The “In-between” Generation of Indians: Caught in Two Worlds or the Best of Both?

One of the things that I learnt from the recent anti-corruption movement is that I think there is a generation of Indians who are the ‘in-between’ generation. People from the older generation were generally initially quite cynical, the ones from the newer generation were generally quite positive from the start, and a large part of the in-between generation were quite literally ‘in-between’. I may be wrong here, but this is just a point of view.

Generally, people talk of the Indian economy in two parts – the pre-1991 license and government raj and the post 1991 liberalization era. By way of distinct ways of thinking, I think there are three Indian generations. The pre 1991 generation that was born, and more or less done with a major part of their working life by the 1980’s and 1990’s.  Then there is a post 1991 generation, those who were born in the 80’s and 90’s, and who generally cannot quite imagine how life was before the 1990’s. And then there is the ‘in-between’ generation – people born in the late 60’s and 70’s, who grew up in the ‘government era’ and even, perhaps, started working in that era, but who were positioned to be the early beneficiaries of the economic changes happening right under their nose.

Not quite from the old era, not quite fully from the new era. Not quite held back, not quite breaking free, but caught ‘in-between’.

rockandahardplaceLike many of them never went outside India till they finished their education, and still a lot of them have seen the world. So a lot of them are caught between whether they like to stay in India and abroad.

Like many of them have seen job security in the early part of their careers, and then with increasing opportunities, have taken advantage of them, but have also seen the pressure that comes with it, and the demise of guaranteed employment. So a lot of them are stuck between whether it is a ‘me first’ or the ’employer first’.

Like the women in this generation are neither ambitious enough to clearly go for their career over family; nor are they willing to compromise on either one. So they are caught between ‘family first’ or ‘career first’.

Like the men in this generation want to have a life with their wife and kids, but they also think taking care of their parents is their responsibility. So the men are caught between their own family or their parents.

They want the good things that life offers, but have also seen what life used to be and could have been. So they are caught between chasing what is possible and being happy with what they have.

Look at it one way, this generation has been caught between a rock and a hard place. Look at it another way, this generation has got the best of both worlds.

May be there is some sense in this, may be this is fully my imagination. Perhaps the reality is somewhere ‘in between’.

The Government on Lokpal: Giving Precedence to Form over Substance

A few observations I made over the past few days, since Anna Hazare went on a fast for a strong anti-corruption law.

That the government’s recent responses to Team Anna and the public demand for a strong anti-corruption law seems to be like that of someone asking a dying man to fill a form at the hospital.

That someone needs to ask the government, similar to the way Munnabhai asked Dr Asthana in the movie “Woh casualty ke bahar aadmi mar raha hota hai, to usko form bharna zaroori hai kya?”

That the government still does not get it that it must give precedence to substance over form, intent over procedure, at least for something as important as setting up a strong Lokpal.

That saying that ‘the Delhi Police is following procedures to maintain order’ and ‘Parliament should be allowed to make laws’ look like giving more priority to procedure over intent.

And responses like ‘present your views to the standing committee for consideration’, or ‘a private member bill cannot be introduced when there is already a government bill introduced’, or ‘the legislative procedure will not allow the bill to be passed in this session of parliament’ – all of these are akin to asking people who are already desperate for change and action – ‘to fill forms’.

Like the government is looking more and more like Dr Asthana from the movie, bashing its head over how to handle the non-violent rebellion from a group of  ‘common citizens’ who have garnered the support of thousands more.

That the government still does not understand that decent, law-abiding, normal citizens of society generally do not join protests spontaneously on roads. That despite fully knowing that it is not the ‘proper’ thing to do, there must a strong reason for their doing so, which the government needs to fix.

That it is a clear problem of giving precedence to form rather than substance, and procedure rather than intent.

And that the more the government focuses on procedure, the more its intent will be doubted.

That this is not the time to think about vote banks, urban versus rural, communal versus secular for the government. The people who are fasting, joining the protests and supporting the movement do not seem to be thinking about it.

That while some people may think Anna’s procedure is not right, most people are not questioning his intent.

That while some people may think the government’s procedure is right, most people are questioning their intent. Which is not good news.

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