Sunday, November 18, 2007

Inchoate Images of Changing India-II

Inchoate Images of Changing India-II
Syed Ali Mujtaba

The news flashed on the front pages of the major dailies on Monday, March 5, 2007 about the arrest of some 280 Holi party revelers at a Farm House in the outskirts of Pune city for drug abuse is an opener to many Indians accustomed to reading starvation deaths, farmer suicides, and female feticides in the newspapers of the country.

The revelations though a freak incident, undoubtedly points at three significant societal changes taking place in our country. One, India is moving on the path of high-end economic model, second, drug abuse and alcoholism is on rise among the youth, third, certain section of the youth especially the yuppie crowd, is looking for promiscuous life style.

All these things come out glaringly if we recap the happenings at the rave party on the Sunday night. The participants had contacted the organizers through a website, that was promoting the event from February 27. They had received invitations via SMS, e-mails, and through Orkut chat, paying hefty sums through credit cards. Some of them traveled from far of places like Kolkatta, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad to attend the party.

The party allegedly was organized by suspected international drug peddlers from Pune and Mumbai had the guests served some 3000 `California drops,' an acid that is put on a stamp and chewed. Each drop cost between Rs. 350 and 500. The party peaked at about 2 a.m and the crowd was in high spirits dancing on the high voltage music, when a team of 100 policemen in plain clothes swooped on the venue and rounded up the revelers on charges of drug abuse and other crime.

This was the first incident of such a high numbers of persons rounded up for such offences in the country. Those arrested were mostly youth aged between 22 and 30 including 29 girls. There were ten foreigners, three African, three Palestinians; two each from Germany and Iran. The girls ranged from students to airhostesses to naval officers' daughters.

The items recovered from the spot included 2.5 kg of marijuana (ganja), 100 grams of hashish (charas), seven bottles of phenylfine hydrochloride, 15 boxes of beer, 17 cheelams, cigarettes and condoms, all valued around Rs. 5 lakh. The police also seized a Dolby Music System, 45 four wheelers, and 29 two-wheelers from the venue.

The big picture about the Sunday’s party is that India is moving on the path of high end economic model. A situation has arisen where too much money is chasing a very small section of the people. This symptom is evident since the liberalization of our country some fifteen years ago. The trickle down impact of the economy that was much touted really has not taken place; instead a small section of people has cornered a large portion of our wealth and resources. This has resulted in a free flow of money among certain section of the society. The kith and kin of such neo riches are loaded with money and they look for spending opportunities. Such rave parties to them are tempting proposition no matter what they may cost.

The other noticeable trend is the mushrooming of the IT offices, BPO’s, and call centers in the urban centers of India. These places mostly thrive on outsourcing of jobs from abroad provide tremendous opportunities for the urban youth. These days’ very young persons working in such offices are taking home hefty pay packets. With little expenses to bear, they have plenty of money to spare. Such people look for no-traditional source of entertainment. The rave parties are one hell of a place to spend the money as one could buy off the entire desires.

Such parties are also in demand to break their boredom of the insipid job that these flashy call centers, BPO's and IT offices offer. The jobs get on the nerves of the youth that are stuck there in lure of big money. Many are forced to work for long hours and some even find being reduced as slaves to the key boards and the monitor screens. Such persons at the first opportunity want to break their monotony and look for outings to unwind themselves.

The other fall out of the high end economy is growing drug addiction among certain section of the youth. Recently we had the high profile case of Rahul Mahajan, son of the BJP leader late Promod Mahajan, who had to battle for his life after taking drugs. The incident took place at a private party in his home where his father's secretary lost his life due overdose of the consumption of the drugs.

The Sunday Holi party confirms that the Rahul Mahajan’s case was not an isolated event to be brushed under the carpet. Such parties for drug consumption are regularly taking place in some urban centers among select circles of friends without anyone knowing about it.

The other offshoot of the high end economy is youth getting attracted towards alcoholism. It’s common to see youth these days reveling in company of friends with alcohol and drugs. Come any festival, Diwali, Dusherra, Holi or New Year, such activities is fashionable among the urban youth.

The high end economy is also triggering promiscuity among sexes particularly among the neo rich group. Recently there was the high profile case of teenagers making pornographic video through the cell phone camera and sending it on the SMS to their circles of friends. This in turn made rounds to many handsets in the country and abroad that it came to hog the limelight of the media. There was public outcry, Oh Boy is this India!

In the mad race to catch up with the West, the things that are least admirable are being aped by our young generation. The movies, the TV serials, the pictures on the dailies and the tabloids are all pushing the youth towards promiscuous life style.

Even though the Holi party was a freak incident of some adventures people caught off guard seeking fun, it certainly hints at the societal changes taking place in our country. It’s also indication of the fact that Indian values that hold high moral ground is loosing its sheen due to the onslaught of the western influences. The need is to cultivate the right family values among the young so that when they become adult they don’t go wayward like the Holi Hola revelers.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai, India. He can be contacted at

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