Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Class Of Late 70s : Transient Generation

Time is Nature's way of ensuring that everything doesn't happen at once .
Space is Nature's way to ensure that everything doesn't happen to you .
Albert Einstein

Some Factoids

My Date of birth is 24th of march 1978 . I went to a Govt. Engg College in 1996 came out of college in 2001 .

When I was in college, computers were expensive, a typical 486 / Pentium I used to cost 35K . 2 GB Hard disk was a luxury.

There was no Cellphone service in KOTA until my second year and until my final year it used to cost 5-12 Rs per minute for incoming call.

There were only three cellphone in college campus . one belong to a Lecturer , another to a Guy who was son of a BIG Shot . Third and most interesting person to posses a cellphone in campus was a Female in final year . Her fiance had gifted her that phone on their engagement . She used to boast about it . [ BTW this particular female was seeing a guy since her high school but ditched him as his new suitor was based in US . In short going to US was a BIG Deal ]

When I was in Final Year I used internet for the first time , I was hooked . It used to cost me 100 Rs /Hour for accessing email . it was painfully slow but it gave a strange pleasure to see that
blue status bar moving.

IIT Kanpur was the only place I visited where I can get free internet access . for the first time in my life I read some thing online , without saving it on floppy to read later on college comp. Guess what it was ??
Starr Report on Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton scandal .

In second ,third and Final Year of college i got my Project report done from a DTP shop in KOTA , the guy at DTP shop used to have WordStar. We used to hear about Windows 95 and Bill Gates but our computer labs had Monochrome Computers with DOS .

It was very hard to see coffee shop in North India and Coffee for me was synonym to a Cup full of foaming Espresso served in wedding parties .Mojito,tequila, mocha, capachino ,Lasagne,Rossito ,paperoni ,Martini were names of Italian Girls .

Most of the guys were deprived of female company & they used to think of marrying every girl on which they had crush .To tell you the truth they were very sincere with their plans . There was only one small problem . they had never talked to the girl in Question . Too shy /Arrogant/ Masculine to do that .

We used to talk a lot about Kissing scene in RAJA HINDUSTANI . Sex sequence like Murder or Aashique Banaya Aapne were stuff of legend /porn .

Things are a lot different today .

You can get a decent laptop in 35K , I have a WiFi internet at my home and it cost me only 1000/Month . Most of the colleges have net access in Hostel . Cell phone is very common , Going to US is no Big deal , Gmail offer 2GB disk space for free, WordStar is extinct ,CCD and Barista are in every neighborhood. Dating is not a Taboo any more .

If reading all this make you think that I attended college long long time back in past then you are wrong . Every single thing I mentioned above has happened JUST 06 Year back .
so why I am talking about all this ? I know some of you might be thinking that this is yet another post by me telling you how world is unfair .

No , Unfortunately this is not the case this time . What i am going to tell here is a long standing observational hypothesis of mine .which i collected and constructed piece by piece for past 2 years . I call this "Theory of Transient Generation " .

What is Transient Generation ??

People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

Bob Dylan

Every generation has their time under the sun . Their moment of Un-diverted attention , the time when they could connect to or contribute to everything which was new . When I was in my teens my Dad's generation was Present and My generation was "Near Future" . We were waiting for our Turn when Baton would be passed to us . If my peers belong to Generation X . My Dad belong to generation( X-1) and my Grandfather belong to Generation (X-2. ) and pace of change was such that this equilibrium was sustained for an extended period of time ,at least for more than a decade.

In the tradition of time, Baton was passed to our generation too but I realize that this time around Equilibrium was not stable for that long . We spent our " Hour of Glory" in a transient conditions . Before we realize that future has arrived , Future was over. Baton was unwillingly passed to next generation .

Most of us don't understand the thought process of KIDS who are just 5 year younger to us . In all probability these kids are indicator of things to come but there is a vast gap between us and them . This gap is not easy to explain because difference of Age is very little .why we are so out of sync. That makes me think that Class of late 70s has actually became a Transient Generation.

Circumstantial Evidence for my theory :

Neither me nor any of my friends went to college thinking that we will be getting a salary in the order of double digit lakhs per annum . but today I see freshers with a salary expectation of 7-8 lakhs from the day one . I doubt if standard of education has changed drastically in 05 years . some of it can be attributed to overheated market place .But there is more to it than jsut market . something subtle is missing .

Fresher today are more seasoned than ever before . Almost invariably I fail to see the rebel,Zeal, Ideal ,Naiveness and vigor in freshers. They use word "Professional" very frequently to justify their hostile competitive tactics in workplace . Talk to any freshly minted MBA and you will know what I mean. This chap find it very hard to listen , he always has something to add to what you are telling him . He use vague statements full of buzzwords .you can't really teach any thing to him .This was not that BAD in my time.
When me and my batch mate come out of college market was in recession. jobs were hard to find .I know a lot hardworking and intelligent and deserving students who were not able to find a job . when market begin to recover after few year . Companies began to offer jobs to Fresher and every one who graduated in 2000-2002 was facing the Q " Whats your Industry experience ? " why you were not able to get a job when you were out of college ? surprisingly companies found it hard to hire them even at the level of fresher . Corporate India seems to have deleted most of them from memory.
Around two year back someone asked my friend if she has used Orkut while she was in college ? She said no. There was no orkut at that time . She was told that since you haven't used Orkut in college you can't understand the thought process of Social Networking junkies . she is out of college for 05 years only and she is using ORKUT for 3 years now .
Two year back, sometime in mid February a school girl from my neighborhood asked me . "Kya apke time mein Valentine day hota tha?? " [ Was there a concept of Valentine Day ,In your time ] .
Around a year back a strange incident happened to me . I was coming back from office in an Auto Rikshaw . Amity College is very close to my office . two females in their early twenties asked for a lift up to a Mall .They offered to split the bill . I said thats not needed and obliged . These girls were chit chatting continuously. Our Auto stopped at a Traffic Light . They spotted a couple on a Bike . Probably this couple was from their college .one of the girl said to another " I didn't knew She is seeing Him " . other replied "No, No , She is not seeing him , They are just going around ".

I was amused to hear their conversation so I asked
"Excuse me ladies but I overheard your conversation , Please Educate . I am not sure if I understand the difference between "Seeing " and "Going Around " in my times it used to be

Classmates-> Friend-Date-Commitment-->Shaddi .

They laughed and obliged . Here is what they told me

Things are different now . We have various intermediate phase now a days

[or Acquaintance]
[ Part of common gang]
Going Around
[Part of a gang but special consideration to the Target]
[Gang is not a necessary precondition to meet and hang around for daily stuff COACHING ,SHOPPING,Notes exchange]
[ Now they don't need a reason like "Notes" to meet they just spend weekend together and wait for other party to make a move ]
[Starting of Formalizing relationship,by saying declaring on Orkut ,Girls delay it as long as possible]
[ After both parties are settled in job , parents are involved now ]
[The END] .

It was most educating 30 min of my life .Six month later someone told me that there is a intermingled state too . Its called "In-Bitween " , this is when you are frustrated/ Disillusioned with your current relationship but keep on dragging it due to peer pressure till you get another opportunity .


I realized there are so many things around me which i don't know .Age difference between me and those girls ?? 7 Years Max.

About a month back i was observing some kids playing games in my colonies park . they were playing an age old game which i am sure you too have played at their age . Its called "उंच- नीच " [ High Land -Low Land ]

I noticed that they have changed the rule of game. In my times whosoever was on High land was not compelled to come to low land . they can stay there for as long as they want and guy on the low land was forced to wait . game used to be a bit boring unless person on the highland choose to make it funny by coming down .

This is not the case now .under the modified rule of game player on the high land need to keep singing a song as long as he is on highland . if you want to take a break form singing you need to get down to low land . so game was more fun . I was riveted to see how small kid balanced singing and running . it was not dull . is it just about game ? I think this change in game has reflect a change in society too . Now Children realize at very young age that you can't stay at Top without doing something . Don't take me wrong but i think the main reason is that when I was a kid, Rules of Game were designed by children of Govt. Employees . Today its Children Of IT Professional in MNC who are making the rule . but do we know that Rules have changed ??

Who did it ?

I am sure about my Observation of events but to understand the cause of event you need to have a deeper understanding of complex dynamics of socio economic forces . I am not a sociologist so I am not sure how accurate my reasoning is . Still in my view main reason for this rapid and exponential change and this vast disconnect between two chronologically adjacent age group is due to following reasons .

Access to Internet : Access to internet is more cheap today . I have a Wi Fi network at my apartment it cost me only 3000 Rs to setup and now i have 24X7 Internet access for 1000 Rs /month . same is true for most of the college . Access to internet in formative years widen the horizon of student and this exposer at right time in growing up has contributed a lot to this difference .

Access To Mobile Phone : Owning a mobile phone means more than just a convenience of communication . Owning a mobile phone in formative years allow its user to cultivate a social network independent of your family and more confirming to your peer. Mobile phone has affected our thinking in many ways than we consciously know. Kids are allowed to stay out of home till late night because parents have this sense of security that they can reach their kids any time .

Its easier for Kids to maintain a communication channel out side of parental supervision . MMS,SMS," Miss call " all of these stuff have made communication between teenagers and specially teenagers of opposite sex more convenient . This has a far reaching effect .

If you really want to understand the impact of mobile phone on social psyche i suggest reading Howard Rheingold's Classic book SMART MOBS .

Exposer to Alternate Media : For the most part of our life we were exposed to only DoorDarshan although there were some cable TV Channel while we were in high school still the content of these channel were not radically different form DD .

Today KIDS have access to Animax,Discovery ,AXN,MTV,ZOOM. On internet they have access to community of every type.From Bike enthusiast to Fine Arts . From Independent Music to Gay and Lesbian .

Economics : A significant number of students who are coming out of college these days have one of their Parents,Elder sibling or someone else in neighborhood who has been in IT or MNC for sometime . it affects student in many ways .

sometime it offers as a higher benchmark , some time it works as a role model , some case it means that student goes to college with more Pocket money . almost always it means a better guidance to chart out their carrier.

There are many more reasons like Proliferation of Call center, students doing summer jobs in BPO.

Experimentation in Bollywood movies which has made us more tolerant to certain taboo.

Isolation of working class youths from national political agenda because much of their life is effected more from Rupee -Dollar Exchange rate than who is ruling in Center .

BRIC Report and Euphoria it generated,

Sania Mirza, Twenty20 World Series,Sri Santh

List is long and I admit that I don't know about all of them .
Looking at all these factor and their implication it seems everything which happened was inevitable . Do you agree ??

Epilogue : For the records I am not trying to say that Class of Late 70s have lost their chance or we can not do anything significant and we should silently walk down to oblivion . No . Thats not what i am saying .

I am from Class of Late 70s and i believe that Best is yet to come for me .All I am trying to do is to Estimate the size of our challenge. I always believe that first step to solve any problem is to admit that there is a problem. Thats the sole purpose of writing this post . .
So Do you agree that we have got a problem here ??
Thanks for reading this long post .

Photo Courtesy : Flavio Ronco . you can see his flickr stream here


pank said...

Hummmm nice analysis!!!


Thanks Pankaj

Beji said...

wonderful post Prashant!!

I am from Class of 70s and i believe that Best is yet to come for me .All I am trying to do is to Estimate the size of our challenge. I always believe that first step to solve any problem is to admit that there is a problem.


Ramjee said...

good observation and very good linking of the stuff.


@Beji, Ramjee : Thanks .

Rohit said...

Very well written :) I feel the same way. Especially the relationship progress chart - yepp! there were times when things were simpler.

Manoj Awasthi said...

keep writing long posts as your posts are fun due to the quality stuff (read content) in them.

.. and I think, that these humongous changes may be a result of compounding over the years and hence would be more astounding in future (almost everything in nature compounds is a common observation).. may be "generations" would be smaller and "gap" larger.. it's really very hard to predict and am sure whatever imaginations we come up with based on past will be dwarf to what "will" happen.. that happened with forefathers (and fathers) and will happen to us too.


Rashmi said...

Very good analysis and observations.. me too from the late 70s... agree with you on almost everything that you've listed down here...
Kudos to your patience to write so much...
There's one more thing that's drastically changing is the written language..thanks to the Mobile and chat.