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HindustanTimes Mon,29 Dec 2014

Features

Born free, but living by the rules
Abhijit Patnaik, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 10, 2011
First Published: 16:14 IST(10/8/2011)
Last Updated: 20:17 IST(10/8/2011)

The tune has changed from 'Nanna Munna Rahi hu' to 'Munni badnaam hui' in the last sixty-four years; what has not changed is the importance of living in a free country according to today’s youth—nearly 90% still consider August 15, 1947 the most important day in India's history, according to the HT-Gfk Mode ‘Freedom’ survey -possibly disappointing cricket fans who may consider India’s April 2, 2011 World Cup victory a contender for the top slot.

The survey, done amongst 16-25 year-olds across 12 cities, shows that today's youth still believe in the idea of freedom much in the way their forefathers did, though the ways in which they express this has changed.

Colourful kites do not dot the sky at dusk mid-August in numbers as large as in the past; gone are the days of singing patriotic songs and waving flags en masse. 58.6% of the over 1200 respondent in the survey said they have not flown a kite on Independence Day in the last five years.

But, to say that today's 'materialistic' generation, with its James Deanesque, 'devil-may-care' attitude, is willing to fight more for personal freedoms and doesn’t give two hoots about the country is an argument largely unfounded as well. 77% of all respondents said they valued freedom above any material comforts they have. When it comes to the freedom of choosing one's career, over 90% say its very important, and 57% accepting their family’s choice when it comes to choosing life partners, with women more willing to to accept their parent’s choices than men.

Women also  conform to the rules more than men, with 38% of them defining freedom as doing things approved by family or society, versus 30% males.

In an atmosphere where public agitation against the 'establishment' is the norm, the youth are less enthusiastic. 45% say that the right to express public opinion against the majority should either be denied or be exercised only if 'allowed'.

Interestingly, after Gandhi and Nehru, Bhagat Singh was the most well-known freedom fighter named by over 40% respondents . Perhaps this identification of the iconic and romaticised  Singh says something about today's youth's impatience, or simply that Rang de Basanti's message has stuck in their minds.


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