ARJUN NARAYANAN

AT LEAST for the past 100 or 200 years, the youngsters have been brought up in a highly turbulent society. Hence let us be honest and accept the fact that every generation of youth has been muddled in some way or the other. Icons such as Gandhiji, Vivekananda or Bhagat Singh were brought up in such a way that they developed a passion to serve, an ability to demarcate between the right and the wrong and hence built nerves of steel for themselves. The environment then was no less depressing than it is today. The Gandhis and Nehrus could have easily become successful barristers and magistrates instead of plunging themselves into a lifetime of struggle. But they dared to be different and brought about a revolution within themselves and imparted that spark to everyone around them. If I ask my friends about Gandhiji, some do agree with his universally accepted greatness. But instead of accepting their inability to emulate the man who personified sacrifice and greatness, most of them have something else to say: "His ideas are obsolete and do not apply to the current scenario... We can't relate ourselves to his ideas... Don't you have anything better to talk about... You can't talk of non-violence in a violence ridden society... "

Petty strikes

Usually youth is associated with revolutionary thoughts, which are often impulsive and romantic. But even these impulsive instincts are missing today. The "nothing will change" attitude continues and we turn a blind eye to everything unpleasant around us. Being a college student I too see many students conducting the so called revolutionary activities which are nothing more than a few petty strikes the reasons for which are as silly as the protesters themselves. The students too cooperate and why not when the teachers themselves stand there helplessly! In fact most of them are not even aware of the reasons for which the strikes are called. Most of the leading political parties have got their own student wings and use them to meet their own ends. Quite often it is seen that parents burden their children with dreams of their own. Moreover parents are burdened by the questions put forward by friends and relatives such as "What is your son doing... Why is he doing this and why not that?" As a child, I was asked a question by many people "Do you want to be a doctor or an engineer?" Such questions put a notion into our head that the world of education ends with a few conventional courses.

Unsung heroes

The media has made name, fame and money look like two minute noodles. Survey of the most powerful is carried out with extensive coverage leaving the unsung heroes to rot and die. Who is more successful - the corporates building an empire of their own or the social activists who bring a smile on the faces of millions but shun publicity? While exclusive coverage is given to Fashion weeks and page 3 parties, not even a quarter of that time is dedicated to the Medha Patkars of the country. Hence we get a notion that to gain respect and popularity, you need money.Who is to blame? The parents who want to see their sons and daughters in a financially secure position, the teachers who are forced to finish the textbook cover to cover by March, or the youngsters who feel compelled to tread the conventional path? What the youngsters require is not just guidance but a mass movement which will beckon them to serve their motherland and an instilling force of pride which will develop in them a sense of responsibility to preserve their heritage which might otherwise soon die out or live under the mercy of the remix culture. Unfortunately, today the term youth icon is restricted to some known faces from the self advertising page 3 circuit and we rarely look up to those from other sectors of society.

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