Sundeep Bhutoria

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Childhood alas!

Hotel Hyatt Regency Delhi: On Dussehra, I attended a function here after many years. I have many fond memories of Dussehra in Delhi from my school days when I used to visit the Ramlila Maidan every year. It was almost like a ritual. I remember how as children in my native town we used to collect money from house to house in our mohallah to erect a Ravan with our own hands using coloured papers, bamboo sticks and attaching rockets in the ten heads and crackers and lari on the hands and legs.
But now-a-days neither Ramlila nor Dussehra seems to hold much charm for the current generation of youngsters. I recollect how rightly someone had alluded to the current generation belonging to the "Maruti Culture". But things have changed rapidly and I think it has actually gone further and it is now the generation of "Nano Culture". How correctly one of the great minds of our time had said that the biggest loss of the past three decades is the "......loss of childhood".
These days the culture is such that there is no more dadi-nani stories, no Ramlilas, no tales of Panchatantra or Jataka, no joint families and no groups of children playing kabaddi, kancha gulli or flying kites in the gullies of mohallahs. Instead, what we have is an iGeneration that wants everything from iPod, iPhone, iPad and so on. There is a big I and only I.
Honestly, I personally feel that the loss of childhood is more of an urban phenomenon afflicting our metros more than the smaller cities and towns. I spent a good many years of my childhood in a small town of about 60,000 people and I still feel the warmth of these people and also an inexplicable feeling of oneness with the town.
Today's generation of youngsters would probably find it hard to believe going to a school on a camel cart, as I used to, just as much we find it strange that a whole new young generation growing up in a closed air-conditioned environment in a concrete jungle with hardly any real contact with mother nature.
It is a matter of time before the mud houses and home made toys of our tender years become history for the young lots of the current generation. I am quite surprised to see young boys and girls of 8 or 10 years at ease with laptops and video games and other gizmos. It is good to change and adjust with time but distancing oneself from nature and our cultural heritage can hardly be described as a balanced growth.
The value system has changed. The children who wield the joystick or know every key on the keyboard of their computers are no doubt smart. But this has come at a very heavy price - loss of childhood. I wonder how many of them would know the names of the flowers and birds or climb a tree or may be survive without fuss a power outage in summer without a generator.
ess bee

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