Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lost in this “new” world



I am convinced I am well on the path towards old age! I am increasing spending more time on the “nostalgia trip” reminiscing about childhood and youth depicting them as a golden period!  But I am not alone. I find a lot of people of my generation are indulging in this. Why?  Is it just that these were times in our lives when we were without a care in this world or is it that we lived during a time when life was easier?

But the question is who is to decide that? If we look at the development indicators of our country today and compare it with what it was in the 1970s and 80s then it does not look like life was very easy in those times. Medical science had not achieved  the heights that is has today  It was a time when every other child used to suffer from Primary complex. Smallpox and polio were a reality. Tuberculosis was still a dreaded disease resulting in people having to live in “sanatoriums”. Villages lived in darkness after the evening and few people had access to education. 

However, I guess for the middle classes, life was difficult but not so hard. We had access to health care and education. But unemployment was something that most people in the middle classes dreaded. Getting a “decent job” was a must for all males from the middle class. What constituted “decent” was something white collar where one sat across a table and did something with a pen!

India has obviously come a long way from those times. 

But at a more philosophical level, I feel what is missing now is the “fire” that burned in people, particularly the youth. There was the desire to change things. It was not just in India , the entire world was burning with this fire. The movement in the US against segregation, the Vietnam war, the songs that were written, the “flower power” cult  that came up bear testimony to the fact that the world was still holding on to ideals. Closer home we had the Naxalite movement which had a huge participation from the educated youth. Sure, there was politics and corruption but nothing near what it is now.  The Media was not judge and jury creating heroes and villains out of people! Like others they also had a conscience! I remember during the days of the emergency in our country, some newspapers came up with a blank editorial. 

While I am all for the positive change that has come about in today’s world in terms of development I think what is missing is that idealism. People tell me that it is the market economy that is the culprit. I am not sure. I think, it has something to do with a general change in the value system that has come about. Achievements in terms of tangibles are very important today. It is what house you live in, the car you drive that tells people who you are. It is okay to flaunt what you have and be proud of it. People see it as a reward for their “hard work”. 

But more than anything is a sense of disconnect that we have with anything that does not immediately affect us.  There is a certain cynicism that has overtaken us. We have more access to information and differing view point on the same issue presented to us literally on a plate, yet we do not act on this information.  
Even knowledge seems to have undergone a change in definition! Actually what constitutes knowledge in today’s times is very different. It is very technology and money focused. Sure, both these are very essential in making life easier but can we allow them to take over our lives? They can also be used to enrich our lives but we don’t! That self centered being within us does not allow us to !.

We in India may have consolidated ourselves as a nation and become a power to reckon with in this region but we are getting fragmented by the day along lines of religion, caste and ethnicity. Our politics bears testimony to the fact.
We are unsafe even within our own neighborhoods. You can’t say when or where a bomb would explode. And this is probably the single most unifying condition across the world. Yet, it does not help in bringing us together to extinguish the feeling of hate behind it. Hatred is dealt with hatred keeping the fire burning.

This is the world that we are leaving behind for our children. But the point is, do they care? They are so blissful , enjoying their own comforts and chasing behind some more that none of these things seem to really matter to them. A death in a bomb blast, a case of death by starvation is just another news item. 

Everything and everyone today can be bought off. You just need to have the capacity to pay. Even the naxal movement of the 70s has been reduced to that. All existential questions can seemingly be answered through the currency option. 

A dream today is about a life where you have the capacity to pay for whatever is required to be paid for. Sad….!!!  I shudder to think what we are heading for..the apocalypse? 

I think I must sign off now. Guess I am ready to be labeled as well and truly senile!!

6 comments:

KParthasarathi said...

It is a brilliant post.
I would look at the many positives in the present times compared to the olden days.
The young children today are smarter. They know a lot of things which as a boy I had never heard of.
The exposure they have these days through technology is incredible. My grandson can talk on any subject.
The young things have grown beyond man made differences and mingle freely with all. The barriers are breaking down at least among the educated.
Opportunities to grow and become big are open to all. Only requirement is passion to succeed.Even money doesn’t matter. People from humble circumstances make big.
The population has exploded and has brought in its wake both positive and negative effects. Technology is gearing to meet the challenges in every field-agriculture, medicine, communication, transport and education..
The laid back attitude of olden days, with home food, very little travel and with no windows opens to outside world had its charm but had perforce to yield its place for new and busy order.
Values are changing and there is nothing sacrosanct or permanent about them. Just as we cannot compare the values of Dwapara yuga with Kali yuga, we should desist comparing the olden days even in this century. We are not as our parents are in outlook.
Change is constant and we need to adapt to it

Meera Sundararajan said...

Yes KP, change is the only thing in this world that is "constant". Lord Tennyson had quoted in "The passing of Arthur"- " The old order changeth yielding place to the new" . Each individual is a product of their times.

SG said...

In those days, people were more conscientious about values or morals. Not so much about money and prestige. Two people have to work outside now and kids are growing up on their own. This has become a necessity. It is harder now than before.

pallavi puri said...

Hi Meera,

Vey well written indeed!

Life has changed drastically in India over the last few decades and in a way i still miss the 90's. The simple joys of watching jungle book on sundays mornings (box TV), going for rides on a bajaj scooter, holidays at grandparents's house in the hills and playing outside with friends. I do remember small pox and polio being dreaded. So much has changed... Today in the era of iphones, advanced medical science and technology, i still miss those days of my childhood when half these things were not even available.

simple girl..... said...

You know what .. you are absolutely right when you say that idealism is not there.. if one tells they think this, it can happen the next day that their views have changed.. I do not know whether this is flexibility or being fickle minded, what to call it? All this has resulted in people becoming more complex I think.. Then the running after money, more money, the divide in the poor and middle class - everything is becoming complex..Whether this is Good or bad - I don't know, I am just experiencing and trying to sail through the chaos around..

anilkurup said...

M, this is something that many of our generation would lament about.
However I cannot disagree with KP that there are positives that have come about now. But then a closer look would show us that the positives are more superficial vis a vis matters of technological advancement, aren’t they?
The fire and the idealism that ensconced and enveloped youth and society in the past- the sixties and the early seventies have vanished or have been eclipsed by the general outlook of people. Indifference and selfishness is the sine qua non of what is a human being.
It is indeed a situation that cannot keep away cynicism
It is the outlook of people madam, the society sans frontiers that has brought this about.

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