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We can work it out

An exclusive survey of youth in metros reveals a GenNext that is upbeat, ambitious and liberal, reports Aditya Sinha.

india Updated: Dec 20, 2006 16:02 IST

Once upon a time, the youth were happy if they could land a government job and a 'good' marriage with the 'right' girl, arranged by Mummy-Papa. Life's plans were linear, and its trajectory was predictable. But that was before India began to rise.

With growing affluence have come growing aspirations, growing optimism and growing tolerance. For instance, most youngsters will now be satisfied with nothing less than fame and fortune; they desire peace on earth and a moment of prayer every day; and they accept live-in relationships and inter-caste marriages.

These are some of the findings of a youth poll conducted by Indica Research Practices and Consulting exclusively for HT. It covered 603 youngsters between the ages of 17 and 25 in Mumbai and Delhi. And it tells us that our nation's future — and the march to superpowerdom — is in sensible hands.

There is no greater index of optimism than the extravagance of the youth. And though seven of every eight youngsters feel that being single in the city is an expensive proposition, they do not flinch at shelling out the bucks for clothes, accessories, food or movies, more so if they are in Delhi.

Getting around

Maybe being single in the city is difficult for women. A quarter of them say it is not easy to live on your own; indeed, a third say it is tough to find a place to live, even if it is a paying-guest accommodation.

And a third of Delhi's youth, along with a quarter of Mumbai's, do not think it is safe to travel around at night. The young and the restless in Delhi rely on their own transportation to move around — a bit more than half use their own car or bike. Although the Metro is catching on, its limited coverage means just over a fifth use it. Is it any surprise that a quarter of them find traffic one of the greatest dangers to their daily lives, more than natural disasters (16 per cent) or public transport (14 per cent)? Mumbai is different; half of the respondents said they happily relied on buses or autos or taxis.

Love, money and a prayer

And what are these youngsters travelling around the city looking for? Places to make out, of course. Delhi (about 80 per cent) and Mumbai (about 60 per cent) are okay with public display of affection, but they are simply unable to find a cheap and safe place for privacy; 62 per cent said it was difficult to find such a place.

For these guys, taboos are now taboo, almost. A third said they had sex at least once a week — and this cuts across the gender divide, obviously. Thirty-five per cent went to the disco, 40 per cent had a drink, and 41 per cent had a smoke. But do not be alarmed; even more (43 per cent) have participated in social work, and more than half (59 per cent) have visited a place of worship.

They were probably praying for high social status, fame and wealth, the three top results for what the youth want to achieve. These aims scored over matters like achieving financial security, marrying, getting into politics or living in a foreign country. The least of their desires were fighting for causes, joining the army and writing a book.

I'm in charge here

The good part about the changing values is the growing tolerance. Two-thirds of all respondents felt abortion was okay, even if there was no medical justification; nearly 87 per cent felt girls outperformed boys in all fields; three-fourths admitted to wearing clothes that showed off their figures; over 90 per cent said they believed in God; 87 per cent felt they would have to work harder than their parents; and 88 per cent said their own actions would determine their success, an indication of work ethic and personal responsibility.

So the youth claim they want to work hard and party harder. It does not seem so surprising, until you consider what Indian youth were like, once upon a time...

First Published: Dec 20, 2006 13:13 IST