Home > Grooming > There is a human being inside!

There is a human being inside!

I am on board a flight from Delhi to Cochin – a bunch of young guys from Delhi are occupying the rows just ahead of my seat. From their appearance fresh out of college and probably making a holiday trip to Kerala – all gym going types and wearing clothes that facilitated loud display of their  biceps and quadriceps. They are in a happy mood, laughing loudly at jokes and generally being boisterous – the noise they made while in the departure lounge had made me take note of their presence. They were all from well-off families … styled hair, designer clothes and toting shiny-new iPads, iPhones and Sennheiser headsets. It’s a picture perfect existence for them, but not for the people they interacted with.

Before the plane levels out after take-off one of them pages for the young hostess and asks for a glass of water and the guys have a laugh after she serves him – wonder what was funny! Then the same guy gets up, opens the overhead locker to pull out a gadget and leaves it open; he and friends are unmindful of possibility of luggage from the locker dropping on someone’s head. I called the hostess and asked her to shut the locker.

And then another one props his leg up against the seat in front of him. When the passenger seated in it turned around to express his annoyance the group had a collective snigger.

What is it about some youngsters, especially the ones in testosterone overdrive, that makes them so insensitive?

This is not a stray incident – I have seen such behavior among the students I teach. The young kids can’t countenance any rebuke: One student had come late to class and was not in uniform; this wasn’t the first instance. The Administrative In-charge told him not to walk into class and he forced his way in to show his disregard for the order – when I told him to follow instructions, he walked out in a huff stating loudly: “I will not pay the term fees – let’s see how they will collect it from me.”

Then there are couple of students who sit in royal style, one leg placed across on top of the other, while the class is in session. I make it a point to tell them to plant both feet on the ground and sit in a more formal manner. A little later the leg goes back to where it was earlier and this time I deliver a sterner rebuke. Well, I can conduct the class even when they are seated that way, but the idea is for them to learn how to behave in a formal setting. All this was happening after I had explained to them, right at the beginning of the program, what was considered right seating posture in a business setting.

And this disregard and disrespect can be seen in other activities too – leaving pipes running after they wash up, not switching off lights when they leave the room, leaving computers and televisions switched on when they go to bed, damaging public property.

What is it that makes acceptance of rules and authority difficult for youngsters? Is it upbringing, the lack of proper grooming at home or something to do with their age? Is it hormonal, a passing phase, or attitudinal?  Can one expect them to change when they get older? It appears jarring to an observer, but when one thinks back to one’s own childhood we can relate to it. I was not an angel either at that age, was I this bad? How can we make the transition a smoother one for the young adults?

I strongly believe that in spite of their capers and foibles there is a human being inside ….. waiting to emerge.

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  1. Austin
    July 22, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Unlike the western developed countries, in India not following the rules is a sign of power. The more higher you are in society (either by money or by position), there are lot of exemptions – allowed to jump queue, get exemptions from paying tolls, gets VIP lanes, no fear if they break the traffic rules or viloate no parking signs or use tinted glasses in cars, gets special previlege in almost all public facilities, etc. Seeing these things, how do you expect the rich kids to behave?

    • JayadevM
      July 22, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      Hi Austin

      Thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

      I agree … the leaders in the public space and the people with power are setting the wrong example.

      It does not help to send the right messages to the kids and young adults.

      There has to be a way past this situation.

  2. July 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Jay you have described the present generation spot on. You could not have said it better. however as you said there is bound to be a good human being inside but I personally have not yet come across that side . Brash, rude, know- it- all, smug attitude !!! they need to be taught or made to understand or learn it the hard way. Maybe parents have a limited influence. hopefully when they start a career they will get a hang of how to behave !! Just imagine the kids they will produce…….:( Following rules and respecting age, experience and authority seems to be a huge problem in this country. When you wrote about the red roads I wondered what these guys would do in a place like Singapore ? They wouldn’t dare would they? India……….I swear !!! By the way how do you deal with such behavior in your classroom?

    • JayadevM
      July 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Hi Divya

      I take them head on in class – use a mix of reasoning and outright disciplining. Use of mobile phones is banned. If I see anyone using it they get one warning and the second time I confiscate it till the end of the class.

      The rules of engagement are clearly mentioned and I derive through a process of debate and dialog what is good for all concerned …. after that’s done I discipline those who break the norms.

      Latecomers and those not in uniform are told to stay out and people who talk too much are given a task.

      As for kids, I strongly believe that there has to be educating, training and disciplining …. nothing should be given free; make them earn everything. And take away privileges for misbehaviour.

      We Indians need to respect our own country and the right to freedom of our fellow citizens – only then can we expect any change.

  3. July 22, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    There is a total lack of discipline and it shows.

    • JayadevM
      July 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm


      Thank you for reading

  4. July 22, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Jay this has been the scenario for quite a while now and i do not think it has anything to do with hormones…i would say its because of kozhupu and ahankaram.Most of them are form rich families and they shamelessly do all this feeding on their parents money.They know that they can get away with anything they do even murder and they grow up with that kind of security.I sometimes feel that there is nothing human in them and its not worth getting hold of their good side if there is any…they would not change till something serious befalls them..i have had the experience of handling a passenger on an international flight who had purshased the cheapest economy ticket but at the counters told me that he did not want to sit with the poor or labour class…the flight was full and he wanted two vacant seats next to him…when i told him my helplessness he threatened to throw me out of my job because his father happened to be someone big…..and jay these guys all behave normally when they come to countries like Uk and Singapore to name just a few….Sad to note that its becoming bad as time passes…

    • JayadevM
      July 23, 2012 at 7:00 am

      Hi Kathy

      You are right! It’s got to do with parenting. They are not taught to discern right from wrong and to respect others. They learn only the hard way … but in countries like India they pay their way out of trouble.

      The kids should have fun, but build in checks and measures too. Parents would do well to teach them self-regulation.

  5. Jamy
    July 22, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Jay, we all went through that age and we were not as bad as you have described this particular set of youngsters- there is this belief that kids who are brought up in a strict manner until a certain age tend to go berserk once they get their freedom during late teenage. On the other hand, I have known many people who were given some basic tips by parents and guardians and were free to do as they like. Now, I have seen examples of both going astray and getting into major trouble in life. Parents and guardians need to spend quality time with their kids- the quantity does not matter. And that quality time spend together should be focussed on how to live a life that is not self-destructive but also not an annoyance or nuisance to the others. Blood may be thicker than water, but a parent/ guardin who blindly defends his/her child/ teenage has already paved the way for the child to grow up thinking that whatever they do is fine and would not give a thought about how it affects others in a negative way.

    Your article reminds me of famous scene in one of Raj Kapoor’s hit movies- Awaara or Shri 420, can’t remember- Sunaa hai ki aadmee ak janam bandar se hua hai, lekin paise ne aadmee ko kuttha banaa diya!

    Very relevant topic again Jay!

    • JayadevM
      July 23, 2012 at 4:12 am

      Hi Jamy,

      You are right … parents and teachers need to provide the kids the right framework to engage with society. That happens through demonstration, living the habits they want to see in the kids.

      And the kids need help to discern right from wrong and be guided through the maze; I know it is tough given all that is happening in this country – people disrespecting the law and escaping punishment by paying their way through. In spite of all that there is need for the kids and young adults to receive the right lessons.

      Interesting quote from the movie!

  6. July 23, 2012 at 2:44 am

    I had read the piece in the evening yesterday but couldn’t comment due to flaky internet connection. The attitude that you talk of can be witnessed wherever you set your sight on the generation IΩ (Indian Omega). They all seem to be drunk on newly (and probably undeservedly) gained affluence of their parents. Recent teens who perished in road rages, BMW/Mercedes and all, are but the symptoms of the same malaise that is strangulating our society.

    • JayadevM
      July 23, 2012 at 4:01 am

      Dear Umashankar

      You are right. Sadly, it appears that along with the goodies the rich parents did not pass on the values and work ethics that made them rich.

      We are following the same pattern – the post-war work and wealth in the US and Japan have gone waste thanks to waywardness of the generations that grew in the years of peace – they didn’t need to rough it out and everything came easy.

      Anything that is available easy or for free is not valued – parents need to pass on the right values and work ethic through demonstration and through a program; discipline, regulation, schedules and chores need to be used to prepare kids for adulthood.

      Not even love and freedom are valued or respected if offered free! Our kids need to be taught to respect such things early in life.

  7. July 23, 2012 at 3:02 am

    Nice one and well written Jayadev. Perhaps the kids themselves are already convinced that they are good human beings and cannot see what you do?

    The hope then becomes not “”that in spite of their capers and foibles there is a human being inside ….. waiting to emerge.”” but that they will perceive as you do!

    God bless

    • JayadevM
      July 23, 2012 at 3:49 am

      Hi Joseph

      Thank you for sharing those thoughts here …. Yes, the innate humanness in us all should win through in the end.

      Let there be light.

  8. July 23, 2012 at 5:34 am

    Absolutely, humility is endearing and arrogance and flouting of rules is obnoxious. When boys get into groups, they are a boisterous bunch. Hope that this testosterone drive is short lived or it could have disastrous effects on them. Kids have to be stopped at home first.

    • JayadevM
      July 23, 2012 at 5:56 am

      Hi Rachna

      Thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts.

      Yes, parents have a huge role to play in this.

  9. July 23, 2012 at 6:06 am

    I think it is a matter of how much you can get away with. I have come across many instances where the teachers are scared even to raise their voice against kids because the parents may raise a big hue and cry. The message that the kids get is there is someone to cover up for them, whatever they do. Remember the incident of the super bike race in Trivandrum recently? Even though it was captured on the camera, no one got caught and one was fined a paltry sum of thousand rupees.
    Kids will be kids, they will try testing the limits. None of us were and still are not angels. The test was how much our parents or teachers would put up with us. We knew where to draw the limit because it would have been apocalypse now if we crossed it 🙂

    • JayadevM
      July 23, 2012 at 7:03 am

      Hi Bindu,

      “Apocalypse Now!” Ha! Ha! Good one. Yes, that was the truth.

      Drawing the line is essential …. we should have fun, but not at someone else’s expense. Many kids are not taught that and the parents have a role to play in that … in making the kids believe that they can “get away with murder”!

      You are right, we ain’t saints …. there is no place for saints in this hard-nosed world. But the idea is to have fun without being a nuisance. The kids don’t seem to know self-regulation.

  10. July 23, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Hi Jayadev

    There is a thin line between having age-appropriate fun and being unruly and rude…
    Rambunctious lots like the one you have described on the plane actually bring down their own selves in the eyes of others without realizing it…As you said, time will bring out their better side..

    As for some things like ‘not switching off lights when they leave the room’ quite a few of us still end up doing more absent mindedly and not intentional though! 🙂

    • JayadevM
      July 23, 2012 at 7:49 am

      Hi Jayashree

      I sincerely hope that it is a passing phase.

      But things are switching off lights unintentionally are quite acceptable … but I know people who do it all the time. They just can’t be bothered. It’s become a practice for them not to do any of those things … I have only mentioned 2-3 items, there is a whole host of things that they totally miss doing … it is not even on their radar!

      Many kids live in a sanitised world where they do not experience want or shortage … they think there is enough where it came from and no effort is needed to conserve resources.

      They need education and training first followed by regulation and disciplining later on.

      That is my view … because people rarely learn on their own.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts here.

  11. Jose
    July 23, 2012 at 8:44 am

    I will blame the parents for such behaviour. Some of them give children the wrong guidance and signals and the children – young as they are get carried away.

    • JayadevM
      July 23, 2012 at 8:57 am

      Hi Jose,

      That’s right! It has to start at home. Kids need to be taught the right lessons and then guided through the maze. It sure will create better people.

      Parents need training and guidance too! 🙂

  12. Ragu
    July 23, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I too have come across these kind of incidents. Generally, we Indians tend to break rules when we are with crowd or when we know that we can get away with whatever we do. Eve teasing at Gauhati & Manesar Maruti plant incidents are testimony to that, If v r alone, we are like rats.

    • JayadevM
      July 23, 2012 at 9:23 am


      Mob psychology, right? Yes, it makes men behave in obnoxious ways. Strange are the ways of the civilised Super-Ape!

  13. makpossible
    July 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Upbringing plays an important role sir. And also, like you have mentioned, being high on testosterone makes them go wild.

    • JayadevM
      July 23, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      Hi Mak

      Yes, how they are brought has a huge bearing on the way kids behave in public and in interactions with others.

      Thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts

  14. July 24, 2012 at 2:48 am

    Jay, true: you need to only juxtapose one scene: Will your son do what these blokes did? I can vouch for mine, he wont! As the earlier writer said it is all a matter of Upbringing..!! Uday

    • JayadevM
      July 24, 2012 at 5:27 am

      Hi Uday

      Thank you for reading.

      Every parent should have the confidence to say that. And I like the pride with which you said it.

      You and others who have responded to this article are right – we parents and to a lesser extent the education system need to instil the right values through example and instruction.

      Oh, by the way, I am pretty sure my son won’t too – he is nowhere near being an angel (I wasn’t and still am not!), but he knows how to behave in public and has been noted for his gentlemanly behaviour.

  15. Kavita Vidyashankar
    July 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Hi Jaydev,
    Read what you wrote.I have something to add from my personal experience.My daughters classmate stole her benchmates wrist watch n some other stationery items.She was caught n the incident was brought to the notice of the teacher,Her parents were summoned.The childs father turned up the next day n when what his daughter had done was brought to his notice,he took off on a rant at the teacher about how his daughter was being ignored in the classroom by her teachers n how she had problems with all her teachers n classmates.The reason she took away my daughter n her friends things were because,she wanted to teach them a lesson-For being popular in class n good in their studies.This incident happened in grade 4!!! So if you have parents like this,how do you expect a child to have values n discipline.

    • JayadevM
      July 24, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      Hi Kavita

      Yes, the problem is pretty much evident. It begins at home.

      The parent thinks that by defending the child’s actions he is sending across the right message. But he is only aggravating the situation and promoting misbehaviour by doing what he did.

      The teacher should have stood her ground and ticked the dad off privately. The school should have made the parent apologise to the teacher and the child should have been asked to do the same to her classmates.

      Then the school should have chalked out a plan for the child to correct her actions.

      What was the fallout from the incident?

      • Jamy
        July 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm

        Exactly what I was referring to Jay earlier!

  16. Ragumuthukumar
    July 25, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Dear Jay very well captured..I feel its not just those youngsters, any one who are rich / powerful enough does the same thing!! not just in India.. Even here in muscat I can see that happening frequently in recent days.. !!

    In yesteryears this all happened in trains or buses, fighting for front/good seats, showing off their powers etc.. now its just moved to the aircraft!!

    I strongly believe that, those who are with such behaviours will at one point for sure will touch down on earth and will surely realise what it means to be a good human being to their fellow country mens.. ” Life and time “, may be slow, but surely teaches them, after all they have seen many such in past.. will do in future..

    I only sincerely hope and pray that ” in spite of their capers and foibles there is a human being inside ….. waiting to emerge.” as quoted by you..:)

    • JayadevM
      July 26, 2012 at 5:29 am


      My article on Leadership shares anecdotes of industry leaders who helped others learn lessons in humility with their exemplary behaviour in public. But bulk of the people we see around us use their wealth and power to gain an unfair advantage.

      Let us hope that the human being in them sees the injustice and takes corrective action.

      Thank you for reading.

  17. Raaj
    July 26, 2012 at 4:46 am

    Jayan… we seem to all agree that much of this is bad parenting…. I too agree for the most part, but I think the malaise is much deeper.

    1. Bad parenting is of course high on the list… but in most cases you will agree that those parents themselves might have had bad parents.. who in turn might have equally bad parents… you see where I am going with this… this problem is not a new one… it is been so for generations… and in every generation there are people like us who are totally turned off by sure boorish behavior. Of course, the situation is spiraling into unthinkable depths today… and I am pretty certain that the next lot will be even worse.
    However, in every lot there will be a significant number of individuals who will rise above mediocrity and hopefully we will be fortunate enough to have these good guys among us so that we overlook the trash.

    2. The rich and the ones in positions of power, have gotten used to the idea of getting away with far worse… the administration, judiciary and every other responsible arm of society has failed…. due to the simple fact that they are either hand in glove with rich and powerful (sic – more like, ‘ones who abuse their power’) or too scared of doing anything, because
    a. they might get suspended,
    b. they might get transferred to the back of beyond,
    c. they might lose their job
    d. they might lose their lives
    or some other fate along those lines….

    That explains why no one, right from the policeman to the school teacher/professors will not do anything to change these people around. Why, even the principal/dean will not do anything even in the face of hard facts and evidences. Worst case, he might have the same fate as mentioned above; best case, the school/college/university might lose funding/grants/donations etc.
    Most (I would say over 95%) of policeman, teachers and all other social entities take up those jobs not to make a difference to the society but to satisfy their own life needs….

    Those lines that we see in bollywood movies…. “Jaanta nahin ki main kaun hoon?”(parent generation) or “tu jaanta nahin ki mera baap kaun hai” (next generation) are not just theatrics… they are reflections of life itself, and the society around us.

    We are a society that thinks that if a girl gets raped, its all her fault or that she was asking for it. Rapists and murders roam free on the streets because the society is broken… and we as a society are incapable of fixing it.

    I will not even touch areas like mob mentality or political interference… cause then this post will become a tad tedious.

    I just hope that in every society, in every generation, there will exist enough number of decent folks so that we can look past such characters that you described…. and if fortune really smiles upon us, we will not have to deal with any of them.

    • JayadevM
      July 26, 2012 at 5:42 am

      Dear Raaj

      On Point.1 – It seems to hint at bad Genes! Misbehaviour, a hereditary trait? I guess not; just that misbehaviour imprints on each subsequent generation and it gets carried forward like a birthright or inheritance.

      Point.2 The nexus between the wealthy and the powerful is another one that goes back centuries. It seems they have the licence to break all rules and define behaviour and it is a global phenomenon.

      Will these cats be belled … and who will do it?

      • Raaj
        July 26, 2012 at 11:35 am

        Hi jayan… Didn’t mean to make it sound like it was genetic or hereditary… what I was suggesting was more in the lines of ‘learning by example’.
        The children (or subsequent generations) learn to repeat what they see being done by the elders (previous generation), especially when it seems to suit them just fine.

      • JayadevM
        July 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

        Hey Raaj

        No. You didn’t say that … and I was only half-serious when I said that. I don’t wish to damn people in that fashion. Just that it seemed generation after generation the same traits are being perpetuated.

        True that it has to do with the environment and the examples learnt. People can change if they get the right inputs and the right support.

        Let’s hope that good sense will prevail.

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