On the spiral of rising expectations, there are no ‘moral’ milestones for the young, only stepping stones to even greater wants.
THE SHOCKING news that the question papers for the prestigious engineering entrance exam, AIEEE, have been leaked in Lucknow and Kanpur raises important questions. Over 1.2 million students take this exam in 38 cities across the country. The fact that an organised syndicate with near pan- Indian presence worked full time to leak the papers, and succeeded, is one aspect. But, to my mind, the more worrying thing is that there were students who felt no qualms of guilt in forking out as much as Rupees 6 lakh to obtain these papers. Surprising? Startling? Not really. It is a myth that the young are more idealistic, more innocent, less corruptible and less venal. Certainly, they are less hypocritical.
The generation before them made hypocrisy into a fine art. Unable not to be influenced by the idealism of the freedom struggle, and the righteous evangelism of a newly independent nation, they professed one thing; but unable, equally, to emulate the rectitude and principles of their role models, they practised another.
The young today have no patience for these double standards. They have seen through the charade of their elders. They consider it a waste of energy to try and be what they are not. This has reduced them to efficient but amoral go-getters: focused on their goals, unrepentantly materialistic, soullessly uni-dimensional, and quite un-distracted by such unproductive impediments as morality or principles. If this was not the case, why would the young repeatedly seek to benefit from unethical short cuts? The recent scandal of the leaked AIEEE papers is only one in a series which squarely implicates our youth in the most brazen display of using any means so long as the end is achieved. ONLY SUCH an attitude can explain why so many of our young men take shelter behind their parents in order to benefit from dowry. It is this amoral swagger, too, which is responsible for the number of rape cases perpetuated by youth gangs in the heart of our metropolitan cities.
The wizened village leaders who preside over khap panchayats in Haryana may have wrinkled faces, but the unseen supporters, who carry out their lethal diktats, are their young descendants, more educated perhaps, but not more progressive. Indians love surveys, which most of the time tell us what we already know. For instance, a very recent survey came up with the finding that as many as 50 per cent of the young do not mind paying bribes if that gets them what they want. This is one survey I am inclined to believe.
Who is to be blamed for this state of affairs? The yawning gulf between precept and practice in the lives of their seniors has doused the spark of moral choices in the young. That void has been filled by an explosion of energy that drives the unending spiral of rising expectations. On this spiral there are no ‘moral’ milestones, only stepping stones to greater wants, greater success, and greater gratification.
It is not my intention to tar everybody with the same brush. There are notable exceptions, including some genuinely bright and honest students. Many among the new breed of very successful entrepreneurs have also shown a surprising inclination towards professionalism and business rectitude. But these are exceptions, not the norm. True, there are mitigating factors: the pressures to succeed in a world where failure has no future; the exponential growth of competition, where for every one opening there are thousands upon thousands of applicants; and, above all, the absence of role models who can credibly hold up certain non-negotiable moral benchmarks.
And yet, this morally bleak landscape where those who will inherit the future of this country have lost the compass to practice what is right and prefer to pursue what is expedient, is something that should concern all Indians. The conventional wisdom is that if the older generation has failed us, the next will provide the remedy. But if the young are happy to become more efficiently complicit in the evils of the past, who do we look to for salvation?
Article Credits: Pavan K. Varma, Mail Today