Published on CHOWK, by Murad A. Baig, December 31, 2010.
Rahul Gandhi’s forays into small towns and villages seem to have hit responsive chords possibly because there are huge numbers of the young who despise the old politicians and want leaders who are fresh and clean.
… From their mobiles most of them can read a little English and do some maths. Their ambitions triggered by TV and cinema are both good and bad. What is good is that they still respect the underlying Indian values of family and religion but they no longer respect many other values of their elders. What is bad is their impatience and anger and their attraction to liquor, drugs and sex. They can’t wait for new laws when the old ones are not enforced or the old nostrums of the slow process of legal justice that their elders had so stoically accepted. These young people want quick answers, a fast life and quick justice.
This has huge political impact because India’s new youth have little time for the issues that so stirred their elders. They want stable economic progress in which they can thrive. Consequently the left parties are floundering because ideologies of socialism are of little interest to them while the BJP is losing direction because Hindutva ideology offers few work opportunities. They respect Ram or Krishna but are too worldly wise to believe that gods alone can solve their problems. Regional languages are also losing ground because they are not very useful for job opportunities. They know that Hindi and English are essential for jobs but a third language is an unproductive burden.
They are not as strongly bound by caste as their elders used to be and with better education the lower castes face fewer obstacles though they will naturally clamor for reservations and subsidies. Young men may be more outspoken but young women are no longer as shy and submissive as their mothers had to be. Girls are still dependant on their families but want better education that can make them economically independent and free from a blind bondage to caste or tradition. Many vigorously protest against forced marriages, dowry or other injustices and are becoming increasingly assertive.
These young people do not respect the authority of the Government because they have seen that the government around them of thanedars, tehsildars, patwaris, doctors at primary health centres or teachers at village schools, etc… is lazy, inefficient and corrupt. They do not also respect a legal system where the rich use law to oppress the poor with frequently corrupt judges who never deliver quick justice. They also have little time for their politicians because they regard all MP’s and MLA’s as corrupt and aged and useless `netas’. They have moved beyond `Roti, Kapra Makkan’. Their basic needs are no longer just food, shelter and clothing but are now also linked to education and employment opportunities that can give them the good life they aspire to.
These millions are a huge pool of restless energy that does not have any clear direction. If they merely follow their movie role models they could become an angry, destructive and even a criminal force with numbers to make them politically significant. But, if this energy could be productively chanelised it would become a power to accelerate India’s progress. With education and motivation, they could become a great economic asset especially as countries like America, China, Europe and Japan now have ageing populations. But they need young leaders who understand them… leaders they can relate to. (full long text).