Wednesday, June 07, 2006

In Defense of Love !

To an urban reader belonging from the 21st century, the familial opposition to inter-community love marriages might seem anachronistic, but to a vast majority of young eligible bachelors and spinsters, it’s a reality, a rather cruel one in some cases!

As a young man today, I do not have much of an idea about the period when the caste system was created, however, the purpose of its creation seems to have been lost in the changing times! With the societal evolution, call it the influence of the west or the natural evolution process, things have become different from what they were before. The need for individualism and personal satisfaction are on a rise. There’s a tendency of selfish hedonism mixed with a keen sense of social responsibility. We commonly nurse the ambition to achieve all that's possible in one single life in all dimensions. Moreover, the times are changing must faster than they did before. The previous generation did not see the amount of change in the world in its entire lifetime than our generation has seen in its 20 years of age!

In this situation, how fair is it of parents to stay obsessed with age old systems of in-caste marriages which have mostly lost their relevance and cause anguish in the hearts of love birds who’re too afraid to carry their relationship forward because they fear their parents’ reaction! The debate has two dimensions to itself, one is the love vs. the arranged marriage debate and the other, an interlinked one, is the in-caste vs. the inter-caste marriages. I’d say, the ones who fall in love with people from their own caste, and then have their marriages arranged by their families, are the luckiest beings on earth.

Trying to explore the parental psychology that goes behind the pressure for an arranged marriage, a few things come to mind. First and foremost seems to be the persistent and scary thought about ‘log kya kahenge.’ Second, a more logical one that is most commonly used against love marriages is the apparent immaturity of the young individuals which renders them incapable of taking a good decision about something as important as marriage. Parents fear that their sons/daughters might end up getting infatuated with someone and choosing to marry them, in which case, very soon the things become bitter and they break apart. Every parent, who is for an arranged marriage would be very quick to cite examples of failed love marriages! Oh yes, there are girls who’d elope with a guy they’ve been infatuated with for a while now, and not too much time later, break apart.. only to bring infamy to herself, her family and at large, to love marriages!

However, is that reason enough for someone to abandon his deeply felt love for someone and marry elsewhere because his parents wish that way? They say one can’t think on his feet if he’s madly in love with someone! I wouldn’t know whether to agree to this reasoning or not!

Looking at the rising issues of individual choices and intolerance in natures, it becomes extremely important to ascertain the mutual compatibility of the two people who’re to get married. However, the conventional proponents of arranged marriages would only like to give the chance of a few meetings, which hardly give any chance for a real understanding of each others’ nature and thus the compatibility. The sacred institution of marriage which is beyond a union of two individuals, considered to be a union of two families, will end up losing its sanctity if parents persistently impose their choices and decisions on their capable of thinking next generation.

A psychological dimension to this comparison can be taken as the expectations of the marrying partners in the two cases of love and arranged marriages. An arranged marriage is based on a compromise. The guy and the girl both are mentally prepared to have some possible mismatch in expectations and thus they’re more accommodating to each others weaknesses, which helps mutual acceptance of each other and ensures a long term bond which is formed in the period of changing for each other and accepting the other person for what they are! On the contrary, a love marriage is completely full of expectations of all kinds. The picture seems all rosy and everything about the other person seems so perfect. However, when the girlfriend turns wife, or the boyfriend husband, the things become altogether different. What seemed trivial enough to be overlooked earlier, assumes a high significance and now unmet expectations from the person or their family cause immense distress and subsequently there are clashes which shatter the so called bond that was once established when the boy and girl thought that they were madly in love with each other!

This seems to suggest that the lovers think with their hearts and not minds. The young people seem to have a bad track record with its choices and there are several love marriages which started off as a grand solemnization of a relationship of several births but ended up a few months later in a bitter state which left behind only tears, hurts and scars of anguish!

So, in the light of a large history of love marriages, it’s not entirely illogical of parents to detest the idea of frivolous love marriages. However, this opposition seems to have degraded and lost its sense of reason and is dominated more by the fear of, as I said earlier, ‘log kya kahenge’ than a natural and genuine concern about their son/daughter’s happiness. Somehow, the fear of the social consequences entirely eclipse the cause of the son’s happiness and his reasonability. More so in the case of girls, when they’re made to compromise in the name of family honor and different other forms of emotional blackmail till they finally give up all their dreams and marry an almost stranger whom her parents chose for her. Then gradually, she comes to terms with the situation, somehow manages or forces herself to face the reality, to care for her husband as a 'pativrata' and leaves her past behind. Then there are kids, which altogether change her entire perception of what's happiness and what's life!
What is required is that the parents don't give a knee jerk reaction to the possible marital plans of their children and at least lend them a patient hearing, substantiated by logic and reasoning! High time we left behind the issues of 'log kya kahenge' and focused on the more important thing that is the genuine happiness of the two people who are to be together!
There's a lot more to this debate, however, as a start, this would suffice!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Youth today! Misguided? Directionless?

Rahul Mahajan: A victim of circumstances?

‘Chor vohi jo pakda jaaye’

As a backdrop to the story: Pramod Mahajan, a well regarded BJP guy is shot dead by his brother. His son is embroiled in a drug controversy, in which he was snorting cocaine/heroine and allegedly celebrating with his friends shaking a cocktail of drugs mixed with champagne! The cause for celebration could be any or possibly it was an escapade out of his depression after his father’s death. (His doctors mentioned that he was quite depressed and taking medication for the same!)

Apollo tried a cover up act, but failed and further complicated the issue. Now, from an idol who had the makings of a leader in his early age itself, who demonstrated his capabilities in varied situations, Rahul is turned into a devil, a spoilt brat, as the natural consequence of the large unaccounted wealth accrued by his father by allegedly unscrupulous means! It’s an awesome world, isn’t it? Rahul Mahajan is a criminal overnight, a symbol of misguided youth, a 'Bade baap ki bigdi aulaad’ all because he’s caught in the act? As long as the act is on behind the curtain, we have nothing against anybody, and now that it’s come out in the open, just about everyone seems to want to distance himself from the entire thing. BJP, except a very few sympathizers, completely washed its hands off anything to do with Rahul Mahajan. So did most other people. And why not, who would want the stink of someone’s misdeeds to stay on their hands and mar their reputation as the high moral ones!

What is it with people that makes them want to live in denial? Perhaps the fear that the truth might overwhelm them they might not be able to handle it. Champagne is a rather mild and somewhat standard beverage in several circles and in fact, harder drinks and even drugs have become more common in urban circles than we’re willing to accept. Now, blame it on the excess money in the fathers’ coffers, on the influence of the west and subsequent rise in consumerism, this is how it is. And one Rahul Mahanjan doesn’t have to be typecast as a descendant of Satan just because he’s caught in the act. Moreover, the trends in intoxication do not really have a direct correlation with the amount of wealth as it is normally assumed. Yes, the higher society people drink in costlier bars but the not so higher ones would still frequent the not so costly bars! And what’s not happening in dimly lit cheap liquor bars spread out across the country.

And possibly to your surprise, this is what is happening in the highest echelons of knowledge, the IITs and the IIMs. Now this is a cause of concern, but not so much as the self appointed burghers of Indian culture might like to claim! I am probably not in a position to talk on behalf of the entire youth at large and neither am I too keen to advocate their escapades. All I am trying to point out, is that the trends have more to do with the times than the directionless-ness. Whatever the connotation might seem to be, the youth can’t generally be dismissed as directionless drug freaks who have no attachment or respect for their country or who are bound to fail in life! Eventually, it’s the same people, who, very soon will take up positions of responsibility in global corporations and who’ll do well at their jobs and who’ll make a difference to the society.

Yes, we are the RDB generation, who probably doesn’t subscribe to the depth of thought as high morality commands, who’s frivolous and who seeks pleasure in indulgence. Yes, we might have abandoned the conventional morality of abstinence from drinks, drugs and relationships. We indulge, and we enjoy life. But we do have our social responsibilities in mind as well. We too at times feel disturbed by the dismal state of affairs, we too wish to make a difference and we too are willing and prepared to shoulder the burden of carrying this nation and the humanity forward!

The deeper thinkers would want to dismiss our indulgence as mindless pursuit of selfish interests and claim that we’re too attached to our own self to even think for the good of the society, but it can be better understood in the perspective of living a wholesome life. I do not want to look back from my death bed and feel that I missed out something in life! Yes, doing something for the society and the nation would give me the proud feeling which is an essential component of this 'one life' , but I’ve got just one life and I wish to fit in everything that’s possible.

For a more generic understanding of the youth of today, we need to ask whether all this indulgence is capable of making us lose our direction in life. Is there anything more to us beyond what looks like a spoilt generation? Given our way of life and indulgence and may it be left to us, are we capable of shouldering our nation and carrying it forward to the future?