By Vijay Phanshikar :
IN A recent interview-based survey of young people between ages 18 and 24 years, a rather disturbing fact emerged -- that each one of the respondents had role models that were strange, to say the least -- movie stars, YouTube influencers, nondescript fashion models. That revelation was rather saddening. The researcher was none other than the loud-thinker himself. On one past occasion, he did mention similar findings in ‘Loud Thinking’, all right. But this time, the loud-thinker followed another approach. He spent longer time with each respondent and asked critical questions to ascertain if the respondent -- a boy or a girl -- knew his or her facts correctly. And, he also told each of those young people a story of another person who could be a better role-model -- like Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, like Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, like Dr. Homi Bhabha, like Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, like Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, like hockey wizard Major Dhaynchand, like iconic painter Bal Gaitonde (whose paintings fetched close to Rs. 50 crore in price) ...! To each of those stories, every respondent to the survey expressed amazement.
Those stories had never been told to him or her at any point in time. At least a dozen of the respondents changed their role-models from a so-called movie superstar to Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, for example. A couple of weeks later, a few respondents called the loud-thinker to tell that they had bought biographies of the persons described in his stories. This was, by any standard, a positive sign and showed that our youth is not a wasted segment of the population. Of course, there do come moments when one feels saddened by the general conduct of the young people. They show lack of discipline, lack of focus, lack of dedication, lack of hard work ...! Such a conduct does convey a dismayed feeling to many. Yet, there is another angle which we must not lose sight of -- and that is of the society’s failure to present to the youngsters the right thought on so many aspects of like.
The loud-thinker has realised over time that the youths do not appreciate being given heavy doses of advice, but they do not mind getting involved in interaction on an equal basis, in the sense they are given appropriate importance as the most critical stake-holders of their own lives. The youths need no advice, so to say. But they do not mind the same thought being brought to them in the form of interaction. This is the actual outcome of the recent survey the loud-thinker conducted for the past one month -- though without telling the respondents directly that they were being questioned with a purpose. But once the meeting was over, the loud-thinker confessed the truth -- which did not anger the young person. On that count, the loud-thinker has only a word of gratitude to every respondent -- and also to all young people whom the small sample represented.