Talking About My Generation.

I was born in 1943. My generation in India saw India become independent of British rule in 1947 and also a republic a few years later. Although I was too young to understand the big events as they took place, I can relate to many things in retrospect.

Thanks to the overwhelming presence of Jawaharlal Nehru, India chose to be a Socialistic Democracy and till the 1990s I saw India as a Socialistic country with all that it implies. Let me just list a few.

Communications. If one had a telephone connection, s/he was next to God in the neighbourhood. One had to book trunk calls and wait endlessly to get connected and usually had to shout to get heard. If one did not have a telephone connection, one went to the nearest post office and booked trunk calls. It was in 1984 that things eased and telephone connections were more easily available as well as many public phone booths came up called STD boots for Subscriber Trunk Dialling booths run by small entrepreneurs. Today, the landline is hardly ever used with cell phones in just about everyone’s hands.

After independence, imports were stopped and India produced two cars, two motorcyles and two scooters. One had to wait in queues for years to purchase one. After 1990 things started to improve and today you can find just about every automobile maker of the world present in India with models adapted for Indian conditions.

Travel meant one used the Indian Airlines or the Indian Railways. Reservation for seats/births were hard to come by and in emergencies, one ran from pillar to post to get a seat. Today there is price competition between half a dozen airlines and the Indian Railways advertises that it has streamlined the reservation system. Long distance bus travel too has improved and there are plenty of alternatives available.

Entertainment meant one screen theaters or government run All India Radio and Doordarshan the government run TV broadcaster. Today, we have multiplexes, malls, 24/7 TV offering a very wide choice of channels, DTH and cable TV as well as FM radio offering 24/7 broadcasting. I can buy any book published anywhere in the world via Amazon or even download electronic versions.

Foreign Exchange when travelling abroad was rationed and I have personally experienced difficulties with inadequate funds when travelling abroad. Today, there are no restrictions for overseas travel and plenty of foreign exchange is available.

Finding difficulty in securing jobs, Indian engineers emigrated out of India but today there is reverse migration with many of them returning or wanting to return to India.

From shortages to plenty, my generation has seen massive changes taking place in the country as a consequence of which, lifestyles have changed and from attitudes of save and spend, we have come to buying / spending on hire purchase, instalment payments etc and value systems have changed as well.

The last 25 years particularly has seen very rapid changes and my generation has found it difficult to keep pace unless it had the benefit of resident geeks like my son and daughter in law who help me with my computer and smartphone. My generation is also seeing the beginning of the impact of climate change and before it becomes too uncomfortable, will fade away leaving the younger generations to handle the mess created by it.

This week’s topic for the weekly LBC post was suggested by Shackman whose take can be seen at his blog. It is also possible that young Pravin may write too as this is a topic that is likely to resonate with him.

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32 Responses to Talking About My Generation.

  1. shackman says:

    You seem to be a generation behind me just based upon what you went through. My grandfather and father can tell similar tales as you. India has just done everything faster than it all happened here. Interesting times for sure.
    shackman recently posted..Taking About My Generation LBC 07/29/2016

    • Calling the last quarter century “interesting times” is an understatement. The country changed rapidly before my eyes and the process is an ongoing one.

  2. Linda Sand says:

    I was born in 1947. I remember party line telephones, listening to radio broadcasts before and after TVs became a thing because our first TV was second hand, dressing up to travel by train, families being glad to have ONE car, movie theaters having only one screen with the place full of kids on Saturday mornings while our parents did the weekly shopping. All this in the USA. The 1040s were a different time and time goes by faster as technology makes greater strides causing our world to expand way beyond our own neighborhoods.

    • The changes in the West took place from immediately after the WWII. In India, the changes took place only during the last quarter century and the process is a work in progress.

  3. Judy Harper says:

    I can relate, coming from a rural area in the 1940-1960’s. My family didn’t have a TV until I was in the 10th grade, and it was one my brother built from spare parts. Up until then, we went to our neighbors to watch. I never used a computer until I was in my 30’s, this was at work. Didn’t own one until I was 46. Now I couldn’t without it. Great post!

  4. Anna says:

    As a person from the same generation, even if from a different culture, I very much relate to what you write in this post. We live completely different life now and even if it is a more convenient life, I sometimes miss the old impractical ways that took more time but had other pluses. The one undisputable value of the current modern ways is communication. If only I could communicate with my family, when I left Poland, the same way as the current technology allows…

    • It is indeed amazing how communication has changed. In my case, my extended family some of whom live overseas, is so regularly in touch that it sometimes makes me wonder how we managed in those days.

  5. We didn’t have a telephone until I was 14 years old, but there was a pay phone at the bottom of the hill. We almost never used it.

    We got a TV when I was about 12, so yes, things are a lot different now! I love being connected to a wider world, but I still think we were lucky to have been born we we were. It’s not a bad time to be a short-timer given overpopulation, climate change, etc.
    Cheerful Monk recently posted..Wake-up Calls

  6. Looney says:

    From the Indians I know, capitalism seems ingrained in their DNA. Don’t quite understand how the socialist phase could have happened.
    Looney recently posted..France: Foreign Funding of Mosques

  7. You don’t mention healthcare or pension plansβ€”just wondering if some of the old socialist policies survived. I know you have moved very quickly to adopt technology, and your population seems up to date with everything. Your generation seemed to keep up as well.
    Still the Lucky Few recently posted..After the Boom – Children by Choice Not Circumstance

    • Health care and pension plans in India are only for the government and public sector employees. The vast majority had to, and still have to make their own arrangements. I am sad to report that I am not a representative sample of my generation in terms of keeping up with the times. Even in cities, the vast majority of my generation live different lives though eased by TV, Cell Phones etc.

  8. nick says:

    My generation has certainly seen huge improvements to just about every aspect of daily life. Unfortunately the younger generation is seeing huge reversals and blaming the older generation for making life harder for them. Most unfair of course, because it’s the politicians who’ve sabotaged everything, not oldies themselves who as always want the young to have a better life than we’ve had.
    nick recently posted..Tangled and dark

  9. Big John says:

    I was born in London in 1939, a few months before the start of WW2, so ‘my generation’ grew up against a background of destruction and deprivation. I won’t boast that it made us tough, but, unlike some later generations, we won’t panic and have nervous breakdowns when our smartphones stop working. … πŸ™‚
    Big John recently posted..The brave and the barmy !

  10. tammy j says:

    I don’t remember a time without tv.
    but I do remember traveling by train. not airplanes. though they were available i’m sure.
    losing the passenger train (we have AMTRAK but it is limited in scope)… losing them
    was the silliest thing this country ever did. it’s such a wonderful way to travel!
    I do remember having to shout whenever you got a long distance call! and how you shouldn’t talk too long because it was terribly expensive.
    seeing how India was in the past by one who lives there and remembers such times is fascinating!
    tammy j recently posted..summer survival mode

  11. Cathy in NZ says:

    thanks for your insight, and the commentators… I was born in the 1950s in a country town, middle North Island, NZ … so many of the bigger towns/cities has much better facilities. But I think I must have survived πŸ™‚

  12. Wow, this was intriguing to read. I’ve never looked at things quite like that, but in my own way I’ve noticed a lot of changes since I was a kid until now. Being a baby boomer used to make us feel a sense of entitlement, and now we’re being blamed for being a drag on the economy, even if some of us are still working; how about that? lol

  13. Pravin says:

    Good evening uncleji, I just wrote about my generation in millennial’s post! So, skipped this LBC, sorry.

    When I read your post, I think it was not a great idea to go for socialism. I remember my father’s first scooter bought in 1986. He had to apply for a scooter, god knows how many days it took for him to get the order confirmation. The scooter was delivered from Gwalior (MP). We used to live in Dhar (MP), distance between these two places is about 550+ km. Just imagine the plight to get the scooter! On the contrary, I went to a showroom, paid by my credit card and got the scooter delivered within 10 min!

    On forex, I was told by my Prof (Prof Dr Mankad) that long back – somewhere in 60s – when he had to go to US for his PhD he could only take USD 8! I cant believe it. I was not even born at that time.

    Having said all this, with whatever challenges your generation saw, I believe your generation did not have diabetes, Heart Attack, Cholesterol or obesity and other health issues in young age, isnt it?

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