We, the millennials, born during the 80s and 90s in India have heard the traumatic tales of partition from our grandparents, lived alongside communities displaced in our own country, seen our parents anxious during the Kargil war – locking homes during riots and avoiding crowded places fearing terror attacks.
It would not be a stretch to say that our parents and grandparents’ fear of unstable times defined our perspective towards the future. Their experiences should have helped us understand the cost of divisive politics and hate.
A few years back, it was our generation who took to the streets to fight crony capitalism, corruption and rising violence against women. The protest was one of the few things that brought the urban and rural millennial in India together.
We collectively transformed our childhood teachings of nationalism into a movement, to challenge powerful political class.
We demanded change. We won it! But not the way we had envisioned it. There were promises made, a new government came in the Centre and in the Capital. Some of us celebrated, a few held on to the optimism but others became anxious. But, this transition divided us much like our fragmented secular democracy.
Millennial Response:‘Path of Least Resistance’
In today’s times of hate, bigotry, religious tension and economic deprivation, our self-serving bias can make us deny our generation’s role in it. We mark the ‘wiser older Indian’ as a villain who made us a victim of the deep-rooted caste and religious prejudice. But, we must call evil by its name.
People our age are leading armies of trolls on the internet and mobs of violent men in cities and towns. They are eager to kill and hurt, proud to post their vulgarity of thought and actions on social media and brazenly brandish the colour of their religion.
They are threatening, yet, we have chosen a ‘path of least resistance’. We have opted for whatever requires the least work. Our resistance is online, largely limited to cities and confined to our dining room conversations.
We are quick to quip about the failure of the previous generations that forced upon us a miserable system of governance that overlooked the rights of people and de-valued human lives. They handed us political parties that spew hatred, curb free speech, weaken institutions, and thrash the rule book and morality to win elections.
‘Need to Demand Answers From Those in Power’
If previous generations were disinterested, we are distracted by the beauty of consumerism and world of convenience. We know more about the delivery policy of Zomato than about the functioning of our political and civic systems.
It is our responsibility to put things in order, fight for our constitutional rights and improve our democratic mechanisms. To be heard, we need to care and demand answers from those in power. Yes, it will be time-consuming but it will disrupt the status quo. In the end, it will be our experiences that will shape the minds of future generations.
Great French political philosopher Montesquieu’s words capture the zeitgeist of our times. “The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.”
We must wake up from our slumber before it is late for us to even apologise to our future generations.
(Himanshi Matta is a former journalist and media professional. She works with Oxfam India and leads the organisation’s media relations and communication work. Himanshi has worked with leading media houses including the Press Trust of India, NewsX and NDTV. She has covered politics, courtroom battles, crime, health and aviation. Himanshi has also worked with international human rights organisation Amnesty International India. This is a personal blog and the views expressed are the author's own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)