No doubt the problems of youth in different parts of the world under different socio-political systems differ in contours and contents. But one thing is almost certain that the modern youth is up against problems, the like of which did not exit in the past.
Indian youth are going through turbulent times. Ever since independence, the youth of the country has been going adrift. They feel alienated and frustrated. There are many reasons for this sense of frustration and aberration.
Life has changed so fast in the last few decades that the entire social structure has undergone a big change. Besides overpopulation, political upheavals, unemployment, erosion in Indian values, influence of western civilization and too much commercialization has made life very complicated for the new generation.
Ever since the country went in for massive industrialization, the old joint family system broke down and became obsolete. It has been replaced by nuclear family system especially in urban areas.
The rising cost of living has compelled many women to step out of the house and share financial burden with the man. As a consequence, the young are left alone to fend for themselves at a time when they need guidance, reassurance and encouragement.
They being to depend more on their peer groups and sometimes are led astray. They take to drugs, alcohol and watching porn films to while away their time and nurse their hurt feelings.
They are too bewildered to distinguish right from wrong. The absence of an adult to guide them makes it difficult for them to make the right choice and weigh the pros and cons of any act.
Religion had played a very crucial role in the life of the people of our country. It is sad that of late we have started denigrating our own religious beliefs and age-old values and have started aping the west.
This slow erosion in the values of life has added to the confusion. The young no longer understand the significance of certain beliefs and practices. Hence they reject them. Religion formed the basis of sound moral development.
Today, the young have to face fierce competition in every sphere of life. They are expected to prepare themselves for the setbacks. Overpopulation has made life very competitive right from the time they enter secondary school.
There is pressure from parents, teachers and peers to excel to enter the colleges and get admission in the most lucrative professions.
However, more often they are unable to get the course of their choice because of too many youngsters competing for the same course. It leads to unhappiness and frustration.
Even if they manage to get into a college of their choice and come out with excellent marks and armed with a professional degree, they find it difficult to get a job. Their dreams are shattered when at every step they face corruption, nepotism and find the less deserving getting jobs.
They feel disillusioned and disheartened when in spite of their best efforts they have to reconcile themselves to start either at a very low rung of the ladder or remain unemployed.
The society has become very materialistic. Today a person is revered if he is successful in a position of power and riches. Wealth has become the yardstick of status in the society. The youth are also affected by these values and try to adopt short cuts to fast rise in life.
Means are no longer important, it is the end that matters. Some idealistic youngsters who try to lead an honest life are soon disgusted to see the corruption at every stage. They are forced either to join them or suffer silently.
Industrialization has led to commercialization. From a very young age, the children are exposed to television where innumerable products are advertised to start life with all the good things it has to offer.
Boys do not hesitate to demand cash and other items along with the bride at the time of marriage, under pressure from their parents or to satisfy their own greed. The youth have to learn to take independent decisions.
Above all, our educational institutions are no longer able to fulfill the responsibilities of helping the young to understand life fully. The outmoded curriculum, burden of several subjects and poor teaching demotivate the young and they feel restless.
Education should prepare them for life. It should help them to identify their interests and aptitude and give them a sense of direction; unfortunately education is unable to do so. Hence the youth skip classes and indulge in antisocial activities.
They become victims of political parties and end up ruining their lives. It adds to their disillusionment with the elders and politicians. In the absence of any real models to emulate they feel lost and confused.
The youth, by and large, is more anxious and concerned about its future than how the present treats them. It was due to their fears and apprehensions about their uncertain future that they raised in revolt against the implementation of Mandal Commission Report by the Central Government.
Their protests were not only persistent but heart-rending as well. Unknown and never tried before in North India, the attempts at self-immolation by some agitated youth, fully brought out the intensity of their anger and anguish against a decision.
Which they thought would seal their future and make them irrelevant and ineligible for any future jobs and bread- earning avenues.
In a country like India where the problem of educated unemployment is already nerve-breaking, the nightmares unleashed by the report completely shook the youth and in no time they were up in arms against the establishment.
Independence was once an inspiring social ideal and the struggle for independence brought to the foreground some of the finest qualities of the Indian youth.
The nationalist struggle was undoubtedly associated with a moral ferment; it did throw up a leadership which had strong bones with the people and which rose to great heights of moral courage and dedication.
In the person of Gandhi, India did throw up a leader who became a symbol of Indian awakening. But Indian leadership in the period following independence has not been able to transform the challenge of national development into such an over powering cause.
The programme of planned development has not caught the imagination of the youth nor has it released spiritual ferment and energy to any appreciable extent.
The fundamental causes of this weakness are sociopolitical; they lie in the ambivalent attitude of the leadership to the challenge of development and moral rejuvenation.
The leadership failure to inspire the youth with their ideal thinking and action has made the Indian youth either cynics or snobs, unable to cope with the day-to-day problems and predicaments.
It cannot be denied that it is the young who are going to be the builders of tomorrow. Therefore, it is the duty of the parents, leaders and elders to look into the problems of the youth and to provide them a sense of meaning and purpose in life.
Otherwise the boundless energy of the youth will be dissipated in the wrong direction and lead to chaos in the country.