You left us 62 years ago. If you were still around, you would have been 140 years old. However, we have not forgotten you. You are on every banknote and most stamps. There are many statues of you. Prestigious roads in almost every city are named after you. Our politicians try to model themselves on you. They wear the fabric you promoted, they quote you at every instance, they’ve got a photograph of you in their office and some even eat and live like you. There are books, TV programmes and movies about you. Seriously, you’d be impressed at how much we still adore you.
However, there are things that won’t make you feel proud. The India you spent all your life making free, is far from free. True, the white guys are gone. But there are still millions of poor people. In 60 years, we are still among the poorest nations on earth. This lack of money leads to a lot of problems in healthcare, infrastructure and education. In education, for instance, many children still don’t go to a good school. Those who do, don’t get into good colleges. And those who go to college, don’t get good jobs. We need to get rich, and fast. Not only to make more schools and colleges, but also because most Indian problems are linked to lack of money. Yet, it is considered un-Indian to think that way. The young generation, which thinks like that, is considered materialistic and greedy. The older generation takes the moral high ground – slowness in work is termed patience, non-stop discussion and no action is called careful consideration and lack of improvement in standards of living is countered with claims about the need to live with austerity. And yes, in many cases politicians who speak like this claim to be your fanboys.
The younger generation wishes you could come down for one day and clarify these points. Is progress un-Indian? Is change bad? Is a desire to see my country as rich as some other nations materialistic? Is getting things done fast impatience? If you blessed our purpose of making a developed India, the job would become so much easier.
The young generation needs you down here for something else too. We have a new battle here, just like the one you fought with the British. The enemy is not so clear like it was in your case – the white people. Our enemy is the old school of thought, or rather the people who defend the old school of thought. They do this in the name of antique Indian policies, culture and values. You could help identify this enemy more clearly. Many people who are at the helm of affairs now have served India for decades, maybe with good intentions. But obviously, they don’t want to accept they screwed up. We wish they would though and we’d have a national day of shame. It won’t be easy, but from there we can make a new beginning. But they won’t, for they are in power. And to defend themselves and their ways, they don’t mind crushing the aspirations, ideas and talent of an entire generation.
Yes, there is a lot of talk of India being a young nation and youth power. However, youth power is the biggest myth going around India right now. Of course, youth has spending power – we can buy enough SIM cards, sneakers and fizzy drinks to keep many MNCs in business. But we do not have the power to change things. Can the youth get a new college opened? Can the youth ask the government to give tax incentives to MNCs to relocate jobs to smaller towns? No way. We are wooed, used but seldom heard. If you came down, you could unite us. You used religious festivals as social events and propagated your cause. You understood that people need entertainment to bind them. Perhaps, we could integrate colleges in the same way, link all colleges – maybe for their annual festivals – and the message of change could be channelled through them. We have amazing technology such as the Internet now.
You would use it so well. If the youth unites, there could actually be youth power.
With our purpose blessed, enemy identified and youth united – we could take the first steps towards the new Indian revolution. After all, China had one, and only after that, did they get on the path of true progress.
But if it is not feasible for you to come back, we’ll have to try to bring about change ourselves. If we can be inspired to do that, we can say we have not forgotten you and understand the meaning of your birthday. We hope you had a good one up there!
Lots of love,
the younger generation
(also known as Youngistan, Gen X, Gen Next and Gen Y depending on the brand you’re talking about)
October 4, 2009 (The Times of India)