It’s incredible how a staggering sixty-five percent of the Indian population consists of dynamic, innovative and fresh young minds. I’d even not hesitate to assume lapidary actions in at least half this number. And as unanimously reiterated, this plethora of youth clearly proves to be India’s immense and priceless asset. But as someone said, all that glitters is not gold – or maybe so, people assume. There continues to be immense debate, media spotlight and general opinion amongst the older aged Indian public about how the youth ‘these days’ are spoilt, stubborn, ignorant and careless, and not many spend time to think on the brighter side.
In these years that I’ve spent here, there have been a number of specific incidents that hit me – the kind that would question the degree of respect that the youth actually get. Let me illustrate two specific issues.
The first one is about the fathomless number of times students have to visit the college office to sort out trivial issues – such as getting their address corrected. (I often wonder how much effort is needed by a bunch of people running a prestigious university to get the details typed in correctly the first time). Anyway, getting back to topic, one visit may never be enough to settle the issue. The first time, the clerk would be out for tea (which happens about every hour). The second time there’d be no paper to print. The third time he’d pretend to fuss over so much work, and look at you like spending time serving you would cost him his job – all this, while addressing you as sir or madam. On the flip side, a guardian – usually a man in his late forties or above – would get them to do the job in a jiffy; almost. He is welcomed and served with affection and sincerity pouring out of the pot. Once the job is done, the icing on the cake would be a “Sir, you needn’t have come all the way – the student is only enough to sort this” statement. Nothing raises your blood pressure higher.
More recently, along with my uncle, I had to pass through a busy little street. It was raining cats and dogs, and needless to say, the street was choked with the usual Indian traffic bedlam, only worse. A chap had his car parked in a way that projected onto the road, hampering the flow of oncoming traffic. After many failed attempts with the horn, I got out – drenched in the rain – and requested him to park his car to the side. I was more than shocked and disappointed when he wouldn’t even care to glance at me, let alone roll down the window, making me look like one of those street scavengers knocking for alms. When my uncle finally came out to check, the dimwit opened the window, spoke sheepishly and then moved his car.
There have been a number of similar incidents that my peers have also witnessed. It’s insulting and discouraging to say the least, but the bottom line is that the youth are barely respected. What’s more galling is the general public attitude that every youth is rebellious and ignorant. In fact, it only becomes more frustrating when the same people give us the stereotypical “we’ve been through your age” lectures!