Generation Z, children born after 1998 or so, children who have just become adult-. the first generation of digital natives who have grown up living the profound human experiment of social media – in which our attitudes towards information, relationships, and privacy have greatly shifted- what is this cohort group like? This question gets another dimension when we think of it in Indian perspective. Somewhere we are experiencing a kind of edginess because we tend to attach a lot with our sense of values, the ethos that have remained more or less the same even with the ‘generation gap’. Also, there has been a ‘set patter’ in terms of quantification of these changes but with this one, we are not sure.  

We see them always connected with hardly any time to experience the ‘offline’ world and its sensibilities or so we assume. Their attention span is narrowing with all the technological distractions. What are their career goals? Do they have any clarity as to what they want to do amidst all the chaos of ‘connected world’ fogging their mind all the time! Are they a dispassionate lot, not really concerned about their surroundings?  However, just because they belong to a generation that has a global disposition, thanks to them being the ‘digital natives’, aren’t we a bit stricter to judge them!  All these questions fascinated me and brought forth an urge to observe them more attentively.

It helped that my son belonged to this generation and so did most of the children of my friends in different cities.  I spoke to a number of these young adults. Pleasantly, contrary to what we assume, they turned out to be far more focussed and determined. In their own way, quite considerate towards their surroundings too.  Though, having lived through different times where rapid change is the only constant, Gen Z’s outlook on the world may be unique- from their attitudes toward money, to their society and the world.

Young Indian adults are much more global in their attitude

“Technology has made the world truly a global village. Geographic location is not a problem and does not define who we are. I watch my favourite international Tv series in real time. I am much aware of the events that are taking place in the world. At the same time though, we are not as addicted to our smartphones as perceived. Maybe it has to do with the fact that we have grown up with them and they do not hold any novelty factor for us,” says Sanyogita Sharma, a vivacious young girl who shall appear for her 12th board exams this March. “I am aspiring to pursue economics. Study of economics can provide valuable knowledge for making decisions in everyday life. To me it feels very challenging to come up with financial solutions with the scarce resource and bring about positive changes in the society through this,” she says when asked which subject she is planning to pursue in college and why.

Sanyogita Sharma- Digital Native with right values.

Clad in a distressed pair of jeans and cool demeanour, she has learnt the lessons of work-life balance early on. Perhaps, these were the traits that won her the ‘School Captain’ badge in her school at Jaipur. “I have set my personal goals, keeping in mind my interests and potential. That way it shall be easier to achieve what I want to without giving up on the other aspects of my life,” she says with the wisdom that’s beyond her age. Is it something to do with being the ‘digital native’ and thus getting exposed to global thinking!

Passion takes precedence over the known, safe path

For Gen Z, it’s about following passion even though the conventional wisdom dictates otherwise. Arhant Mahajan, a student of St Edwards Boys School, Shimla, is one such young lad. Everyone, including his parents, thought that he would opt for the PCM (Physics, Chemistry, Math) after his tenth. After all, he had always scored almost 100 percent throughout and in India, such children automatically get slotted for the engineer, doctor moulds. But he was clear as to what he wanted to do in his life. “I want life-work balance, not work-life balance. For me, it was important to opt for something which gave me enough freedom to pursue my passion along with the opportunity to earn money. I love travelling, interacting with new people and money for me is a tool to a decent living, not everything. I didn’t want to get into the excruciating routine of coaching to get admission into some decent college and again continue being into the same rut. I opted for commerce and maybe, later on, get higher degrees in finance only and perhaps one day I shall be my own boss,” he says. This cool confidence is not misplaced. He knows the importance of planning strategies as well as execution strategies and single-handedly organizing a session of MUN in this tiny hilly hamlet with much success, mirrored that.

Arhant Mahajan- All for following passion

Another boy (name withheld) a first-year student in one of the IITs, is ready to leave this prestigious institute if he gets admission into IISc Bangalore, to pursue his passion Physics. “Physics is crucial to understanding the world around us, it challenges our imagination and for me nothing is comparable to the joy of studying Physics and doing research in that field,” he says.

Humanitarian and Compassionate

Then there is Nimisha Shukla, who exudes a lot of optimism and warmth. Student at Symbiosis Law College, Pune, she also holds the distinction of being India’s first Webinar Wizard. A multitasker, she uses the technology to her advantage in the best possible and constructive way to reach out to people. With her feet firmly on ground and heart at the right place, she is an avid advocate of youth issues and the problems of the grassroots population. “As a student of humanities, I was always fascinated by the intricacies of our society and ideas which shapes it. My curiosity of the same made my resolve to pursue law very strong. As a law student, I have come to believe that we are what we interpret of things and this had made me do the same for the better. The field of law has further exposed me to the issues that hit the grassroots of our population and not only has this made me more aware but also more socially proactive to the happening in my daily life. It is with these ideas in my head that I aim to work towards a better future for myself and the society at large,” she says.

Nimisha Shukla- High aim with right perspective

Indeed this is a generation which might be having a shorter attention span, but they are adept at multitasking- interestingly the reason for these two being the same. They are focussed, determined, and certainly no way any less compassionate. With a global attitude, they are bringing fresher ideas to the table to solve local problems and are more receptive towards embracing diversities than their predecessors. What a pleasure it was to know them. I realised, more than them, it's we who need to roll our sleeves up and put in the effort to understand them and their ideas.

Let's raise a toast to their dreams, visions and to the hope of a more equal society.

Copyright © Aradhana Mishra