We are a limited edition, the first and the last, extremely unique and will be extinct within two-three decades. We are the ones born within 10-15 years of Independence. We opened our eyes in a free India, filled with euphoria of newly acquired freedom, along with the disruption and agony of Partition.
We grew up steeped in patriotic fervour, truth and probity in public life. We were inspired by freedom fighters and our leaders, their turmoil, trials, tribulations and honesty.
We are the ones who could easily drink water from any well, handpump, railway station tap. We grew up without any pollution, adulterated foods, artificially ripened/coloured vegetables and fruits. We are the last to use dhela, taka, anna; chhatank, seer, mound. We grew up with invaluable postcards, inland letters, telegrams; saw their demise, and are now equally adept at emails and social media messaging.
We walked to school, studied in hot and humid classrooms, sitting on the floor; and are now happy with our grandchildren going in AC buses to AC classrooms. We are the last ones who wrote on wooden takhtis, slates, and later with nib-pens; and are now equally at home with the stylus.
We grew up in large joint families, had multitude of siblings; and are now at ease with our progeny having two kids or one child. We, who could never raise our voice against our parents, especially fathers, are uncomfortable at the behaviour of present-day kids.
We grew up with the All India Radio, fascinated by B&W television sets; were elated with colour TV. We used to rue only a single channel and now don’t know what to do with so many channels and high-tech TVs. We saw the rise and fall of EPs, LPs, 2-in-1s and VCRs. We grew up in the times when getting a telephone connection was a Herculean task and possessing one a status symbol. We are now impressed with a billion Indians possessing mobile phones.
We spent our childhood and youth longing for imported goods; even soaps and socks; and are now enjoying the luxury of everything available locally. We contributed our bit fully when the country fought three major wars, but now feel disturbed by the disrespect shown to guardians of our freedom. We have seen an impoverished, starving India of the sixties, having a weekly one-meal fast by the whole nation; advent of the Green Revolution and are now appalled at the enormous wastage of foodgrains due to improper storage.
We have experienced both sides. We have had a ring-side view of a poor, semi-clad, barefoot, mostly illiterate country’s tremendous scientific and technological progress, and its riches. But are also seeing the severe degradation of social and moral values.
We are the Janus generation.