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17th August 2000 - Page 2
Malini Kochar discusses how the new generation has been ridiculed for drifting towards the Western ways of thinking, but how this infact has led to a more pragmatic and unique way of thinking, integrating our traditional views with a western outlook. India’s youth are finally prepared to face the world and not going to stay cocooned up, and bogged down by senseless traditions.


India is a country of mind-boggling extremities. Sometimes it seems like the very word diversity was created for a nation like India. Which is what makes it close to impossible to determine the cultural, philosophical and social parameters that define who an Indian is.
Do all Indians have a similar mindset? Similar habits? Similar ethics and philosophy? Can one actually define an Indian? India is probably the only country where two citizens can be so vastly different that they have nothing in common. Would a wealthy cosmopolitan teenager in Bombay with exposure to cable TV & the Internet, have anything in common with a rural, under-privileged adolescent in some far flung corner of Bihar who has to walk three kilometers everyday just to get drinking water?
Conventionally, the common characteristics that have been attributed to Indians is that they are steeped in superstitions and tradition, in their religious beliefs, that they are ever concerned about what society thinks of them, that they are overly concerned with family, that they are not ambitious, that they are not aggressive and are inefficient, even lazy. My philosophical beliefs are not very "Indian" and I don't embody most of these characteristics. Neither do I commend all of them. I do not believe in the existence of God and I hold reason and logic above irrationality. I do not believe in fate or destiny and nor do I blame circumstances for my failures. Beyond a point I really don't care about What-People-Will-Say. I consider myself at par with any intelligent person, and dislike obsequiousness. I would not call myself lazy and while I don't believe in being pushy, I also do not lack ambition. Family has never been my primary focus and I consider it less important than my work. I believe that people who do not work to achieve their goals and who spurn profit-making as "bad" are, in fact immoral. My views and beliefs are what would be conventionally termed as a western way of thinking vis-a-vis an Indian or oriental outlook on life.
I relate to the people who I interact with regularly - my family, friends, and teachers. But I cannot relate to another Indian teenager who comes from a different economic, social, educational and linguistic background. In fact I would probably relate more with another 16 year old in, maybe, London as we would have more in common.
The older I grow, the more I notice that my views are widely divergent from those of my elders. My grandparents embody the typical Indian characteristics and I disagree with their philosophies on almost every subject. Instead I can relate better to my friends who share my views to a much larger extent. The younger generation of Indians are breaking away from their traditions and adopting, what I consider more positive values. Though it is impossible to make absolute generalizations, younger Indians seem a lot more hardworking and ambitious. They seem to take greater pride in their individual achievements, and are setting higher and bigger goals than ever before. And here its important to remember that it is only by working towards greater goals that humanity can progress.
My relationship with my surroundings, my city and the world is determined by my philosophies, my understanding of history, of who I am and where I'm going.
I stay in New Delhi, which is admittedly one of the worst places to stay in. It is crowded and polluted, crime rate is high and people are often unfriendly. But I have lived here for sixteen years, and all the people that I love live here. The level of familiarity and comfort with which I live here would probably make it hard for me to adjust to a new city. But with time, I could probably live anywhere as happily as I do in Delhi - it's just a question of getting used to the practical realities of living in a new place. I do have friends - very close friends who do not live in India, and whom I meet once in a few years - yet I remain close to them. I attribute this solely to the existence of the Internet and e-mail, which has made it very easy to stay in touch with them. Needless to say this has exposed me to their lifestyles and has greatly increased my awareness of other countries and cultures. Sometimes my parents comment that at my age they knew a lot less about the rest of the world than I do. With the advent of better means of communication, the spread of cable TV and the Internet, I now take an interest in everything that's happening anywhere in the world. And I am no longer removed from what's happening at the other end of the globe - this is  what enables me to remain close to my friends in other parts of the world.

Malini Kochar
Class XII

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