“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” - Edmund Burke
Most of the people who are reading this post were born in a free, economically resurgent and forward looking India. Our parents’ generation is responsible for having gotten us this far. But while they have achieved a lot, they could not succeed in solving a host of extremely pressing problems and dilemmas facing us today. The baton is in our hands now. We can choose to maintain the status quo or take a stand and change the society we all crib about. Here are a few things our generation needs to leave behind.
1. Letting society dictate our lives.
“Log kya kahenge?” This phrase is probably the bane of a young Indian’s life. For too long, we’ve been letting others tell us what we can or cannot do. Over time, this has resulted in whole generations of “Yes-Men,” “Pencil-Pushers” and “Head-Nodders.” Our parents tell us who to marry, our relatives tell us where to work and our peers decide whether we’re good enough to hang out with them or not. I say, fuck that. Let’s be comfortable in our own skins, love as we like and work where we please. As long as you’re a decent human being, it shouldn’t matter what the hell you do.
We need to get rid of this. We need to get rid of the notion that a man is superior to a woman and that the latter is the former’s property. This is the mentality that makes people kill their daughters in the womb. This is what makes assholes think that they can rape or molest a woman and get away with it. And to get rid of it, we have to first get rid of it in our homes. The only way to do this is if we teach our sons to respect our daughters. And our daughters must be taught to respect themselves.
3. Our lack of civic sense.
Indians are known for littering, breaking queues, spitting and urinating in public places. Doesn’t look good on our rep at all. And no, even the harshest penalties won’t change this. All of us have to change. That is why our generation is the lynch pin that will decide whether India’s future will be clean or dirty. Because if we can bring ourselves to change and develop a semblance of civil behavior, then our children will imbibe these values as well.
4. Chasing money instead of happiness.
Life is for travelling, loving, having adventures and making a name for yourself. Not for putting your nose to the grinder and never looking up in a pursuit of money. A lot of us work jobs we don’t like and hoard money like it’s something we can eat. It’s the reason why our parents push us into set careers like the civil services, engineering, medicine and management. Come on now. Life is for living. So let’s live it. Take it from Rancho from the movie 3 Idiots. “Success ke peechey mat bhago, excellence ka peecha karo, success jhak maarkey tumharey peechey aayegi.”
5. Public Apathy.
While not all of us are indifferent to the plight of our fellow citizens, we still get to read and hear about horror stories where people just stood by and did nothing as their fellow man faced mortal peril or grievous insult. People have done nothing as women got molested in front of them. The police just stand around accident victims. Recently, when a tiger in a Delhi zoo mauled a young man who had fallen into its enclosure, it was appalling to see how people were more concerned about recording the incident on their phones rather than helping the poor soul out. We need to understand that apathy has its consequences. God forbid, what if a loved one were in trouble and no one would come forward to help? What goes around comes around.
6. Our out-dated education system.
Our education system is basically a relic of the British era. Its geared more towards producing brainless drones for “service” rather than enlightened, confident individuals. It’s emphasis on rote learning and competition completely takes the joy out of learning. The teachers don’t care about teaching and the students aren’t interested in “learning.” Why can’t we take a page from Finland’s book? They have no exams, pay their teachers like doctors and yet their students consistently score among the best in the world. It’s going to be tough doing that here, yes. But we can start. Let’s get rid of our so called “padhey likhey ganwaars.”
7. Looking to the government for solutions to our own problems.
The government didn’t do this. The government didn’t do that. We complain about our dirty streets and garbage strewn public spaces yet we don’t think twice before littering. We complain about corruption yet we don’t hesitate to give a bribe to get things done faster or get away from fines. Laws and rules can’t change things. It is we who have to change.
8. The “Chalta Hai” attitude.
Let’s accept it. We’re a bit lazy. We tend to turn a blind eye to many things that bother us, choosing to crib about them endlessly yet taking no steps to address said problems. “Chalta hai.” But no, when it comes to our everyday lives, “Nahi Chalta Hai!” (It’s not okay.) Rape nahi chalta hai. Corruption nahi chalta hai. Gundagiri nahi chalti hai. It’s heartening to see that a lot of us have come to realize this and are taking steps to remedy this behavior. Let’s vote. Let’s donate. Let’s teach. Let’s start respecting women. Let’s take the plunge into politics. Instead of “Chalta Hai,” let’s say, “Aise Nahi Chalega!”
9. Our inferiority complex.
A century British rule had left us with a bit of a colonial hangover. Not to mention a gigantic inferiority complex. Ever since we gained independence, we’ve been trying to ape the west. However, since the last decade or so, a lot of India’s youth are finding themselves and reveling in their own uniquely Indian identity. Indian businessmen are acquiring assets and making waves abroad. Indian artists are coming of age. Our athletes are making us proud. And the signs are only getting brighter. We recently got to Mars at a fraction of the cost it took the U.S to do so. And that too, on the first try. Things are on the up and up and our morale is higher than ever. So let’s throw this inferiority crap out and be confident in who we are.
10. Our lack of self-belief.
There’s a lot of negativity in our country. We like sticking to safe and secure things rather than believing in ourselves and going out on a limb to prove ourselves and follow our dreams. But that will change. In fact, it is changing right no.
Because I for one, truly believe that even though we may seem lost and we’ve got a lot of responsibility on our shoulders, our generation is full up on self-belief and is definitely going to create a better India.
*All images are for representational purposes only.