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There is no concept of teenage in India

 

DR. AMIT KUMAR SHARMA | New Delhi, August 4, 2012 15:52
Tags : Teenage | Ashrams |
 

There is no concept of teenage in IndiaIt is not easy to define the concept of teenagers in India. The reason being that what happens in the metropolitan cities isn’t the same as what happens in small cities. Also what happens in the slums isn’t the same as what happens in the elite classes. In the similar fashion, there is an impact on various castes in the villages.

In India, there is no concept of teenage. India has traditionally seen the process of Ashrams i.e. Brahmacharya Ashram, Grestha Ashram, Vanprastha Ashram and Sanyasa Ashram. According to it, from the age of 12 children go to Gurukul for education where they’ll imbibe the teachings of the Guru.

In India it's believed that the age till 25 is a growing age. However, in the West the growing age is considered from 13 years to 19 years. It wasn’t the same in the West before 13th century. Before the said period, the Westerners too followed conditions similar to the Indian concept of Ashrams. Michael Foucault’s The History of Sexuality throws light on several related aspects.

The term teenager came when people began to think in terms of libido or sexual context. During teenage, we see physical, psychological as well as emotional changes.
 
Teenagers in India are not blindly aping the West. While they will eat pizza happily, they will at the same time follow religious serials on television or visit temples, mosques and other places of worship.

India is a civilization. The new generation is not getting westernized by getting decolonized.
Media has an immense influence on the teenagers. It has spread awareness and also helped shrink the space. Today, both the concept of space and time has changed. In our youth, a Hollywood film would come to India for screening after five months of its actual release. Now we often see some films which are released first in India and then in United States.

Due to these changes we often think that it’s because of westernization but that isn’t true. Our tradition has always believed in Vasudeva Kutumbakam (World is one single family). We imbibe good things from the outside but our core ideas remain the same. The change is within continuity. That is what is happening with the youth.

The joint family concept is less in the cities and more in the villages. Neighborhood plays a great role.  Peer group play or comradeship is more seen in the villages and even in few slums in the cities. A teenager finds more opportunities to interact with a fellow teenager. In Metropolitan cities, however, the teenager may be interacting with his age group in school but the leisure time is spent alone. It may be argued that internet, chatting and social media has brought them closer but overall the physical proximity has reduced drastically.

Media often wrongly says that internet has brought them closer. In this context In this context the culture or a civilization has two important components – working hours and leisure time. In working hours, people do meet and interact but in leisure time, loneliness increases. The multidimensional relationship which existed during our growing years is now changing towards one-dimensional. Even a boyfriend and girlfriend may be emotionally attached but do not always interact intellectually. There is a process of segmentation of relationships which is leading to depression and blood pressure problems. More so in the middle class not the lower class and in cities not villages.


The writer is Associate Professor, Centre for Studies of the Social Systems, JNU

 
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
 
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017