A common stereotype passed around about my generation i.e. Millennials, is that we are very angry. We are impolite, mean or overly sensitive. I hear the accusation at dinner tables, college talks, classrooms, even shopkeepers. It seems that I belong to a generation of angry people. But I often ask myself, “Is it true? If so why?”
A simple perusal of social media of many young Indians confirms the existence of anger. Angry posts raging at the government, at media, at elders and society as a whole. But simply accusing a group as angry is an attempt wave off the cause of the anger. We, who live in India, live in a world that is heavily influenced by conservative religious values of submission to elders. Emotions except those of religious fervour are denied to us by tradition. Get angry without being violent and cuss at someone especially an elder, you get called a disrespectful. No attempt is ever made to understand the cause of the anger, instead the appearance of anger is considered more relevant. The western intellectual world has come up with a term for this, “Tone Policing”. You see it often in how the newspapers and people in power treat protests and protestors. People, like teachers striking for better salaries, or lack often are demonized, branded angry by the media, or at worst simply ignored with a small article in the back pages of newspapers barely mentioning the causes of their agitation.
My generation of Indians are angry, at the fact that, the majority of politics in the country is not democratic. We are angry at a system that rewards criminal conduct, and punishes ethical behaviour, angry at a system where a person has to pay a middle man or a bribe to get even the simplest of government services like a Passport or a driving license. The internet and media has done even more to make my generation angry, we are able to view the lifestyles of people from other countries, especially western, and we learn of universal healthcare, quality housing, high salaries, quality products, comfortable living, liberal attitudes, etc. Yet we have none of that in India, except for the privileged few. My generation is angry at the generation before us, who stand in the way, with their rigid attitudes, religion and traditions. They who are unable to accept alternate lifestyles, who censor movies, who scorn progressive attitudes and fear freedom, they hinder our progress and our happiness. They have simply refused to accept that their world is ended; a world that is quite different, an era that is very strange than any before it, has come about. The Information Age has changed the world. But many people of the generations before us refuse to accept this, can’t accept this, the prospect of change terrifies them and therein lies one of the causes of much anger among youths. Things will only get worse, between now and 2050 India will struggle to create enough jobs to satisfy the population. A country with a large population of unemployed youths will not be a happy one; in fact it is a recipe for social disorder.
Thus yes, it is true my generation is angry, very angry. The causes of our anger are numerous. But anger in itself is not a bad thing, i.e. it does not always lead to violence, what it is however, is the fuel for change, positive change. Given the right leadership, people who can channel the anger of the masses, there is scope for massive improvement of the country. But with the wrong leadership, things can quickly spiral out of control into chaos. After all, 50% of India’s population is below the age of 25, it is we who will inherit this country. People can only ignore us for so only long, before we will have considerable political and social clout.