The youth in India vs US: Are we really more conservative bunch?

90

For all those people who think that NRIs are too liberal or that Indians are too conservative, it is simply not the case. Both groups face the same dilemmas as far as adjusting to the ever-increasing technology. It’s a battle comparable to that faced by the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. As the book says, “In this place it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

By Reena Patel
Watching Zee TV and MTV India only seems to fuel the theory that the Indian youth are becoming more outgoing while the NRI youth are retreating back to their values and older traditions. But is this really the case?

While many think that India is the land of tradition and wholesome values, it is becoming more evident that there’s much more on the minds of the youth growing up in major cities like Mumbai and Delhi. NRIs are working hard to keep the culture of their motherland alive in the hearts of their children. Parents coming to the US and England quickly affiliate themselves with religious organizations like Chinmaya Mission, ISKON, Swaminarayan, etc., in order to expose their kids to their culture and heritage. Watching Zee TV and MTV, India only seems to fuel the theory that the Indian youth are becoming more outgoing while the NRI youth are retreating back to their values and older traditions. The question being asked time and time again is whether the youth in India are really striving to be the MTV generation sans values.

It goes without saying that the smaller towns and villages in the heart of India have still not opened up to the so-called MTV culture. Smaller cities still hesitate to open up discotheques. The trends that are growing in cities like Mumbai and Delhi seem shocking for a country whose most popular films still hesitate to show two people doing anything more than kissing, if even that. A wet sari scene here and there and maybe an innocent kiss is expected as the climax of sexual display in films with major hit stars. Movies like Masti still get disapproval from a large number of audiences in India as well as other countries. Even MTV India’s Web site (http://www.mtvindia.com) does not reflect how modern Indian kids are becoming. The slam book on the Web site is a place where you can ask questions and hear responses from other people. The questions posted under sexual content remind me more of teeny bopper magazine questions that would be directed to “Dear Sally.” A couple of people asked daring questions about relationships and the few responses given are rather immature with hardly any real advice. The questions that received the most responses had nothing to do with the topic at hand. While India’s media may have restrictions, satellite television allows all kinds of things to be seen by kids there.

So, who is more traditional: the Indian or the NRI youth? When I started this article, I thought there would be a set answer, but it is not really something that can be compared because being raised in either environment is unique. While the party scene in Mumbai is comparable to New York with discotheques/clubs, theme parties, lounges, etc., in both places, India has a culture that simply cannot be recreated elsewhere. Generations steeped in tradition will retain their traditions despite the movement to modernize India. The NRI youth are involved in clubs and religious affiliations as well, raised to retain their Indian culture while trying to mesh with the culture of the youth in their country. This leaves them with a distinct sense of identity that includes both where they are born and where their ancestry hails from. Hundreds of schools across the United States have Indian student associations, Hindu student councils and Indian cultural associations. There are many religious movements that originate in India and span out to maintain their followers and expand among the NRI public.

Both settings have pros as well as cons. Indians all over the world are under similar pressure to modernize while retaining their culture. Parents in Delhi and Mumbai are just as worried as New York parents about the corruption of their children and how it may jeopardize their future. Sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll translate to the same problems in both societies. There was a survey of 200 more thanΒ  students in Delhi the ages 15-20 years and 10 percent of them admitted to having sex with classmates. Many people think Indian kids are watching the same things on TV as NRI kids and emulate what they see. However, at the same time, those people thinking that NRI kids are better off are also unaware that America’s birth rate is 53 out of a 1000 among teenagers which is worse than India. A survey of Asian kids in the United States shows that we have the lowest teen pregnancy rate among all races present. The birthrate for 15 to 19 year olds among Asians is only 18.3 out of a 1,000. Of the Asian, population Indians makes up a mere 4 percent. So the actual birth rate is much lower than that suggested by the American teen pregnancy rate.

For all those people who think that NRIs are too liberal or that Indians are too conservative, it is simply not the case. Both groups face the same dilemmas as far as adjusting to the ever-increasing technology. It’s a battle comparable to that faced by the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. As the book says, “In this place it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

Indians are running to keep up with technology and the rest of the world while trying to retain some of their values and identities. The way in which we do this and mesh our culture with the changing times is bound to be different within each population of Indians. Change is inevitable, so in the matter of which path is better or more traditional… to each their own. This debate has left JoJo and myself wondering, “Why everybody’s trying to be living like a celebrity doing what they see on MTV.”

- Advertisement -