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Not rebels, but Mama’s boys and girls
Isha Manchanda, Hindustan Times
January 28, 2011
First Published: 17:14 IST(28/1/2011)
Last Updated: 15:39 IST(10/8/2011)

It’s a generation that loves television, hang out with friends and shop, enjoys Bollywood films and filmy music, doesn’t exercise too much, isn’t at all enamoured of smoking or drinking and is either hostile or indifferent to drugs.

The Hindustan Times Youth Survey 2011 seems to suggest that India’s Gen X is full of Mumma’s boys and Mumma’s girls and reinforces the image of the youth as a conservative group quite comfortable in its own skin.

In movies, Bollywood is the clear choice of this generation – two out of three prefer the fare dished out by Mumbai’s Tinsel Town. Another one in five, say regional cinema is their preferred choice of entertainment. This trend is particularly strong in the south – in Hyderabad, almost nine out of 10 (88%) and in Chennai, seven out of 10 (72%) vote for local cinema.

“Many people in previous generations either thought Bollywood was low brow and, therefore, not worthy of their attention, or were shy of admitting their love for it. But this generation has no such inhibitions. It’s a sign of our growing confidence as a nation,” says Sukhdev Bhattacharya, retired professor of psychology of NBU.

Their choice of music is also decidedly Indian – 56% prefer Bollywood music, 13% Indian classical and 11% Indi-pop. But western music (pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B) is also quite popular – 20% of youth list one of these genres as their favourite.

Sartorially, be Indian, wear Indian is the motto of 18-25 women. A majority (52.9%) wears salwar kameez, but a large minority (one in three) prefers jeans and Ts.

And how do young Indians spend their spare time? By watching TV (34.3% list this as their favourite spare time activity), spending time with friends (18.4%) and listening to music (16.9%). But reading (8.5%), surfing the internet (8.4%) and sports (4.2%) aren’t very popular past times.

Today’s youth is very interested in current affairs. More than 50% of youth read newspapers for 15 minutes to an hour every day. Another 35% read papers for less than 15 minutes a day. But one out of eight don’t read papers at all. Nine out of 10 young Indians don’t smoke or drink. And drugs? It’s not even a topic for debate. Only 12.3% of respondents say marijuana should be legalised, while another 15% believe it should be legalised for medical purposes only.

But youth in Bhubaneswar broke ranks with their peers across the country. A fairly high 37% of males and 32% of females want marijuana legalised. Guwahati (27.5%), Hyderabad (23.5%) and Kolkata (22.9%) are the three other cities where there is a reasonable degree of support for marijuana.

The numbers are not alarming, says Juju Basu, creative director of Contract Advertising. “India’s always had a significant hemp culture. Our sadhus are always smoking it and the hippy movement of the 1960s was very prominent here,” he adds.

If anything, he’s surprised the numbers aren’t higher. The current generation of 18-25-year-olds are, after all, kids of the Hare-Rama-Hare-Krishna generation, and going against the norms of older generations is, perhaps, every youth group’s one driving force.

But one thing that’s clear is that this generation seems to be full of what our parents generally term “good kids”. Rebels with (or without) a cause seem like a thing of the past.


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