I recently came across a heartening statistic which said that by 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 28 years, that of a Chinese will be 39 years and that of a Japanese citizen will be 47 years. To further corroborate the figures, with an additional workforce of 47 million by 2020, we will be much better placed than China who would precariously lose a massive 10 million workers in the next 15 years. In such a scenario, the Indian ‘Tiger’ will presciently overpower the Chinese ‘Dragon’. I certainly agree that Indians are ambitious by nature and have an innate desire to climb high on the ladder of accomplishment and success. It clearly separates them from their daunting neighbour who wants to project its clean cut image as a major emerging power – the fact, that it compromises the ideals of transparency and truth in the process, notwithstanding. Indian ‘youth’ is certainly touted as the next big thing with punch lines like “Ye Hai Youngistan Meri Jaan” and “Jaago Re” doing the rounds of the TV and radio frequencies. But there is a sad aspect to it, a sidelined one which few people have noticed or rather would like to notice.
I shall begin by throwing some light on my own case. I would not say that I belong to a wealthy family but I consider myself highly fortunate to be born into a well-off family. Not that it was always like this. Like most other middle class families of the 80s, my dad and mom have toiled hard, skimped on all kinds of things and saved diligently to pay for my sister’s and my own education. It wasn’t an easy road to travel. But they made it through and today I can say that I can pursue my own interests without having to really worry about feeding my family – they have enough to live a comfortable life. But there are others who are not so fortunate. I have some friends who know where their interests lie, but baulk at the idea of pursuing them because the chances of being successful at them are not as high compared to what they will be if they follow the highly treaded path of a conventional 9 to 6 job. I know their heart does not lie in following the crowd. But when I recently asked a friend to fill up a form for MBA in an institute of his field of interest, his reply knocked me off my feet. He said that he would not fill up the particular form because the job henceforth would not pay him enough. He summed it up by saying that after all he has to give something back to his parents some time. I know that friend would never place financial gains over satisfaction derived from work. But he is not doing something he wants to do, and certainly can do, but is giving it all up for his parents. Well, so much for the commonly held belief, made palpable by movies like Baghban, that today’s generation is not much bothered about looking after their parents. I personally think that this belief is totally unfounded and spurious, to say the least. There may always be the vile and the depraved who do not care a fig as to who will look after their parents, but I have come across many, who do not hold anything above the sense of gratitude and indebtedness they feel towards their folks who have raised them up and put them on their feet. It is pure bliss to meet people who have a burning desire to pursue what they really want to do – and as Ayn Rand said, it is the most difficult thing in the world to do just that – but my heart pains to see how some monetary stability is preventing them from treading the path of satisfaction and happiness. This is one of the sad aspects of life that I wistfully think about.