Why indian Gen X are not slackers

The economic conditions define the characteristics of a generation. Were the members of GenX similar in India and the US?

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Being the youngest of three boys and 11 years younger to my eldest brother, clearly my parents planned to have a third child very late in their career. Most kids my age had parents who belonged to GenX.

In other words, their parents were born between 1967-1979.

My brothers being millennials (people born between 1980 and 1995), and my parents being baby boomers (people born between 1944 and 1964), I had very little opportunity to interact with GenX.

If we browse through articles and books published about 30 years back, we will find that authors, baby boomers and critics in the US tagged the Generation X as slackers— people who were distracted and aimless.

It does make sense in the context of the US. When GenX teenagers were growing up in the US, the country was going through a slump in the economy. Their parents were getting laid off from companies where they planned to spend their whole life. There was an increase in the divorce rates and the pop culture was influencing the growing generation. That is why, it was natural for them to be unable to trust employers and even their partners. Most of them got distracted by the growing pop music culture and were the first generation to be referred to as the ‘latch-key kids’(children who are left alone at home without adult supervision).

Kamlesh Dangi

“I think these traits would fit the US context more than the Indian context. In India, this generation produced some of the greatest CEOs and managers of our times“

But was the story similar for GenX in India? Were they aimless or distracted?

“I think these traits would fit the US context more than the Indian context. In India, this generation produced some of the greatest CEOs and managers of our times, “says Kamlesh Dangi, group head HR, InCred Financial Services.

It does make sense. The macro economics of the two countries was different. At that time, India was witnessing some new reforms, such as liberal business regulations, lower restrictions on foreign investments/imports, and reduced bureaucracy. The country also saw the expansion of the telecommunication industry, space programme, software industry and information technology sector.

Saba Adil

“When I meet some of the members of GenX, I sense ambition in them, and a willingness to learn and grow in life. I think they are the first line of entrepreneurs in India”

“During our growing years, we were not privileged enough like the kids in the US. We were still watching black and white TVs in our childhood,” shares Dangi.

Far from being distracted and aimless, people in India were getting competitive and highly ambitious.

“It was a time when youngsters were preparing and appearing for highly competitive engineering and medical exams. The Indian economy was at a growing stage,” mentions Saba Adil, CHRO & COO, Aegon Life Insurance.

But if we look back at the US, the critics seemed to have got it all wrong. It was Generation X that came up with innovative ideas and grew internet industries.

“When I meet some of the members of GenX, I sense ambition in them, and a willingness to learn and grow in life. I think they are the first line of entrepreneurs in India,” explains Adil.

It is clear that the characteristics of generations are defined by the economic, regional and cultural shifts that occurred in the times they grew in. That explains the difference in characteristics in people coming from the same generation but from different parts of the globe.

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