THERE is a quiet social revolution taking place in India of which few are aware. Nobody talks about it, largely because it raises unpleasant questions that nobody wants to face. There are several factors which have contributed to this revolution, if that is the right word to use.
One is the intrusion of technology in our daily lives. Another is the employment opportunities available to women, which is increasingly making them feel they no longer need to depend either upon their parents or, if they are married, on their husbands. Yet another is the access to higher education which is contributing to rising expectations among women. Old values are crumbling. Parent-children relationships are deteriorating. Teenagers often do not want to listen to advice from elders. They live in a world of their own. How can parents lay down the law if their children earn more than they do? There are instances of some earning anything from Rs 75,000 to Rs one lakh a month, thanks to the overnight growth of Information Technology. They do not want to stay with their parents but want to be on their own.
Not so long ago, Hindustan Times (August 19, 2012) carried an article by an IIT graduate who said young people these days “rent apartments, stay single longer, have multiple sexual partners (and) they drink and do soft drugs.” Parents do not dare to interfere. Recently there was an instance of a young woman, just married (hardly a week had passed) seeking divorce because she realised that she was to stay with her husband and with his elderly parents who had nowhere to go and were totally dependent on their son.
Many young women, in fact, do not want to get married in their early twenties because they don’t want to sacrifice their ‘independence’. Nor do they want to have children at that age because that will deprive them of “fun”, having just graduated. Parents are increasingly being sidelined.
In urban areas, single women don’t at all feel they are doing anything wrong in visiting pubs and staying on till late at night. One understands that there are in some cities like Mumbai pubs which are exclusively for women. Parents find it hard to ‘contain’ their growing children. One may remember what happened in a place like Mangalore some months ago when unmarried youngsters were celebrating their birthdays with liquor flowing at a disreputable rented place called Home Stay. The locals objected to it but were charged by our liberal intellectuals with attempting ‘moral policing’. The theory was that no one had the right to interfere with the preferred lifestyle of the GenNext.
In the circumstances it does not come as a surprise to learn from a recent survey in Hindustan Times (January 2, 2013) that ninety two out of 100 Delhi males in the 18-25 year age bracket say that “some or all of their friends have made passes at women in public places” even while “more than 78 per cent women in the capital have been sexually harassed in the past year (2012).”
Sex is freely exhibited. One has only to buy some of the leading English newspapers – I am omitting their names, but readers in urban centres like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata would know who the guilt ones are to know to what depths of degradation journalism in India has fallen. Publishing pictures of semi-nude girls especially in city supplements is the order of the day and no one is complaining lest they are charged with Hindu fundamentalism. Exhibiting sex in all its vulgarity is now becoming standard practice since it increases circulation. When RSS chieftain Shri Mohan Bhagwat mentioned that there is a visible clash between ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’, our so-called intellectuals bashed him. Shri Bhagwat was merely telling the truth. Westernised minds hate to be reminded that they are slipping. For another, nude pictures are available in plenty in the Internet. What is more painful for an teenager is to live in a small apartment with his parents with little personal interaction with them. What they don’t get from their elders is open love, care and concern – and this they seek elsewhere. Given the limitations of time and space, parents and children do not together participate in religious feasts and festivities. It is fashionable to be “secular”. Very few families conduct ‘puja’ at home and families do not visit temples as a group. Hinduism has become a tag and it is fashionable to make fun of Sri Ram, Laxman and Sita, witness some of the statements made on TV to which, surely, Arnav Goswami will testify.
A growing middle middle and upper middle Hindu class is getting alienated from Hinduism and it would be an exception to find anyone able to quote a line from the Gita, let alone the Upanishads. There is indeed a growing gap between an ‘Indian’ and a ‘Bharatiya’ which no one wants to recognise. This is trickling down to rural areas as well. To be acceptable to our ‘Indians’ one has to take Tipu Sultan as an icon, if Girish Karnad represents that class. It is this class which has pretensions to lay down who is acceptable to rule the country. And it is this class which finds it expedient to promote hatred against Narendra Modi.
The damage done to our culture is there for all to see. It is showing up and it is painful to watch. The word “freedom” is misused and consequently it is leading to all sorts of crimes. But the greater tragedy is that those who care, are afraid to speak out and those who speak out and express their feelings are condemned as ‘communalists’ and worse. Freedom of speech has become the monopoly of our secularists. Society is in turmoil and the difference between right and wrong is slowly getting erased, and it is the GenNext that is hurt most. Confusion prevails.
There is no Vivekananda to offer leadership. The Indian Union even seems frightened to observe the Swami’s 150th birth anniversary, lest it is attacked as turning communal. We have become a nation of cowards. When revolutions take place, large-scale suffering is inevitable and that is what our society is currently undergoing. The revolution is not recognised because it is not sponsored; it is internal and that is why it hurts more. One only hopes that some day it will end and we will emerge as a happier and intellectually better honed people, qualified to lead the world. That is historically inevitable and part of the process of growth as has been witnessed in the past whether in Europe or here in Asia itself.