Highway to hell
As a country, we do not only boast of containing the second highest population in the world, but we also garner one of the youngest population groups, with 1.2 billion of our people under the age of 26. By 2020, India is slated to become the youngest country in the world, with the average median age at 29 years. These numbers are promising for a growing economy like ours, as the future of a country with a propelling youth population harnesses the ability to create wonders in terms of increased productivity, improved entrepreneurial engagement and simply, a promising tomorrow brighter than the gore of yesterday. Compared to other leading economies of the world, India has a great advantage in this aspect. China's median age stands at 35, UK's at 40 and the US's at 38. However, this bright future of our country which could achieve great heights with a prospering youth population is in deep jeopardy. Horrifying statistics show that in India, 26 student suicides are committed every 24 hours. In simple terms, a student wishfully ends their life every hour in our country. In 2016 alone, 9474 students committed suicide across the states and UTs of our country. Somehow, this number is undeniably less than the truth, many more such deaths remain unaccounted as suicide continues to be prejudiced in our society. The instant reaction to suicide is either of pity or of apathy. We readily believe that either the troubles fell heavily on the youth or that the youth was resorting to cowardice. Isolated incidences of suicide would probably fit either of the definitions, but what we are witnessing today is not a sporadic occurring, it has been greatly inflated to become a phenomenon. It is no less than a pervading social evil that is clutching onto the youth of today, particularly the urban youth. The last two decades, since the dawn of this millennium, has witnessed an unprecedented turnover in our lives. With the advent of technology and social media uprooting our lives from its foundation, we have entered a new phase where the distinctions between private, personal, social and public have been greatly obfuscated. While evidently, it seems that technology has allowed us more scope to express ourselves and drawn even the most remote individual into the public sphere, it indeed has worked in quite the reverse. A growing number of social media friends has diluted the essence of relationships today. The quest is no longer in maintaining existing relations; instead, it is materialistically driven to derive quantifiably the most while laying quality on the line of sacrifice. In the plastic world of virtual media, the youth of today has lost the ability to truly express itself. This, topped with the worldly goals of achieving top grades, securing a respectable job, minting loaded cheques and mindlessly running a race with zero introspection has driven each individual into a scary corner of isolation, emotional deprivation and restlessness. Over five crore people today suffer from depression in our country, and a large portion of that number can be comfortably assigned to the burgeoning youth who are disarrayed with their emotions, blinded with plastic goals and left with the inability to foster emotional balance. A prime point of concern that has allowed this aberration to spread its wings and become a reality has been the failed education system in the country that emphasises only on creating mechanical producers rather than well-rounded individuals. No matter how much we try, the human will remain a social animal, desperate in the search for companionship and an outlet to vent out stress. The growing incidence of suicide in the country must be an awakener for the civil society to realise that a disease is plaguing its social and educational system today. Suicide is a most extreme step that is often triggered by the most innocuous instances. But what transforms a harmless incident to a devastating consequence is in its repercussion upon the fragile human mind and our subsequent inability to battle the crisis. We are a raging population that is being fed into becoming machines that churn out enviable grades and mind-boggling numbers, without sparing a thought on the qualitative aspects that create and sustain a human being and subsequently a collective society. It is time to pause and reflect upon the inner-self, to realise that not all victories are worth the losses endured in conquest. Peace with the minimalistic often supersedes glory from empty magnanimous accomplishments.