Monday, 8 June 2015

The other Generation Gap

India is a predominantly young nation with the majority of population being under 25 years of age. This means that the majority of Indian population belongs to the newest generation. According to Wikipedia, the term generation means, “all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively.” However, in our society, the word generation has acquired different meanings. We will look into the concept of generation in a more general sense and how the idea of generation gap varies based on our perspective in the Indian context.

What’s your age?
It’s a pretty simple question to ask someone, which usually has one true answer: “The number of years, months and days that have passed since you were born.” However, a curious person might argue that: Since we live not just to die, but also to contribute to the society, interact with people and help in overall evolution of the society, why does the number of years that have passed since our birth determine which generation we belong to. We should be able to be called as belonging to a modern generation if we change with the changing society.
No matter how we argue about this, this observation holds a lot of substance, especially when the concept of generation is used to argue about if something is outdated or not.
Taking this idea as the basis, let’s define the concept of age (as has already been done by many intellectuals) in a more general sense i.e. a person can have different kinds of ages likeBiological, Mental, Cultural etc. Applying the conventional concept of age here, we can say that a person belongs to an older generation culturally if (s)he is not able to adapt to the new customs and ideologies in the society.

The other generation gap
Now that we have given a generalized notion of age (and generation of a person), we can draw some interesting conclusions.  This concept of age (and generations) gives the flexibility of categorizing someone as belonging to an older generation physically (biologically), but to the modern generation mentally or culturally, which was not possible with the conventional concept of age.

I will give an example where it becomes evident that the physical age is not a measure of the cultural age. The notion of status of women in Indian villages is still generations old i.e. they still have to sit on the floor in front of men, have to cover their face, not allowed to present their opinions etc. However, the scenario in Indian cities is radically different, especially in metropolitan cities. Why is it that Indian villages are stuck with a, maybe, 100s of years old notion of women as compared to urban India?

Why is this happening?
Its not too difficult to understand the cause behind different perspectives and behaviors exhibited by different human beings in similar circumstances because it is nothing special given the fact that all human beings are different and these different behaviors are signs of individuality.
However, the degree of difference is sometimes astonishing not just in the behaviors but also in thinking processes of people in the same biological generations.  The reason is the difference in the kinds of situations they have faced in their lives. Some of the factors that cause these radical differences are:
1.    Inequality: The skewed societal structure is responsible to a large part for this. When people are underprivileged, their goal in life is survival as compared to goals of intellectuality, money and impact, which are the luxury of privileged section only. Exposure to suppression for a long time harms the creative portion of the brain and trains it to treat every situation as imposed rather than opportunity. 

2.    Lack of connectivity: According to me, this is the most important reason for propagation of phenomena of cultural and mental generation gap. When people are pushed to the back seat of progress, they start getting left behind from the latest advances in technology and methods of communication. This leads to a divide where they interact mostly with like-minded people who have also been victims of this process. This further compounds the effect and leads to a huge gap between them and the progressive society.

3.    Competition: The competition is no longer always a good thing, because it has not just grown to a severe level but also has become ruthless. Competing survival interests cause people to forget about humanity for personal interests.

4.    Politics: Politics nowadays not only promotes inequality but also victimizes people with less powerful status in the society in return for monetary as well as power benefits.

The basic idea is that various factors, especially like lack of connectivity and privileges, is transforming our society in ways such that it is being divided into sections where some elite sections are reaching pinnacles of progress while others can’t even think what progress is. It is our responsibility not to look down upon them and say, “Its not our fault if they don’t want to learn” but to show them the paths we have taken by helping them climb the ladder of mental and cultural advancements.

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