Ask any youngster what he or she wants, “freedom, to be and to do without being judged ” pat comes the reply. We youngsters have our own notions (often fuzzy ones, that is something I’d rather not admit) about what this freedom involves. But all of us keep chasing this vague elusive notion throughout our youth. Have we thought where does this need for freedom stem? It’s a well-known fact we will always chase what we don’t get easily. It is because ours is such a community oriented society that the poor individual’s voice is lost somewhere in that of the herd. The entire family makes most major decisions like career, marriage either directly or indirectly. In the Indian set up parents refuse to let go off their children and at the most give them an illusion of choice. To top it all we have everyone from pompous politicians to educationists playing moral police and of course who can forget retrogressive groups who are self-proclaimed protectors of our culture. Everyone has an opinion on what the youth should do what he or she should wear or watch. Public display of affection and Valentines Day celebrations create such furor “Please excuse we are Indians! “One does not need to jog one’s memory too much- the nightclub fiasco in Chennai and the attacks on girls in pubs in Bangalore are striking instances of how we refuse to let our youth be. We never tire of waxing eloquent about our values, culture et al but when it comes to critical issues like teenage sexuality, contraception and sex education we would rather shove them under the proverbial carpet. To our credit we Indians have adapted to everything that’s changing rapidly- technology, economic policies, education but our mindsets belong to the Neanderthal age. When is it going to dawn on us that greater the restrictions we impose on our children more insolence and rebellion is what we’ll get in return from them. Rigid rules and stringent dos and don’ts will simply produce a generation of people who are prototypes of each other. Give your children the proverbial roots and wings and see them blossom into thinking beings who have the courage to take responsibility for their actions.
As a famous philosopher put it “I know but one freedom that is the freedom of the mind” Give the youth freedom of choice because that is what fosters creativity and innovation and it goes without saying that no progress is possible without creativity.