Who would have thought man would fly one day? Who would have thought ordinary citizens would get an offer to move to the Mars? Who would have thought that the sci-fi movies we saw as kids, would be the reality of today – wearable computers with optical head mounted displays, robotic cars that can take over most of the driving from their human handlers - driverless cars, and what have you! Who would have thought that our own Country would rule the world in the IT and Business Process Management Industry – the Industry that many of you belong to!
It is aspiration that differentiates humans from other living things – and it is aspiration that has given us these mind boggling realities of today. Through generations, the power of aspirations has been the great leveler no matter what the disparity. All of us have aspired at some point or the other in our lives, to different things – no matter what year or Generation we were born in. In the first half of the twentieth century for many Indians it was the dream of independence and being citizens of a sovereign nation that helped hold heads high even in the face of oppression and in many cases, numerous adversities caused by natural calamities, poverties and lack of opportunities. Folks from the ‘baby boomers’ generation, born before 1960, will recall the aspiration to own a telephone or a minimal form of transport – both were big things in those days.
In the western world, various generations of people have been categorised in three buckets and even in India, we can group their aspirations accordingly. The baby boomers, born in the fifteen years after India’s independence year tend to be ‘old school’ and develop an attitude that they have to work hard to live well. The Generation X folks, born between 1966 and 1984 like to live well and work well and have created compartments in their life to make both happen. And the Generation Y or people born after 1984 are often accused of a ‘work to live’ approach, looking for more and more sources of self-actualisation and life fulfillment. No wonder then that aspirations have not only soared but are changing and scaling every five years or so.
India is expected to have over 550 million people under the age of 25 and a projected median age of 29 in 2020. With one out of four workers joining the global workforce this decade expected to be Indian – a group that will be increasingly urban, interconnected and informed – managing expectations of this Gen Y will be no mean task. Understanding these expectations and getting a critical appreciation of this generation’s interests and priorities is essential –to the success of the country, the corporate and social sectors and to every Indian.
How can the people around you help you once you define that focus in your life? Parents can counsel you if they find some flaws in your logic without being domineering or expecting you to toe some old rules that no longer have relevance in modern social or professional thinking. Teachers can caution you if they feel that some of your goals may lead you to take moral or ethical shortcuts. And well-meaning friends and later your partner or children can show you a mirror to your soul and help you realise what changes you need to make from time to time to keep you steadfast on the path to success and happiness!
In writing our book titled “What we really want – the aspirations of Gen Y”, my colleague Lavanya and I spoke to many young people and asked them to narrate and sometimes even draw the life journey that they would like to embark on. It would be great to get you the reader to write five hundred words to describe your own aspirations, your goals and the path you want to choose to make them a reality. Autographed books for the best of them and maybe a chance to participate in the very special workshop we are planning in February and March 2014 to take forward this adventure into the motivations of Indian youth!
One thing we can certainly say is that nobody can really be held responsible for the course of your life. It is you who have to take advantage of your upbringing, your education and your experience to assess where you stand and where you want to be. The future is full of endless possibilities and every fork in the road of your career is an opportunity to take stock and re-assess your own aspirations for the future.
And once you know what you want out of life and your aspiration is clear, follow the wonderful exhortation of Swami Vivekananda “Arise. Awake and stop not till the goal is reached!”
(Dr Ganesh Natarajan is Vice Chairman and CEO of Zensar Technologies and a member of NASSCOM’s Chairmen’s Council)