Thursday, November 16, 2006

The lost generation

There are two distinct sets of people in the urban Indian society today. The aging pre liberalization generation (PLG) and the young post liberalization generation. The earlier group is also called the ‘lost generation’ since they did not get the opportunities that we have right now. One of the distinct feelings I get when I talk to these people is jealousy, which masks their pain and frustration

Like babies who suck on pacifiers, the PLG comfort themselves with the belief that the IT workers are an exploited, overworked, medical problem beset people. At most gatherings where the PLGs meet, the talk will invariably veer towards the IT people and how rude they are, how they throw their money around and how unhappy they are etc. They seem to badly want to believe this.

Earlier I would hotly defend the IT industry with facts and figures, later I realized that these people did not want to know the facts. They just needed something that would make the bitter fact that they were deprived of such opportunities less hurting. This generation was equally talented like us but had absolutely no opportunities to work with cutting edge technologies or in multi national corporations. All they could hope for was a job in a Nationalized company where they worked in pre-defined roles under managers who were their senior because of age/connection/caste certificate etc. and not because of merit.

The lucky ones escaped abroad, the not so lucky ones resigned themselves to the drudgery of life in pre liberalization India. They lived their lives like machines, working doggedly, saving and scrimping for the day when they would retire. When you look at the fate of these people who were in no way inferior to us, you will empathize with the feeling of bitterness and frustration that this generation feels. Just imagining myself in their shoes horrifies me. I cannot imagine what an English graduate like me would have done in that era. Perhaps become a teacher or a journalist, beyond that there would be no scope for me.

When I see those old black and white Malayalam movies that my Dad is so addicted to, I can see for myself how helpless and desperate were those times. How an entire nation of incredibly talented and energetic people were suppressed by one family. It took the decimation of all members of that family for the nation to be rid of the stranglehold and find its rightful place under the sun.

What a sheer waste of talent and what a horrific example of suppression of the worst kind. It is like being jailed in a small cell for an entire lifetime. Nowadays when I hear the PLG’s dissing the IT industry and calling us 'cyber coolies' etc., I no longer feel annoyed. I just feel sadness…and I thank God for the opportunities that I have.

(Among the PLG is a section that is taking this frustration a level further aided by people whose agenda is take India back to the 'good old days' when poverty and unemployment served their purpose and swelled their ranks. Brijesh has written brilliantly about this here. I sincerely hope that the machinations of these people will not bear fruit.)


Mind Curry said... a beautiful post..wish this came on SKI..that would have ruffled hell of a lot of feathers!

Mind Curry said...

you know..what you said is so so true..i think even the papers reflect this PLG much as the IT industry is hurting them, the truth you wrote here will kill them..

Rockus said...

Its really difficult to imagine in their shoes...
nowadays with enough talent u get ur opportunities...

and pebbles to the unionists...they just wanna milk the cow and milk it to death...

silverine said...

mind curry: Thanks doc...please feel free to borrow the idea for a post on SK :) I am looking forward to the post :)

Mind Curry said...

@ silverine - i wish you could do it yourself :)will be an honor. but then i would really not want you to either..its such a pain when you get trash comments when you mean rather you stay away from them.

silverine said...

mind curry: Thank you doc :) I could never write at SK as my ramblings are just observations of an ordinary citizen while you guys are serious political writers who have a vision and sincere intentions as your driving force.
I wrote this post after yet another bout with the PLGs soon after which I saw Brijesh's post.
But you are right, if this same post were to be put up in SK, there would be a blood bath or at least a Kerala bundh unitedly called by both the LDF and UDF :p

rockus: It is scary when you put yourself in their shoes. They don't want to milk the cow to death...they want to lock it up so that it is of no use.

Mind Curry said...

that is the whole problem..when SK was started i hoped it would be more about ordinary people and normal human thoughts..but with time it is moving away from still trying to keep it on track..but down the line, if we finally need to see changes, then some bit of politics is inevitable i guess...anyway for now just waiting and seeing how it unfolds..exciting huh? hihi..

Scribbles said...

It happened last week.. A lady who sat next to me in bus asked me "U studying?" I said "No I work for such n such a company"
She asked "Didnt get a government job eh?"
In fact this attitude makes me worry at times..thinking of the recession times and stuff..But so far so good :)

Abhishek said...

True, I guess. But then, the PLG democratically selected the family to rule them!!! (notice the paradox)

But, slowly but surely, they are prying themselves away from that bygone era. You can see so, when they buy the new consumer durables... when they fly the low cost airlines... even the addiction to the god awful News channel like Aaj Tak, is an indication to the slowly changing times...
I remember the time, when there was a 6 month waiting period to purchase a Vespa scooter... and how the PLG greeted the mobile phones with shrieks of delight...(Never mind the fact that the technology was near obsolete in comparison to what the first world had then)
Personally, I am required to travel abroad for my work... and I still am treated to awe and wonder, courtesy the respectable PLG. But have you ever thought, about the next generation... those being born now... what would they think of us in say, 2025? May be we would be casually dismissed as the old fogies, from the 'Liberalized Hyserical era' who spent too much time in Orkut!
Most connected, yet so alone..

mathew said...

very relevant post in todays is true that PLG's must be feeling the pinch of missing out..needless to say that a good chunk of post liberal era studs dont really know how to handle their new found heavier pockets!!..

Cant visualise the country with no NRN' cable Jet airways..

Thank you ..Manmohan uncle!! :-P

silverine said...

Abhishek: The next generation will not face the kind of jealousy and hostility that we face with the PLG because we were part of the change.

Mathew:Very true, but I guess if the PLG's were also flush with cash they would have thrown it around. The rich used to splurge even those days. And I join you in thanking Manmohan and Narasimha Rao Uncle :)

Brijesh said...

Not only the PLG but in post liberalization generation also there are people like this. For them criticizing people in IT is because they are jealous. They don’t have the talent to be successful in IT. Only thing they know is to bad mouth those who work in IT industry. You may have read it already but see a reply from such a frustrated guy to my post about unions in IT industry. Each and every line shows his frustration and not his patriotism.

Anonymous said...

What do we have here? A guy who has run off to the US embraced the "capitalistic" lifestyle and then looking back at his own country and pointing fingers. Mr. Brijesh considering that you are holed up in the US you have no idea what goes on here in the IT industry what is the basis of your comments. People working here for 16 hours at a stretch is common. People who resign are not released by the company but put through great hardships with no one to turn to. These are just a few examples....

A union is very much required. Whether it is of the CPM/CPI type is a differnt matter all together. In any case I don't really appreciate people like you who have abandoned the country for greener pastures pointing fingers at my country. Please focus your attention to the IT industry in the US that is where you belong.

b v n said...

Silverine, Good one *as usual*! its a fresh point in a larger debate...pretty thoughtful :)

on a personal level i have the same thoughts as Abhishek ,rather the same fears. I am not sure what change i'm part of :)

abt a whole generation getting wasted in the 'decimated' familiy's hands. are you talking abt Nehru, Indira and Rajiv ? i hate it...but i have a different understanding of history here :)

and they are so 'decimated' the family has no sway oer the current govt*nor do the lefties :-)*

if it was not for the India that lives in the PL era, maybe we would have Lal krishna Advani as PM and we wud have been partyin all nite in a 'shining' india.

IT industry will be unionised, but not now - the time will come and there is no hurry :)

and again...nice view point !

Sachin R K said...

Some time back I read about a 6th century inscription. It told of the worries the elders of the day ( in 6th century, bear in mind ) had about the wayward ways of the younger generation and their fear of what the future had in store for them. I googled but couldnt find the exact quote. My point is that the PLG that you refer to has been this way since the dawn of history. The current reaction you mention has nothing to do with IT. Tomorrow we will be the PLG.
For now a Mark Twain quote will have to suffice , "When I went to college, my father was a fool. When I came back four years later, I was amazed how much wiser he'd become!"



silverine said...

brijesh: You are right. It is not patriotism but pure frustration and the attitude that if someone is doing well then we must pull him down. And what is funny is that these very PLG's sing praise of IT and defend it heatedly when their children enter the IT sector :))

bvn: Yes, I am talking about the Nehru family :) I think unionism will succeed only in Kerala and that too is doubtful unless the IT workers are predominantly Malayalee which may not be the case in a few years from now. About W. Bengal, all I can say is that my Bengali colleagues are vary of IT going the same way like other industries in Bengal. They too like Malayalees, would like to go back and work in their home state and hence are in no mood to support anything that will drive away investors.

Sachin: I afraid you missed the point totally. This has nothing to do with generation gap. The PLG's feel frustrated at the opportunities that they didn't get and it is not just the opportunity to make money but the opportunity to work with emerging technologies, the opportunity to grow as professionals and the opportunity to work in organisations where an individuals abilities are respected and rewarded.

b v n said...

Did you say trade unions thrive only in Kerala ?


Sachin R K said...

Point taken reg generation gap.

As for the Union talk, what else can you expect from the head-in-the-sand commies. Point to be noted is such things happen only in WB and Kerala, where all other fields are unionised anyway.


Praveen said...

Wonderful post!IT arriving and doing good is indeed lucky for the few who passed out during this time. The opportunities are good, no doubt. But i wonder what would happen when a recession happens, will we then be thinking of the opportunities that "IT" would provide if we were to lose our jobs and theres nowhere to go?

I have also been in the midst of such conversations and i indeed thank god for the opportunities that exist now.

Ganja Turtle said...

hmmm...a lil education pl...what did the nehru family do?

silverine said...

bvn: Yes :)

Sachin: True, but I think the commies in WB seem to be changing their stance and supporting development.

Praveen: Thank you :) I remember the IT boom of the 90's followed by the bust, when the "by-two" coffee joke came about describing the condition of out of work techies. The lesson people learnt at that time was "save for a rainy day". Nothing lasts... that includes recession :)

abhishek said... just voiced my thoughts. Right now, I am trying to help my cousin with his college applications to the U.S. This is long after I received criticism from my extended family about thinking about coming to the US to pursue my undergrad studies because of the "madama" factor. It was so pathetic, but of course, neither my parents nor I cared two hoots about their opinions seeing as how most people in Kerala have a frog's well mentality anyways.

But of course, success in a meritocracy breeds jealousy and now everyone wants to send their son/daughter over here. And it's all for the wrong reason all over again. Never mind the fact that their children would obtain a great education.'s all about "status". God, when are these silly trappings going to be shedded?

silverine said...

Abhishek: This keeping up with the joneses attitude is sickening and a vicious circle.