Grandma's Tales

October 23, 2006

Oh, to be young!

Filed under: Society — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 11:52 pm

Thanks, Basab, for those kind words. Sons-in-law usually introduce their MIL with, “You know, hum, this is my mother-in, you know, my wife’s mother, here for a stay,” and turn their heads away. Yours is a beautiful one.

Basab’s intro has kindled a thought that was simmering under the surface. People who are looking for good feature writers and copy editors in English place advertisements with the condition that the applicants need to be “young”. I saw such ads in both and the Reader’s Digest. A lot of writing awards/scholarships also have such specifications. I am not sure what the logic behind this is. Are we to conclude that only the young (what age group, they don’t say) write well or edit copy to their satisfaction? Or is it just that these guys want to encourage young talent?
The constitution may not recognise this as discrimination, but I have this feeling there is something wrong in asking for only young people to apply. This is not a job where fitness is a criterion, right? How fit do you need to be to write a feature? If they are looking for people with merit, I’m willing to bet they will find that merit among the “older” section of the population. At least we were all taught where to place the apostrophe and capital letters.

Do check out the article, “Clauses and commas make a comeback”. It appeared in the Washington Post.  It’s a longish one. I do hope you can find the time to read it.



  1. Hey Ma’m,
    Your article in the ‘Metro Plus’ on luck was kool! I certainly wouldn’t mind getting lucky at times like having ‘Lady Luck’ fluttering by my side or consuming a few drops of Felix Felicis(Harry Potter). That would be the day!;) I enjoyed reading it immensely! I particularly liked what Nagesh Kukunoor had to say on it. Quite realistic…
    This blog entry was intriguing giving an idea of the kind of prejudice that lurks in soceity. I remember this teacher of mine who had aged with time(everybody has to!)and had put on weight resulting in a paunch. She is a very interesting lady involved in many activities. She is also a very choosy person and one of my friend’s had the audacity to look scandalised and retort back when the teacher was talking about gyming,the old times and her tastes which are oh-so-very-modern! She retorted,”Miss,what do you know?Now and all…”. The teacher replied,”So what?The fact is that ‘I’m young at heart’ and that’s what counts. I know all about the present days and what you girls do or don’t do..I have raised two daughters and both have passed through your age.” Very often I hear the Principal of my school remark that ahe is ageing but we argue that she is young.. young at heart and that’s true because she is a dynamic brilliant lady whose efficacy is something to be strived for. That’s the secret most people don’t know ‘Young at Heart and in Mind’ maybe even younger than an 18 year old in his prime.
    p.s-I think the title of the blog which is a reflection of your thoughts should be,”Oh,I am young!”

    Comment by Karishma.D.Dodeja — October 24, 2006 @ 7:03 pm | Reply

  2. “At least we were all taught where to place the apostrophe and capital letters.”

    Good one – but with that sentence, you turned from a mere observer to a representative of the “older” generation! 🙂

    Comment by swami — October 25, 2006 @ 12:46 am | Reply

  3. > but I have this feeling there is something wrong
    > in asking for only young people to apply.

    Absolutely. Which is why I was pleased to see the following declaration in this ad ( “India Together is looking for 5 freelance writers on Education”, ):

    “India Together assures a non-discriminatory environment for your work; in your resume it is not necessary to include your age (or date of birth), marital status, caste or ethnicity. In addition, we will not ask about other factors – handicaps, sexual orientation, or religion – at any time.”

    Comment by A Giridhar RAO — October 25, 2006 @ 12:24 pm | Reply

  4. Very pertinent observation. I worked for a famous Indian IT & BPO multi-national that used this tactic (“only people below the age of 25 need apply”). I then noticed that in our responses to client RFPs we would say “we are an equal-opportunity employer”. The values and laws that the company had to follow for its US hires (US equal opportunity law) were being blatantly violated in India.

    Surprisingly, nobody in HR saw the contradiction. They claimed that this tactic was to reduce the number of applicants to a manageable number. In another case, they said that this rule was to avoid ‘fitment’ problems – i.e., problems where an older person and a younger person are doing the same job and drawing the same salary.

    I think if the employee doesn’t care, the employer shouldn’t either.

    Comment by P R Ganapathy — October 25, 2006 @ 4:29 pm | Reply

  5. Hi Karishma,
    Glad you liked the piece. And prejudice doesn’t stop at the young-old debate. It has darker, more insidious faces, I’m afraid.

    Hi A Giridhar RAO,
    India Together is obviously run by enlightened souls. They have understood age and the other stuff they mention have nothing to do with the ability to write. In the KPO outfit (teaching English to Americans) where I worked for a while, the questionnaire on your personal info included two totally unacceptable questions. [1] What is your current weight? [2] Is there anyone in your family with a criminal record?
    Eventually, we resigned en masse.
    To think we have elected reps who are history-sheeters!

    Hi PR Ganapathy,
    Wonderful argument, there.
    BPOs cite one more reason for keeping “old” people out. “These are night jobs. People over 25 (you are old when you are 25!)can’t keep awake!”
    Why do I get the feeling I’m a mass-produced commodity with no individual traits?
    I would love to find out their definition of “Equal Opportunity”.

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — October 25, 2006 @ 6:50 pm | Reply

  6. Methinks the applicants needing to be “young” is a sort of shorthand for “we’re not offering much money, so all you more expensive older folks had better not apply.”

    Just my theory.


    Comment by Zz — October 27, 2006 @ 5:44 pm | Reply

  7. Absolutely, Zz. A definite possibility. This holds good if they are sending you a monthly cheque. Not when they quote “1/2 rupee/rupees per word”. A valid theory, yours.

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — October 27, 2006 @ 5:56 pm | Reply

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