Indian youth is a bundle of contradictions. They are, at the same time, happy and worried, rational and religious, ambitious and grounded, thrifty and hedonistic, but most of all, they are patriotic, proud of traditional values and not in the least bit shy of flaunting their inconsistencies.
We have timed the launch of the Hindustan Times Youth Survey 2011, which will become an annual feature, with the 61st anniversary of our republic because, to repeat a cliché, India is an old country but a young nation.
Youth — those under the age of 25 — make up about 50% of India's population. They are the drivers of this country's destiny, the people who will deliver the demographic dividend that is expected to lift our nation into the ranks of middle-income countries (with a per capita income of $2,500-3,000) by 2030.
But except for some generalities, not much is available in the public domain about their thoughts, beliefs, ambitions, fears, habits, consumption, sex lives, political leanings and who they consider role models.
Did you know, for instance, that about half of urban Indian youth consider parents to be their greatest source of happiness?
Or that living and working abroad is the preferred option of only one out of 16 young Indians? That rightwingers outnumber leftwingers even in Kolkata?
We didn't, but gained these insights from our survey. The range of questions, the sample size of 10,000 and the spread across 18 state capitals and large towns makes it much more exhaustive than any other survey on the subject.
Over the next six days, we will bring you detailed findings and incisive reporting on six themes, all of them with 18-25-year-olds at the centre — State of Mind, Career & Money, Sex & Relationships, Habits & Consumption, Politics & Society and Role Models.
Happy reading and best wishes for the Republic Day.