How not to talk to a young nation

The government's statements on the anti-rape protests framed the pronounced generation gap between politicians and the citizenry

The refrain, "society has to change", has to be accompanied by another one: "society has changed". It's the classic "everything you say about India, the opposite is also true". The protesters in Delhi are a more pronounced segment of a larger culture class of young Indians born after liberalisation, and who exhibit the trait of far lower "power distance" than we have seen before in India. Power distance is one of six dimensions developed by researcher Geert Hofstede to describe a culture; people in societies with high power distance accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and which needs no further justification. We need to add the refrain, "government has to change", in the way it deals with this India, which will only increase in numbers as the years go by.

The generation and cultural gap has become ever more pronounced, as was evident from the home minister's statements on television on Sunday, on the anti-rape protests at India Gate by these liberalisation children. Woefully out of date with today's world, he said that such scenes should not go outside of India and hurt the country's image and must stop immediately, lest they made a bad impression on visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin. Someone must tell him that pictures, including those not shown on TV but uploaded on YouTube, were instantly transmitted to the world and were already available to the international media. Also that many of the young protesters were probably pre-schoolers at the time of the dissolution of the USSR, and have grown up without the baggage of being an irrelevant third world country, and unlikely to be impressed with the visitor they have been told to be on their best behaviour for.

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