Times and Trends

A recurrent feature since the history of mankind is the concept of the Generation Gap between youngsters and adults. This is a situation wherein the former and the latter differ in their thoughts, values, expectations and behavior, largely leading to miscommunication and misunderstandings.

This trend was first noticed in the West during the 1960’s when the difference between the Baby Boomers ( persons born post World War II) and their parents became strikingly apparent. They differed in their aspirations, desires and even individualistic matters such as tastes in music, fashion, political orientation and a newfound indulgence in drugs. On their part, the Baby Boomers became rebellious in order to satisfy their needs.

The scenario in India is complex when it comes to understanding this trend. The population consists of a mix of people with orthodox, liberal and some, with a blend of both these views. People, being deeply rooted in their culture, are sometimes unable to understand the way their children behave. For one, I have noticed that many parents, who strictly commanded that their children should gather for all meals together as a family at their dining table, are upset with the fact that their children prefer to eat their meals while watching television, speaking to their friends on the phone or surfing the net.

Another study indicates that adolescents are increasingly getting addicted to their mobile phones, I pods, play stations etc. While in the 1990’s, mobile phones were purchased by a small fraction of the Indian society, today, mobile phones have become more of a necessity for youngsters as well; with it’s attractive add-on features like Mp3 players, video recording, high quality camera’s; all the benefits available in one gadget.

In terms of fashion, like in all societies, some follow trends and some don’t. Each person has a personal style of their own; some families might find a certain outfit on their child objectionable, another may not. Today’s culture is definitely very different from what it was in our parents’ generation. Parties, an ever expanding circle of friends, tastes in music and modes of entertainment, random and spontaneous decisions on important matters, often are an enigma to the average middle class Indian parent.

On very similar lines of that of the West, the DINK syndrome has matured to a great extent in India. DINK refers to the Double Income No Kids syndrome. Increasingly, people are now exposed to challenging fields which offer generous rewards for hard work and diligence. Women have, through higher education and work experience, raised to positions of seniority and respect in all fields, right from Banking to Entertainment to the Service industry. Married couples these days, prefer to spend the first ten years, on an average, on building their careers and delaying the arrival of a child in the family. This is a different feature in a place like India, deeply rooted in its culture, where, maybe three decades ago, a newly married couple would work on building a family from the very first month.

Generation gaps are inseparably linked with the process of evolution, because it is a fact, that with time, things change. While change always comes with shortcomings and merits, it is possible to equalize the two and find a silver lining. It would be too simplistic to conclude that the youth are disconnected from their values and culture. But in changing times, it is necessary for them to keep abreast with all the new developments in their societies and economies. Yes, the youth today are very different from the youth of the 1970’s. Technological evolutions, new trends, expanding fields of work; all these have changed our life and lifestyle. Our aspirations are achievable; the world has become a more compact place to live in, with the help of the internet, social networking websites, mobile phones etc. Every phase of life always brings change, undoubtedly bringing up the issue of a Generation Gap between the youth and their parents. The debate continues. I read a quote some days back regarding the New Deal of the 1930’s; just like the New Deal, in my opinion, the concept of Generation Gaps is “no revolution, some evolution and much preservation”.

Aditi Ghosh
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