Forty Plus: From Oldistan to Youngistan.

Yes it is true. We live in a country where Twenty year olds are represented by forty-two year old young urns. These forty-two and sixty-three year olds are distinguished in their area of expertise which does not exist. It is not a coincidence that they are politicians. And once again it is not a coincidence that they come from families which has a variety of people ranging across MLAs, MPs, PMs, CMs etc. They work hard to memorize speeches and end up shouting out the complete opposite of it. They work hard; in the gym and sweat it out; on the beach. They give to the society each and every thing their potential promises: from entertainment to pollution and kickbacks to illusions. They never let us down. The recent case of a political party declaring its sixty-three year old youth icon as the PM candidate brought tears to the eyes of another 85 year old young gentleman. As the great Arnab Goswami asked, “The nation wants to know: when shall the youth speak for themselves?!”

Various statistics show that the real young people in India account for over 60%-70% of the population. However this substantial section of the population has made various forty-two and sixty-three year old self anointed spokespersons, as its youth icons. But again, the fault isn’t limited to the domain of the power hungry.

Being a part of the real young brigade, I have noticed that the behavioral pattern among the youth is the same. We care more about staying awake to watch the UEFA cup than observing the political spectrum of the country. We are more interested in bringing creatures like Justin Bieber to the limelight than we are, in networking social causes. The perfection of the flavor of the Hookah matters more to us than the poverty of the child laborer serving it. We turn up at music concerts and dance performances more enthusiastically than at rallies against corruption and rape. Dating, mating and hating are our expert domains, rather than Educating, Organizing and Agitating! We do not believe in patriotism; we like to look for jobs in the West for quick bucks. We are an organized lot who are found in large groups, smoking and drinking in dark alleys and street corners. We do not believe in something known as clothing; the touch of cool air on our bellies and thighs is soothing indeed! We are more impressed by the charisma of Kratos than that of Gandhi. The sound of swear words is more soothing to us than the call of prayer.

At the end of day there is nothing such as youth empowerment left. How can there be? You need the youth to be empowered. But here it’s just an extreme fringe of God’s creation that remains. It is but natural then this should spawn these self appointed spokespersons of the youth who are more interested in polarizing and playing petty politics than actually working towards arming the youth.

It is true that there is a Youth Commission with sixty-three year old lads on it. But it is also true that it was the power of the youth which made the British bid us adieu 66 years ago. Youngsters are always the doers in the revolutions, the ones who march at the forefront of all struggles. Be it Jayprakash Narayan’s historic movements against authoritarian rule or Anna Hazare’s call for revolution, youngsters have responded to it all. We don’t need half-nude actresses or rich-father playboys as our role models. What the young today need is a chance, a chance to be a part of the revolution. We need young IAS, IPS, and IFS officers. We need young Lawyers, Policy Makers and Activists. We need young who are actually young. Not just young, but also honest and competent. There isn’t a worst combination than that of young, dishonest and incompetent.

I would like to raise a motion of entertainment. Sixty year old young people are people we should feel sorry for. They suffer from something known as the ‘Youngistan Syndrome’. It is a disease whose symptoms are: introverts in school life, ignored by peers, desperate and unsuccessful attempts at romance, addiction to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, ignored by peers once again, attempts at burglary, pick-pocketing, attention seeking, gang-building (gone fail), and in the end once again, ignored even by ignorant peers. All this spawns these 60 and 70 year old gentlemen who claim to be the youth despite the color of hair on their heads.

Due to the ire of the elders the young generation faces today, on account of their seemingly indifference to family, emotions, sensitivity, maternal and paternal life, this article speaks only about those young-old-whatsoever who assert their claim over the seats of power sincerely professing that they are doing it on behalf of India’s young generation.

Youngsters are the ones when driving a car, they are a driver, and someone else is driving a car and they’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it will! After all, our icons have taught us animal-sensitivity and ecological awareness. But all this doesn’t matter much; after all, ‘Being young is just a state of mind’.

Political parties have affiliates known as ‘Student’s Wing’ which fight university elections. These wings serve as a platform for those with a family background in politics. It is hardly surprising to see that three-fourths of the Presidents of the Delhi University Student’s Union come from a hardcore political household. It is hardly surprising to see that Bollywood is ruled by families wishing to shed more by the generation, and that their kids are, by a strange co-incidence, born with unmatched acting skills and beauty, minus the make-up, dresses and surgeries. It is hardly surprising to see that the son of the college principal treats the premises as his personal residence and its inhabitants as his servants.

All said and done, the true, original, unadulterated and rightful young person is the complete opposite of what is portrayed in picture-perfect, cozy movies. Unlike the Ray Ban wearing, Set-Wet gelled hair, Nike shoe and Zara clothed young chap seen on television, which is a per-dominantly alien species of the Indian youth, the fake bag, ironed shirt, and dark complexioned, oiled-hair young boy is the real image of the middle-class urban and rural youth. These CET coaching class attending students account for over three-fourth of the Indian youth; the three-fourth which is always joked upon and sneered at by the ‘cool dudes’. This is the section of society which needs to be worked upon. It needs an active participation of criminally inactive leaders to guide them. It needs to have the tag of isolation removed. What it needs is a chance to be a part of the mainstream and not be treated as a subject of aggressive and useless debating on 9 o clock news. A great Insects Rights activist once said, “We are a beehive, we are a beehive, not an elephant”.

For all those young torch bearers of democratic and vibrant India, it will perhaps be fit and appropriate to revisit Rabindranath Tagore’s epic lines:


“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; Where knowledge is free; Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls; Where words come out from the depth of truth; Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection; Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action; Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake”





Ziauddin Sherkar
An article by:
Ziauddin Sherkar

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