Touted as “one of the 100 most influential people in the world” by TIME magazine, writer, speaker, Chetan Bhagat certainly doesn't mince his words when he says, “Youth who are not politically conscious, do not know the importance of voting, are not interested in the decision-making process, are as good as a bunch of illiterates.”
Bhagat, who was in the city at the launch of Canada-based Mad Science, a science enrichment provider for kids, in India and Sri Lanka, said, “Both rural and urban youth are aspirational. They want to change their circumstances, which is good. But, they are not very politically conscious. I would say, kids from rural areas are more politically aware as compared to their urban compatriots. But, on the whole, youth today are not interested in decision-making process, they are disenchanted by democracy, which isn't a good sign. All of them can't become activists. They have to be a part of the socio-political fabric of the country.”
Bhagat, who's considered as youth icon, opined, “There's lot of good in today's kids, but there are some trends which are worrisome too. They are focused about their career and education, which is a good thing. But, most of them are so drawn in the world of social media that they stop thinking and end up reacting to the stimulus.”
This, Bhagat warns, could lead to more and more people with poor leadership skills.
When asked for solution or way out, the popular writer says, “A balanced approach is must. There's no space for extreme views, a middle-way out is must.”
Bhagat, who makes it a point to meet youth wherever he goes, says, “I am there wherever English is. Since more and more people are seeking education in English, I am reaching out to more people. By meeting and talking to them, I am trying to get them involved in the process of national development.”
When we ask, “how?”, Bhagat explains, “My books are popular because they are written in a simple language. These readers are then influenced to read my columns and then join my twitter page where I air my views on national and social issues.”
Bhagat admits that he's yet to make an impact in rural areas, but he claims that he's known to youngsters in tier-II and tier-III cities/towns in the country.
Why doesn't he consider also writing in Hindi besides English, since English of letters is yet to make a dent in rural areas?
“I don't think I can write in pure or Sanskritised Hindi, but I am working on the translation of my novel, 2 States: The Story of my Marriage, in Hindi. It's going to be in colloquial Hindi peppered with English,” he says.
Bhagat also adds that there will be a Marathi translation too.
“There's demand for good literature in regional languages too. But, as I said, English is an aspirational language and more and more people are speaking it.”
Besides translations, his two books (Five Point Someone and One Night @ Call Centre) have also been adapted to the big screen. He's now one of the four screenplay writers, who's working to adapt, “The 3 Mistakes of My Life” for Abhishek Kapoor of Rock On fame.
“The film will go to floors in a few days time. We are shooting it in Gujarat, and no there's fear of any backlash because we have the blessings of the state government,” adds Bhagat. The book is a blend of religion, politics and our obsession with the Gentleman's Game.
Bhagat will also be involved with the promotion of the movie. Once bitten, twice shy. Eh?