“Jawani ka Josh”, in English translates to “Passion of Youth”.
Youth is helium. It is perennially high on life. It has a mystifying “Can do” attitude, a glorious disconnect to the societal moors and an evangelical optimism towards challenges of life.
No wonder, every social scientist worth his salt has analyzed “youth” with a fine toothcomb. A country‘s future is decided on the power of its youth. And this faith is not misplaced. For change is brought by a heady mix of passion, optimism, audaciousness and a sense of righteous jurisprudence.
Ordinary people in the “Josh” of their “Jawani” have accomplished many extraordinary feats. The youth flower power of 1970s America stopped the Vietnam War. Closer home, a young Narendranath Dutta, in the 19th century rediscovered an ancient way of life and transfixed the world with his wisdom. I remember a picture in an old Amar Chitra Katha comic of a youthful Swami Vivekananda standing on a wooden carton under a tree and spreading his wisdom. I was spellbound.
But over time, passion of the carefree youth gives way for the circumspection of the mature adult.
This circumspection manifests itself in many forms, some physical and some perspective wise.
I learnt it the hard way. When I was 15-20yrs old, I could easily eat 2 plates of “biryani”, followed by 10 piping hot “gulab jamuns” topped by 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream. If available, I could also down 2 glasses of thick yummy “lassi”. And I was already open for the next round. A few days back, in a company meet, the executive chef of a star hotel had strained all his culinary innovativeness to provoke our gustatory senses. And looking at the spread, provoked I was. But I was deeply agonized in the end when I felt “filled” with only 2 “gulab jamun”. I was surely getting circumspect about my appetite!
I am writing this because, deep down, I am worried if this circumspection is creeping into my perspective too. I am wondering, if over time, I will be a lot more realistic, “mellowed” and hackneyed about my views, here conservation. Would the cacophony of pragmatism, the apathy of public, the rather obtuse bureaucracy suppress and then ebb out hope for conservation in me.
I am reminded of Valmik Thapar. For over 30 years he thought the impossible was doable. He drove the brigade of Tiger Conservation with a “josh” that was infectious. He sincerely believed he could be an evangelist. He thought he could reason / convince the villagers adjoining Ranthambore about the goodness of conservation. I guess the “Jawani ka Josh” was high on his head!
Alas. Today he is a defeated, grumpy man. Out of irritation or perhaps circumspection, he declares that his mission is a failure.
I am wondering, if that’s the fate of conservation in India. A fate where optimism& belief is clipped methodically. I am wondering, if 10 years down the line, I will look back at my fervour and optimism to be an agent of change and blame it on my “Jawani ka Josh”.