Coconut Generation

The Next Generation of Asian Indians

Bollywood more popular with Indian Americans March 30, 2007

Filed under: Culture,Family,Leadership,Youth — Sam George @ 2:14 pm

Bollywood movies and songs has always been popular with global Indian diaspora. Lately it is becoming even more. See this report from Seattle.

For immigrant generation, this was a time of nostalgia, but for the Coconut generation this provides means to define themselves. Glamour, culture power and being aware of latest in fashion and music is critical to overseas desi youth culture. Though they reject their immigrant parent’s values, religiosity and culture, yet they are quick to embrace what is offered by desi popular culture.

Multiple genres within Bollywood movies like romance, songs, drama, suspense, action etc., offer something for everyone. Often provides a perfect escape from the daily grind of immigrant life. It become a conduit for marketing fashion trends and ideology. The mass media often takes random incidents in the society and when saleable ‘masala’ is added, make it look normative.

It is not just for the entertainment value or celebration of culture and traditions, but it become a place to come together as community as well. Longing to belonging is natual to all dispersed community. Bollywood is a glue to keep the global Indian diaspora and instill in them a sense of Indianness.


Vaccinating All Teen Girls March 27, 2007

Filed under: Culture,Family,News,Youth — Sam George @ 2:46 am

There is a new controversy brewing up with state lawmakers and pharma companies to vaccinate all teenage girls in America against a disease that is contracted by sexual contact only. Most vaccinations like smallpox, measles, polio etc are disease that could spread with casual contact. Read the story in LA Times, Houston Chronicle, Washington Post etc.

Some say this vaccination could save our teens from getting cervical cancer, so why not just everyone take the shots. Nobody is talking about how transmission happens and how this could provide license for young people to indulge in pre-marital sexual activities.

If you dig deeper, one can learn that this vaccination against human pappilloma virus (HPV) can prevent cervical cancer in only 70% of cases. This does not guarantee against other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or even deadly HIV/AIDS. But what this campaign is creating a perception among young people is that they are now protected against all diseases from sexual contact. One less reason to remain sexually pure.

The pharma lobby groups, lawmakers and elected official are once again encroaching into how children need to be raised. They overriding parental authority – much like what abortion without parental notification and birth control pills have done, increasing promiscuity.  How can they make such things mandatory for all without consulting what parents think about such things?

Some popular argument stemming from secular worldview is that, kids anyway are going to engage in sex. So how can we keep them from contracting deadly diseases or getting pregnant?

Even if this vaccination eradicates cervical cancer in America, who can save this nation from emotional trauma and lifelong regrets associated with promiscous behaviors. There is no vaccinations against them. Sexual abstinence before marriage and marital faithfulness within marriage are more sure ways to avoid all STDs and building strong marriages.


Talking about Sex to Teens March 19, 2007

Filed under: Bible,Culture,Family,Youth — Sam George @ 6:56 pm

I have heard from numerous parents and youth leaders about their discomfort on talking about sex to kids growing up in their homes/communities. In Indian culture, such topics are never discussed openly and considered a taboo. Not to mention how awkward we feel talking about this stuff publicly. It was never done to them and they do not know how to go about.

Many Indian parents wants to believe that their kids are not doing it. But sadly reality is it is on their minds often and the media, popular culture and friends are constantly bombarding them with message to ‘just do it’, ‘everybody is doing it’, ‘there is something wrong if you haven’t experienced it already’ etc.

According to figures from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 750,000 teen girls get pregnant each year. Thirty-one percent of young women get pregnant before they turn 20.

 10 Tips on Sex-Ed for Parents & Youth leaders

1. First, encourage communication by reassuring kids that they can talk to you about anything. 2. Look for teachable moments. A friend’s pregnancy, a TV show/movie, baby etc can help you start a conversation. 3. Listen more than you talk. Repeat what they are saying to make sure what he or she meant to ask. 4. Don’t jump to conclusions. The fact that a teen asks about sex does not mean they are sexualy active. 5. Answer questions simply and directly. Give factual, honest, short, and simple answers. 6. Respect your child’s views. Share your thoughts and values and help your child express theirs. 7. Reassure young people that they are normal — as are their questions and thoughts. 8. Teach your children ways to make good decisions about sex and coach them on how to get out of risky situations. 9. Admit when you don’t know the answer to a question. Suggest the two of you find the answer together on the Internet or in the library. 10. Discuss that at times your teen may feel more comfortable talking with someone other than you. Together, think of other trusted adults with whom they can talk. (Source:


Killing of Unborn Females in India March 16, 2007

Filed under: Culture,Family,India,Ministries,News,Youth — Sam George @ 6:30 am

Did you know that in the last two decades, over 10 million foetuses were killed in India? Indian society stand guilty of millions of her daughters! The practice of female foeticides and infanticides are widespread and well documented fact. And now Indian government is trying to open centres where people can abandon their unwanted daughters. Read the story here, also on Fox News.

Though I commend the governments efforts in addressing such a complex moral and social problem, I am skeptical about its effectiveness. A ‘baby collection center’ and a well-funding program cannot solve this problem. A creche in every district or job description alone is insufficient to bring down abortions or genuine care for the unwanted.

With growing promiscuity among young people, abortion being legal, shame based culture, prefrential treatment of boys over girls, dowry system (girls often seen as a liability), liberal media message of casual sex etc are responsible for this. The patriarchal system, rising teen pregnancies, dropping sex ratio (2001 census it was 933 females to 1000 males), poverty, population control measures etc have contributed to this problem further.

Without a moral basis of diginity of every unborn child, equality of gender, divine compassion to care for the least in the society and the courage to speak for the voiceless, this issue cannot be tackled adequately. It is high time, we promoted abstinence based sex education (condom distribution in schools is a faulty policy), marital faithfulness and valuing our daughters as equal.

Traditionally Christians have done a good job in this area. Pandita Ramabai, Mother Therasa and the many christian orapanages, have raised the unwanted daughters of India. Where are the people of that breed for 21st century India?


Internet Addiction led to suicide in IIT March 14, 2007

Filed under: Culture,India,News,Youth — Sam George @ 12:46 am

I do not know if you caught this news. The elite engineering institution in India – IITs are banning Internet usage in the campus dorms at late hours. The reason – addictive behaviors, no sports, less social skills, sleeping in classes, no extra curricular activities and even suicide. According to university officials alarming number of students have become addicted to gaming, blogging, file-sharing and online movies.

Unlimited bandwidth and free internet provided for learning and research has become a destructive force. Some of the graduate of these schools are major innovators and leaders in the tech industry. The knowledge hub of the world and factory of whiz kids are becoming new addiction centers. What captapulted them to world-class has come to haunt them.

But will curfew of some kind work with college kids? If not allowed in the campus, they will find other ways to circumvent the access problem. External restraints and attempts to behavioral manipulation always falls short with youth. Unless there is an internal desire to change, self realization of harmful affects of this addiction, create alternatives and peer level cultural shift happens, no clampdown has worked with youth addictions. Parents, adults, youth work and authority figures are up against their rebellious nature, tendancy to experimentations, following the latest fads, consumeristic inclination etc.

With fast growing internet usage in India and China, the dark side of net is showing its ugly face. There is sharp increase in porngraphy, gaming, gambling etc in these countries. A lesson of all youth workers to learn as net consumption is rising everywhere.


Namesake – second generation issues March 8, 2007

Filed under: Culture,Family,India,Youth — Sam George @ 3:18 pm

One of the acclaimed novels that portrayed the struggles of children of Indian immigrants in America is Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. Now it has been made into a film. Credit goes to Mira Nair (of Mansoon Wedding and Salaam Bombay fame) and Fox Cinema. It opens in theatres everywhere on March 9. See a brief review and interview with Mira Nair on Newsweek.

It is a story of Bengali immigrant family from Calcutta (Gangulis) and their American born son (Gogol). It beautifully paints  the struggles of second generation Indian Americans, their search of identity, being torn between two worlds, generational conflicts, difffering views, expectations and perceptions. He rejects his name given by parents (linking him to the past) and dates a American girl symbolic of his rejection of everything Indian and embracing everything American. Yet his past (Bengali roots) and future (American life) seems to strangely intersect. He could not shrug off either. It is a story of a Coconut who is in search of his American identity without loosing his Indian heritage.

I really enjoyed the novel and looking forward to seeing the movie soon. Also possibly use it in my teaching on ministry to the Coconut Generation. I hope more youth leaders will critically review such writings/productions and appropirately use products of popular culture to broach into deeper realities of ministry to the children of immigrants.


Serious Youth work in Indian community March 6, 2007

Filed under: church,Culture,Youth — Sam George @ 10:00 pm

Many mistake youthwork for glorified childcare! They complain kids are not ready for adult stuff, attention span is low, cannot commit to real life things etc. They keep it ‘light’, fun, among friends, with high entertainment value (music, games etc) and keep them off trouble.

Today kids experience lot more of life earlier than their parents and surely exposed to many adult stuff at younger ages. They begin to trespass into territories that were restricted to adults world before. Independence, sexual experimentation, relationship, susbtance abuse, x-rated images/ lyrics etc are targetted at younger kids than ever in the past. They believe in catching them young!

But some are changing this perspective. Youth Ministry is getting into some serious stuff. How we mistake them to be mere kids or at least treat them as one. They are expecting more than what is out there in popular culture and the world. The recent coverage on youth work in Time and Leadership Journal are reporting that youth worker across US are getting into serious stuff. They are discussing doctrines, adult mentoring and missions. They are calling young people to serious discipleship, christ-like lifestyle and even to lay down their life for the one who lay down his life for them.

It is high time Indian community get into serious youth work. Indian churches must take youth work seriously and do it more seriously than what goes on there now. It is time to raise the bar and go beyond religious socialization or cultural orientation.

 According to Barna (thot might be of interest to you):

• Number of teens in U.S.: 24 million
• Percentage who have attended church for a period of at least two months: 81
• Percentage who have participated in at least one psychic/witchcraft activity: 75
• Percentage of young adults who maintain active spiritual life consistent with high school years: 20