Is it indifference, individualism or progressive thinking? With the Information Age making such a difference to the attitude and behaviour of thei-generation, parents and educators also need a thought-shift.
In the interview immediately after he won the 2013 Champions Trophy cricket tournament, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was asked, “There is a lot of energy in the field. Is it a change in the personnel or is it a cultural change?” A cultural change, agreed Dhoni, adding that one should not forget the improvement in infrastructure.
Ironically, it is for this very cultural change that our young draw flak from all quarters. The i-generation, Generation-Self, we say, blaming them for everything from hike in prices to the high-density traffic choking our roads. We decry their attitudes, behaviour — labelling them irresponsible, self-centred and inconsiderate. They are gadget-driven, we rap, with no communication skills. The British Social Attitudes Survey (from 1983-2010) tells us that today’s adults are less supportive of charity than their parents were, are less likely to favour reservation, feel less connected to society than previous generations. They are less interested in national institutions, in knowing their neighbours. The Guardian/ICM poll has evidence to show that among the young, solidarity is in short supply. “A rising generation... responds to its plight not by imagining any collective fight-back, but by plotting individual escape.”
Have we raised a “heartless” generation, with “every man is an island” as its motto?
But look at it this way. The very same qualities we accuse them of also help them climb to the top of the world — in sports, innovation, management, politics. India won the Champions Trophy because its young team was not hobbled by traditional thinking. In a set of unorthodox moves, Rohit Sharma came out to bat first, Dhoni turned his arm for four overs to finish 0-17, Ashwin and Jadeja were allotted the last two overs to lead India to victory.
In the afterglow of this triumph, we are forced to believe that something is right with our young. They are the ones who bring trophies and medals, clear and fill abandoned lakes, clean beaches of mounds of garbage, run websites for teaching/afforestation/bus-ticketing, start businesses online/offline, rise against corruption and harassment and resist government policies. They connect digitally and collect themselves for their causes.
Sam Bowman, a young researcher at Adam Smith Institute sees the shift as one caused by a new cosmopolitanism, brought on by the Internet.