Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Confusion Says

This is going to come across as one of the weirdest entries read by you,Im sure.I think it would give an in depth idea of the confusion that lies in the minds of the Indian metropolitan youth today.As for the observations on which my deductions are based,the guinea pigs are of course me,my friends and the knowledge gained from couple fo dozen movies on the Indian youth(The sources of information that every urban teen bases all his judgements on)

We are a generation of youngsters deeply inspired by anything that happening around us.Just like any other generation,except that while what was around our parents was poverty and lack of opportunity, what is around us is a dozen avenues and an extremely strong media that makes the dozen seem like a million. We are a generation heavily influenced by movies,music and books.Almost all our judgements are based on them.And as there are so many of each,hence the conflicting ideas and all the confusion.

When Dil Chahta Hai came out, everyone loved the way the new generation was portrayed in the movie - confused,confident and classy.When Lakshya released,everyone critically acclaimed the portrayal of the Indian metropolitan youth to be a confused spoilt but talented(somehow) lot, who have no idea what they want to do in life, but somehow end up luckily finding out what that is and successful pretty soon.

I, being a resident of Mumbai, may not know today what is happening regarding the nuclear deal but sure as hell know which look is being sported by whom and what new brand of clothes that Shah Rukh Khan endorses is.

There is an upside as well as a downside to everything.The downside of a generation brought up in such an environment is pretty obvious and talked about so much that I don’t want to dwell on it here.I am yet to figure out whether any concrete upside exists.I just want to post what I feel about it,because I'm assuming that’s how most of us are feeling.

Everyone of us have seen what it is like to be successful, to be glamorous and to live the good life, thanks to the active(forgive me for the mild word) media that exists in our country today.The extravagance of the rich,the attitude,the class and the "sophisticated" look has been shown so many times on TV that that is just about the only thing we associate with success.Hence, when I think about where I want to be in life a few years down the line, the image of a smart looking corporate dude having a nice drink with all his mates in a swank bar after a week of making sophisticated deals clearly comes to my mind.

What I am not clear on is what exactly it is that I will do to make it happen. What exactly is it that I want to do? What is the purpose of what I am doing(I would like to mention here that this is a question that bothers our generation a lot in comparison to the previous one simply because in their case the answer was pretty starightforward - To get rid of the poverty that surrounds them.I think this dominance of question "WHY" that is being asked by our generation is the prime reason why spirituality is much more popular with the urban youth today than in the yesteryears.We tend to want to know the reason for everything that we do,but dont seem to have any logical answer other than money and fame.)

One classic example of the importance of fame in our life is the fact that jobs which involve glitz and glamour today are the only jobs as sought after as those which are the most paid(and in most cases, both these jobs are not the same unless you are top management).We are a generation which I think is very insecure, looking for acceptance and acclaim from others to be sure of what we are doing.

How many times have each of us heard the line, "Today, you kids are so lucky. There are so many opportunities for you. It is not like how it was for us, where everyone wanted to be either a doctor or an engineer."
But the irony is that the number of engineering and medical colleges in India are mushrooming, and this is not just because of the population explosion. Most of us are too unsure of what we want to do. We are too scared to make a choice. So we end up doing something that makes us socially acceptable and then gain confidence from others appreciation. The one off case of the boy who takes humanities after getting a 90 percent is talked about so much. But no one talks about the 50 percent kid who takes Science with bio because of parental pressure. Isn’t it true that in most cases the people with high marks end up doing science and ones with low marks venture into the “various new opportunities” that we talk about so much today(I know Im generalizing a bit too much here)?Isnt it true that most of the students who venture into these new opportunities are girls and not boys,because taking such a huge "risk" is unacceptable by the boys parents?

To make matters worse, we are not part of a society where going back to study (especially to do your undergraduate education) is socially acceptable due to which one has to choose, irrespective of whether the choice is made by him or his close ones or is just plain guesswork. This is partly because all of us, having seen the fruits of being successful and rich, are too impatient to wait to taste it. The idea of losing a couple of years in the rat-race is catastrophe. What if you have to work under your own friend in case you join late? What if you are not that successful and your mates are rising up the corporate ladder faster than you?I think these are the main questions that influence our decisions today, and I still am not sure whether it is wrong to be asking them. Frankly, why shouldn’t one ask them?

A couple of days back the army came to college to recruit students. It got me thinking. I did a little bit of research on it. With an initial pay of around 5 lakhs(I think it is cash in hand),followed with the free accommodation, transportation etc. a job in the army did sound like an extremely good option(considering my branch’s average salary in college is around 4.5 lakhs.And Im not even mentioning the awesome learning experience,amazing social circle and facilities the army has to offer).But of course, there is a catch. The Short Service Commision requires that one work for a minimum of 5 years before retirement.

5 years! The moment I heard that, I revised my calculations. Assuming I join a private company with a pay package of around 4 lakhs to begin with. Given that I do decently, how far up the ladder would I be in 5 years? Better still, say I work for a couple of years and then do my MBA and enter the industry again. Where would that put me?

In comparision, say I work in the Army for 5 years and then retire and enter the market for the first time. The whole sweet picture begins to crumble. For all the experience that I would have gained in 5 years in the army, would have lost 5 years of exposure to the industry where I want (or rather will) work in for the rest of my life.The quick reward seeking nature of my generation makes this unacceptable to me. (It would be interesting to note here that in this whole discussion, the talk of national pride and stuff doesn’t come in at all)

Chetan Bhagat,in his speech on 30th August,2008 in my college The National Institute of Technology,Calicut(in the event Spitfire 08,conducted by the Literary and Debating Club) mentioned a very astute observation. When one goes to a bunch of kids in Kindergarten and asks, "How many of you draw?" almost everyone raises their hands, irrespective if whether they draw well or not. The point being they are all willing to try. Ask the same question to a bunch of college undergrads. Most will not raise their hands. Doesn’t that mean we are afraid to try?

I don’t exacty know where I am going with this.But this is by far,the most personal post I have written(and I guess the most critical).Hopefully will commence and interesting discussion and be good food for thought.


Dez said...

pretty good post, dude...

seldom does blog stuff interest me enuff to finish it...n then think bout it later :)...

i think the fact that u actually raise these questions with urself (in truth, u arent asking anyone else these questions), u're most likely to come up with answers that, if followed, u will have what u think is worthwhile in your life, not necessarily what Page 3 of a Newspaper thinks is worthwhile...

i do not need to wish u good luck...u're most likely to get it


(Open Humour Blog)

ashish.cs88 said...

This is a gud one...cldnt have agreed more with the science and humanities part..Like everybody arnd I know what I wanna do but have no idea why I wanna do it...but the confusion is actually staying in the comfort zone and taking risks...we will follow it up in the hostel..;)

The Genesis of Oblivion said...

Excellent post man!!..u speak everyones mind here!!..no one has a clue about what they want!! They just move on with the hype of things...for example..Everyone wants to get into an IIT but very few of them are actually interested in engineering. Its either purely to satisfy parental dreams or or the social acclaim for such an accomplishment that drives the new generation. I believe passion should be our driving force and not the reasons stated above!

/-\ D I D /-\ $ I-I said...

how true...all thumbs up fr this one!

gothicwind said...

I like your writing style. The kinda questions you've thrown up are interesting and very relevant. I hope a pleasant slash heated discussion followed post this.

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether I can debate on this.one reason being I'm equally confused too! so certainly you voice out the opinion of the majority. but i think everyone has got to make a choice based on his/her preferences. and each choice comes with it's own ramifications.
Looking forward to hearing a lot more from 'confusion' :). Keep blogging.

Desperado said...

Hi, I am 24 and about 2-3 years ago I was the same as you. I didn't read your post completely but I know what it would contain. The main confusion that we have here is because of the freedom our country has given to its people. Ask your Dad if he had so many choices as we do in his youth. He would definitely say, that his choices were limited. Today you have so much of freedom dude. And even after travelling so much you are still telling you are confused. What I am trying to say here is that if you still feel all you know is about what Shahrukh Khan is wearing and nothing about the nuclear deal, then may be should go and check what the deal is all about. See in the newspaper to find what's lies in the pages after the much hyped "Page-3". Do you think Shah Rukh Khan became such a star by reading the Page-3 and stuff. Our parents , never imposed anything on us that u must become this and u must become that, because they want us find out for ourselves. If you ask your dad, "Dad I am confused I don't know what to do> ", all he would say, "Son, whatever you do, I will be by ur side !" Explore everything you can and you will know what to do. Because, you are bound be get through the campus being in NIT. In the early days of your job, you will feel good, but it will soon wear out its charm and lustre, you will be confused again. You will know what you want only after you join the much lauded "Software firm" when you realise this is not the place you wanted to be. Believe me friend, it is out of experience I am talking. Don't be confused and go ahead explore everything, what you have not fetched until now. Suddenly you will come know what you are good at and what you are interested in. I am telling this as a friend and please don't take it as some kind of "lecture baazi" and stuff. I know it is indeed boring to read all this stuff, but believe me it becomes interesting only when you learn/experience it yourself.

Displaced Indian said...

Dont give up. Confusion is good, it prompts you to think. Dont wait for it to end to take decisions though.

Even the most confused of youth in India do gather enough momentum to roll along with their friends to complete some graduation. They are fit enough to get some job. It may not be the best they can do, it may not be what they want to do eventually. But they start.

Compare that to countries like UK and USA (I have lived substantial years in both places) - They take time off after High school to decide what they want to do! Some can decide and go back to school. Others fritter away in the fringes for a long time before they get somewhere in life.

It is naive to think that we have one career in our entire life. We dont. People change careers atleast once in their lives. The American average is to change even Industries 5 times in their career. All Techies change to management eventually in India, and so on. So there is always time to turn back to what you will enjoy. To start rolling is the key!