Money comes first, everything else afterwards. And since money comes first, you don’t mind working for the Chinese or the Americans, or become Chinese or American citizens if that will help you take your career forward. This is true not only of these young boys and girls, but the entire Indian middle class which is getting increasingly alienated from the society—and the nation. The Indian middle class is getting increasingly de-culturised and de-nationalised. Are we Indians, just because we were born in India?
I spent some time recently with a bunch of young boys and girls – not really boys and girls but young men and women – at a wedding ceremony. Incidentally, the ceremonies lasted days instead of a few hours as used to be the case in the recent past, with gargantuan feasts that went on and on, day after day, until apparently the hosts were satisfied that every guest had had enough to the bursting point.
This is, I think, a new trend, for things were not so lavish in our days or even in the days of our sons and daughters. The weddings used to be over in a few hours, at most a day, with a dinner at the end of it. I am told that in some cities the festivities are held in five-star hotels, for anything less than five-star is considered infra dig.
The young man I met were mostly from IT (Information Technology) though I am not sure what exactly they did. There were one or two students who were completing their courses at the end of the year but had already received offers of jobs from multinational companies—invariably referred to as MNCs—but apparently that was not enough. The boys were trying to do some more courses which, they expected, would double their salaries to Rs 20 lakh a year, and this, mind you, for a boy or girl just out of his or her teens.
Can you imagine a boy of 20 getting two lakh rupees a month as his starting salary? But this is what is happening now. For us, it would have been our entire provident fund at the end of the career. But for the boys and girls at the wedding, it was just a start, an aperitif before you really start your meal.
The young people today are so career-minded, or money-minded, that they have little interest in anything else. They have no interest in politics-in fact, they believe that politics and politicians are a disreputable lot, and they would not like to touch them with a barge pole. The only pages of daily newspapers they glance through are financial pages and of course, the Sensex. They are mad about Sensex, which occurs in their conversation so often that one might think their lives depended on it.
The indifference to politics is such that they think Rahul Gandhi is President of the Congress Party—after all, said one young lady, one Gandhi is like another—and do not know that BJP has a new President. They know something is happening in Telangana but have no idea what it is. They think that Naxalites are like the Taliban, but without beards, and believe that one day they (Naxalites) will capture Kolkota and send the Basus and the Bhattacharjees packing.
They are ecstatic about China. One man who had just returned from China thought things were so wonderful over there, he wondered why we didn’t adopt their methods. The trains, he said, ran on time and were so clean he thought he was in Europe. The roads in Shanghai were clean and smooth and the taxi drivers polite. There was no dirt anywhere and no beggars. And the food was superb, though he did not care much for the snakes they served—not snacks but snakes!
He gave me the impression that if the Chinese came to India over the passes in the North-East, he and his friends would welcome it. He said that the Chinese would complete what the British had left unfinished. For him, democracy was bunkum and time-consuming, and would take us nowhere.
“What do you Indians do anyway?” he asked, as if he was not an Indian. “You only hold elections all the year round and elect the same bunch of politicians year after year, who then mess up every thing in sight. There are elections to Lok Sabha, elections to state assemblies, elections to panchayats, by-elections to this and that—and what do you get at the end of it? The same lot of corrupt politicians.”
The young man is now a US citizen and spoke like Barack Obama. But the others also spoke in the same accent. These young Indians are genuinely not interested in politics, which they think is too corrupt a business, and a waste of time. The only thing that interest them is their career, and the visa to the US. They all want to emigrate to the US by hook or by crook and put thousands of miles between them and the Indian shores, and have a career in the US, purchase a house there and, of course, a car and have annual holidays in Alaska.
Things were very different when we were young. We rarely thought of our careers. We were in the midst of the most exciting drama in the world—the struggle against a foreign power—and we were mesmerised by it. Some of us did think of their careers, but by and large most of us were politically minded, and thought more of our country than our professional future. I remember attending the Quit India meeting in Mumbai in August 1942 and listening to Gandhi and Prasad and Azad, while it poured and poured and turned Gowalia Tank into a big lake. We were very much a part of what was happening, for we were young and knew that the future belonged to us. Many of us went abroad for studies—I myself did—but we promptly returned home, for our careers were governed by a national purpose and also a moral one, for we were building not our careers, or our bank balance, but the future of a great nation.
This is exactly the opposite of what is happening in the case of the present young generation, for whom their personal careers come first, the country last. In other words, money comes first, everything else afterwards. And since money comes first, you don’t mind working for the Chinese or the Americans, or become Chinese or American citizens if that will help you take your career forward.
This is true not only of these young boys and girls, but the entire Indian middle class which is getting increasingly alienated from the society—and the nation. The Indian middle class is getting increasingly de-culturised and de-nationalised. Are we Indians, just because we were born in India? Is there no emotional bond between us and the country of our birth?
If the middle class is the backbone of the society we live in, it is dangerous for this class to be so alienated from the society and eventually from the country which is supposed to be their home. Perhaps they do not want a home at all. They are modern-day nomads, a rootless crowd of gypsies, always on the move, and always on the run, from one job to another, and from one pay-slip to another, running madly after the dollar, although the dollar itself is now losing its shine, and may soon be worth nothing. And when the dollar itself is worth nothing, these people too will be worth nothing, despite the millions in their computerised accounts!