March 30, 2010

The 'Me' Generation

I guess that's about as charitable as I can get to describe the present generation of young Indians that I have seen grow up.

I am somewhat at a loss to make sense of the way the mind of this generation works.

I find it strange that someone should be educated ... above all, educated in the principles of science ... and yet continue to hold on to archaic rituals that have no meaning at all, absolutely no meaning.

Some of it has to do with upbringing. People in India are brought up to 'respect' their elders and somehow people never bother to question the validity of certain assumptions.

I find old people of India to be complete fools with a set of stupid beliefs and rituals who deserve no respect whatsoever because they have essentially spent their lives in trivial pursuits that has no deep meaning.

I think of the larger perspective. Look at the historical perspective, for example. Look at India in the 20th century. India got independence around the middle of the century. The historical forces at play that led to India's independence are a separate matter. I wonder though if the fact of India being independent or not is 'central' to people's lives.

I do not think British rule 'affected' people in any deep way ... in the sense of how they measure their lives.

I think for traditional India, life is merely a dreary sequence of babies who grow up and then have babies and then those babies grow up and have more babies and so on ...

Think of the history of humanity in the 20th century. What a spectacular, awe-inspiring tale of progress on all fronts — science and technology and medicine.

And what has been the contribution of Indians in that story? None. Zero. Nada. Nyet.

The Wright Brothers invented the airplane and others stretched the idea and we have the story of Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh and Chuck Yeagar and Frank Whittle and so many others.

Think of the achievements in space exploration: from Goddard and von Braun to the Apollo missions to the Moon and the Voyager missions to the outer planets.

What extraordinary advances in medical science: from Salk and Sabin to CT scans and PET machines to revolutionary new drugs to battle cancer.

Fundamental science grew by leaps and bounds with the insights of giants like Einstein and Bohr and Rutherford and Feynman and so many others.

Computer science is a discipline that took birth in many ways as a byproduct of advances in theoretical science. And how fast it continues to grow.

And where are Indians in all this? Nowhere.

Oh, of course, Indians are taking baby steps today in space exploration and I admire the folks who are pioneering it.

Oh, India is known as an IT superpower ... but I think it's mostly to do with the fact that Indians are 'cheaper' and the nature of IT is that work need not be tied down to a physical location and so we have a few educated young Indians who are riding the wave in a manner of speaking. Lest we are mistaken, of course, this is all somewhat illusory of course.

One might get a sense from the media that India has suddenly become a 'rich' nation with lots of billionaires and Mercedes and Ferrari owners.

But that's a wrong image of the reality of India.

If a million cars are sold every year in India today, the pertinent fact to remember is that most of those million cars are small cars and India is a nation of 1.2 billion people.

Roughly 10 million cars are sold every year in nations such as Japan and the U.S. and Western Europe.

It would be interesting to add up the populations of U.S. and Western Europe and Japan: 300 million + 400 million + 150 million = 850 million.

That's still at least 300 million less than the population of India.

It's all too pathetic.

The sad part is that people in India are mostly blithely ignorant about these facts and go on living their miserable lives observing stupid rituals.

Oh, what the hell! Indians will pay the price eventually, of course.

Indians are a God-crazy people. I do not believe in God.

But one can't complain too much about Indians believing in God as most people even in the 'developed' nations of Europe and the United States believe in varieties of God.

And I think of the incessant 'scandals' that the Catholic church is suffering from. What a joke! That's a different story though ...

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