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.)