The young may often scorn and wonder at the old, but when it comes to finding inspiration in life, the youth in India turns to self-made, middle class icons with quite a bit of grey in their hair.
Be it politics, sports or cinema ? achievement, maturity and consistency are qualities as valued as any in a youth role model, belying the notion that young relate only to young, reveals the fourth edition of the HT-MaRS Youth Survey, conducted among over 5,000 respondents in 15 Indian cities.
Little wonder then that Narendra Modi, Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar are the top icons for Indiafs young, even though the average age of this eclectic group is a little over 58 years.
The competition was much, much younger ? from Rahul Gandhi, who is relatively youthful among Indiafs grandfatherly politicians, to a lively and fresh Virat Kohli ? but perhaps they will have to wait a few more years for their turn at inspiring the Indian youth.
On the popularity stakes where politicians are routinely outclassed by sportspeople and cinema stars, Prime Minister Modi is a pleasant exception. His legions of followers on social sites, his love of technology, his natty sense of fashion and an inventive air of hope around him make Modi a youth icon in a country where more than 65% of the population is under the age of 35.
The third most popular world leader on Twitter after US President Barack Obama and the Pope with 5.5 million followers and almost 20 million elikesf on Facebook, Modi bagged 57% vote as the biggest icon in Indian politics, a first time entry on the list.
Arvind Kejriwal came a distant second with 13%, followed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi (11%) and her son, Rahul, with just 8% of the votes.
Full coverage: HT-MaRS Youth Survey 2014
Former PM Manmohan Singh bagged a dismal 0.3% of the votes. Regional biggies Nitish Kumar, Jayalalithaa, Mamata Banerjee and current foreign minister Sushma Swaraj ?all got between 1-2%.
gThe euphoria post his win and the images on magazine covers are a symbol that Modi is more than just the new PM. Hefs also cool,h says Bangalore-based social worker Tinto Thomas, 25.
Itfs difficult to pinpoint what lends to Modifs coolness that makes the 63-year-old man tick with the youth. For one, his multifaceted personality helps.Expert Speak: Youth are looking for icons they can identify with, says Advaita Kala
Says Zaid Al Baset, assistant professor of sociology at St Xavierfs College, Kolkata: gThere are three key components to Modifs cool: Hefs technology cool, hefs economy cool and hefs culture cool.h Modi, he says, has ideas the youth likes. But if hefs not careful, this could be temporary.
gThe youth has a hard time finding high levels of intelligence as being cool if theyfre not also conveyed with a sense of likability. While Kejriwal seemed intelligent and Rahul likeable, Modi, so far, has been able to capture both reputations,h he says.
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And when the talk is about reputation, Tendulkarfs is the stuff legends are made of, a shining example of a middleclass dream achieved with sheer hard work.
He got 53% of all votes as the worldfs biggest sports icon for 2014, reprising last yearfs performance, followed by M S Dhoni (14.1%) and Virat Kohli (9.2%). Cricketers dominated the list, but he likes of Roger Federer (5.6%), Lionel Messi (4.3%) and Saina Nehwal (3.5%) too made the cut.
In cinema, the years may have taken the angst out of Bollywoodfs angry-young-man, Amitabh Bachchan, but still the youth aspire to the 71-year-old actorfs exacting standards of excellence.
gBig B shows no signs of slowing down,h says stand-up comic and actor Vir Das. gHefs always up to something exciting,h Das adds.
Bollywoodfs three Khans ? Shah Rukh (19%), Salman (10%) and Aamir (9%) ? follow Bachchan, but matinee diva Priyanka Chopra is also a popular choice with 13% votes.
gThis isnft to denigrate other mega-stars, but to recognise that Priyanka exists in a somewhat different category than her closest female contemporaries. She does things her way, she takes risks,h says actor Gul Panag. Interestingly, Vidya Balan (7%) and Preity Zinta (3%) are the only other B-town female actors to make the list.
Methodology of HT-MaRS Youth Survey
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