Friday, February 24, 2006

Living in Two - "Young" & "Old" - India

Some time back, I had posted something about "Living in Two India(s)" - which was about the increasing income divide

This post is, however, about another kind of "cultural divide"

A year or so back, while working on a "professional" assignment, I had made a table comparing values, priotities and charactaristics of the "young" and "old" India.

Apart from the "professional" part, this was also based on a realisation that I - and people from "my generation" - actually belong to a minority in this cultural/generational divide...

...I mean, if you are living in a society/country where the median age is 24yrs, and around 40% population is in the range of 20-44yrs - and you happen to be past your half-century - then, there is an compelling reason to understand how the world has changed aroundyou... Isn't it?

... Admittedly, like any other attempt to understand the fuzzy reality in terms of dichotomy ("young" vs. "old") it is stereotypical

...nevertheless (bouquets or brickbats), just thought that it is worth sharing:

  • Young India:This generation grew up during the 1980s, when Indian economy and markets were picking up – and the age of scarcity was getting over.
  • Old India:For most people in this generation, the significant experience of living was the early years after independence, when India was really a poor country.

  • Young India:Compared to older generation, more educated and more exposed to information outside immediate environment
  • Old India:Overall, lesser exposure to information – also often comfortable with known (rather than new) information

  • Young India:Greater confidence and pride in contemporary India in the world
  • Old India:Hesitant/sceptical in accepting contemporary India; pride in the heritage

  • Young India:Ambitious and upward mobile; define success by material possessions and life-style
  • Old India:More contented with the given; happiness is defined by a good family and community life

  • Young India:Consumerist values, based on wants
  • Old India:Traditional values, based on needs

  • Young India:More liberal in spending
  • Old India:Focus on saving/ less spending

  • Young India:More geographical mobility; feel at home even in other parts of India, often even settle down there, far away from the roots.
  • Old India:Less mobile; rooted to ancestral homes; even after staying for 30-40 years in another state, don’t feel to belong to that place.

  • Young India:Not very much bound by caste system – open to working and marrying outside the caste.
  • Old India:Caste still plays an important role in life – even if they work outside the caste system, marrying outside is still a ‘no-no’

  • Young India:More egalitarian in their relations. For instance, are comfortable on a “first name” basis.
  • Old India:Respect for seniority, hierarchy and authority

  • Young India:Role models are contemporary – and from diverse fields (cricketers, movie actors, politicians, etc.)
  • Old India:Role models are mostly historical or religious and similar (e.g. Mahatma Gandhi or Lord Rama, etc.)

  • Young India:More focus on ends than on means
  • Old India:More focus on means than on ends

    So what is the point??

    Dunno... but one of my all-time favourite quotes by one Max Lerner (he used to write column for Chicago or Los Angeles Times in the 70s).

    "All generations live in two worlds – an outer and an inner one. But each generation has its own inner universe – the subjective one, furnishing a window on the world through which it looks out at the outer universe. This inner world is formed early in the teens and twenties, perhaps thirties, and while it may continue to change in open-ended personalities, its basic frame remains the same. My inner word was shaped by what happened in the 1920s, 30s and 40s; that of my son in the 1950s and 60s. We have different conditionings, hang-ups, life styles, and even vocabularies. Since the pace of social change which creates the gap is not slowing down, we shall have to learn to live with it, while making a creative leap of imagination to see the outer world through the inner windows of the other generation."

  • Monday, February 13, 2006

    The Pirates of Internet

    When Tim Berners-Lee, the "inventor" of WWW, started his blog in December '05, he made a defining statement about the nature of internet as it was/is supposed to be.

    He wrote:
    "In 1989 one of the main objectives of the WWW was to be a space for sharing information. It seemed evident that it should be a space in which anyone could be creative, to which anyone could contribute... Now in 2005, we have blogs and wikis, and the fact that they are so popular makes me feel I wasn't crazy to think people needed a creative space."

    However, in the present era of 'corporatocracy', there is an increasing threat to this free space for "sharing". If anything is part of the "commons" - a shared heritage of human evolution - then, there are a number of "vultures" - read, corporate interests/greed - which try claim a stake in it.

    The one that threatens the freedom and connectivity of this virtual realm - where people across the globe can interact and share - is this news item about what the communication giants are trying to do to end the "Net Neutrality":

    "The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online.

    Verizon, Comcast, Bell South and other communications giants are developing strategies that would track and store information on our every move in cyberspace in a vast data-collection and marketing system, the scope of which could rival the National Security Agency....

    ...To make this pay-to-play vision a reality, phone and cable lobbyists are now engaged in a political campaign to further weaken the nation's communications policy laws.... As Ed Whitacre, chairman and CEO of AT&T, told Business Week in November, "Why should they be allowed to use my pipes? The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment, and for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!"...
    (Read on!!!)

    Of course, the hopeful aspect is that historically, such attempts to invade and pirate what belongs to all were made earlier as well - and had failed. Some would, perhaps, remember (many, of course, would not even know) that at one time British Telecom had claimed a patent for - guess what! Hyperlinks and URL!!!...

    ...Thankfully, it lost the legal battle then... But then, that may not be the case this time...

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    "Freedom of Speech" vs. "Being Civilized"

    Last week the "butterfly effect" happened - the flap of the cartoons in a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, created a tornado across the Islamic world - and the world at large.

    The MSM portrayed this as an issue of "freedom of speech" vs. those who unfortunately (because they were apparently brought up in "oppressive" societies/cultures) can't understand this "civilized" behaviour. (Many in the Islamic world, used their "freedom of expression" by protesting, recalling their ambassadors, closing their embassies, burning Danish Embassy, banning Danish exports, etc.)

    The fact that these cartoons - i.e., "freedom of speech" - was not an individual's personal opinion, but refered to "commissioned" cartoons that appeared in the editorial of the press (supposedly, a social institution) got conviniently ignored...

    Politically-correct, the US State Dept condemned the "display of these anti-Muslim images is just as "unacceptable" as that of anti-Semitic images, anti-Christian images, or images attacking any other religious belief".

    This condemnation, ironically, came in the same week when the "peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan was arrested during the US State of Union address for merely wearing a T-Shirt with a slogan that simply said "2,245 Dead. How Many More?"

    Around this same week, the world/MSM "discovered" that Google had compromised its promise of bringing freedom of information to all. When it launched its, it accepted the Chinese controls and censorship on certain searches (e.g., "democracy", "June 4, 1989", "Falun Gong", etc.)... Google accepted these censors because the Chinese government already has a well-established web monitoring and filtering system, partly relying on switching equipment supplied by... Yes, you guessed it - by the U.S. based Cisco Systems.

    While Google is being hauled up for its denying the "right to information" to Chinese citizens, somewhere the fact that never gets highlighted is that it had done exactly the same thing with and at the request/threat of the French and German governments. Somehow, that censorship was understood as part of "code of ethics" that a responsible media should follow.
    [Check the list of sites denied by Google to its European users (at the behest of the government):

    (David Kirkpatrick, the senior editor of Fortune, in his weekly column, eulogised Google for being "responsible"(!!?) for a different reason - making money. He wrote: "Creating a censored Google for China was a rational and responsible act for a commercial business.")

    Back in 2002, the French govt had launched a case against Yahoo! for the sale of Nazi memorabilia through its site, and had fined it - Last month Yahoo! lost that case in a US court that declined to intervene... "selling Nazi memorablia" is apparently an anthema

    Around the same time - end of January - the French MP, Christian Vanneste, was fined 3,000 Euros for expressing his opinions: "homosexual behaviour endangers the survival of humanity" and that "heterosexuality is morally superior to homosexuality"

    Perhaps, the one who took this "freedom of expression/speech" logic to its rediculously logical extent is Dyab Abu Jahjah, the Brussels-based arab/muslim. Tongue-in-cheek, he "defended" the "freedom of expression" and put up cartoons on his site showing e.g., Anne Frank sleeping with Hitler, and Hitler telling her "write this down in your diary too, Anne!"

    Somewhere, in this whole episode - religious/political etc. - it is the simple day-to-day intuitive understanding of being "civilized" that took the backseat:

    1. Every society/culture has its own taboos, symbols and achilles's heels - whether it is the Prophet in one, or Holocaust-Denial in another - is immaterial...

    2. A society flourishes not just because its members are free to express themselves, but also because its members consciously/ responsibly exercise the self-restraint about what not to express. It is, after all, part of common civilized behaviour not to insult others... because one's freedom to be oneself also comes with the responsibility to let others be...

    Funny! how the "right to self-express" has started contradicting "being civilized"...


  • Sheehan explains expulsion from Bush speech
  • Google Follows Chinese Rules
  • Sites Google Censors
  • US court rules against Yahoo in Nazi speech case
  • Conservative MP Fined for Homophobia
  • Muslim Radical Defends Freedom of Speech, Deplores Europe’s Hypocrisy