THERE IS a bright young person sitting across the table. The clothes and the looks are perfect. He/she could well be a model. Our job is to interview these young people for a management position in our company. My colleague asks them some questions about their background - engineering, arts or commerce - and the answers border on ignorance. So we ask, do you read newspapers? Evasive answer: sometimes. What is your opinion on freedom of the press? Oh, we should not give them absolute freedom. What do you want to do in life? Make a lot of money. In the middle of the interview we notice that the young person is uncomfortable. The hand goes to the pocket, but stops. "It's OK," we say, "You can take your call." The young person smiles sheepishly. "It was on buzzer," the person says, as if that explains everything. We look at each other, how can we take this person in the company? And yet, most people whom we interview are clones, speaking the same things without any conviction in their voice. "I want to do something for the country or for the poor," they say, without having any idea as to what they would like to do for either the poor or for themselves.
Evasive and irresponsible
Reports say that 80 per cent of the people coming out of India's colleges are unemployable. As one who is in contact with the young generation, I would disagree only with the figure. Interacting with the youth, I can only say that a good 90 per cent of the youngsters are unemployable simply because they are evasive and irresponsible. Somewhere along the line, young people have started to mistake bad manners for confidence. They do not want to do anything but make a lot of money. It is not that they are useless: most speak good English and are confident of themselves. They are aware of the latest ring tones, movies and jokes. But when one goes a little beyond, they stare at me with dull eyes. They want to earn a "lot of money," thanks to the media hype and salary surveys published regularly, but they do not have skills that will help them earn that kind of money. Their degrees are suspect: ask them a few questions on their graduation subjects and most young people flounder quickly. As for extra reading, nobody reads anything of consequence. But there are other questions also. Questions about ethics and behaviour, about what you are good at, about how you spend your spare time. And then, these confident young men and girls flock to me with confused looks, "What should I answer to these questions?"It is no good telling them that it is their life and they should tell me about themselves, because they always want readymade answers, to say something that will help them get through. "If I practise it long enough, I will make it look true," they say. So overnight young people become avid readers, guitar players, star batsmen and even gardeners. I wonder if any interviewer is foolish enough to buy their half-baked stories.
As India moves forward we have produced an unthinking generation whose sole objective is to live a good life without doing anything. It appears we are creating too many rolling stones, without a vision, without commitment or morals. Given a choice between saving their skin and doing something worthwhile, most young people respond that they would rather save themselves.There is supposed to be some idealism when you are young; your ideas may not make sense but you are willing to stand up for a cause. These days the young do not have any passion towards any cause. Listening to the well-rehearsed answers of the generation, I understand that the new mantra is money. Anyone who talks of something more meaningful is outdated.