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Traditional values, modern outlook

delhi Updated: Jan 25, 2011 21:50 IST
Praveen Donthi
Praveen Donthi
Hindustan Times
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Today's Indian youth is comfortable straddling different worlds. He/she is very happy, respects parents, believes in God, reads horoscopes, is rational, grounded, ambitious and money-minded – and, unlike previous generations, not at all apologetic about any of these.

What is happiness? For me it is playing with 'saana bear', my friend's three-year-old daughter. Charles Schulz simply said, "Happiness is a warm puppy".

A friend, who's just come back from snow-clad Kashmir, says it could be found in a downhill sledge ride. Happiness, it seems, is many things.

According to HT's youth survey, conducted across 18 cities among 18-25-year-olds, happiness is the soundtrack of young India at the moment. Three out of four young Indians (74.6%) said they are, yes, very happy.

Another 20.7% said they are neither happy nor sad. Pink City Jaipur is the happiest: 91% replied in the affirmative. Breathing down its neck is Maximum City Mumbai with 89.5% happy youth.

Our country, like any other, finds its vitality in its young. But where do they derive their happiness from? In the survey, almost half of the young – 44.5% – said parents are their source of happiness.

Friends come a distant second, with a 27.1% vote share. Girl/boy friends had to be content with 3.7%. Young India says it's all about loving your parents.

Does that mean the young are less independent now?

"It means that individualism is still a far cry," says Vivek Kumar, professor of sociology, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

"In this era of globalisation, when primordial sentiments are at risk, family remains the most reliable source of security and support," he adds.

To the question, what would make them happier, 31.7% answered "more money" and 41% wished for "more successful parents".

Finding romance was important only for a meagre 4.2%.

Is it then all about loving your parents' money?

"Today's generation are more friends with their parents unlike the previous generation that feared and had a formal relationship with them. Today, family is a joy to come back to," says R Balakrishnan, chairman, Lowe Lintas Communication Group.

Mumbai leads the pack of big metros with 55.6% of youth saying parents are the source of happiness while in Delhi, 45.4% think so.

Confidence in the security cover provided by parents reflects in 42% of youngsters saying they are only "somewhat" worried about their future. A better college, most people said, wouldn't make them happier.

"When you become a teenager, you understand the unfairness of the world – lack of a uniform playing field and the importance of family support," says Rajeev Gowda, professor, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

Then, what are the youth most troubled about – landing a job or becoming successful? Almost 80% of people said they are worried about achieving success or finding a job.

"The previous generation went through times of scarcity. The youth today don't have to worry about survival, so they think about success," says Gowda.

He thinks robust economic growth is helping the youth to go beyond government jobs and pursue their dreams.

"Indian cities today are globalised. People can stay here and engage globally. They have access to the best of both worlds and they can lead a truly glocal life," says Gowda.

No wonder Indian urban youth are pursuing happiness – 80% of them want to be happy and rich.