Saturday, December 02, 2006

Are Indian Youth The Happiest People In The World?

A recent MTV survey reported that young Indians were among the happiest people on the planet. Not only this, they were also among the most religious. This is happy news, which contradicts the general belief that youth everywhere are unsatisfied and rebellious. The charming inference is that one can relate to them more easily than was thought possible.

This metamorphosis cycle is a gradual one. The generation that grew up during independence had the vision to build India from scratch into a developed nation but somewhere down the line, it lost track. From the 1970’s till the 1990’s had a cynical, dejected generation that fled the country in droves since they saw no future here. But post 1991 with the opening of the global market and breaking of walls across the globe, new DNA was coded in the Indian youth. This generation grew up with more choice, more access to information, more money, more opportunities, etc. Roughly half of the nation of one billion is between the ages of 15 and 30 and is a goldmine for marketers and business development. The Indian youth is very conscious of the growing global trends. The fact that young people can communicate to anyone at anytime in the world fascinates them. Globalisation not only brought about avenues for exchange of ideas in various forms - cellular phones, e-mails, pagers, videos and other tools of mass media, but also offered an opportunity to experience other peoples cultural traditions. Yet, although the excitement and enthusiasm about this phenomenon is apparent to many young people, knowingly or unknowingly, they experience the huge pressures and strains that the globalisation process brings.

The media and newspapers across the nation claim that age-old values are getting flushed down the drain in the name of adoption of Western philosophy, culture and values. But the reality is that even in this confused matrix of dualism, the Indian youth has held his head high. Pre-martial sex, living together, smoking, drinking etc are becoming a way of life for rich kids and the so-called elite class. But the common "aam janta" Indian youth have struck an impressive balance between confidence and tradition. None of the dilemmas of identity that haunted previous generations, haunt them, nor is there any moral ambiguity about anything. They still have the fire of angry Big B within them yet are icy cold when talking to elders or parents. They drink coffee at Barista, party at TGIF and also go to temple, church or mosque for prayers and celebrations.

"Rang De Basanti" is the latest in a lineage of recent films that have attempted to address the intertwined themes of tradition, disenchantment and rebellion among youth. With its three interlocking narratives, Mani Ratnam's "Yuva" charts the possibilities of a mass-based mobilization, one orientated towards changes within parliamentary democracy rather than towards an uprising. Contemporary Hindi cinema has learnt the cinematic narrative that can transmit the message without camouflaging it beneath romance, spectacle, melodrama, etc, which are the blood corpuscles of Indian cinema.

The observed phenomenon that happiness and contentment in human terms have precious little to do with, say, "what money can buy" has become the new age youth mantra. Money is important to them but they are looking for that something 'significant' stimulating job or a responsibility that fires their passion. The appeal of highly paid, white-collar jobs is wearing off. Swanky cafetarias, onsite trips, hefty bonuses, etc do not give a kick as it used to earlier. Today’s youth want all that and more. The HR managers at Infosys, Wipro, TCS or for that matter any firm may it be a MNC also are scratching their heads to retain the best talent. There is a tectonic shift in the society and the spirit of entrepreneurship is spreading its tentacles among youth far and wide. IIMA’s Mansur Nazimuddin gave up a pre-placement offer with a leading investment bank to try his hands in gaming industry, while a six member team from IIML is drafting a plan to exploit the opportunity in medical tourism. Stories such as these are aplenty which is a very positive and healthy sign.

Although India sends among the most students to the US for graduate education, falling second only to China, the craze to rush to the land of opportunities is a gradually fading trend. There are lots of Ashish's and Raghu's who gave away their secure passport to four-lane highway and choose to take the untrodden path.

Humility is in the air. With a goal to wipe every tear from every eye as far as possible, at first in India and then in the entire world, through an ideal combination of spiritual, social, economic and political means, the Bharat Uday Mission was formed in Oct 2004 at IIT Kanpur. Add to this the youth bandwagon at the national politics with the likes of Sachin Pilot, a charismatic 28-year-old MBA from Wharton Business School, focusing on introducing micro-finance schemes and insurance for farmers as well as human resource development in terms of non-government employment have re-invigorated the youth’s interest in the national affairs.

The Internet has been a godsend for the Indian Youth of today. Welcome to the world of "clicktivism" and "blogtivism". The entire world wide web is now thrown open as a wide canvas to paint and publish individual views, reviews and comments at the press of a button. All these forms of activism convey one message that the young no longer wants to be recipients of change but leaders of change.

As in the words of Abhishek Bachchan in "Bunty Aur Babli", today’s youth wants "izzat (respect) ,mazza (fun, entertainment) and matlab (meaning)". If Indian youth have all these in the present burgeoning economic landscape in India, then there’s no doubt they are the happiest lot in the world.

Keep reading and remain connected.


At 2:02 AM, Blogger delphinium said...

Dear Tanay
Excellent is an understatement. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this ariticle, and feel this is the best I've read of yours thus far.
Concise yet painted with relevant details, it kept my attention till the end.
Keep up the good work!
All the best.

At 3:01 PM, Blogger tpraja said...

Have you seen the new India search engine they added all the cool features of popular products like MySpace, YouTube, Ebay, Craigslist, etc. all for free to use and specifically for India. Anyone else try this yet? First to Blend Search, Social Network, Video Sharing and Auctions Into One Seamless Product for Indian Internet Users.

At 6:42 PM, Blogger Rekha said...

Simply Sweet!
Keep going dude!!


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