Monday, September 6, 2010

Another Lecture

Warning: Read this when you're not in a hurry. I'm sorry, I couldn't make it any shorter.

This is a discussion between my dad and a friend of his, Dr. Kulkarni, which I was also a part of. For some time, I opposed what they had to say, but after some time, I decided to let it go and just listen. Dr. Kulkarni is the Dean of Mechanical Engineering in an engineering institute in Maharashtra. My Dad works in the State Bank of India, and is much more educated than he is qualified.

I don't remember how the discussion started off exactly, but dad and uncle were of the view that our generation in general is very irresponsible and insensitive. It started with they thinking that we all are very lazy about college education.

DK: Yeah, you think you all are the most knowledgeable people, and teachers are just some people too dumb to do anything else. you don't attend lectures, and a teacher who makes it compulsory is instantly the most notorious person among you. What you dont realise is that the curriculum is designed by people who have been through what you are going through right now, and are much more experienced, and perhaps, more intelligent than you.

Me: Well, i refuse to believe that students dont respect their teachers and don't attend lectures just for the fun of it. In my college, lectures are not compulsory, but we all do attend the lectures where the teacher teaches well and there is some positive outcome. However you should admit that not all the teachers have enough knowledge or the ability of conveying it to us. I'm sure there aren't any teachers who are good at what they do, and are still insulted by students.

Dad: No but after going to college, all you think of is your own fun. Once you're away from home, you've all your freedom, and that becomes the most important thing to you. You forget that someone back home is paying for your 'independence', as you call it, and that someone rests all their hopes on your future. For you, they are just another burden who 'dont understand anything'.

Me: You can't blame us all totally. Our education system is so testing that right from kindergarten we have been taught to be the best. For us, even playing was a competition ; we had to defeat the opponent all the time. So by the time we reach Undergraduate studies, we're fed up of competing. We deserve a break, its only fair. I mean, at the age when all we do is switch from school to tuition to another tuition to home back for studies, you used to be playing gulli cricket all evening after school.

DK: Who said our education wasn't tough?! Our teachers used to beat us up so often, these days corporal punishment is illegal! We were punished for small mistakes, and parents never interfered even if the punishment was severe and the offence negligible. Parents themselves were so strict, that we thought it was easier if the teacher handled the punishment.

Dad: Yes, we didn't dare look into our father's eye. But this isn't about it. We don't tell you not to have fun. All we expect is a little consideration of your parents' expectations. For you, your friends and your fun along with them becomes much more important than the things which should be your priority sometimes. If your dad says no to something, your immediate reaction is 'shit yaar!' I wonder why 'shit' is the most common reaction to parents's view.

Me: Oh come on, thats what a teenager might feel and do. By the time we go to college, we are much more mature. Some of college students might be like that, but then you can't expect everyone to be sensible. However, friends are important to us at every age. We all have been throught the same gruelling system, and we understand each other a little better.

Dad: Oh we too had friends, but your friendship is different. When one of our friends had a sister's marriage at home, we used to be the chief labourers. We knew it when a friend's father was sick and needed help, you don't even know the profession or income of half of your friends' fathers. Most, not all, but most of your friendships revolve so much around messaging and chatting and orkutting, that you forget to see the essentials underneath. Without your cellphone, your friendship is lost.

DK: Yeah, cellphone, another thing you all are crazy about! I remember a guy i caught in the class while he was using his cell. He had a cellphone worth 20000 bucks, and when asked what his father did, he said his father was a farmer and that his education fees are being through loans. I was shellshocked! Why, why is it so important to have a cellphone with a camera and music and a loadful of crap when all you need is a device to call and talk? What is it - esteem in your circle or a wish to look modern or an inability to adjust - what?!

Dad: The West affects you a lot. The children there have all the independence they need, yeh India mein hi saala sab restrictions hai! well, in the West, children earn for themselves since they are 18. That you won't do. You would ask your parents for all the favours, but wont accept even a small restriction from their part.

DK: When we were kids, we used to work hard and wait for our results, so that we could ask our parents for a bicycle or a new dress. And the happiness we used to feel at that time - I don't think you will feel it even when you get something 10 times as expensive! You don't realise the value of small things - the value of what your parents do without you asking them to do it, the value of an oppurtunity to study without supporting financial burdens, the value of money being spent on you without any hesitation, you just don't realise that.

Me: I don't think all students are like that, and even if they are, its more out of immaturity than out of disrespect or something. Im sure they all become responsible at some age.

Dad: I rode my first bike when I was 24, my son rode his when he was 14. You want all the good things early enough! Your generation is the one for shortcuts, instant glory, instant fame, instant success, but no patience. Hows that going to work? You can't filter out all the good things to keep, thats not how life is. You like easy solutions, and life's anything but easy. This doesn't apply to you or most of your friends in particular, I know. But the vast majority of India's student population is getting wasted in such things. We don't say anything to anyone, coz then the standard response is 'shit yaar.. another lecture!

I wanted these thoughts to reach the student community in general, in a non-lecture format. Perhaps very few people are like this, perhaps the elders have too negative a perception about our generation, or perhaps they just like to complain a lot, but perhaps, there is also an ounce of truth in all this criticism, which we all ought to take in the right spirit.


Anand Shankar said...

Saying that parents got a bike only at the age of 24 and we get it much early and the fact that our parents had to wait for exam results to get a new dress- not a valid point- there have been huge advances in technology and the economy is growing. so cellphones and computers have become really common are a part of our lives and a necessity more than a luxury.
Mot of our parents moved out of their homes only on getting a job but we do that a good 4 years earlier atleast (at the age of 18 or 19) in our teens and so at this age, when parents are not close, friends take a prominent place in our world.
We face much tougher competition than any other generation before and it is not just a phase, but will be so throughout our lives, something which brings with it a whole set of issues like peer pressure, conflicts.
Generalising an entire generation as irresponsible based on the misdemeanour of a few is again not fair either because for every person who acts irresponsible, there are several others focussed on their tasks, education and future acting responsibly and carefully.
The term generation gap is the best one describe the inability of parents and children to clearly understand each other. I do admit there is a lot of truth in what they say but what we say is also not completely wrong. The conversation you just had will happen with every generation, so all we can do is keep an open mind and pay attention to each other.

Anonymous said...

Anand _/\_

Anonymous said...

@Radha , in 20 years you'll be saying the same stuff :P

Silent Blogger said...

Hi Radha,
I went through it end to end again. Most of the arguments in the blogs by three of you are adamant. There is a lot of prejudice from the elders, but they are judgmental in certain things and they have to be. Their views reflect the way they think. Its also a part of them which cannot change with the world.

What happens if you are flying to US, there will be something like a jet lag. The only way we can get over it is to adjust to it. But if we refuse to do it, that would be uncomfortable. Thats the same thing in our parents case.

Its the feeling that they are in a strange place. Things they remember is not there now. Its hard on them too. The extent to which the world has changed in the last 30 years is impeccable. Things have been better and better. And we have seen the changed world. And we would be adamant on our principles when we are 40 or 50 because of the world we grew up in.

The essence of the blog for me is a conflicting series of interests between this generation and the former one. This blog might tell about their views in education and youngsters. But if you start an argument in music or something new, they would be adamant in those too and the whole argument will follow a similar lines.

People might be abusive about their parents attitude and elders in our life. Because we are young and do not want to be tied down.People including you and me might think the way we want things to be ie by supporting what you said. Elders will think the way they want it to be by taking the other side.

The topic is the conflict of interests and not their attitudes about this generation. I do not know what was the topic that you had in mind. I am just telling you what I felt.Thanks for sharing this work with us.


KK said...

one thing which i most stick with from the blog post, is about the "friends" part. although i agree to almost everything that Dr. K and your father had, i can't deny that we just do not belong to the same school of thought, and, dare i say, even when knowing all along, many of us just "relax" during Graduation (at least at good colleges - IITs, BITS etc., a majority of the junta is ever ready to "chillax", only a handful are serious enough about career et al)

so those things apart (and completely in agreement with the comments here) i just want to emphasize how little we know about our "friends" (apart from the really, REALLY close ones) and i somehow never have managed to fathom why this is so.. like they said, all we are interested in is "texting, chatting and orkutting"! take internet and cellphone out and we're done!

i must however add that times have changed and i guess most of us are not with all our friends so cellphones and internet have to come into picture one way or the other, but just to what extent!? that we completely get cut off without them?

Ram said...

dat is a very unfair thing to say... truth is in the earlier days friends did help out each other for each other and ususually a friend means he is known and accepted as such by the whole family.. but thing is they usually spent most of their life near each other.... went to the same school, same college and stayed together even this is unconcievable... we go to college newhere in the country.... mayb the world.... the chatting, orkutting etc are the only way we keep in touch.... our parents simply made friends at the newer place and either forget their older friends or keep in touch via letters.... which 9 outta 10 times means a slower and more agonizing death to the friendship.... our chatting and mobile phones reduce the distance between friends which the earlier gen would never have bothered fighting. So yes in some sense our friendships are stronger

Ram said...

honestly all of u, go ask ur parents how many friends they had outside the state they lived in. and how long they could hold onto a friendship where they din ever see each other face to face. I still maintain contact and friendship with people who have moved over to the other side of the world. In our parents time just moving out of the district usually meant ur name is struck off the contact list

Anonymous said...

agree with ram