The beef between baby boomers and millennials is the stuff of a Shakespearean saga. You know exactly what I’m saying. There is no way you grew up in India and didn’t have aunties and uncles twice and twenty-two times removed who didn’t tell you in specific detail what was ‘wrong with your generation.’ Like, really? Right in front of my matar paneer?
That being said, there’s a lot going on right now. No, really. It’s the reason explore and discover pages are even a thing on your social feeds. But, hey, I’m not going to make a blanket statement like that. That’s not what my generation does. That is a specific trait belonging to the Nirmala Tai kitty party. (Forgive me, I know the gender implications of referring to Nirmala Sitharaman’s colleagues as a kitty party are mediocre at best, but if you have a better phrase for what every photo of Cabinet meetings look like, feel free to drop a comment below.)
I’m not angry about what Ms Sitharaman said. I’m sure she has her reasons. I mean, I hope she does. What actually needs to be looked at here is a crucial outlook many governments across the world are exhibiting. Despite the fact that young people are speaking out more than ever about issues ranging from political autonomy to the climate crisis, there is a persistent face that is pulled by those in power whenever they hear a statistic. It is the exact same face I pull when I try a Snapchat filter. It is best displayed by Donald Trump. Click below.
Even if the Finance Minister wasn’t simply saying what came to her mind, and indeed quoting this survey, it still doesn’t justify her statement. For starters, she’s the Finance Minister, and this was a formal press conference. Imagine what would happen if there was a millennial in her place and they said something like, “Old people are causing global warming. We are working to solve this problem for them.” Chaos, right? Because just one section of the population is not responsible for a nationwide problem.
Here’s the thing. Millennials are stuck. Indian millennials specifically, have a wonderfully unique set of obstacles they need to overcome to be able to even think of living a life that advancement in technology and years of practised politics has promised them.
One of the biggest factors that impacts lives and how they are lived is the economy. In a capitalist system, no consumption is ethical and in a formerly socialist one, no action is invisible. This invisibility is accentuated by the fact that fed on social media (as opaque as that can be), millennial thought and consumption demands transparency inherently. Naturally, this doesn’t sit well with authority that rests on secrecy and a supremely placed sense of inaccessibility, RTI or no RTI.
Fundamentally, everything circles back to supply and demand. Every single problem in the world today can be traced back to supply and demand. Including this! Before the supply for Uber and Ola existed, there were taxi stands just around the corner. Once the economy supplied the service, demand was created. So, who is this really on? Those who encouraged the Uber and Ola expansion here, or those who use it (which I’m guessing was the goal of allowing them to do business in India)?
To say that the millennial generation is heavily dependent on technology is absolutely right. We are. And we’re not averse to the fact that digital payments are becoming a thing, Aadhar has an app and that taxes can be paid online. But, if you’re pushing all this as a government for the ease of 1.34 billion people, you don’t get to make 47% of the working population the villain as per your convenience. That’s just the most effective way of making sure you provide us with ample meme material.
Along with combating an economy that those in charge of fixing seem intent on ignoring, Indian millennials have a lot of other things to fix. Unemployment is still at a 45-year-high, more of us are depressed than we have ever been, the state shows no interest in maintaining crucial tenets of the democracy that we were born into. And of course, there is the omnipresent parampara, pratishtha, anushasan (tradition, honour, discipline) that we can never seem to escape. Being an Indian millennial is not easy. I should be allowed to take a cab from place A to B, without being shamed for it.
Oh, and while I’ve been speaking about how millennial transport choices have nothing to do with an economy that a government re-elected to power has failed in protecting, the Nifty just dropped 0.50%. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.