Even ten years ago, it was difficult to get a new piano in India. Now, multiple stores are selling all kinds of western musical instruments. A music store will show you a high-priced Yahama piano made in Japan, and the same brand made in Korea with a price advantage. It’s for the customer to decide the quality difference. India’s economic reforms have addressed both the means and materials of the creative arts: instruments, equipment, paints, brushes are imported from all over the world to indulge artistic inclinations of the neo-rich.
Parents nowadays drive helter-skelter taking their children for extra-curricular activities, be it ballet dancing, karate, terracotta sculpting or micro-light aircraft flying. It’s more often their big show-off factor. They’d rather not inflict children to what they went through in childhood, the traditional guruji coming home to teach classical music to girls, while boys scamper off with neighbourhood kids to play cricket. These same neo-middle-class parents cajole their children to study, study and study. They again drive them for off-school coaching in at least two subjects. Parents, mostly the mother, study just as hard vicariously, burning the midnight oil to supply hot, strengthening badam milk to the child in the wee hours. After all, unless children get 90-95% marks by hook or crook, they won’t be eligible for elite colleges these parents coveted but could not enter. Earlier, everyone vied for a government job; that’s now shifted to postgraduation in foreign universities. After such exhausting effort, if the child joins a multinational company, the parents beam in achievement, anticipating a good marriage and big earnings. But when within a year, the child is ready to quit work, there’s utter bewilderment.
“The office job is too boring. I want a creative arts career.”
I’ve received SOS messages from several friends who’ve reached this devastated state. They ask: Please help! What’s a career in visual art? Does photography pay? What’s a musician’s earning? TV set design, is that a profession?... and so on. They know they can’t control their children the way their parents restricted and indoctrinated them during the Licence Raj. My friends plead with me to advise their children to retain the superior job their higher education got them, and pursue artistic work only as an after-hours hobby. Now, that’s a tall order. They’re my friends, but I understand their Zap generation children better. These under-25-ers belong to India’s new digi-tech era, they’ve