HT Brunch Cover Story: Putting the you in future

Future: Creating opportunities in a brave new world is the future that we all need to look forward to
For some young Indians, the future seems very bright indeed (Parth Garg)
For some young Indians, the future seems very bright indeed (Parth Garg)
Published on Dec 26, 2021 01:03 PM IST
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ByVivan MarwahaVivan Marwaha

When I get asked about the future, I think about Nazneen*, a beauty salon owner I met in Hyderabad while researching and writing my book, What Millennials Want.

Nazneen was two months pregnant when she fled her abusive marriage in Qatar and returned home to Hyderabad. One day into her tough pregnancy, Nazneen saw a video on YouTube which caught her attention and changed her life. It was a make-up tutorial in Hindi. She was fascinated—here was a woman giving her tips in her own language about how to apply the right make-up and look glamorous. She watched hundreds of hours’ worth of make-up videos, practising on herself and then on girls in her neighbourhood.

Quick questions with Vivan
Quick questions with Vivan

Over time, her craft evolved, and people started talking about Nazneen’s make-up skills. Her family and friends told her she was good, and she could charge money for her work. So, she did. She evolved from bridal make-up to nail polish to hair styling and eyebrow threading, and soon hired another woman to help her, operating out of her parents’ living room. WhatsApp became her word of mouth, and Instagram and Facebook were where she conducted all her marketing—uploading ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures, finding new clients without spending a single rupee. After a few months, her parents’ home was too small for Nazneen’s growing business, and when I first met her, Nazneen was opening her own salon in Hyderabad with a staff of five other women. She had gone from taking pocket money from her parents to living on her own, and even supporting her parents with her income.

Nazneen’s story may have never existed 10 or 20 years ago. She learned all her skills on the internet, and technology enabled her to become a successful entrepreneur. In many ways, she represents the future—she had a rough past but didn’t let that define her. She transformed her life sitting at her parents’ home, capitalising on the internet and social media.

Vivan Marwaha, 26, is the author of What Millennials Want, released in 2021
Vivan Marwaha, 26, is the author of What Millennials Want, released in 2021

From my travels across India to write my book—I visited more than 50 small towns and cities across 13 states, interviewing more than 900 millennials—I realised that as young Indians come of age and find their place in this brave new world, the internet can provide ladders to incredible success and opportunities that may not exist in the offline world.

This new future is one where geography, class, gender, religion, and caste will matter less, and talent, drive, and grit will finally determine success. Nazneen will no longer be just a story to tell, but a ubiquitous presence in the lives of everyday Indians. And as the internet continues to democratise, with Decentralised Finance and Web3.0, built on blockchain technology on the way, the opportunities for young Indians to take charge of their own future and destinies is only going to increase.

I’m excited.

Vivan Marwaha, 26, is the author of What Millennials Want, released in 2021

From HT Brunch, December 26, 2021

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022