2006- second year of Architecture school. I am tempted to go back to those days and write about them. Rang De Basanti was released and what euphoria it created! I remember youngsters beaming with pride and a renewed sense of patriotism, speaking up in college projects about their nation as it belonged to them. I don’t know how they viewed their country prior to the movie’s release. What I remember is students debating in excited tones about nationalism and inequality. That was rare. The songs were played at all public functions and it was suddenly cool to be a rebel. BE A REBEL was the cry.
The Right to Information Act was passed in 2005 and it ushered a new wave of keeping tab on government affairs. So many things changed. Social media was introduced. Students got hooked to websites like orkut. Every other student in my school would be in the computer lab after school hours to connect via orkut. The concept of online friends and friendship seemed cool and the ‘in thing’ at that time. We suddenly had more access to our freedom than we ever believed. The dynamics started changing in schools, colleges, universities. Many of my girl pals befriended strangers and even met them. Something like this would have been unthinkable and dangerous prior to the orkut phase. They exchanged phone numbers and would chat in excited tones about their interactions. Everything was changing. The youth of India were redefining themselves.
Yet many of these new rebellious things died a sudden death by 2010. By then, facebook was everywhere. Internet was available on the phones. No more running to computer labs or internet cafes. The patriotic wave also washed off. Economic depression from 2008 had played some part in creating havoc in graduating students’ lives. Nobody cared about their country anymore. It was enough and essential to look after your own selves.
The Anna Hazare movement caught on by 2011, created a frenzy among many a young urban working citizens. Some quit their jobs, devoting themselves to the India Against Corruption movement, some became full time members. Students emerged to be the biggest supporters then. Non violence, Gandhian principles and Hunger strikes became the ‘in thing.’ This also fizzed out in two years. People started going back to their work, faith in ‘money equals happiness’ was restored. Nationalism was an issue to be spoken on television debates. Every organisation that succumbed to the charm of politics was disowned. And then emerged the great orator and messiah of this crestfallen nation that was lying in dumps for the past 60 years. Suddenly all lights came back, there was glitter in the skies, hope had aroused in the heart of a sleeping nation.
And now comes the reality check.
Perhaps, we need a Rang de Basanti every few years eh!