Youth has created stir all over the world and equally well in India. What drives them to act the way they do is a matter of interest to the educationists, politicians, sociologists and social workers interested in channelizing and harvesting their energies for the task of social changvand development.
There have been recently a number of studies on Indian youth but very few deals with the driving force that moves them. The author in the context of her long association with the student youth as a teacher & researcher for three decades has done well in making an intensive study of youth aspirations empirically. She started her work in the wake of youth upsurge in Northern India & collected information from the principal four regions of the state of U. P. She also inter-viewed educators, political leaders and student activists to her observations and findings.
The book is divided into eleven chapters explaining the basic assumptions, mythology of study, social setting of the study and dimensions of the- aspirations of youth, men & women, students & non-students, rural & urban and presents her findings in various chapters dealing with aspirations regarding self, education, wealth & occupation, marriage & family, social status, politics, and society and nation. It gives a deep insight into psycho-dynamics of their behaviour and highlights the perceptions of the factors inhibiting the fulfilment of their aspirations-the major source of their 'revolt' at 'destructive' activities.
Youth and youth movements have been matters of keen interest to me. As a young student, I was involved in student political activities and was attracted by the idealism of the new age. My career as a teacher, particularly in Social Education Organisers Training Centre, Kasturbagram, Indote, brought me in close association with the young people in villages. The five village scheme for their total development and organisation of village volunteer force during the Chinese aggression offered me an opportunity to observe more closely patterns of thinking and behaviour of the youth, their style of life, their values, norms, etc. The experience urged me to make a study of their aspirations and to explore factors which can become a driving force in social change.
This was a period when youth power was seen emerging as a potent force all over the world, both in the developed and developing countries. The youth protests were also seen as a challenge to the established norms of society. I, therefore, decided to undertake this study of aspirations of youth with regard to their individual and societal concerns. My contact with Professor Raja Ram Shastri and Dr. R. N. Saxena also encouraged me to take up this probe as a doctoral project.
The study was conceived in a macro perspective but field investigation was delimited to the youth in Uttar Pradesh. A random sample of 400 youth - boys and girls, students and non-students, rural and urban-from the four major regions of the State was drawn and interviewed. Youth leaders, youth workers, social leaders, and educationists were also contacted for depth probing of the issues.
I am aware of its many shortcomings including the small sample size and the limited scope. Despite this, I feel that the study gives fairly adequate picture of the youth in our society.
I have received generous encouragement and guidance from Prof. Raja Ram Shastri, erstwhile Member of Parliament, and now the Vice-Chancellor of the Kashi Vidyapith, for which I owe a deep sense of gratitude to him. He also very kindly accepted to write a foreword for the book.
I feel highly obliged to Dr. C. P. Goyal, Professor and Head of the Department of Social Work, Kashi Vidyapith under whose guidance 1 completed my thesis. He helped me at every stage including the publication of the book. Here 1 cannot forget his wife Smt. Sneh Leta Goyal, who encouraged and assisted me in various subtle and indirect ways in moments of my depression. I feel very much indebted to both of them.
Special thanks are also due to my uncle Shri Vigyan Bhushan Gupta and Shri Banwari Lai Cboudhury who encouraged me throughout the study and kept up my morale. They also went through the manuscript and made useful suggestions.
I gratefully acknowledge the moral influence of my mother and other well wishers who were constantly inspiring me to complete the work.
I will fail in my duty if 1 forgets to mention about the young respondents who spared their time to answer the lengthy schedule, and so several friends particularly Shri Kamla Prasad who assisted me in collection of data and Shri S. N. Gupta who typed the manuscript. l express my sincere thanks to them.
I am also very thankful to the Gandhian Institute of Studies for allowing me time to enable me to complete this study and to Kashi Vidyapith for giving me an opportunity to undertake it. I cannot express my gratitude in words to Chaukhambha Orientalia which at a very critical moment came forward to publish this book of an unknown author and of a new field for him. But for them, the book would not have taken its present form.
Dr. Sudarshan Kumari's thesis brings out certain very interesting points. While she finds "that considerations of the qualities expected in ideal young men reveal that high education, intellectual attainments, moral and religious virtues, service of society and nation were essential ingredients" and also that the "youth in general were quite aware of their duty to consider society and nation as their saviours and realised that they should work for their protection, progress, prosperity and solidarity", she at the same time sees that as far as the youth themselves were concerned, their aim of life expressed itself only in short term objectives. "The instrumental values seemed to be their goals. Education, occupation and status were their first concern as their life goals. Their reference group was by and large their closed kinship group and their parents, siblings, etc. were their ego-ideals. The oft proclaimed idealism of youth was not evident in most cases and many failed to recognise the intrinsic values of life." This discrepancy between their perception of what they should be and what they want to be clearly shows their intuitive feeling that working for the ideal is not a practical proposition for them, because they lack the basic wherewithal’s of attaining their full potential.
Karl Marx somewhere says that mankind never poses itself a problem unless it has the means to solve it. The Indian youth are following this maxim in their collective mind. In most developing countries the lingering hangover of imperialistic rule is not yet exhausted and the people generally suffer from a lack of basic amenities of life objectively and a sense of inferiority and frustration subjectively. Apart from individuals who belong to the affluent sections of society or possess extra-ordinary self-confidence born of their being talented, the general run of youth have 'resigned themselves to what, they think, is their fate which puts an insurmountable obstacle to the realisation of their full potential. Until, therefore, the infra-structure of idealistic aspirations is laid in our society, the aspirations of the youth will have to be restricted to the instrumental values of education, occupation and social status which are within the range of possibility at the moment, although these, too, are not so easy to attain for all youth and are therefore, fit objectives of their aspirations because they cannot be taken for granted. Our youth, thus, are showing collective wisdom and admirable restraint in their realistic aspirations. If our society is sympathetic to the idealistic aspirations of youth and considers it necessary for national resurgence it will first have to provide the means for the fulfilment of the basic needs of the people i.e. food, shelter, health, work and education. The infra-structure having thus being laid, the super-structure of culture and moral heights can be confidently looked forward to; and this side of the aspirations of youth will then be released from the shackles which keep them down in their unconscious though ever-ready to come up to the conscious level. The idealistic nature of youth is there, all the time, only hidden in the depths of their mind, till they have a chance to come out in the open.
Another interesting point that is presented by the thesis lies in the field of marriage and the selection of the spouse. "The youth in general opined that the selection should he made by the parents, although the urban youth stressed that they should also be consulted in the matter. Love marriages and self-arranged marriages were favoured by a microscopic minority only." Again, "a large majority decried the practice of filak and dowry which, in their view, was a great hurdle in finding a suitable match." Parental authority seems quite pervasive and youth were ready to submit to their parents' wishes not only in regard to marriage but in all other fields of choice like education, occupation and social and political life. Marriage is a difficult field of choice and both the western model intimately related to the single family and the eastern model related to the joint family have their critics among great thinkers of the world. Love marriage is not reconcilable with joint family because when the partners have to live within the joint family without the good will or against the wishes of the larger family, particularly the parents, their life presents so many hardships and difficulties of adjustment that marriage itself becomes a frustration rather than a fulfilment. About the future of the joint family in India, there are divergent views. According to some thinkers, the joint family although put to much strain under the present economic realities, is not going to suffer a complete breakdown, but is finding new ways of adapting itself to the new circumstances and retaining its fundamental integrity. According to others, it is breaking, though very slowly. In any case its breakdown presupposes a number of services and securities, which it offered, being replaced by social services and securities which in India are not coming very fast. Under the circumstances, it is neither desirable nor possible to do away with the joint family in a sweep; and until these services are developed, love marriage dictated purely by individual choice is hardly a practical proposition. The youth in India are, therefore, exercising intelligence when they opt for parents' guidance and demand only consultation of their own wishes in the choice of their spouses. This seems to be a good reconciliation of their basic culture with modern aspirations. This synthesis is equally visible in their acceptance of the overall authority of the parents in all other fields of choice. Our culture is ancient and has proved itself capable of absorbing useful traits of other cultures, which have come in contact with it in different periods of its history, without damaging the basic framework which has not only survived but has been enriched by external contributions. In this framework of our culture, respect of the old and the parents is a basic attribute which ensures preservation and continuance of our cultural heritage. Therefore, when the youth in India are intuitively taking this line of adaptation and adjustment, they seem to be on the right path.
I hope Sudarshan Kumari's tribute to the wisdom of our youth and her sympathetic understanding of their problems and difficulties will be appreciated by the youth themselves and by all others concerned in the process of their emancipation.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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