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Is this a confused generation?

When it comes to matters of the heart (and body), today’s youth seem trapped between tradition and modernity, feels Pranav Dixit.

brunch Updated: Feb 11, 2012 18:17 IST
Pranav Dixit
Pranav Dixit
Hindustan Times

Dear Youngsters of India, if you’re reading this and are between the ages of 18 and 25, chances are that you’re slightly muddled in the head. Not when it comes to picking out your wardrobe or choosing a career – most of you are doing a peachy job on those fronts. But in things like falling in love, getting hitched and rolling in the hay, you seem to be thoroughly bewildered.

Hey, we’re not being preachy. Nor are we pulling these accusations out of our hats. In fact, this is what YOU’VE told us, 7,021 of you, in a survey we conducted across 15 cities over the last few weeks.

ConfusedDon’t get us wrong. We know that in many ways, the times that you happen to be born into are both the best and worst to be young. It must be disconcerting to trade that red low-cut dress for a daddy’s-good-girl salwar kameez because that nice boy that your parents like is coming to, er, ‘see’ you. We understand that.

But – and this is on the basis on what YOU have told us – we think you’re, well, confused. How else would you explain these glaring contradictions? More than half of you are fine with premarital sex – hallelujah for being progressive – but over 60 per cent of you still want a virgin for a spouse. You think nothing of jiving to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, but homosexuality is unacceptable. To the world, you are the epitome of the independent girl or guy, but secretly, you want your folks to choose the person you’ll marry. Because over 40 per cent of you care about ‘family background’ (whatever that is) when looking for a spouse.

Excuse me – just what did we miss here??

We racked our brains till we almost missed the deadline for this story but couldn’t come up with anything to explain your double standards. So we turned to some people to explain this better.

"This may be a time of transition but I am not sure that being so confused is a healthy trend," says social analyst Dr Syed Mubin Zehra. "You will see that despite the seemingly minor differences between male and female opinions, the chastity belt still lies with girls."

And so, we have a couple of bones to pick with you.

First off, getting hitched: "In our society, marriage is still seen as a bond between two families and not just two individuals," Pankaj Shastri, a marriage broker told us. "Family background is the number one demand of my clients."

Standing up for your gay buddy (do you have one at all?) too is clearly not the hip thing to do (though you spent a thousand bucks on tickets, popcorn and cola when you watched Dostana). Seventy-six per cent of you say that homosexuality is just not acceptable. Which shows you’re not independent, says Anjali Gopalan of the Naz Foundation, an NGO that works on HIV/AIDS and sexual health. "In India, even at the age of 25, people don’t question things around them," she says. "They simply accept what’s been passed on to them by their parents."

We get it – being stuck in that chasm between East and West must be hard. But you know what’s heartening? That you’re at least thinking of these things. Advaita Kala, author of Almost Single blames your confusion on the way you’ve been raised. "How do you explain urban, educated parents opposing sex education in schools?" she asks. "We get hypocritical messages as we’re raised."

So hear us out: we’re not saying you should forget your roots. But if you were to think for yourselves, you’d make us all happy. All you need (and author Ira Trivedi agrees with us) is some direction.

If we find you’re still unchanged after a few years, however, we’ll brand you immature. Remember, this survey is an annual feature – we’re coming back for you next year!

With love, Brunch

Homosexuality is an acceptable sexual preference
Almost 100% of Chandigarh respondents are against homosexuality, followed by 91.5% each in Indore and Ahmedabad

I expect my husband/wife to be a virgin
Almost all the respondents in Ahmedabad want their spouses to be virgins! Chandigarh tops the liberal list with 99.5% disagreeing

Pre-marital sex is no longer a big issue in India

Hyderabad appears to be most progressive with 96.8% respondents agreeing. Chandigarh comes last with only 3% agreeing

Divorce is not an option

Interestingly, 63.4% respondents did not consider divorce as an option in 2010. So more people seem to be opening up to the idea

Have you ever cheated on your girlfriend/boyfriend?
Can’t say

What is most important when looking for a spouse?
Family background
Not surprisingly, men ranked looks higher than weath while women ranked wealth higher. Some things don’t change!

Which of these statements apply to you?
Had sex before 18
Had sex after 18
Still a virgin (18-25)

Almost half the respondents are virgins despite being okay with premarital sex. More men had sex before 18 than women in 2011

Live-in relationships are acceptable

Funnily, 80% of Patna respondents are okay with live-in relationships, but 98% of Chandigarh respondents are not. Small town values?

In physical relationships, do you ALWAYS use protection (condoms), Sometimes or Never?
Can’t say
The number of respondents who always use condoms dropped from 42.5% in 2010. A disturbing revelation.

From HT Brunch, February 12

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First Published: Feb 11, 2012 16:01 IST