THE YOUTH CULTURE TODAY
“Men, Men—these are wanted: everything else will be ready; But strong, vigorous, believing young men, sincere to backbone. A hundred such and the world becomes revolutionized”
Ages ago, even before the advent of democracy, great masters all over the world had acknowledged the potentially of the youth in shaping the destiny of a nation. These masters, within their respective social and cultured back ground, very carefully sow the seeds of wisdoms in the mind of children to nourish them with their experience, and Herculean efforts. They tried to make the maturation as youths not only a biological but also an intellectual, emotional, imaginative and spiritual one and above all blessed them with a vision for the future. The whole exercise was based on mutual trust and respect; those who showed the way were sincere and those who followed were trustworthy.
During the second half of the nineteenth and earlier half of the twentieth century, the current of freedom struggle swept the entire energy of Indian youths. When Swami Vivekananda proclaimed to the entire
world the richness of Indian culture, Young Turks like Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh showed the bravery of Indian youths. Inspired by the modern education, many of them had participated in social reform movements to fight against the inequalities and superstitions.
When the euphoria of the independence subsided, a great void of uncertainty encompassed the entire subcontinent about the future strategies. Till then the entire energy was channeled to regain the independence, but when the long cherished goal was achieved, the entire momentum had to be transformed to pursue a hitherto unknown path. The failure of the Indian intelligentsia in substituting this zeal for freedom with a national vision contributed a lot to this feeling of uncertainty. Many of the British policies were continued as such and most important among them that had contributed to this cultural setback was the irrational continuance of the education policy. Though the Western education had its own advantages of exposing Indians to unknown culture and newer developments in the world, the method of its application was in such a way, as Lord Macaulay himself had professed, so as to create a class of persons—Indians in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect. Merits of Indian culture were given only passing references and the demerits, if any, were coloured with utmost exaggeration. Thus the native scenario faced by the youths had much to make them ashamed. Though the sixties and seventies witnessed hectic political activities in the institutional campuses with energetic participation of youths, this political influence also waned away in course of time and youths today even hesitate to cast their votes.
Now, at the dawn of a New Millennium, with our burgeoning population crossing the one billion mark, the present day culture of the younger generation is worth analyzing. In contrast to the monolithic viewpoint in the pre-independence era, youths today represented diversified ideas. Some of them nourish great values and ideals and are concerned about themselves and the society. But most of them are over-ambitious and confused. They lack a vision for the future and are driven by momentary pleasures and passions. Though all the aspects of the problem are interrelated and a clear-cut demarcation is not so easy, some of the characteristics of the present day youth culture are salient.
“A country with a borrowed culture or one which has sold her culture has no right to exist” —Pro/. K.N. Panicker
Human life flourishes only when the individuals rise above their selfish and sectarian interests and discharge their duties as integral units of the society. But the youths today critically lack this social consciousness and have become increasingly selfish. They have compromised a lot on values like honesty, hard work, honouring the family and its traditions and morality. They do not cherish a national vision and are unaware about offing. A recent survey conducted among youth reveals that most of them are engaging in premarital sex.
Globalization has a pivotal role in injecting consumerism among the youths. The products are introduced in the market in such a way that even a person from a poor financial background would consider them, which may be in the list of luxuries earlier, as his necessities. Soft drinks costlier than petrol have become their addictions, cell-phones and mobile multi media have become their passions and luxury cars and health wave systems and laptops are their aspirations.
Youths today are interested in the real happenings taking place in the society. They are least bothered about the prevailing situation in their families and surroundings and are unaffected by the social, political, economic and religious problems flourishing in the society. The causes, for which the younger generation revolted in the past viz. uprooting superstitions, abolishing dowry, etc. are thrown into the dustbin of history. They are busy with seeing movies, discussing the murky relationships and gossips about their favourites in the movies and sports, forming fans associations, pasting photographs of these icons all around their rooms and even imitating the characters enacted by these actors. It is ironical that they spend hours with Internet, mailing and chatting with new friends in other countries and continents, without even knowing the names of their neighbours.
They have become addicted to posh magazines and satellite channels. These media, which are busy in exploiting the situation to increase their popularity and assets, are interested only in highlighting the Western culture. They allure the youth through films, film-based programmes, pornography and advertisements. They are playing a notorious role in ballooning up non-issues like ‘body odour’ as a grave public problem.
The lack of proper vision and the advent of capitalistic culture have provided unlimited freedom to the younger generation. The newfound freedom coupled with unemployment and frustrations have resulted in the tendencies where the youth resort to drugs, stimulants and psychotropic substances. The habits they have formed as part of the show culture have become their addiction. Today smoking and drinking have got an elite social status of being modem with most of the youths including females making it their favourite pastime. Having no other means to raise the required money they tend to adopt unfair ways most often; ending up with anti social groups. The situation is not different in many of the Third World countries. Most of the developed nations like USA have already undergone such situations and are facing more fierce ones. So the present day culture is more or less the same all over the world and it’s only a matter of time that makes the difference, if any.
Uncertainty prevails in all realms of the present day life, be it science, Religion, economy or politics. Unemployment, a major menacing factor plaguing the Indian youths, especially the lower and middle class, aggravates this confusion. A grave uncertainty looms over their future and they become dejected, frustrated and often show suicidal tendencies.
A conscious retrospection is needed to identify the root cause of the problem. Blaming the West for all our faults is not only escaping into the fog but also forgetting the roles enacted by us.
The decline has crept in the entire society. The parents have failed the children, the teachers have failed the students, the governments have jailed the people and the spiritual leaders have failed the aspirants. Trust Bs lost and what else the youth could do? They are the most receptive ones and have imbibed a lot!
So the entire society has to change. The elders should act as a premium mobile for the younger generation. There is no need to sideline the popular culture. The youths need not be robbed off their luxuries either. As the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said, “We want to learn as much as we Ian from western countries, but we want to keep our Indian roots”. Even after studying in London for ten years, Aurobindo remained a spot-free Personality throughout his life with strong Indian roots. This was because f the foundation he had got from his own culture. So the good qualities, the youths have earned from west, have to be preserved. Let it be a supplement only and not a substitute. They must be nurtured in the indigenous culture with a national vision and social consciousness. A system of education that will give them, in addition to the subjective knowledge, a high sense of commitment to the society, nation and world, has to be developed. This will definitely create a younger generation who are competent in all the faculties of modern life and which can protect and uphold the cultural, territorial, intellectual and spiritual integrity of the nation.