Poets, through the ages, wrote and sang of carpe diem. Popularly, it is understood to mean 'seize the day', an exhortation to revel and marvel in the moment rather than brood over the future. Carpe diem is the celebration of youth, and going by recent news reports, Indian youth should be seizing the day with a greater sense of urgency and vigour than their counterparts in other times and climes. The new draft youth policy, unveiled last week, has introduced changes in the age bracket that defines the young. While earlier, one had the leisure to be young anywhere between 13 and 35 years, 16 to 30 years is all the leeway that one is to be allowed from now on.
The reason wayward fleet-footed youth has been made even more so is to realign how the young are described in prevalent international definitions. The Commonwealth regards those between ages 15 and 29 as young, while the stricter, more forbidding United Nations thinks that those above 24 have no business feeling anything except that they are on a steady march to the grave. The Indians consequently have no other option but to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, forsake the fun and frolic that was theirs and act grave and mature.
We, for our part, believe that it would have been prudent to extend, rather than curtail, what it is to be young in this country. Given our tendency to let our parents and sundry other elder relations decide what is to be our livelihood, who we want to marry, how many children we might have and where we must all reside, there is something within us that baulks at the concept of acting responsible and grown-up until we are grey and senile. Given the burden of all that cultural baggage, acting old at 30 seems to be a very tall order.