Aspirations rising, but is youth willing to work hard enough?

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Sep 01, 2014 18:21 IST

Churning on social media by some youths after the December 2012 Delhi gang-rape-murder led to a national movement, forcing the government to change the anti-rape law. While they are looking for role models, young Indians are also becoming the change they want to see. But they are also “over-aspirational” and want instant success in life. These were some of the views that panellists expressed in the debate on ‘What Young India Wants’, at the annual HT Youth Forum on Saturday.


Lyricist Irshad Kamil set the tone by saying that it is very difficult to understand the tangent of today’s youth. He was seconded by writer-journalist Neelesh Misra, who felt the youth today has a split personality — they want idealistic changes in the system but at the same time want all the luxury in life, from big brands to swanky cars.

Bhagwant Mann, AAP MP from Sangrur, who rode youth and social media power to a record victory in Punjab in the Lok Sabha elections, said parental pressure is still not letting youth make their own choices in life. Using his trademark wit and satire, Mann cited the example of a young man from his constituency who was being forced to go to Canada by his parents. “There should be no detective agents at home. There is still a conflict between what parents want and what their children aspire to… Gharwalon se baghi hokar hi kaam karna padta hai (You have to rebel against parents to do you what you actually want to),” he said.


Actor and Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher, however, opined that youth today is “over-aspirational” and does not want to put in years of hard work. “You have to work your way up, step by step. But today’ syouth wants to get to the top, and get there fast. At times, even by using wrong means,” the BJP leader said.

Also from the world of cinema, actor Mahie Gill expressed her concern over the less number of seats in colleges and universities for students who are not toppers. Underlining that she completed studies before venturing into films, she said, “You need education to succeed in life. But the cut-off percentages are so high in colleges that even those with 70-80% marks do not get into any good college.”


Here Mann made a quick addition that the “90% who do not make it to good colleges are termed as nalayak (useless)”. Kamil, however, had an added take on education: “Today’s youth is more aware, but not that intelligent.”

Misra added, “The youth today is better equipped. Even my five-year-old nephew knows how to use WhatsApp and all of that. The next stage of evolution will be what was what was seen in the national capital in 2012 — the public outrage over the Delhi gangrape-murder was led by the youth, without any politician or party leading them.”

He added that in the world of lyrics too, “real change will happen when someone will | write lyrics that describe a dark-skinned girl as beautiful” There is a place for that, he stressed.


When the house was opened for interaction, one of the young achievers, Lovedeep Singh Dhingra, asked if it was wrong to be “over-aspirational”. Kher, who had made the observation, said she had only meant that the youth should not crave for instant success or try to achieve it by wrong means.

Mann had his own analogy to offer. “An egg can give birth to another life only when it hatches by itself. If broken by outside force, the life inside it too is killed.”

A voice from the audience highlighted the lack of good role models for youth in public life. Summing up the debate on this note, Kamil said “We have to be careful about what we are serving the youth. We must first judge ourselves. As a lyricist, I ask myself, ‘what am I writing for the youth?’”

Misra said young India wants to see social change “or at least an honest attempt towards change”.

“India is sitting on a time-bomb of unemployment, and it is ticking. There is widespread whitecollar joblessness. These youngsters are over-skilled for rural jobs, but lack degrees for even basic jobs in cities,” he added.

Kher underlined that change must begin at home. Citing the incidence of rape, she said, “In talk-shows on TV and articles in newspapers, we are preaching to the converted! We need to change mindsets, and it needs to happen at the grassroots.”

Gill reinforced the need for education for youth and need for strict laws for the delinquent. “Strict punishment serves as a deterrent. But the change in values should begin from home,” she added.

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