Rahul, a 23-something youngster from Chennai, voices his thoughts on the Budget and its implications for him. Given below is a light-hearted narrative of his thoughts:
'It is that time of the year again. What time, you ask? No, I do not refer to the heat wave waiting to happen, but rather to the only time when Mr Mukherjee's words are ensured of a captive audience that listens in rapt attention. I refer, of course, to the upcoming Budget presentation.
Oh, the Bud-jet? I can almost see you shake your head and wonder, what does the budget have to do with the average college going youngster? I mean sure, sure, we all pretend to read the papers and sigh at the price rise, etc, etc but really, the budget????? Perhaps a bad case of writers block. . .?
Well, you know what. It's that kind of attitude that we must change!
I tell you, the government is cheating us! There you go again, thinking superciliously, 'Really? I never knew that!'
Will you please stop and just read? Please!
I don't mean the general corruption, bribery and nepotism, that is only to be expected and indeed it is a major source of entertainment. I mean, what would 24-hour news channels do otherwise? I refer to the fact that the government is shamelessly ignoring the needs of us youngsters.
Haven't we all heard a million times that nearly 70 per cent of India's population is composed of individuals below the age of 30? I mean that is a really large vote bank right there and what sops are offered to us in every budget? Nothing, nada, zero, zilch. (Forgive the excessive use of negatives, but I am overcome by righteous indignation.)
We are expected to be the future of the country, carry the burden for a shining India on our shoulders and somehow transform India into a superpower. (In between all this, we also have to somehow pass our exams and get placed in an MNC. That is absolutely essential for the satisfaction of the 'Home' ministry, if you get my meaning.)
I mean all this work and what do we get in return from the government? Nothing, nada.... oops!
I say this exploitation has gone on long enough. It is time we reacted. How, you wonder? It is simple enough. You know, we do the usual. We form some organisation or the other, something like 'Youngsters for Ourselves' (YO!) or All India Youngsters Association (AIYO!) and then we organise a hartal.
Here, a word of caution, though: we must take care that we disturb normal life! If this does not garner enough attention (after all, these methods ARE old hat) an immolation or two are sure to do the trick. They are still novel enough to elicit a response from the general public.
Then, once we are assured of our presence on the national stage, we will conduct a press conference where we will bandy about statements like, 'This is just a sample of our power', 'for the good of the people', yada, yada, blah, blah and then we will furnish Mr Mukherjee with a list of our demands.
Now the definitive list must, of course, be produced by the 'high commission' of our party/association, but I have a few suggestions of my own:
All students, irrespective of caste, creed or religion must be provided with free laptops. I mean, didn't somebody somewhere provide free colour TVs to everyone? Our request, then, is definitely reasonable.
Also, education must be free for women. Yup! I mean, as far as I am concerned, the girl child is still the most backward community in all of India. So, yeah, free education for women.
What next? Hmmm. Didn't the government write-off a whole bunch of agricultural loans? Well then, we want our educational loans to be written off too. That's reasonable, right?
What more can we ask for?
Oh, yes, inclusion of items such as burgers, pizzas and soft drinks in the essential commodities list. As any youngster knows, the above are absolutely essential for their survival and hence must be heavily subsidised.
A few more items come to my mind but I don't want you to feel that I have thought of everything and that I deserve to be the party president or something. No, no I have no such desire for power or position, but if you insist, I will of course take on the burden. But, only if you insist. . .
So, this then is a guide to how our needs can be presented to Mr Mukherjee. What do you think? Is it be YO! Or AIYO!? Well, I will leave you to think, while I say, "CIAO."'