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Most of us Indians take pride in the fact, that our family ties are strong. After all, we don’t see the joint family system existing in many cultures, do we? Is it our supposed ambitionless attitude, which prevents us from exploring the world or perhaps our education system which teaches us that our parents are our Gods?
“Matri devo bhav, Pitri devo bhav” (Mother is God, Father is God)
Where else do we see families consisting of two brothers, their wives, their children, their parents and at times, even their grandparents? Where do we find a housewife getting up early in the morning to prepare food for her husband, before he leaves for work? It seems that we Indians could perhaps teach a few things to the world. Or so we think.
THE DILEMMA OF THE GOLDEN LAND- UNEMPLOYMENT CRISES
The golden land, or what it was referred as to by our forefathers, is waiting in silence. The same silence which envelopes the atmosphere, before a storm. This silence has also enveloped the heart and mind of the common man, which has put him in a fix. Indian man is at a war with himself. A battle against his ancestors. This clash is actually a manifestation of the ethical danger, he is facing. For a better understanding of this war, we actually need to know about the post-independence changes and how it has resulted in an intergenerational conflict. India gained independence from England in the glorious year of 1947. We had finally become a sovereign, thanks to the efforts of our leaders and freedom fighters. So was the pride in us of having an independent nation all by ourselves, that India was immediately called as the golden land, the land of golden opportunities. Our forefathers had all been a part of this freedom struggle, that they had in fact, created the concept of Bharat Mata, often translated to as Mother India (who was even regarded as a Goddess). India was young, full of opportunities, full of people who were willing to transform the face of this country. So was the love for this country in their hearts that they had left no stone unturned for the development of this country. Schemes were formulated for growth of the country, farmers were helped and new projects were introduced for the employment of the youth. Our forefathers had really helped us come a long way from then.
Come to the modern scenario. High levels of unemployment, ever-lasting poverty, corruption, unequal distribution of wealth and broken promises; this modern man has nothing to thank for, to this land of golden opportunities. The rich have still remained rich, the poor have become poorer, and the common man has miraculously, stayed at the same position. While our forefathers had nurtured this nation by making sacrifices, we have a bundle of blames for the country. The younger generation has somehow made itself prone to the shocks bestowed on them by the economy, yet he cannot take it any longer. With each passing moment, the reaction of the youth has started becoming sourer and sourer. With the failed schemes by the government, various insurgent movements etc, how much more can the youth tolerate? This land of golden opportunities is finally becoming the land of lost opportunities. This has led to a huge ideological dispute between the younger generation and our forefathers. While our endless customs have taught us to be grateful and have certain obligations toward this country, the younger generation is tired of waiting and is neglecting or rather ignoring these customs. While on one hand, we are critical of the country, the older generation is obviously unsettled with our behaviour. We are endlessly blaming our policy-makers and founding fathers of this country who have not given to us in the way we deserve. This has obviously exposed the irresponsible nature of the younger generation, who are holding their forefathers for the cause of their miseries. There is also a huge question on whether the intergenerational contract has been fulfilled or not, or whether it will be fulfilled or not. It is highly debatable about who is at fault, yet this approach has led to a huge intergenerational crisis. This is the first major issue, which is the dilemma of the land of gold.
CHANGE IN ATTITUDES AND ENVIRONMENT
Though in the course of time, we have had various changes, which have improved the condition of the people, especially the middle class families. Yet the grown-ups seem unsatisfied and depressed by the way things are turning. This depression is due to the revolt of its children. For many years, India has had a snail-paced economy. In any country, where there is a lack of opportunities, and broken promises, the parents have an upper hand. The Indian society is often called as the organic society because of the large influence of parents in their children’s lives. They possess the land that their children must inherit, the skills that the young must learn, and the rituals and traditions, which divide the society into castes and classes. For the first time, economic change has accelerated; if it goes on like this, the young will no longer need their parents. Though yet minimal, that thought has unhinged India’s grown-ups. With the western countries opening their doors for the Indian intellect, which surprisingly goes unrecognised by India, the younger, much capable generation is moving towards the west and is adopting their lifestyles. Due to this sudden change, the Indian traditions are slowly losing their value.
There was a time, just about three decades ago, when Diwali was a family festival. Diwali was the season after the kharif harvest; the crop was in, the grain bins were full, and the sale of the harvest had brought in money; it was this prosperity that brought custom to shopkeepers and cheer to the festivals. The prosperity was celebrated because it was brief; soon the coffers and the granaries would empty, and the people – and even more, their cattle – would have to struggle through the harsh summer when nothing grew. It was also a time, when families met other families and select the respective brides and grooms for their sons and daughters. Today, however, both young men and women work; some men even prefer to marry working women. At work they come in contact with colleagues from all over India, colleagues speaking different languages, born in different religions, educated in different schools. If they marry those they encounter, are attracted to, fall in love with, they may well move away from their parents.They may not support their parents in old age; worse, they may distance themselves, and their children may not even recognize their grandparents.
This fear is very true amongst the Gujaratis and the Muslims, who have their large numbers along the white countries. The younger generation due to this western lifestyle, does not give enough importance to the customs followed and therefore, end up distancing themselves from their families. Same is the case with Muslims, who are settled in large parts of Britain. While once the Muslim image was recognised with the beard and the cap, today’s younger Muslim generation prefers to have an urban look, with well suave moustaches, rather than the beard. This has obviously angered the Muslim families in India and even in Pakistan. Since the younger generation feels that these customs are rather like taboos and superstitions, therefore they fail to even recognise them and therefore in the long run estrange their ties from their families. It is not important to know in this context, whether their act is good or not, but it is clearly known that these acts destroy the interpersonal relationships, among the family members. Same is the case with the Sikh communities who are largely represented by their beard, long hair and the noticeable turban. This community is settled in large parts of US, Canada etc. Due to the fear of being considered as outsiders or even being discriminated, most of the young Sikh youth resorts to shaving of their hair and beard in order to settle in. This is seen as a dishonour to the religion back in India and is often marked by signs of protest. Once again it would be debatable to say, as to who is right. On one hand, the grown-ups feel that due to westernisation, the younger groups are moving away from religion and henceforth, showing signs of atheism. The younger groups on the other hand believe in religion as a burden on them, and prefer to go by logic and henceforth look for convenience. Therefore, with the growing economic prosperity of the country, there is also rising distress amongst the grown-ups, ultimately leading to the clash of generations. But then economic underdevelopment can also lead to intergenerational conflicts as seen in –The Dilemma of Golden Land. Unemployment makes the younger generation dependant on their parents, and therefore loses the sense of independence, which in long run hampers the growth of the country.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
With growing distress between the grownups and the younger generation, the economy has to play a vital role in order to prevent the clash of generations. India needs specific institutions, which should provide employment to the indigenous youth in order to maintain the labour force in the country, and hence the younger-generation in the country. We can also learn something from certain religious groups, which though are ethnic to India, yet their members are largely settled abroad. These groups organize large get-togethers in foreign countries, wherein members from all age groups, can come and meet each other. These are largely helpful in order to maintain relations among the inter-generational members. Another issue can be that religious groups must open up, and accept the transitions. This can help maintain peaceful relationship between grownups and younger people. Lastly, the youth must conspire to work hard in order to end the inter-transmission of poverty in India and therefore must take responsibility for the country. These and other policies for improving India’s growth and competitiveness are possible and practicable. And if we follow them, there will be more jobs. Young people will find their feet faster, they will be thrown together in their workplaces, they will grow out of the religions and customs into which they have been indoctrinated by their parents, and they will develop a pan-Indian culture. But if we continue with our measly growth, they will hang around the homes and cadge pocket money from their mothers; they will be slaves of their parents’ parochialism. If implemented, the above said measures can stop the ethical danger, the common Indian man is facing.
Author: Kalrav Mehrotra, 3rd Year B.A LL.B, School of Law, Christ University, Bangalore
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