Their Postcards For 2018: Here’s what the boys think

What does it mean to be a man, 18, in college in a small town, and experiencing the world as an adult? Is it love they seek or family acceptance? Are their choices defined by religion or caste?

By: Express News Service | Updated: December 31, 2017 7:17:26 am
Boys who turned 18 this year speak on who they are

200 million WhatsApp users; more than 240 million people on Facebook; 450 million-plus on Internet; and 121 million between the ages of 18 and 22 (HRD Ministry data, 2016). India has the world’s largest youth population and the country with the largest numbers on social media. It should be the best of times to be 18 in India. While it is perhaps tougher for women, men have their own story to share.

What does it mean to be a man, 18, in college in a small town, and experiencing the world as an adult? Is it love they seek or family acceptance? Are their choices defined by religion or caste? What are they reading, what do they watch? Does marriage mean end of career, or can girls leave home? Can the barrier of English be broken, or governments ever listen? Is it jeans they want, or a sense of safety? Or does it all come down to gender? The Sunday Express brings you 18 stories.

Read what girls who turned 18 this year speak on who they are, what they want, their life — and their love.

Dev Virath from Meerut. (Express)

‘Felt Mayawati was right about EVMs’

Dev Virath, 18
BSc Second Year, Meerut College

Meerut, UP
Days after the Yogi Adityanath government took over in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP kept its election promise and deployed anti-Romeo squads on the streets of Meerut and other towns in the state

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to be Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force. I would like to fight for my country. The job has a lot of respect and it is secure. Kya life hogi woh (What a life that will be)! But for that, I want to speak better English. In the Air Force, everyone talks English: ‘Yes sir, no sir’. Abhi bhi kabhi kabhi dehati bol deta hun (I sometimes tend to speak in my native language).

Do you want to move to a big city?

Big cities have more opportunities – better colleges, better education. I would want to move to a big city, but I don’t think I am ready yet. I have seven brothers, one of them works as a supervisor with a private company in Ghaziabad. He keeps telling me to shift to a big city, but I think it’ll happen when the time is right. For now, I am happy here in Ulakhpur village in Meerut. The big cities must be very different.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

No, I am not friends with girls. Nahi hui dosti. Social media doesn’t help in befriending girls – not here. Maybe, that’s how it is in big cities.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

No, I haven’t been in love yet. Of course, religion and caste does not matter when it comes to love. And if I fall in love with someone who is not from my caste or religion, I will marry her – no matter what. Shaadi toh hogi (The wedding will happen). But what’s important is that both boys and girls are independent when they get married.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes, girls should work after marriage. Look at Indira Gandhi, Kiran Bedi, Mayawati. They have done so well in their fields. If they didn’t work, our country would have been at a loss. Girls now belong everywhere – from the classroom to the PMO. Yeh purani soch hain (these are old ways of thinking)… that women can’t work. Yeh sab ab band hona chahiye (This needs to change).

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I watch comedy show videos on YouTube. Now Internet is quite cheap… I also use Google for queries and doubts.

What kind of books do you read?

I mostly read my course books. Sometimes, I read Neelesh Mishra’s Pyaar ke kisse.

Which is your favourite film?

My favourite is 3 Idiots. It showed how one needs to apply their minds and not mug up things. I like to watch to South Indian films too. They have everything – action, drama, love and suspense. I don’t remember the name of the South Indian movie I watched.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like to wear jeans and shirt or T-shirts.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

Not too many restrictions. I have to reach home before 6.30 pm. If I don’t, my parents start calling to ask if I am safe. They are only concerned about my studies and I get scolded if I don’t.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Yes, I do chores. I am from a farming family and I work on the field sometimes, when it’s needed. I also help my mother at home sometime. We have a semi-automatic washing machine and I take the clothes out after the wash and wring them dry.

What are your expectations from the government?

The government should do more to generate more jobs for the youngsters.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

The story about EVMs being hacked. Mayawati spoke about it after the election and I felt she was right. If the BJP has such strong support, why don’t they use ballot papers?

Social media status:

Facebook friends: 400-500

Last WhatsApp forward: A message in praise of Meerut mayor Sunita Verma

— Interviewed by Asad Rehman.

Bhuvanesh Kumar from Salem. (Express)

‘Parents insist I work when I’m home.. Only restriction I face’

S Bhuvanesh Kumar just turned 19
BA Economics, Govt Arts College, Salem

Salem, Tamil Nadu

Hadiya’s fight to marry the man of her choice has for now, temporarily ended with her being placed in the “guardianship” of the dean of her college, Sivaraj Homeopathic Medical College near Salem city.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to become a police constable; I already work out every day.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I don’t want to live in a big city. I wish to get a police posting at my village, Kuzhanthai Nagar (about 30 kms from Salem).

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I have so many friends in college (laughs). All my girl friends are from my school and college. I have never met a girl on social media.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

Yes, with a distant relative who lives in my village. Love is for fun, for beauty, and for love. She happens to be from my own caste, but I don’t think that religion or caste should be a problem. Girls should get married at 21 or 22. Boys can wait till 26. We need a job before we get married; parents’ permission is not needed.

Should women work after marriage?

No. Girls should stay at home after marriage. If they go for work, they may get exposed to other men there.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I end up spending a minimum of six hours on my phone. I use Facebook, Whatsapp, internet browser, play songs and occasionally watch videos and movies too. The most I use it, however, is to chat with my girl friend.

What kind of books do you read?

I’ve never read a book in my life (except text books). Wings of Fire by APJ Abdul Kalam is a book I’ve heard of; I wish to read it some day.

Which is your favourite film?

Pichaikkaran (a Tamil thriller released in 2016) by Vijay Antony is my favourite movie. In fact, there are so many favourite movies. I also watch a lot of Hollywood movies on my phone. Julie 2 (a Hindi thriller released in 2017) is the last movie I watched.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

Balloon fit jeans and apple checked shirts are my favourite. I need a minimum of Rs 2,000 a month for personal expenses, including for occasionally drinking and smoking with friends, to go to good eateries in Salem town and for movie tickets. I make some money by betting on cricket in my village — I get Rs 50 or 100 for each bet I win.

What are the kind of restrictions you face at home? Is there a curfew time?

My parents are relatively liberal, they give me enough freedom. But as we have a debt of Rs 20,000, they insist I go do some work whenever I am relaxing at home. It’s the only restriction I face.

Are you required to do chores at home?

My father works as a security guard and my mother is a homemaker. At home, I have to fetch five buckets of water from a nearby tap every day. Also I help my parents in whatever they demand.

What are your expectations from the government?

A government shouldn’t demand bribes when we go to it for some help.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

No news item particularly disturbed me in the last year; all news items were really shocking (laughs).

Social media status:

Facebook friends: 600+
Last WhatsApp forward: Can’t remember

— Interviewed by Arun Janardhanan

Deepak Yadav from Gurgaon. (Express)

‘Have Facebook friend from the Philippines; in India, girls are finicky’

Deepak Yadav, 18
BCom second year, Dronacharya Government College

Gurgaon, Haryana

As per the 2011 census, Haryana is the state with the most skewed sex ratio at 879 women for every 1,000 men. In it, Gurugram is the worst, with a sex ratio of 854, way below the national average of 940.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I live in Wazirabad village where my father runs a departmental store. After finishing college, I want to either pursue a career in badminton or prepare for the police services. I want to become a DSP or SP. Now, after college, I do part-time work as a coach at a badminton academy. I earn Rs 12,000 there. I give it all to my mother.

Do you want to move to a big city?

If given a chance, I would want to go to Australia. I have heard that rules and regulations are in place there, unlike in Gurgaon. I have seen a few videos of the place, it is impeccably clean. I have been to Chandigarh, that is clean too, but not as clean as Australia.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Several girls are my friends, but then some of them have issues at home. A girl from my village stopped talking to me because of family restrictions. I tried to explain to her, but then the family moved to Ranchi. We have not been in touch since… She messages sometimes. Social media has definitely made things easier. I have a friend from Philippines now: Jessica. Kafi baat ho jaati hai (We talk quite often). In India, girls are finicky. When I send them a “Hi”, some of them say, “I have a boyfriend, don’t want to talk.” The others straightway block me.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

No love, no girlfriend… I have a friend whose girlfriend loves him more than he loves her. Woh mujhe pyaar lagta hai (I think that is love), because then the girl won’t leave you and go. Most girls in college break up with you. I need to earn at least Rs 40,000 per month before I get married. I will prefer my parents choice, and if I find someone, I will make her my parents choice. If the girl’s family does not agree, I will try and convince them. Par main bhaag ke shaadi nahi karunga (I won’t elope).

Should women work after marriage?

If she wants to work she can. We can manage the house together. Even now I do a lot of chores at home.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

It’s mostly WhatsApp. I am a member of several groups such as ‘Destiny’, a badminton group. Then there are college and school groups. We mostly share jokes and videos. I spend about four hours on my phone every day.

What kind of books do you read?

I love novels. Half Girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat is my favourite novel. That was also the last book I read. I loved the film too.

Which is your favourite film?

PK (2014) is my favourite film. I love comedy films and among the recent releases I enjoyed watching Fukrey Returns.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I enjoy wearing formals. I rarely take money from home… maybe sometimes Rs 100-200 a day. I come to college on my Activa, I use the money for fuel. I barely have any time to do anything else.

What are the kind of restrictions do you face at home? Is there a curfew time?

There are no restrictions. But after 9 pm, ghar wale poochne lagte hain kahan ruk gaye, kahan chale gaye (my parents want to know where I am after 9 pm). It’s not very safe here after that.

Are you required to do chores at home?

We are only two brothers, so when my mother falls ill, we have to take care of the house. I do everything – jhaadu, pocha (sweeping and mopping) etc. I can’t cook though and so we survive on Maggi, when she is not doing well. (After a little thought) Can you please remove the jhaadu, poocha line? Image kharab ho jayegi (Can you remove the sweeping and mopping line? It will hurt my image).

What are your expectations from the government?

I want the government to do something for sportsmen. There is no infrastructure or support. The selections for state and national level championships are biased.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

I read reports about the 2G scam, everyone got released. Scam kisne kiya fir (Who was responsible for the scam)?

Social media status:

Facebook friends: 1,036
Last WhatsApp forward: Video titled ‘Why Mountain Dew rots your teeth more than Coca-Cola’.

— Interviewed by Ankita Dwivedi Johri.

 

Shri Narayan Yadav from Gorakhpur (Express)

‘If I am working, and I feel it is sufficient, I will not let my wife work’

Shri Narayan Yadav, 18
BA, Economics and History, Third Year, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Government Degree College, Sahjanwa, Gorakhpur

Gorakhpur
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s constituency, also seat of his Hindu Yuva Vahini

What do you want to do when you grow up?

Our family has a business of contracts. I will continue that after my graduation.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I would like to live in a beach city, probably Goa. I love the weather there.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I have friends of the other gender. Social media platforms have provided us a way to contact more people and give us privacy. In the society we live in, it is hard to talk to someone of the other gender in person, but it is easier online.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

I am in love with a girl from my college. For me, love is about attraction, care and faith. We like to trust the person and do things to make them happy. Ideally, the religion and caste should not matter, but because of family pressure, we have to consider that too. The youngsters do not believe in it, but elders do. I would like to get married around 28 years of age. But for boys, it is important to have a career and a job. I would like to marry a girl of my choice if I know her. But I would also not hurt the feelings of my family as they have taken care of us our whole life.

Should women work after marriage?

I would not say it is mandatory, but they can if they have the qualification and want to… If I am working, and I feel it is sufficient, I will not (let my wife work). If I am able to fulfill all her needs, if I am able to earn enough to provide everything to her, then there is no need for her to work. There is no point in it.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I use my phone (a Moto G4 plus, costing around Rs 13,000) to surf social sites, news on Facebook. I use it to search educational content too and for Google. I use it to wish people on festivals and birthdays. I am on it for around 2-3 hours a day.

What kind of books do you read?

I do not read that much, but I like reading history books. However, I haven’t read any in recent times.

Which is your favourite film?

I like action movies. I loved the Harry Potter series and recently I watched the dubbed version of the last part in Hindi… Harry Potter aur maut ke tohfe (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)… Hollywood films are different, they are bolder, have a lot of action, and are innovative.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like wearing formals, like a shirt and trousers. On an average, I get around Rs 900-Rs 1,000 a month. Actually, it depends on my needs. If there is a festival or family function, I might get more from my father.

Do you have restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

Just that the family needs to know what am I doing. But I have to be back home by sunset. If there is any emergency, I need to inform my family first.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I mainly help out with chores outside the home… Like buying stuff, getting gas cylinders filled. I also help with the business. But things like cooking and washing dishes are done by the women at home.

What are your expectations from the government?

The government should provide opportunities and employment to youth, work for the poor and towards cleanliness. Our localities are dirty, we do not get proper electricity in the village — maximum 9-10 hours. There are too many mosquitoes and few toilets… I support the Samajwadi Party because of Akhilesh Yadav and his previous works. All my family members support the SP.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

I generally watch speeches of politicians. Recently I was watching a speech of PM Narendra Modi where he became emotional. I also watched his speech over being called “neech” by a Congress leader… But I do not like the thought of anti-Romeo squads, people interfering in what others are doing with own consent. I know many people who were questioned without any reason by the anti-Romeo squads.

Social media status:
Facebook: 500 + friends
Last WhatsApp forward: festival greetings, ‘Good Morning’, ‘Good Night’ wishes

— Interviewed by Avaneesh Mishra

Viresh Mishra from Bastar (Express)

‘In Bastar, there are no real restrictions.. people here value education’

Viresh Mishra, 18
BA First Year, Danteshwari Government PG College, Dantewada

Dantewada, Bastar

Remains hit by Maoist violence. It was in Dantewada that 76 CRPF men were killed in the country’s deadliest Maoist attack.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to top the UPSC. Not just clear the UPSC, but top it. Like Tina Dabi (in 2015). I want to be Rank 1 and I want to be an IAS officer here in Chhattisgarh.

Do you want to move to a big city?

If I wanted to move out, it wouldn’t be Raipur or Jagdalpur. I would take a leap straight to Delhi, because it is the centre of bureaucracy, and there are lots of coaching institutions there. Tina Dabi also (cleared UPSC) from there, I think, and Delhi has good faculty. If I wanted to have fun, I would go to Goa.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Right now, I have no girlfriend (laughs). My sister is my friend. There are some restrictions, and in my opinion, there should be some, as per Bharatiya mansikta (Indian thinking). This has existed from before social media; it has always been like this.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

Love for me is not important, and neither is caste etc. Why should we create trouble by not agreeing with our family? Why should we trouble someone? If there is love or affection, then tell the family first. And if there is a conflict between the girl I have affection for and the family, I would prioritise my family. Keeping them happy will keep me happy. Woh hain to main hoon (I exist because of them).

Should girls work after marriage?

Yes, absolutely. I don’t agree with those who think that the place of a girl is in the house.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

If I have read something and don’t understand, I search for that. And if I have spare time, I download a game. I like racing games.

What kind of books do you read?

I read books of O P Gauba for political science and Arun Singh for psychology. Other than those books for my subjects, not many books are available to me. My source of information otherwise is the newspaper every morning.

Which is your favourite film?

I have watched five films in total. I liked Lagaan the most. Because it has everything, emotions, everything. It was about victory, beating the enemy at their own game.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like wearing kurtas to college. They are just so comfortable. That’s why I wear them, not for show. I get kiraaya (the travel money) from home — Rs 10 each to go to college, and back — and Rs 20 for daily expenses. When I need extra, I ask.

What are the kind of restrictions you face at home? Is there a curfew time?

I have never faced restrictions on what I should think or feel. And that should be the case everywhere. In Bastar, there are no real restrictions. People from here are backward in terms of education, but they know the value of it. Even students who come from deep inside the jungles, even their parents want them to study, to live in the hostel… Sometimes I leave the house at 7 pm and tell my parents I am going out for a bit. Once my friends and I went out to look at the election mahaul (atmosphere), and we didn’t stay in touch with our parents. 11 baj gaya (We were out till 11 pm). That day they were really angry. If I am not in contact with my family, and more than an hour passes, there is some tension.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Yes, I have to (looks exasperated). My father is a little ill so I take care of him… give him a massage. I like doing that, I don’t really feel the burden. Also, going to the market and all that. What I like though is that the person who wakes up the first has to make the tea in my house.

What are your expectations from the government?

I want changes in the education system… teach values. I am not saying old status quos, like the right-wing demands. But the earlier gurukul parampara. Those kind of teachers are no longer there. There needs to be more value-oriented education. Corruption won’t come down because of the CAG or CBI, it should be a part of our values that we should not be corrupt. Also, every religious text should be taught, whether the Gita or the Quran. Because when there is religious violence based on this, it is terrible. It ruins everything. I will never vote on mahaul (sentiments). I want the government to prepare a manifesto of what it will do and, on that basis, I will vote.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

Whenever there is a riot, I get disturbed. I have friends who are Muslims, they live right next to us. We have very good relations, which have never been broken. I fear that if (a riot) ever happened here, what would happen? When such social ills surface, it is terrible.

— Interviewed by Dipankar Ghose

Utpal Rabha from Sonapur (Express)

‘Want govt to remove encroachers from wildlife sanctuaries’

Utpal Rabha, 18
Humanities second year, Sonapur College, Sonapur

Sonapur, Assam

Amid controversies, the state on December 31 comes out with a draft National Register of Citizens, to weed out illegal migrants.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to become a police officer, be it the IPS or in the Assam Police. Criminals have to be controlled with a heavy hand, and only good and patriotic police officers can do this.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I don’t want to move to a big city. My state, which does not have any big city except Guwahati, needs a lot of good officers, and I want to serve my state, my people.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Yes, I have. But then it is not because of social media. My friends of the opposite sex are my friends from school and now from college.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

Yes, I am in love. Love means mutual trust and respect. I don’t think religion or caste should be an issue in love. I consider 25-27 as the right age for marriage, for both boys and girls. I will marry the person I love. I think my parents will not disagree.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes, girls should work after marriage. An educated and qualified girl should get the same kind of opportunity as boys. I often believe that girls are the country’s real future.

How much time do you spend on your mobile phone every day?

I watch music videos and use WhatsApp. I spend about two hours a day on my phone.

What kind of books do you read?

I like reading books on contemporary and political issues. I have no particular favourite. This year, I must admit that I did not read any book.

Which is your favourite film?

Bahubali is my favourite film so far. I like watching films that have a historical leaning. The last film I saw was Tiger Zinda Hai.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like simple clothes. The budget for my personal expenses is Rs 600-700 per month.

Do you have restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

There are general restrictions like not staying out till late. I have to get back latest by 7 pm.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Yes, I do some work at home. Like helping in cleaning the house, washing clothes. I also sometimes help my mother in the kitchen.

What are your expectations from the government?

I want the government to ensure better roads, better educational facilities, punish those involved in corruption, remove encroachers from our wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, tribal land and government reserves. I also want the government to detect each and every Bangladeshi in Assam and push them out to where they came from.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

It was the news of the devastating floods in Assam this year that disturbed me the most. Houses were washed away, and also belongings including textbooks of school children. Paddy fields were covered with several feet of sand. People were compelled to spend days and nights under the open sky. Why cannot the government, both in Delhi and Dispur, find a permanent solution to the floods? Don’t we have the technology and money to do this?

Social media status:
Facebook friends: 400-500
Last WhatsApp forward: “A funny video in which a man plays some pranks on other people.”

— Interviewed by Samudra Gupta Kashyap

Lovepreet Singh from Patti.

‘You start taking drugs in bad company. If you have good friends, you do things your parents like you to do’

Lovepreet Singh, 18
BSc, Non Medical, First Year, Guru Nanak Dev University College, Patti

Patti, Punjab
Patti is 30 km from Pakistan border and falls on the drug highway. Every street of the town has a story on the drug problem

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I am open to all options, but I would like to appear for civil services exams. If nothing works, I will go in for a job in some marine company. My brother is working in Mumbai in a similar job.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I want to live in the village (his family owns a 20-acre plot). If I move to a big city, it would be only to get a good job, and in the future, for my children’s education.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Yes, I have friends of the opposite sex and, of course, social media has made it easier. In my village too, it has changed the relationship between girls and boys. One can see the growing attraction between them. Our parents’ generation does not like it.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

Love for me is finding a person who likes you for all your good qualities and bad. I am not in love, but I would like to marry a girl of my choice. But my parents will not allow me to marry out of caste or religion… so I don’t think about it either. I want an educated wife. I do not want my parents to marry me off to some Class 12 pass girl. But I will also ensure that my parents don’t have any major objection to my choice.

Should women work after marriage?

Definitely. Girls have all the right to work after marriage, and they should. I would like my wife to work. It would help in managing the house.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I use my phone mostly for Internet. You Tube, Facebook and Google search take up most of my time. I spend around 3 hours on the phone (a Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 phone, bought for Rs 8,000).

What kind of books do you read?

I mostly read books on current affairs to prepare for competitive exams. But nowadays, I am reading again a novel that was part of our Class 10 syllabus, The Diary of a Young Girl (by Anne Frank). I like the way she tells a story of surviving, but also I want to improve my English.

Which is your favourite film?

I am planning to go with my friends to Amritsar to watch a movie for the first time in a hall, after our exams are over. I generally watch movies on TV and mobile phones. I last watched a Punjabi movie called Nikka Jaildar.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I mostly purchase clothes from Patti town. I like trousers, shirts, T-shirts and kurta-pyjamas. My parents pay. Of my own money, I spend not more than Rs 1,000 per month.

What are the kind of restrictions you face at home? Is there a curfew time?

Parents do not want me to drink alcohol. Our clan lives outside the village in a cluster of houses. So my parents also expect me to return home by 3 pm… I do not have any drug addict friend. You start taking drugs in bad company. If you have good friends, you do things that your parents like you to do.

Are you required to do chores at home?

When my father is away, I need to do all that he does, from looking after the fields to the animals. Otherwise, I am a free man.

What are your expectations from the government?

I will soon get registered as a voter. I feel that governments make good policies, I like the idea of GST and demonetisation. But officials responsible to implement the policies are not doing their job with honesty.

Which news item impacted you the most this year?

There was a news item about a married woman of Patti who was a drug addict. She used to remove her clothes under the influence of drugs.

Social media status:

Facebook friends: 700
Last WhatsApp forward: A ‘Happy Gurupurab’ wish

— Interviewed by Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Dhanish Parayil from Malappuram.

‘Love marriages end up in trouble as the couple start facing realities after marriage’
Dhanish Parayil, 18
First Year BA Islamic History, Government College

Malappuram, Kerala

Recently, 3 Muslim girls who danced to Jimiki Kammal as part of a flash mob in the district were trolled.

What do you want to grow up to be?

I want to become a primary school teacher because I want to teach fresh minds, address those who are not influenced by anyone.

Would you want to move to a big city?

I am not keen on moving to a big city, but I want to live in a place that has good infrastructure – good roads and other public facilities. I spent my childhood in UAE, where my father was employed. That exposure has made me demand better civic infrastructure in our state.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Yes, I have friends of the opposite sex. But I am not very keen on making friends with people I meet on social media, particularly Facebook. What’s good about social media is that you have the freedom to chat with others without others noticing.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

No, I am not in love. But if I do fall in love or marry, religion will be a factor. Because, in our present system, religion has become a factor. We cannot deny that. I prefer an arranged marriage; love marriages end up in trouble as the couple start facing realities after marriage.

Should girls work after marriage?

Yes, they should. Most Muslim women get married off before they turn 20. Instead, women should marry only after completing their course or getting a job. They should have a source of income before opting for marriage.

What kind of books do you read?

I am not keen on reading novels or stories. I focus on reading stuff which is related to my studies. Since I am a student of Islamic History, I go for religious texts and comparative studies on religion. I never read a book from first to last page. Instead, I go to the portion where the core thought is discussed.

Which is your favourite film?

I watch all kinds of films. I usually go to the theatre without watching trailers or reading reviews. The last film I saw was Nawal Enna Jewel.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

Usually, shirt and pants.

What are the kind of restrictions you face at home? Is there a curfew time?

No restrictions really. But if I go out on a holiday, my parents would want to know where I am going. If I come home very late, they ask questions.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I use my Samsung J 5 mainly to Google to clear doubts. Instead of rushing to a library, I pick up my mobile and search for what I want.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I help my parents at home. I have seen my father helping my mother in the kitchen so now, I also help mother in the kitchen.

What are your expectations of the government?

I want the government to focus on infrastructure development. Also, the backward sections of society should be brought to the mainstream.

Which news item impacted you the most this year?

The killings over beef affected me a lot. These days, every issue is getting communalised. Sadly, people like to see things only through the eyes of religion.

Social media status:

Facebook friends: 4,000
Last WhatsApp forward: Actress Parvathi’s remarks against misogynistic dialogues in the Mammotty starrer Kasaba

— Interviewed By Shaju Philip

Mahesh Patil from Karnataka

‘In our family, the tradition is for girls to work at home’

Mahesh Patil, 18
Third Year of civil engineering diploma, Government Polytechnic

Uttara Kannada, Karnataka

The murder of an 18-year old youth in Honnavar, in Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district, and the communal tensions it sparked have led to a political face-off between the BJP and the Congress in the run-up to the Assembly elections in early 2018.

What do you want to grow up to be?

I want to get a job in the public welfare department, a government job.

Would you want to move to a big city, and if so, where?

After this diploma, I want to try and get a degree in engineering in Hassan (district) and then look for a job. I want to go to Bangalore. Some of my relatives are there. There is more development there and therefore more jobs. My parents are farmers in Haliyal, 150 km from here. I am the first in my family to move out for studies.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier? And how?

Yes, I have women friends in college, not back home in my village. I don’t talk to them on phone. Only directly.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste an issue? Will you marry for love?

Yes, I am in love. I have a girlfriend, someone from college. Religion and caste do not matter to me, but they do for my parents. The girl I love belongs to my religion. Who I marry will be my choice.

Should girls work after marriage?

No. Because in our family, the tradition is for girls to work at home. What if my wife wants to? (Pause) Then I will convince my parents.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I am on Facebook, Instagram, social media. I watch some videos about civil engineering and science. I spend about four-five hours on my phone (a Vivo Y66). And during exams, not at all. I also chat with friends.

What kind of books do you read?

I don’t read books. I play kabaddi and cricket.

Which is your favourite film?

I just watched Tiger Zinda Hai. I like to watch all kinds of films, Tamil, Hindi or Kannada. I like Salman Khan films, yes. I also liked Sairat a lot.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like T-shirts and jeans. Parents give me pocket money, but that depends on how much you have.

What restrictions do you face at home? A curfew time?

I stay in a hostel. I have to come back before 8 pm.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I help my father in the fields and taking care of the cows. No, I don’t do any housework. I know how to cook chapatis, rice and chicken curry.

What are your expectations of the government?

I want the government to help farmers like us giving us plots of land and loans at lower interest rates.

Which news item disturbed you this year the most?

The Honnavar incident. The Muslims killed the Hindu boy. Of course, there will be riots after that. But Hindus and Muslims should not fight. All are brothers.

Social media status:

Facebook friends: More than 500, for sure
Last WhatsApp message forwarded: ‘Something on friendship’

— Interviewed by Amrita Dutta

Amardeep Kumar from Khunti.

‘I feel scared even discussing love, marriage etc with my father’

Amardeep Kumar, 18
BSc Second Year, Birsa College, Khunti

Khunti, Jharkhand

It’s one of the worst districts in the country when it comes to human trafficking, as per NCRB data.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to get into Defence. My father, a small farmer, can not afford to fund further education or to get me into a prestigious course. Joining the Army doesn’t cost much. I have already begun physical training for it, I get up at 4 am and run daily.

Do you want to move to a big city?

No, I don’t want to move out. If I don’t get into the Army, I would try to complete my BEd and teach in Khunti. Hopefully, I will get a government school job; it will provide financial stability.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I interact with girls occasionally, but where is the time to loiter around? I have to be home by 5 pm. As it is, there’s always work at home, at the farm.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

(Dead pan) Achchi to bahut lageen, lekin us line mein kabhi gaye nahin (There were many whom I liked, but I never ventured in that direction). Two-three years later… I want to first get a permanent job. I would go by my parents’ choice, without doubt. Ee sab baat to pitaji se bolne mein bhi dar lagta hai (I feel scared even discussing these things with my father).

Should women work after marriage?

I wouldn’t mind my wife working. We will see when I get married.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

Some years ago, I bought a Samgung Galaxy J7 Prime for around Rs 15,000 – I used to work in a mobile repair shop until two months ago and bought it with my savings. I had become part of too many groups, but WhatsApp bores me now. All those constant, meaningless messages irritate me. On Facebook, I have around 200 friends. But most of them I know personally. I spend two-three hours on the Internet daily, mostly on my friend’s laptop, because I keep looking for news about competitive examinations, downloading forms etc.

What kind of books do you read?

The only books apart from the syllabus that I read are general knowledge books, for various examinations.

Which is your favourite film?

There is no cinema hall in Khunti. So I watch films on my friend’s laptop or on TV sometimes. The last film was Khatarnak Khiladi-3. I love the dubbed South Indian movies. Action mast rahta hai (They have great action scenes). I love Prabhas (of Bahubali fame) and Shruti Hasan (Kamal Hassan’s daughter).

What kind of clothes do you like to wear, and what’s your budget for personal expenses?

Jeans, all types! (Pointing to the pair he is wearing) You can see I am wearing rugged jeans and sports shoes. Of course we go for cheap versions of the top brands.

What are the kind of restrictions you face at home? Is there a curfew time?

Unless there is something really urgent, I am usually back home by 5 pm. In the last couple of years, the Naxal situation has improved; otherwise, we were supposed to be back by 4 pm. I go out with friends once a while, but my father keeps warning me about focusing on the job ahead — that is preparing for my career.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Kaam to rahta hai. Shop par jaate hain. Kabhi ghar ka kuchch saamaan laana hota hai, kabhi khet ka kaam. Abhi dhaan ka katai ho gaya hai, to khalihan mein kaam rahta hai (There is always some work. I go to the shop. Fetching stuff for home, work in the field. These days paddy has been harvested, so there is work in the farm.)

What are your expectations from the government?

On the Naxal front, they (the government) have done well, but we need more facilities and avenues for jobs.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

I hate news about molestation and other acts of sexual violence. Even here in the college, outsiders keep harassing girls. Sometimes, there are fights over such things. They come on motorcycles, swerve around the girls, honk, make some lewd comments, and then drive away. I know about these Khunti trafficking gangs, and they are very strong. There was one case in my village a couple of years ago. A middle-aged woman was behind it. The gram panchayat warned her to stop it, but she called up goons and virtually got the pradhan assaulted. She stopped after a police warning, but resumed operations later.

Social media status:

Facebook friends: 200+
Last WhatsApp forward: A ‘Good morning’ four months ago

— Interviewed By Prashant Pandey

Pandurang Sunil Ingawale from Solapur. (Express)

‘I don’t have a craze for big cities. I like the air here’

Pandurang Sunil Ingawale, 18
B.Sc first year, Vidnyan Mahavidyalaya, Sangola, District Solapur

Solapur, Maharashtra

There is a widening rift between Marathas and Dalits in the state, which has its genesis in protests by Marathas last year after the gangrape and murder of a 14-year-old girl. The tension surfaced again after a local court sentenced three Dalit to death for the crime, in November this year, while a week later it acquitted 10 accused, majority of them Marathas, accused of killing a Dalit teenager.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I am preparing for the state civil services exams and want to become police sub-inspector (PSI) or a deputy superintendent of police. I’ve been dreaming of it since Class 7, when during my scholarship exam, I had signed as PSI unknowingly. A teacher at the exam centre explained what it also meant, apart from being my full name.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I don’t have a craze for big cities. I like the air here. Cities are crowded and suffocating.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I don’t have any friends of the opposite sex. I am always with the boys.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

No, I love only my parents and family. But I think there should be no caste or religion factor in love. I will think of the marriage after I start earning, around 25 years. I will marry a girl of my parents’ choice.

Should women work after marriage?

If they have studied enough to take up jobs, then there is nothing wrong in them working. But they should also do household chores; the men can help in that.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I spend an hour in a day on my cellphone browsing through Telegram (a messaging app), WhatsApp and Facebook. I see Telegram to get updates on my civil services preparation and WhatsApp and Facebook to see updates from my friends. Since I’m preparing for the civil services, I spend very little time on my phone.

What kind of books do you read?

I like biographies and autobiographies of political leaders. My favourite is ‘Lok Maze Sangati’, Sharad Pawar’s autobiography. The last book I read was ‘Chaturastr Netruv;’ it was on Ajit Pawar.

Which is your favourite film?

My favourite films are Bahubali and Bahubali 2: The Conclusion. I like the historical and comedy movies. The last movie I saw was Judwaa 2. The comedies ease my worries about studies.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like white shirt and pants, clothes normally worn by political leaders. There is no fixed budget for it. I buy clothes whenever I want. Sometimes I buy online from Amazon when they have a sale with discounts.

Do you have restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

There are no restrictions as such for me. The only thing I need to do is to study. If I want to go around with my friends, I just need to inform my parents.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Not everyday work. But when there is no one else, I plough the fields with the tractor once in while.

What are your expectations from the government?

The government is not filling up most of its posts. So there will be huge competition for other recruitment as all people will apply there to get job. If some of them do not get jobs, it will lead to them to frustration. Besides, the farm loan waiver with a cap of Rs 1.5 lakh. The government has kept many genuine farmers out of the waiver scheme. As a result, I have stopped believing this government now.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

I think it’s the reduction in recruitment by the government.

— Interviewed by Vishwas Waghmode

Owais Yousuf from South Kashmir.

‘I would like the government to address unemployment’

Owais Yousuf, 18
BCA, First Year from Pulwama, is enrolled with IGNOU

South Kashmir
The worst hit by militancy in Kashmir

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to become a writer. I want to record life events or true stories.

Do you want to move to a big city?

New York, like Agha Shahid Ali (the late Kashmiri-American poet of Kashmiri origin).

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I don’t have many female friends. I do not use social media too much. Just to check news mainly and stay updated on the events of the day. I spend some time on Instagram, WhatsApp, but social media is not a big part of my life.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

I am in love, and it is like being in heaven. It makes me stronger. Religion or caste is not an issue for me. 20 years, I believe, is the perfect age to get married. You learn and grow with each other, you fix goals together. Honestly, I’ll marry for love.

Should women work after marriage?

They can.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I watch YouTube videos, AIB or Zakir Khan’s comedy shows, and some tech news on my Moto G5 phone.

What kind of books do you read?

I mostly read Agha Shahid’s stories. My favourite is The Veiled Suite. That’s the last one I read.

Which is your favourite film?

Namastey London. I learned never to lose hope from the film. The last movie I saw was Ittefaq, featuring Sidharth Malhotra.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I get some money from home; my father has a transport business. I also work part-time at Islamic University. I like to wear branded clothes.

What are the kind of restrictions you face at home? Is there a curfew time?

There are no restrictions, not even about my hairstyles or beard. I’m allowed to make my choices.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I am not required to do chores, but I cook sometimes and help out in the garden.

What are your expectations from the government?

I would like the government to address unemployment.

Which news item impacted you this year the most?

Virat Kohli’s improvement of his game is something I like to keep track of. His focus is inspiring.

Social media status:

Not on Facebook

Sometimes write poems and forwards them on WhatsApp, “though not frequently”

— Interviewed by Naveed Iqbal

Manoj Sharma from Chittorgarh.

‘Girls should work (after marriage). Their aspirations matter’

Manoj Sharma, 18
BSc Second Year student, Maharana Pratap Government Post Graduate College, Chittorgarh

Chittorgarh, Rajasthan
Was at the heart of the protests over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmavati’; the film’s release has been deferred

What do you want to do when you grow up?

My aim is to be in the civil services; administration mein agar IAS ban paya toh bahut barhiya hoga (It’ll be wonderful if I become an IAS officer).

Do you want to move to a big city?

If I feel that I have to move to a city, then I’ll see.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Yes, quite a few. See, social media isn’t there to only make friends. It is my personal opinion — that it feels wrong — to connect with someone on social media whom you don’t even know.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

(Coy) I am single right now. And love for me is shashwat satya (eternal truth). It is okay that I haven’t fallen in love yet. My personal view is that they (religion and caste) should not matter, but my community does not permit so. I do also believe there should be a change in traditions. When one thinks they’re complete and ready, perhaps around 23, 24, 25 years of age. I don’t know if I’ll ever fall in love but I know my family will decide who I marry. If my parents don’t allow me (to marry the one he loves) then I would not like to go against my parents’ wishes.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes, of course, if they wish so. Girls’ aspirations matter, there is no need for them (husband, in-laws) to share their views.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I use a Gionee P5 Mini bought by my father, a priest, for Rs 5,300 about a year-and-a-half ago. I used to use my mobile phone for 4-5 hours in a day. But of late, I have been focusing on my studies and spending 2-2.5 hours. I use it for communicating with friends and family. I also use mobile applications Hello English Premium and Dishari (both part of Rajasthan government initiative, the latter for General Knowledge).

What kind of books do you read?

I like books by Munshi Premchand; Godan had a profound impact on me. I also like work by APJ Abdul Kalam. There is a collection of his speeches which have inspired me. I like all sorts of books, including fiction. The last book I read was Gandhi’s My Experiments with Truth.

Which is your favourite film?

There are many films which I really like; I enjoy all sorts of movies. I like those which are a little offbeat and have a message, such as Parched. The last film I watched was one of Twilight series on my laptop.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I wear the kind of clothes which are in fashion or being worn by my friends. I request money from my father as per need and requirement.

What are the kind of restrictions you face at home? Is there a curfew time?

They usually don’t ask but sometimes when it is really late they do call up and inquire. They are fine as long as they get a satisfactory reply. But I have never stayed out after 10-11 pm.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I do help with all sorts of chores. And sometimes, my mother’s arms can’t reach someplace so I help out. She is unwell quite often, so I help her out.

What are your expectations from the government?

I have same expectations from the government what any common man would have. For people like me, first of all, there should be jobs. Also, there should be peace. The discourse should not cross certain boundaries.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

I was disturbed by the news of a political party leader’s son from Haryana stalking a girl. Be it a girl or a woman, one should feel safe. I also write poetry sometimes so that incident spurred me to write a few lines too. And in Gujarat polls, there should have been a discussion on development, jobs, or good governance. We should not point out someone’s religion and target them for their beliefs.

Social media status:

Facebook friend: No profile
Last WhatsApp forward — was on December 26, the birth anniversary of Indian revolutionary Udham Singh.

— Interviewed by Hamza Khan

Arun Nayak from Adilabad.

‘I won’t marry just for love, it will make life difficult’

Arun Nayak Bhukya, 18
Hotel Management, First Year, Dr Narayana College Kompally

Adilabad, Telangana

Lambadas, a nomadic tribe, are at the receiving end of a violent Adivasi agitation in Adilabad district. The Adivasis want them excluded, alleging they are cornering the 6 per cent ST quota. Rajeshwari and Arun are Lambada students.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

My dream is to join the Army. I also want to do something for my village, like set up a coaching centre to encourage children, especially girls, to go for higher studies.

Do you want to move to a big city?

Of course. All opportunities exist only in big cities. If I don’t make it to the Army, with my Hotel Management degree, I would have to move to a big city to find a job. Hyderabad or Bengaluru are my favourites.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

Yes, I have some, and most of them are colleagues or old classmates. I also do photography and shoot profiles so I made some new friends pursuing this hobby. We remain in touch via Facebook or WhatsApp. Facebook is very helpful in connecting with friends.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

No, nothing of the sort. I am concentrating on studies right now. I will only marry within my caste and community. I think whenever a man feels he is ready for marriage, that is the right age. A job and a respectable salary should be a must. I will not marry just for love, it will make life difficult if there is no job and if it is against parents’ wishes. I will marry as per parents’ wishes. Parents usually know when it is the right time for their children to marry.

Should women work after marriage?

If they want to work, they should be allowed to. Times have changed and girls should have equal rights. Husbands should support their spouses in this. If a woman wants to work, she should not be confined at home because she is supposed to do household chores or raise a family.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I usually watch funny videos and forwards on my phone (Samsung Galaxy worth Rs 9,000). I search the Internet for information, news, and to do research on subjects I study in college. I use it whenever I feel like.

What kind of books do you read?

Except for textbooks, I don’t read other books.

Which is your favourite film?

Avengers is my favourite film. I like action movies. The last film I watched was MCA.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

Jeans and T-shirts are my favourite. Budget depends on how much pocket money parents give. My father is a bus driver with the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation.

What are the kind of restrictions you face at home? Is there a curfew time?

I don’t face any restrictions as such. If I am going to be late, I inform my parents.

Are you required to do chores at home?

I go to the market for groceries etc. Whatever my parents ask me to do, I do.

What are your expectations from the government?

I want governments to do more for socially and economically backward communities. Just giving quota does not help. They should introduce more policies to encourage these communities to come into the mainstream.

Which news item impacted you the most this year?

The fierceness of the Adivasi agitation against the Lambadas affected me the most. All kinds of allegations against Lambadas were in the news. The relationship between the communities has broken and there is a fragile peace. I want to join defence services but will I get a place just because of my caste? We need education, talent and merit… My friendship with my Adivasi friends has become very uneasy now. It is as if I am being isolated.

Social media status:

Facebook friends: 414
Last WhatsApp forward: Video of a Lambada meeting against “injustice” to the community

— Interviewed by Sreenivas Janyala

Joyd Simoes from Goa.

‘I don’t think I fit in a big city. The atmosphere there is different’

Joyd Simoes, 18
Don Bosco College of Agriculture, Sulcorna

Goa

The idyllic beach state is being swamped by coal — nearly 25 million tonnes of it is to be unloaded each year at the Mormugao Port Trust by 2020 — with serious implications for its roads, rivers, forests, and above all, its people.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

Most Goans opt for opportunities abroad or look for vacancies in cruise ships. I want to remain here, become an entrepreneur in agriculture, or build a dairy farm. The government has rolled out a mission of going organic by 2020. I want to, in some way, participate in this revolution.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I don’t think I fit in a big city. The atmosphere there is different. Here we celebrate each other, whether the person is a Hindu, Muslim or Christian. We give space to each others’ traditions. I do not see that in cities.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I do. In fact, I find it easier to interact with them. I also look to see how they face their parents, their lifestyle, their ways of studying. In fact, just the other day, I was thinking about it. Social media, frankly doesn’t do much to me. It only helps me see what the others are busy with, their events and their daily lives.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

Not right now. I want to someday consider relationships. I am very firm, I want to stand on my feet first and get a good direction on where I want to go in life. Religion and caste will not be an issue. We are brought up that way. We respect everyone.

One should get married between 26 and 28. At that age — everyone is working, there is a sense of responsibility, towards oneself and towards the family. The relationship will also be more complete if one is more mature before committing. In our family, even if I were to fall in love, I would be open about it with my parents. Also, I am confident that if they find someone, they will consult me and take my equal opinion. I am close to my mother and we talk on everything.

Should women work after marriage?

Yes. If a woman can pay her own bills, it does wonders to her own self-esteem Besides, she also gets the respect that she deserves.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

Half an hour every day is for stuff on my mobile. Otherwise I spend a lot of time on YouTube at home, surfing videos on “how to do” in mechanics. I like to learn through YouTube. On days, I listen to music videos too.

What kind of books do you read?

My favourite is Gulliver’s Travel by Jonathan Swift. The idea of adventure is beautiful, especially in a book. The last book I read was The Return of Sherlock Holmes. I own an iPad, and my reading is limited to what I download.

What is your favourite film?

In Hollywood, it is The Birth of a Legend. In Bollywood, it is Karan Arjun, cause I liked the action scenes in it. The last movie I saw was Transformers: Dark of the moon. I like my movies to have lots of action, and suspense, and if needed, a bit, or bliss of romance.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

Casual. Budget is not much, probably, Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 per month. I spend it all on eating out.

What are the kind of restrictions you face at home? Is there a curfew time?

Only one. We have to reach home by 7 pm, as our rosary, prayers are at 7:30 pm. My brother and I are very particular about it. Dinner also has restrictions, as my mother wants everyone to be at the table and eat together. My father works as a manager in a store in Texas, USA.

Are you required to do chores at home?

We (his brother and him) help our mother in errands and in cutting vegetables. There is a good friendship between the three of us and we gel well.

What are your expectations from the government?

I want the government to first fix our daily problems, from the coal issue, to the problems of garbage. If you make a promise, fulfill it.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

The cyclone (Ockhi) was the most painful. We felt the impact here. I never imagined the sea could destroy so much. I was too young when the tsunami happened, so this was the first time I understood the scale of such a calamity. Also, earlier this year, the killings in the name of cow hurt me. We in Goa require beef and have always seen it as a food item. This discrimination is something I do not understand.

Social media update:

800 Facebook friends
Last WhatsApp Forward: He doesn’t send forwards and doesn’t like getting them either. He writes his wishes on his own. Last he sent was on Christmas

— Interviewed By Smita Nair.

Darshan Jakhaniya from Latihad.

‘Future lies in the big cities.. it is too peaceful here and there is no excitement’

Darshan Jakhaniya, 19

BSc, Final Year, Sir P P College, Bhavnagar,

Belongs to Latihad village

Botad, Gujarat

Dominated by Patidars, who joined Hardik Patel’s movement. In Latihad village of this district, Hardik was weighed in packets of blood.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

There is no good college in Botad and that is why I got enrolled in Bhavnagar. I want to become a professor, teach math and statistics. I am inspired by Gupta sir, who taught me the two subjects in the first year of college.

Do you want to move to a big city?

My father is a cotton farmer, he owns land and we are doing well. But I want to move out of the village. I want to teach in Bhavnagar or Ahmedabad. Future lies in the big cities. Here it is too peaceful and there is no excitement.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

(Giggling) My college is co-ed, but I do not interact with girls much. My parents do not like it. I have accounts on Facebook and Instagram, but I hardly use them. I am very active on WhatsApp. It has become easier to meet girls because of social media and I have seen my friends use Facebook to meet girls. But I am busy studying and my parents are strict.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

I have no time to fall in love or date someone. I am busy with my studies and do not want to be distracted. I will not be allowed to marry outside my caste, that is a rule in the house. I will go in for an arranged marriage, as in our village, the parents and elders plan everything for us. I think a good age to get married is around 24-25 years. I will marry whoever my family chooses for me.

Should women work after marriage?

Women should work after marriage. Though my mother is a housewife, it is a choice a woman must herself make.

How much time do you spend on your phone?

I use the phone (Samsung Galaxy J 2, costing Rs 7,600) to play games. I spend around 3 hours sometimes playing games on the phone and lose track of time.

What kind of books do you read?

(Eyes lighting up) I love crime stories. I have read all kinds of detective novels. I read short crimes stories that come in local magazines.

Which is your favourite film?

I see a lot of suspense and action movies. The last film I saw was Now You See Me 2. I saw it in Bhavnagar, dubbed in Hindi.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I am not fond of dressing up. My mother decides what I wear. I generally like to be in a shirt and trousers. My parents give me pocket money, which I spend on eating in Bhavnagar and watching movies. I generally get around Rs 5,000-6,000 per month. My parents do not interfere much in how I spend the money, but my mother restricts the time I spend on the phone.

What are the kind of restrictions you face at home? Is there a curfew time?

I am not allowed to take the bike out often. I love riding on the streets of Bhavnagar, but my parents are very strict. When I come to the village, I borrow my friend’s bike and ride around. Since I live in Bhavnagar, I follow the rules of my hostel. When I come home I am generally back by 8 pm as we have dinner together, but I am allowed to hang out with my friends after dinner.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Only reheating my tea if it gets cold because I wake up late. I do not do any other work in the house. I offer to help, but since I live in Bhavnagar, when I come home, my family does not let me do anything.

What are your expectations from the government?

I did not vote this time as there was a problem with my voter ID card. I expect only one thing from the government, and it is anamat (reservation). People from lower castes who do badly get seats while we do not despite performing well. Members of our community want to study and get into government jobs and live in big cities, but because of anamat we are forced to take up our family business and stay in villages.

Which news item impacted you this year the most?

Notebandi was the most disturbing news of the year. I saw my parents and elders struggle and stand in long lines. I overheard villager elders talking about how it was becoming difficult in the cotton market because of demonetisation. I got my money on time and my fees were not affected, so at a personal level, I did not go through anything but seeing the elders and my family discuss it was very disturbing. I remember my mother had saved a lot of money to give me, my sister and my brother, and then she had to give all the notes to dad… I support the PAAS movement, and as my father says, I think Hardik Patel is Chota Sardar.

Social media status:

Facebook: Around 400 friends

Last WhatsApp forward: a Christmas received on his college group

— Interviewed by Preeti Das

Dablu Das from Munger.

‘If I am in love by 28, I will try to convince my parents about marrying her’

Dablu Das, 19
BA Honours (Political Science), Second Year, R S College, Tarapur

Munger, Bihar

The Bihar district is notorious for its illegal gun-running units supplying arms across the country. Munger Police put the business at over Rs 60 crore a year.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to be a lecturer. My political science teacher Sharma Ram has been motivating me to pursue a career in academics. I know it will be tough, but unless I dream big, I cannot become what I want to.

Do you want to move to a big city?

I will first move to Bhagalpur to do my postgraduation. My father, who is a farmer, will support me. I can also take tuitions.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I was a bit shy till Class 12, but now I have made friends with some girls in my class. However, we are friends only on the campus. Social media has surely helped us understand each other better. We have WhatsApp groups, share jokes and motivational messages. Parents, at times, do monitor what we post on social media, even when they are not good at using smartphones.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

(Bursting into giggles) I am not in love. Though I may well have a soft corner for some girls, we hold our emotions. Love means equality, mutual trust and godliness to me. It is a special feeling. Caste and religion are not a factor for me and I am open to inter-caste marriages. But I am not sure what my parents think about it. I guess 28 is a good age for boys to marry; the official marriageable age of 21 looks very immature. I have not yet thought about marriage. If I am in love by 28, I will try to convince my parents about marrying her. Parents are often right, but they are not always right.

Should women work after marriage?

Sure. But they should choose a profession that helps them maintain a balance between home-making and career. The job of a teacher is the most preferred for a daughter-in-law in this part of the world. I too want my wife to be a teacher.

How much time do you spend on your phone every day?

I am on social media and I am a part of some WhatsApp groups. I read jokes, do Google searches and check and send mails on my phone (Samsung smartphone, bought for Rs 7,500). At times, I also watch a movie or cricket match.

Which is your favourite film?

Ghar Dwaar is my favourite film (released in 1985). I like to watch films which entertain and educate. The most recent movie I saw was Baahubali 2.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

Jeans and shirt. Anyway, we boys have few options. My monthly budget is Rs 1,500.

Do you face restrictions at home? Is there a curfew time?

I face few restrictions at home. But I am asked to reach home by 7 pm. As everyone carries a mobile phone now, parents know where there their children are.

Are you required to do chores at home?

My parents don’t expect me to but I clean my house at times and make beds. At times, I chop vegetables for my mother.

What are your expectations from the government?

I have not yet got my voter identity card. I expect the government to fill the vacancies for college teachers. I also want the government to stop the midday meal scheme in schools and transfer the subsidy to the bank accounts of students. Teachers should be expected to serve knowledge, not food.

Social media status:

Facebook friends: Had 50 friends but deactivated Facebook a few months ago because of examination
Last WhatsApp post forwarded: A couplet of love and peace sent to a friend

— Interviewed by Santosh Singh

Pinkesh Dhangar from Mandsaur

‘I am against love marriages. Love means time pass’

Pinkesh Dhangar, 18
BSc First Year (Microbiology), Rajeev Gandhi PG College

Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh

In June 2017, a farmer protest in Mandsaur had turned violent, with six farmers killed in police firing. The farmers were demanding better remuneration for their crops and a waiver of their loans.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I play shot-put and hope to land a government job through sports quota.

Would you want to move to a big city, and if so, where?

I would want to move to Indore because it has better coaching facilities.

Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Has social media made this easier?

I don’t have many friends of the opposite sex. Social media has made it easier to mingle with girls but I don’t manage to make friends with any.

Are you in love? What does love mean to you? Is religion or caste a factor? Will you marry for love?

No, I am not in love. I am against love marriages. Love means time pass — you get nothing out of it. Religion and caste are big issues. When the time comes, I will give my suggestions (of girls) but will go by my parents’ choice.

Should women work after marriage?

Those who can, should work.

How much time do you spend on your phone?

I spend three-four hours a day on my phone. I use it to share information and general knowledge posts.

What kind of books do you read?

I read books on the Army, of bravery. The last book I read was Shaurya Gatha.

Which is your favourite film?

My favourite film is 3 Idiots. It had a message — don’t learn by rote. The last movie I saw was DJ (a Telugu movie dubbed in Hindi).

What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

Jeans and shirts. My monthly expenses can’t exceed Rs 1,500.

What restrictions do you face at home? Is there a curfew time?

I don’t face many restrictions, but I usually return home by 7.30 pm.

Are you required to do chores at home?

Yes, I do my bit.

What are your expectations of the government?

No, never voted, but I expect the government to give more prices for farm produce. Our family depends on my father farm, where we grow soybean. The crop should fetch at least Rs 3,500 per quintal, not the Rs 2,600-Rs 2,700 that we have been getting.

Which news item this year impacted you the most?

Police firing on farmers. Farmers were the worst hit – we were first affected by the low price and later the agitation.

Social media status

Facebook friends: 200+
Last WhatsApp forward: A general knowledge post

— Interviewed by Milind Ghatwai

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