None of us have any say on when and where we are born. But those two aspects determine, considerably, how our lives shape out.
My father was born around 1918 or so. Imagine that time- World War 1 was afoot and India firmly under the Brits. By the time he was of some use to the world at 20+ age, World War 2 was in progress. He probably went into the job market during the middle of the war and our own accelerating move towards independence. One can imagine what that would have offered. He built his life and shaped his thoughts in a post war- post independence new born country. For a TamBram, there could not have been even the remotest thoughts of risk.
People of my generation were probably born in the post-independence to the China war period (1948-60 types). We were all imbued with some insane amount of advice from our parents about the value of frugality, diligence, perseverance, honesty, no jugaad of any kind- all of them whether we like it or not. This is how our dads got through their turbulent times and they knew no different to pass on to their children. So, much of our earlier lives was all about just being stoic- putting our head down and getting through things one after the other. The world was opening up, slowly, but certainly not fast enough for us to do much. So good marks got you to the US and the good life while bad marks got you, at best, a clerk job, consigned to the misery of making it, somehow, to the end of the month on your salary.
The next generation were all probably born by the 1990s and by then things had started changing considerably in India. Our generation, using the stoic values inculcated in us by our parents and working hard and grabbing new opportunities that started to emerge slowly through the 1990s and later, managed to build a decent enough life, with many also trying their hand at entrepreneur bit too. Since it was a growth phase for India many succeeded and so by the time the Millennial generation was ready to face the world, they were already advantageously positioned. So, their lives went on a completely different rail tracks, mostly unhindered by the extreme sense of frugality and pessimism that hobbled their grandfather and to some extent, their fathers.
By then many of their parents or siblings or other friends and relatives had migrated, travelled etc., so that they managed to gain much more of a world view. The children born in foreign shores had a totally different grasp of what it was to be an Indian. Culture, if any, was a result only through osmosis if their parents practiced any. In contrast, those that were born and bred in India had a more classical version of the culture-osmosis. By then, many parents had also made it big and the divide between the haves and have-nots started to widen very obviously. Exposure to western culture changed many of the behavioral characteristics and began to shape thinking of the Millennial in a new way and this was way, way different from their grandfathers and perhaps to some extent from their own parents too. This impacted on their approach to work, to risk, to fulfillment, to the creation of desires.
As a result, the word Risk has a completely different meaning for these Millennials. This is why we are seeing so many startups, so many new careers, so many more entrepreneurs. The large number of unicorns in India is signaling that many of them are also succeeding spectacularly. So, now a new loop of risk taking is starting to become the norm. Releasing the changing environment, many of their parents too are encouraging them (unlike the severe discouragement that the parents got from their parents).
This ‘risk-on’ aspect (the coinage for the millennial generation) has percolated into the financial market as well. The Pandemic saw a gravitation of the affected to the stock markets and for two whole years, the new accounts being opened soared. Never has the market, probably, seen a greater influx of new participants into it and much of that has to do with the perception of risk and opportunity. A far cry from the participants in the 1980s for sure. This changed perspective, together with the rapid system changes created by technology (which the millennial adapted to with alacrity) will ensure that the market will create new paradigms aligned to the new thinking in the months and years to come. The stint with Cryptos came about because of this. One round of that maybe over but I feel it is far from being really over as the risk-bug has bitten deep and these Crypto-stuff will be back in different forms in the future.
In essence, the millennial generation is one that has been caught by surprise. None of hardships of their parents but a world of placements, A/c offices, high salaries and big perks. Huge economic shifts, Modi’s new India, the rest of the globe searching for talent in India were all now offering ways of life that was earlier not even a thought! Not all may have benefited of course but on an average, there was an upward traction to their entire lives!
Now we are getting into the next generation, the children of the Millennial. For them, life, as of now, is totally different from their forefathers. Many are being born into varying degree of affluence. They can take for granted a nice well-furnished house in a good locality, have friends who are similarly placed, cars (in plural) are common, servants at their beck and call for most activities, the lack of urgency to do any of the things and maybe yet newer ways of world changes awaiting them. Exciting times, surely.
So the movement from a stoic and austere life to one of relative abundance- it is all a matter of when you are born! And some further relative differences on where you are born. Anytime you think life is bad or not working in a certain way that you would want it to be, just hark back into the lives of your parents and grandparents. And silently thank the Lord for having placed you in this day and age.