India, the nation, has the bulk of its population under 25 years of age. Is it a nation of youngsters acclaimed to provide youth and power in the future? Or is it a nation crumbling at the hands of a giant pandemic, surreal online education experience, the threat of fascism and global calamities?
The stakes have drastically changed. Being a teenager 30 years ago was a different lifestyle. Those ideals, those mannerisms and those ways of life cannot help a teenager in 2021. India’s covid crisis is at its worst right now, and we’re now the hardest hit Asian nation with the second wave. It brings out the worst of humanity, with people selling a 2000 rupees cylinder for an inflated price of 16,000 and selling fake medication or injections, forging reports or even life-saving drugs circulated in the black market. We indeed have seen it all.
Hospitals don’t have beds, and people don’t have any shrivel of hope. In such uncertain times, the youth of the nation is under insurmountable amounts of stress. If the trauma of losing loved ones wasn’t enough, there is the added burden of education. To attend online classes or not, is the question for the majority of teens. Colleges and schools have been relentlessly taking examinations in such unprecedented times. Many have yet to physically see their college for the first time while being on the cusp of finishing their first year. The phrase ‘when this is all over’ is beginning to sound like a farfetched fallacy with no rays of hope.
Gen Z, the name given to this teenage generation, is often stereotyped for their love of social media validation, TikTok dance sequences and online activism. At the same time, gen z aims for actual change and some semblance of peace in this broken world left behind by the older generations. The once greatly appreciated “youth power” that would change the world is now graduating in a significant economic recession, with no reasonable job offers and no end to this problem.
Mental health has taken quite a hit for almost everyone over the last year, but the uncertainty of every crucial decision of their life is much more severe for teenagers. With no news of board examinations held/cancelled or any promised security for those who want to attempt. How are teenagers expected to study and keep revising the same mundane course for almost a year now with no fixed examination date available? They are angry at their government which allowed the situation to escalate without putting any checks and ignoring the signs of a second wave.
Teenagers today don’t just have to worry about their futures. They have to shoulder the burden of this political, socioeconomic mess of a situation. After seeing vast numbers of death and destruction, bodies washing up in rivers or funeral pyres lighting up the night sky. Whatever exists beyond this nightmare is a grim future.