Progressive, is the new young India: Chetan Bhagat

New Delhi: Progressive and value-based society that puts excellence and integrity over narrow goals and materialistic gains is the new, young India, and not just someone falling in an age bracket, says novelist and columnist Chetan Bhagat who has launched his first non-fiction.

"I think anyone who is progressive is young. You may be in your 20s but highly regressive in thinking and that wouldn`t be young for me. Demographically we might have the largest number of youth today but thinking forward is the way forward for India," says the author.

After five novels, Bhagat has ventured into nonfiction with his new book released late last evening here. "What Young India wants: Selected Essays and Columns," published by Rupa Publications, is a compilation of his speeches and writings over the past few years.

According to Bhagat today`s young India wants a good life, a good job and romance – "Meri Naukri, Meri Chokri".

"The youth want to first fulfill their own needs and only after that are they willing to support a certain cause.Today`s youth wants a good well-paying job (`naukri`) and a nice girlfriend (`chokri`) in a decent urban city. I don`t think there`s anything wrong with that but what is important is to earn that living honestly, with integrity and excellence and without compromising the core values that build our society," Bhagat told PTI.

The book, says Chetan Bhagat elucidates a new category of people, which has emerged in the country. "In India we have separate categories if someone wants to be good or be an honest person, then they have to be poor. All activists have to be poor and if you are rich then you are bad. But I don`t think that`s the way forward for this country."

"Becoming rich by unfair means is bad but you can also create wealth by hard work, innovation by creativity that should be celebrates that is my ethos and I think young India wants that kind of message. The answer is very simplistic and that is good," says Bhagat.

In the book which begins with a long personal letter, the author touches on topics like "Why do our students regularly commit suicide? Why is there so much corruption in India? Can`t our political parties ever work together? Does our vote make any difference at all? We love our India, but shouldn`t some things be different?"

The 38-year-old investment banker-turned–author also expressed his worries about the quality of education in India and the education system itself which he says is becoming more like a business operation, driven largely by profits and less by values.

"There are 175 MBA colleges in the National Capital Region alone. All of these are not going to produce CEOs and worthy management professionals," says the author an alumnus of IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad.

Shashi Tharoor, MP and an author himself said at a panel discussion following Bhagat`s book launch, "India has a large number of youth today and the country has a plethora of engineering colleges but a huge number of them turn out unemployable graduates…."

"…I think we don`t have adequate vocational institutions. … It`s better to enrol in vocational courses and turn out a better and employable person, say, a skilled motor mechanic or something and have a good life, and get the `naukri and the chokri` (job and a girlfriend) just like the engineers, etc  maybe, instead of going to a worthless engineering or an MBA college and come out with a worthless degree," Tharoor author of `The Great Indian Novel" said.

MP, Jay Handa and anchor Suhel Seth were also present at the discussion. While Bhagat cites corruption to be his "biggest muse" he also writes that it is "a way of life in India."

"…need to understand is that corruption didn`t just start and end with politicians. We ourselves are also to blame for it. We have a warped set of values that allows so much graft to take place," he writes.

The Mumbai-based author whose books have been adapted into Bollywood movies says is looking forward to a new film "Kai Po Che" based on his "The 3 Mistakes of My Life" that is scheduled to release in January 2013. Also coming up next would be a new novel.