Value System of the Youth Today?
Deteriorated? I don’t think so. Changed? Hopefully for the better!
The value system of Indian teenagers today is pretty much the same as it was two decades ago. We still respect our elders, even when we sometimes rebel against them. Touching their feet has always been a way of expressing this respect (and getting extra brownie points!). Some families follow it today, some didn’t even in our grandparents’ time.
One of the complains one hears of is that teenagers are more self centred and materialistic today than they were years ago. In my opinion, this isn’t true. There have always been materialistic individuals in every society and decade. Perhaps it is the nostalgia that we have for the ‘good old days’ that confuses us?
Another complain is that the habit of drinking and smoking has taken a stronger hold (all blame on the west!). Smoking isn’t a new phenomenon. I know of many ‘elders’ (or those who were teenagers three decades ago) who smoked and some who still do (men and women). It’s the same with drinking. At the same time, there were and still are those who think it’s a bad habit or isn’t healthy and don’t. It depends on the person, not the generation or age to which he or she belongs!
I do wonder if the dissatisfaction with this generation is more to do with lack of communication than teenage rebellion. To some parents, their own peer group (society, family et al) is more important than their children’s happiness. Some parents are able to communicate with and understand their children better than others. So whether their daughter chooses to become an engineer or a journalist, (or years ago, a teacher, or a home-maker) she has (and had) her parents’ blessings. There were always parents who’d spend time with their children, and those who wouldn’t. There are always some terribly neglected and some very well-taken-care-of young people in every generation.
Were teenagers better people back then? Or are we just more open about what was once not discussed freely? The difference between the times may be that what was hidden or brushed under the carpet ten years ago, is now out in the open. Perhaps it is this openness that is irksome to some? Better the ‘values’ be ‘disrespected’ on the sly than be questioned openly. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend was as frowned upon back then, as it is today. But it didn’t really deter the teenagers, now did it? (I see my grandfather smile!)
Just the way it is today, there were some parents who openly discussed such issues with their children and helped them make careful decisions (or choices). And some others that threatened with harsh punishments if the issue was even mentioned.
We are rather quick to blame western influence for the ‘deterioration’ of our culture and traditions. But ‘culture’ and traditions change with time. Each generation brings in new changes or fresh perspectives to the same ‘old’ values. Teenagers are as impulsive, freedom-loving and ‘tradition-breaking’ as they’ve always been. From wishing to marry outside the community, or to someone of a different caste or religion, or even the same gender, to not joining the family business, there have always been what we like to call rebels.
Even when we look at Indian mythology we see examples. Kunti ‘rebelled’ and used the mantra given to her by a sage (before she was married ), although she had been warned against it, and so Karana was born.
Krishna helped his sister Subhadra elope with Arjun, against the wishes of their entire community.
Is it the girls of this generation that the accusation of ‘loss of values’ is against? (In a patriarchal system like Indias’, isn’t that always the case?) Does it not warm the hearts of grandparents to see their strong, independent granddaughters ready to step out into the world and make a difference. I think it does. Not that a pair of jeans is a symbol of deterioration of values, but, if that is the objection, girls in my mothers’ time wore jeans too.
And for each generation, there have always been grandparents to bewail the destruction of our culture (and with a dimpled chuckle, remark to themselves in private how things will never change!)