Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Behind the walls

The 80-90s was a strange generation. Just about everyone wanted to get out of poverty. The searing blades of want and desperation were a part of daily life of the entire middle class. Poverty for middle class was not meant in the strictest sense. There was food to eat, clothes to wear and a place to live. But one could not get more than that. Barring a few festivals in the year which called for some shopping, the wings of life were mostly clipped.

And the magic solution was to get an engineering degree. With India’s economy spreading its hands and welcoming FDI after 1991, IT became the poster boy of India’s economy. The IT industry of India gave a new hope to the emerging middle class. It proved to be a refuge for every child growing up in those years. The steps were simple. Get an engineering degree and most likely you will get a job in an IT company. The job would bring prestige, foreign trips and of course, loads of money. The rope to get out of the well of hopelessness of the middle class life turned out to be IT. And the middle class did whatever it could to cling onto those ropes.

IT was certainly responsible for bringing out a vast majority of the middle class out of the ‘well’. Those who were not able to get an engineering degree looked at the graduates with envy. They tried all means to ‘break' in the industry. IT courses, training programs and even self learning were all tools used by the have-nots to become a part of the new wave. Most importantly, it gave a sense of hope to the middle class that it was possible for things to change.  And change was evident in the urban areas of the country. High rise offices, glitzy malls, pubs, bars, clubs, multiplexes and construction of satellite towns around the periphery of cities were all transformations that this industry brought with itself.

The 70s generation envied this young crowd. This crowd had ‘jobs’, money and freedom. The previous generations had to fight tooth and nail even for basic necessities and the 90s generation got all of this and even more by simply getting an engineering degree.

For all its life changing capabilities, IT also wrote the obituary of many artists. The air conditioned, towering facades of the IT companies hid behind themselves angry and desperate writers, singers, musicians, painters, actors, teachers, journalists and many other careers. All these ‘IT professionals’ had been fed the success of IT since their teenage years. They had no other option but to choose engineering as their career. And choose they did. The choice brought them straight in front of a computer after their college. It brought loads of money. And it also woke the youth from its slumber. Suddenly, many of them realized that life was not so rosy from outside. It made them realize what they really wanted to do in their lives.

A whole new community sprang on the internet. This community mostly consisted of the disgruntled IT lot. They wanted to be everything but IT professionals. They were trying every possible way to “break free” from the chains of computer and live life their way. Rings a bell? We started with the same situation in the beginning of this piece.

The pattern is getting repeated.

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