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Youth Survey: The go getters

The post-liberalisation generation of young Indians has grabbed the opportunities created by the economic reforms – but it’s a generation that remains resolutely conformist and Indian at heart.

entertainment Updated: Feb 07, 2011 12:24 IST
Arnab Mitra

They are remarkably confident and grounded. At the same time, they are also circumspect and ambitious! Almost 80% hold strong political views and are clear about their political leanings; yet 44% did not vote in the last elections! About half have no issues with pre-marital sex; yet two in three want a virgin for a spouse!

The Hindustan Times Youth Survey 2011 – covering 18 cities and 10,000 respondents in the 18-25 age group – reveals these, and many other, delicious contradictions.

This demographic group, which makes up 50% of India’s population, can truly be called “reforms’ children” – many of their responses and worldviews are obviously influenced by the path charted by successive governments since 1991.

Hindustan Times Youth Survey 2011

Q1. Who do you turn to for advice on sex?
Total: 2.6%
Males: 1.9%
Females: 3.3%

Brother / sister
Total: 3.3%
Males: 2.8%
Females: 3.8%

Books / magazines
Total: 14.1%
Males: 14.2%
Females: 14.0%

Friends / Colleagues
Total: 31.9%
Males: 34.0%
Females: 29.7%

Total: 7.7%
Males: 9.5%
Females: 5.8%

Never seek advice
Total: 39.7%
Males: 36.8%
Females: 42.7%

Overall, almost twice as many females (3.3%) discuss sex with their parents than males (1.9%)

Q2.Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
Yes 39.6%
Males: 43.3%
Females: 35.8%

No 60.4%
Males: 56.7%
Females: 64.2%

44.5% of Delhi youngsters have a boyfriend/girlfriend
Among the six big cities, Bangalore is the most conservative. Only 24.1% say they have a boyfriend/girlfriend

Q3.Do you plan to marry that person?
Yes 58.8%
Males: 57.7%
Females: 60.3%

No 19.2%
Males: 21.8%
Females: 16.0%

Can’t say 22%
Males: 20.6%
Females: 23.7%

In Delhi, almost two out of three (63.6%) youngsters plan to marry their boyfriend/girlfriend, but more than one out of five (22%) don’t 71.3% of females in Ludhiana haven’t yet decided. Only 17.3% of youngsters in Chennai say they will marry their boyfriend/girlfriend, while 22% say they won’t.

Q4 Which of these statements apply to you?
Had sex before 18

Had sex after 18

Still a virgin

Q5. Your most important source of news is...
37.79% of males look at newspapers followed by 35.33% who look at television.

40.95% of females look at television followed by 36.98% who look at newspapers.

Q6. Do you have enough money to buy everything you need?
Yes 26.8%
Males: 26.3%
Females: 27.3%

No: 52.3%
Males: 53.4%
Females: 51.2%

Not Sure: 20.9%
Males: 20.2%
Females: 21.5%

One out of five (20.9%) are cagey about revealing their financial state. Their answer: not sure (which, obviously, can’t be the case)
Chandigarh (43.6%), Mumbai (40.4%) and Delhi (40.1%) have the highest percentage of financially satiated youth

Q7. Do you live within your means?
Spend about as much as my income/allowance
Yes 20.2%
Males: 21.2%
Females: 19.2%

Spend more than my income/allowance
Yes 21.4%
Males: 21.5%
Females: 21.4%

Save some money
Yes 53.7%
Males: 53.0%
Females: 54.5%

Among the six big cities, youth in Bangalore (64.2%) and Mumbai (62.8%) are the thriftiest

Q8. How will you describe your political views?
Total 29.3%
Males: 28.4 %
Females: 30.1%

Total 8%
Males: 8.4%
Females: 7.5%

Total 40%
Males: 41.2%
Females: 38.7%

Total 20.4%
Males: 19.7%
Females: 21.1%

Maximum youngsters in Ranchi (54.5%), Lucknow (53.3%), Hyderabad (52.6%) and Chandigarh (51.7%) describe themselves as right wing. These cities have the highest concentration of right wingers

Cconservative Mumbai
Surprise! Maximum City is also the most conservative among the six big cities. Don’t believe it? Check out these figures

55.8% of Mumbai youth derive maximum happiness from their parents – the highest among the six big cities. The national average is 44.5%.

93% of Mumbai youth believe in God against the national average of 90.6%. The figure is 88.4% in Delhi

84% of Mumbai youth turn to parents for advice on money matters. The national average: 73.1%

30.1% of Mumbai youth want govt jobs against the national average of 25.1%

62.8% live within their means and save some money every month. Only Bangalore youth (64%) do better

27.6% have boyfriends/girlfriends. The national average is 39.6%

74.1% of Mumbai youngsters are virgins. The national average is 64.8%

5.9% of youngsters had sex before 18. The national average is 7.6%

55% disapprove of premarital sex. The national average: 48%

4.8% of Mumbai youth cheat on their partners. The national average: 7.9%

94% of Mumbai youth do not smoke

7% of Mumbai youth drink. The national average: 10%

66.5% want marijuana banned. The national average: 44.5%

Did You Know?
44.5% of young Indians say parents are the source of their happiness

65.1% women pray daily compared to 50.6% of men. The national average is 57%

91.4% of Chandigarh youngsters read their horoscopes – the highest in the country

75% of young Indians seek career advice from their parents

62% of youth make big announcements by calling or SMSing

22.6% Chennai youth make big announcements using Twitter and Facebook, the highest in the country. The national average: 13.1%

4.5:1 The factor by which Facebook users (10.1%) outnumber Twitter users (2.2%)

4.8% of youth say challenges and creativity drive their career choice, compared to 41.6% who go for salary, 18% for job security and 14.1% for job title

18.5% of people in Chandigarh & 16% in Ranchi want to become politicians – the highest in the country

Right wingers outnumber left wingers in every city except Kochi

Moderates 39.6% in Delhi and 45% in Mumbai and apolitical 32.9% in Delhi and 19.5% in Mumbai make up the two largest groups of youth in the two cities.

Only one in four selected government service as their dream career. More tellingly, one in three want to become either an entrepreneur or a self-employed professional.

Only one in 16 (a mere 6.5%) want to work abroad. Young India knows that in today’s world, India – and not the US (or Europe or any other erstwhile favoured destination) is the land of opportunities.

Clearly, the opportunities thrown up by the economic reforms process are finding lots of takers.

The believers
“This is very heartening,” says Raghu Roy, managing director of MaRS, HT’s knowledge partner for this initiative, who conducted the survey. “The survey shows that today’s youth have started believing in themselves. That about one in eight want to become entrepreneurs is another positive trend, speaking well for the future of the country to be shaped by them.”

“Secure jobs are also low-salary traps,” adds Susmita Dasgupta, a senior fellow at the National Film Archives of India and a resource person at the JNU Academic Staff College.

But this soaring ambition is tempered with caution – and a healthy dose of realism. Almost nine in 10 young Indians say they are worried.

But half of them worry most about achieving success (not survival) – another sign that the youth, who have never lived in (or have no memories of) socialist India, have internalised the liberalisation mantra: that your ambitions are limited only by your imagination.

Says Mumbai-based Sreeram Narayan, 23, who works for Oracle Financial Services: “There’s no dearth of opportunities.”
The free market philosophy has, obviously, found a dedicated constituency.

Mera India mahan
Soaring high they may be, but their feet are still firmly planted on terra firma. Young India’s values are still overwhelmingly Indian, they are thrifty and save every month and their tastes in movies, music and role models are decidedly home grown.

They are also quite uncomplicated – 95% are happy, half of them say parents are the greatest source of their happiness and two in five say they would be happier still if their parents had been more successful.

All those who rave and rant about the supposed negative social fallout of globalisation – based mostly on small, non-representative samples – can rest in peace. As the HT survey shows, Young India is mature and is living in the real world.

They keep track of what’s going on in the world in myriad ways – several of them very new age. One in six track news on the Net, through social networking sites and via mobile phone updates.

But mirroring trends in many advanced countries, this generation doesn’t read newspapers too much. Only one in three say newspapers are the main source of their news. Television, which is young India’s favourite leisure activity, is the other major source of news.

Twenty years of economic reforms and the massive opportunities this has opened up for personal growth also seems to have coloured the youth’s view of politics.

Four in 10 call themselves moderate, 20% are apolitical while only 8% are left wing – a sure sign that radicalism and rebellion, the leitmotif of youth politics in the pre-reforms era, are no longer cool. The remaining 30% are right wing in their political beliefs.

Politics? no, thank you
But though eight in 10 youngsters have definite political leanings, only four in nine voted in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. “In a democracy, you get the government you deserve. Two-thirds of India’s population is under 35 years old. The youth have to shake off their apathy and vote to make India a progressive and dynamic democracy,” says SY Qureshi, chief election commissioner.

A big reason for this apathy, despite a high level of political awareness, could be disenchantment with the scams and the murkiness that surrounds the Indian political process.

A wide cross-section of youth that HT spoke to during this survey say they don’t think their votes will make a difference.

Interestingly, those concerned about corruption eating away the innards of the Indian system marginally outnumbered those who think cross-border terrorism is India’s biggest challenge.

Indian youth, obviously, don’t think very highly of politicians – again evident in the fact that only 6.7% want to become one.
“There are no heroes in politics or governance that the youth can look up to. For most, there is no positive side to politics and governance. It’s all about corruption, violence, murder, religious divide and self-promotion,” says Prathap “Pat” Suthan, the man behind the Incredible India! and India Shining campaigns.

“Politicians should lead by example and weed out corruption and nepotism. With governance and politicians becoming more transparent and accountable to the people, more young people will participate and keep our democracy vibrant,” says Minister of State for Communications Sachin Pilot.

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, however, is one politician the Indian youth really look up to. He is the only person who features in two lists – role models and sexiest man alive and ranks fourth in both. He is also the highest ranked politician.

His clean image, his efforts at involving youth in the political process and his (non-radical) outreach programme to make Indian politics more inclusive seems to be the model Indian youth like.

No sex please, we’re desi
The most interesting findings in this survey are on sex, a subject that is still considered taboo, ironically, in the country of Kama Sutra and Khajuraho.

Small-town India seems to be in the throes of a mini sexual revolution of sorts. Three in four youngsters in the four metros are still virgins. This falls dramatically to 62% in the next four largest cities and still further to 61% in the next four. Society in smaller cities, it seems, is more permissive than in the metros.

Adman Prahlad Kakkar, who describes himself as a man of many hats, has an explanation for this. “The value system in small towns is more fragile because the desire to get out of the ghetto and be a global citizen is fiercer. Everyone wants to do the cool thing without giving a thought to what they really want.”

Since this was the first HT survey on youth, there’s no empirical data on the subject. Next year’s survey and those in subsequent years (the HT Youth Survey will be an annual feature) will offer better pointers to youth trends.

Till then, it will be safe to say that India’s economic, social and traditional values look safe in the hands of today’s youth. And when, over the next two decades, this lot reaches positions of authority, India will be reaping the demographic dividends that make it a First World aspirant.

From a Third World basket case in 1991, this generation will then have trod every point of the development spectrum.

(With inputs from Sanchita Sharma and KumKum Dasgupta)

Voices on the Net
Some reactions to the Hindustan Times Youth Survey 2011 on the

I’m not too surprised by what the HT survey has found. Our youth are mature and grounded.

The survey was done in India’s 18 most developed cities, but many important places were excluded.

I’m 18 but my views are completely different from what the survey has found.

Are our youth forgetting basic ‘Indian things’? Like saying Namaste or how to wear a sari?
-MS Sagoo

The survey shows that attitudes have changed even in small cities.

Our youth are getting money-minded. They have no need for spiritualism, contemplation.
-S Warangal

Isn’t the sample size of the survey too small? The findings seem revolutionary, particularly on sex.

‘Defeat problems and succeed’
Former president APJ Abdul Kalam (79) left office three years ago but is still a magnet for youth. The HT Youth Survey 2011 ranks him as the No. 2 youth icon after Sachin Tendulkar. The “people’s president” tells Aasheesh Sharma the secret of his abiding bond with young India.

How do you relate to the youth of the country?
I believe that the ignited mind of the youth is the most powerful resource on the earth. The youth inspire me by their dreams, their enquiring minds and sincere questions. They remind me of many unfinished tasks in front of us and they provide the motivation to work for new frontiers and face the challenges. For example, they remind me constantly about a developed, noble India, creative leadership and above all, of enlightened citizenship.

Who inspired you when you were a young student?
I lived in a joint family headed by my puritan father and my mother who showered affection and instilled a “habit of sharing” in the family. I still remember the sight of my father, who was an Imam, the main priest of Rameswaram Temple Shri Pakshi Lakshmana Sastrigal and the padre of the local church Rev. Bodal in our house discussing the projects for our town. My primary school teacher Shri Siva Subramanya Iyer gave me an aim at the age of 10 and my high school teacher Rev. Iyyadurai Solomon showed me the path of purity in life with their own lives as role models.

What message do you have for the youth of the 21st century?
The confidence that, “I can do it; we can do it, India can do it”. Problems are part of life. We should become captains of the problems, defeat them and succeed.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the youth of today?
Sustaining India’s development profile requires expertise in all fields. Then, family, self and society – all three face challenges and the youth have opportunities to contribute to every one of these. The youth has to develop expertise in global skills and education. Youth power can place our country on top of the world.

Our three top icons – Sachin Tendulkar, you and Shah Rukh Khan – didn’t have the advantage of lineage. Does charting your own career path make you a youth icon?
Big dreams, acquiring knowledge, working hard and perseverance are the four elements for progressing. There is still a long way to go and the mission is to bring smile to the billion people of our country.

Survey conducted by MaRS Sample size: 10,000
Age group:18-25
Full-time students: 65%
Full-time employed: 17.5%
Cities covered in the survey: 18
Methodology: Hindustan Times commissioned market research agency MaRS to conduct the Youth Survey among 10,000 urban youth in 18 state capitals and major towns across India — Delhi, Lucknow, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Ludhiana in the north, Kolkata, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati and Ranchi in the east, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Indore in the west, and Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kochi in the south. The field work was conducted between November 10 and December 14, 2010. Target respondents – unmarried men (51%) and women (49%) in the 18-21 years and 21-25 years age groups — were administered a structured questionnaire. About 65% of the respondents were full-time students. The rest were almost equally divided between students who were employed part-time and people employed full-time. Their answers were collated and analysed using appropriate statistical tools.

- From HT Brunch, February 6

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