We, the Government
By HUGH & COLLEEN GANTZER
Ms Sitharaman is, without any doubt, the most responsive Finance Minister we have had. In many ways she reminds us of the late Ms Sushma Swaraj. Clearly, it is time that political parties gave up their antediluvian, patriarchal, khap- panchayat attitudes and smelt the coffee of the 21st century! The outreach of these two Ministers could be a reflection of the genetic empathy that women have: the result of generations of feminine bonding because of the social dependency of pregnancy and child rearing. That’s a potential hornets’ nest which we’ll keep in reserve! Here we are concerned about the FM’s theory that the slump in auto-sales, and its dire repercussions on the economy, are due to the Millennials’ pragmatism. There is enough anecdotal evidence to sustain the belief that those who reached early adulthood at the turn of the century have a more global view of life than their predecessors. They value Experiences rather than Exhibits, are more concerned with the Environment than the Economy. Their global outlook tends to hold Status Symbols in disdain and places a premium on Personal Achievements. This would account for their apparent switch from owning cars to hiring Uber and Ola. The money saved is probably spent on travel and self-enhancement activities like distance learning. This, however, applies to those with disposable income. But, as the FM’s critics have asked, what impact did the Lower Income Group Millennials have on the economy? Did they also divert their purchasing power from goods to what they now believe are gainful self- enrichment activities? We got a glimpse into this reality when we saw a flyer delivered with our Garhwal Post. It was an eye-catching bi- lingual advertisement promoting a local institution offering computer training. We learnt that the Institute had been in existence for some years and must have prospered because, apparently, it has three branches in our little town. According to its pamphlet, it has now re-adjusted its sights to target those who wanted to “Read, Write, Listen (to and) Speak (English).” The words in brackets were missing from the flyer, which is a commentary in itself! This widely circulated advertisement went on to list the impressive Course Contents. This consisted of “Basic & Advance Grammar; Voice Accent Modern Grammar; The Art of Communication; Soft skills; Group Discussion; Conversation; Debate; Powerful Vocabulary; Removal of Hesitation Classes; Etiquette, Manners & MTI; Interview skills; Personality Development Classes. We cannot comment on the effectiveness of these courses but that is not the important point. What is of prime significance is that these classes, in communication and social skills in English, were demanded by the parents of children living in the villages dotted around Mussoorie. In other words, these courses have been designed to meet the aspirations of the Lower Income Group of Millennials. In spite of all the dire warnings of rural distress we have rural parents in Garhwal willing to pay for the upward mobility of their children. This is an inevitable development of the frontier-shattering power of the digital revolution. The richest ethnic group in the US, after the Jews, are the Indian community. When one of our people gets a job abroad it is greeted as an achievement by his relatives, friends and neighbours. It is a commonly held belief that the path to social advancement lies through a familiarity with international customs, traditions and lifestyles. With the growing reach of the increasingly powerful smart-phones, and their spread across the whole of our land, such awareness of what is happening on the other side of midnight can reach the remotest part of India in real time. Our most visible scientific achievement, gripping the imaginations of our people, and indeed of the whole world, was coordinated in India’s only truly international language. It is the official language of the state of Nagaland, the language of the Supreme Court and the alternative Official Language of our land. It is also the language of International Trade, Technology, Diplomacy, Law and Entertainment. Many politicians, however, have their own revered convictions. Others, like Ms Sitharaman, are more down to earth. Finally, to get back to the Millennials, we congratulate the owner of the Institute for responding to an urgent socio-cultural need so creatively.