for contributing to the country’s economic development. They are employed in large numbers in IT, BPO (Business process outsourcing) and KPO (Knowledge process outsourcing), and are given handsome salaries. The striking feature about India’s youth is its desire to stay ahead in the rat race of cut-throat competition and to succeed as fast as possible.
But this picture of ‘India Shining’ comes at a cost, and studies reveal that this cost has to be paid by none other than the very factor that is bringing the country to the brink of high growth and prosperity. Majority of the college-going students and the young working population is concentrated in the metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata, and the urban cities of Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Surat, Kochi, Kanpur, Indore etc. Rapid urbanization, growth of professionalism and the desire to earn fast and more money has proved extremely detrimental to the country’s youth. Despite the growth in industry and commerce, the sector which is most neglected in the process in health. It is observed that there has been a significant difference in the lifestyle of the urban young population compared to the traditional, rather “disciplined” style of living. It is seen that the lifestyle adopted by majority of the youth is extremely disorganized and unhealthy, and is further coupled with a faulty diet. This can be owed to the idea that time is converted to money, and corporate interests and personal ambitions are being kept over and above health priorities.
Long working hours are fixed by the employers, in a way that suits them, and the young employees are constantly engaged in the monotonous and immobile practice of spending hours in front of the computer screen, working. They don’t realize that even though they may be progressing financially and securing their lives, they are moving towards an even more unsecured future as they are becoming more vulnerable to serious health risks. They are not conscious that smoking, consuming high calorie fast food, alcoholism and drug consumption and eventually becoming couch potatoes while not at work, will at the end of the day, cut their life span and hinder the country’s progress at large.
These practices are contributing to a number of chronic diseases in the long run, like heart diseases, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, stress and respiratory infections at a very young age. Improper, faulty lifestyle and dietary habits can be seen as going against nature, the result of which definitely does not augur very well. The rise in fast food joints across the country and the invasion of a western ‘hip’ culture of clubbing, and eating out and alcoholism, especially in the metropolitans, has only accelerated the process of “progression towards regression”. Contemporary lifestyle has become a disease in itself, gradually working as a slow poison, which is leading to fatal consequences.
The World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum had recently said that India will incur an accumulated loss of $236.6 billion by 2015 on account of unhealthy lifestyle and wrong diet. It is seen that 31 percent of India’s urban population is overweight or obese. 2 out of 3 employees in India are victims of stress in the cities. India is also the diabetes capital of the world. Studies say that the possibility of Indian suffering from a lifestyle disease is 4 percent more than one of any other nationality. Such is the grim, dark side of the prettified picture of ‘India Shining’.
The situation demands a general growth of awareness among today’s youth and shaking them from their complacencies towards the self-destructive lifestyle they have adopted, and requires to make them realize the dangers posed by it. It calls for implementation of workplace health programmes, as the workplace environment largely influences the youth to promote better health behaviour. Moreover, the corporates need to adopt a healthier work style for their employees. On a personal level, we need to strive towards leading a more fit and suitable lifestyle that nurtures the body, mind and spirit by consuming a diet that is truly balanced in its nutrient-value, and finding time for regular phsyical exercises in our busy schedules. There is also the need to give equal time to have a better social life and go back to the old, popular saying of ‘early to bed and early to rise’.
Since we uphold the country’s future, we must ensure that we take care of ourselves as the country depends on us. The country can’t hope to move forward if its own people are not healthy enough to contribute towards its rise to glory and sustainable development.