About INgene blog : First ever Indian Youth trend Insights blog

About INgene : First ever Indian Youth trend Insights blog:
This blog explores the detailed characteristics of Young-India and explains the finer & crucial differences they have with their global peers. The blog also establishes the theory of “adopted differentiation” (Copyright Kaustav SG,2007) and how the Indian & Inglodian youth are using this as a tool to differentiate themselves from the “aam aadmi” (mass population of India) to establish their new found identity.

The term youth refers to persons who are no longer children and not yet adults. Used colloquially, however the term generally refers to a broader, more ambiguous field of reference- from the physically adolescent to those in their late twenties.
Though superficially the youth all over the world exhibits similar [degree of] attitude, [traits of] interests & [deliverance of] opinion but a detailed observation reveals the finer differential characteristics which are crucial and often ignored while targeting this group as a valued consumer base. India is one of the youngest countries in the world with 60% of its population less then 24 years of age and is charted as the most prospective destination for the retail investment in the A. T. Kearney’s Global Retail Opportunity Report, 2007. With the first ever non-socialistic generation’s thriving aspiration & new found money power combined with steadily growing GDP, bubbling IT industry and increasing list of confident young entrepreneurs, the scenario appears very lucrative for the global and local retailers to target the “Youngisthan” (young-India). But, the secret remains in the understanding of the finer AIOs of this generation. The Indian youth segment roughly estimates close to 250million (between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five) and can be broadly divided (socio-psychologically) into three categories: the Bharatiyas, the Indians & the Inglodians (copyright Kaustav SG 2008). The Bharatiyas estimating 67% of the young population lives in the rural (R1, R2 to R4 SEC) areas with least influence of globalization, high traditional values. They are least economically privileged, most family oriented Bollywood influenced generation. The Indians constitute 31.5% (A, B,C, D & E SEC) and have moderate global influence. They are well aware of the global trends but rooted to the Indian family values, customs and ethos. The Inglodians are basically the creamy layers (A1,A SEC) and marginal (1.5% or roughly three million) in number though they are strongly growing (70% growth rate). Inglodians are affluent and consume most of the trendy & luxury items. They are internet savvy & the believers of global-village (a place where there is no difference between east & west, developing & developed countries etc.), highly influenced by the western music, food, fashion & culture yet Indian at heart.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

'Adarsh Balaak' (ideal boy) and the Indian youth

What happens when a school boy relentlessly studies and works at chemistry lab to create C20H25N30 a.k.a LSD? Well, the teacher tests it and he gets the A+ grade!! The school boy eventually becomes the social media sensation as Adarsh Balaak (ideal boy) with 1504 shares in Facebook, 7902 comments and 42000+ page likes! An anarchic contemporary comic character evolved from the golden day’s ‘adarsh balaak’ posters (which have been used as the instructional charts at Indian schools to promote good habit in 70s and 80s) are now one of the most popular comic strip series among youth. 

Comicandcola.com website mentions “Mumbai artist Priyesh Trivedi has recently blown up on the Internet with his painted comic series, Adarsh Balak, in which Trivedi takes the familiar icon of 80's Indian school-texts and educational charts and re-purposes him in a variety of subverted images and narratives: here he is offering a joint to his father as he works late into the night, here he sits curbside swigging beer from the bottle as his friends graffiti the wall besides them, here he is tricking his chemistry teacher into dropping some acid and giving him an 'A.' The 23-year old Trivedi has so far been pursuing animation as a career, but it's his new comic which has bought him to wider attention and acclaim; striking a chord with a generation of young adults like himself who have grown up with the neatly turned out schoolboy decorating their books, and take pleasure in seeing him turn against the lessons he once taught. It's the delight of seeing recognised associations in unexpected situations that shocks and amuses, and resonates- here, especially, the good boy gone bad, and the contemporary references -'swag' paired with something that represents traditional, conservative values.”  The website further adds “It began with one image: last year, Trivedi made a poster of a young boy rolling a joint with ‘T for Toke’ emblazoned across the top in Devanagari script that emulated the Barakhadi charts, which would depict a young boy undertaking various 'good' and 'correct' practices, used in many Indian schools. The image proved popular, spreading quickly thanks to the internet, and selling a number of prints. It was easily the most successful thing Trivedi had done, and he was encouraged by the response to create further and expand on the theme, which led to the production of the comics. In an interview with Visual Disobedience, he credits the swift popularity of the strips to 'the love for nostalgia and the archaic which most of us have that is partly responsible for the popularity. I always found the visual styling of the educational charts from the ‘80s and early ‘90s very amusing. Most of the people relate to this style because they probably went to school when these charts were widely prevalent.'

Tridevi's strip is still in its fledgling stages, but it's generating a lot of clamour- with some comparing his work to that of Spanish cartoonist Joan Cornella. I can see why- the strong, bright painted visuals, and the superficially thematic similarities of a satirical social deviance, but Cornella is much more biting, more out there, more surreal, and also plays around with the notion of visual illusions. Either way, Tridevi's a fan: 'I love Joan’s work. He’s definitely an inspiration not just for this series but for me as an artist in general. In fact, quite a lot of people have told me that my work reminds them of Joan which I kind of take as a compliment since I look up to him. Stylistically we are very different but it’s because he has already created a niche for bizarre and unsettling stuff.”

 Trivedi is now launching the printed posters and other articles with the same theme. In one interview he has stated “'The style which I could relate to the most was surrealism and psychedelic art. Up until two years ago, I was really big on psychedelic art. That style of art was very intuitive for me. I didn't have to try, it just flowed from my head onto the canvas. But as an artist, I think it's very important not to settle on just one thing. Keep experimenting and see what works for you. I'm very afraid of belonging to any one niche. I dabbled with realism, I dabbled with abstract art, I dabbled with psychedelic art. I've even tried my hand at sculpting..”

Here’s one more set of painting by Priyesh.

Why the hell, an anarchic paradoxical character is becoming popular? Is it that the youth in India are fed up being the ‘good boys’? Are they irritated on how the education is delivered in this country to convert them into robotic stereotypes? Or is it the simple anarchic tendency to ‘appear’ different from the crowd?Well, time will tell in near future. One can see the random use of Hindi slang as comments, in most of his artworks posted at social media.... the vent of anger or fun to become radical? 

here's the original 'ideal boy' chart:


Sunday, July 27, 2014

The 'social research' videos by young activists are spreading the social awakening in India

While checking the Facebook home page, an update caught my eyes. The header was “This Will Change The Way You Think” which had likes of more than thousand and similar number of shares. Below this, was an ongoing serious discussion where everybody was brainstorming on why / how ‘poor’ have more ‘giving mentality’ than the rich (in India). The youtube source showed that it was uploaded by ‘Trouble Seeker team’ which has a flourishing facebook page.  In next few hours similar videos popped up in my FB wall and Twitter (all virally spread by the youth). These videos were tagged as “Pranks”. Most of these ‘pranks’ are properly planned (and scripted) to highlight various prevalent social issues that needs public awakening. Mostly related to social emotion and the eroding social ecosystem. How we don’t give space to Ambulances, how we ogle to others disrespectfully, how we don’t give food to needy but a poor street dweller gives it even when he is not getting enough food! Day after, I met many youth who were excited and agitated over these facts and reconfirmed on ‘how true these videos are’!

An article in OPEN magazine coined the term ‘social experiment videos’ for these pranks. The article stated ‘A little like prank videos, at least in their staging, such social experiments aim to see how people would respond if faced with a person in real trouble. Broadly, an act is staged in the middle of the street with a camera recording reactions of ‘real’ people to the situation portrayed by the act. The video is then uploaded online on YouTube and if it goes viral, YouTube ‘monetises’ the video—sharing revenue generated via the video based on the number of ‘views’ and ‘likes’ it gathers.’  This article further added ‘A Nirbhaya video shot by actor Varun Pruthi recreates the Delhi gangrape scene by having in in make-up that makes him look severely injured and bleeding. Through the seven minutes of the clip’s running time, Pruthi tries to stop vehicles in broad daylight, asking for help, but none pulls up. Videos with somewhat ‘lighter’ social messages, like Free Hugs shot by Bedi and one about littering in public places by a channel called Awkward Unlimited, have been doing well. The months of May and June alone have seen at least half a dozen ‘social experiment’ videos being uploaded on the net.
Another offbeat experiment, put up recently and made by YTV, tackles the issue of homosexuality and public responses to it through the video of a girl who discloses to her mother that she is a lesbian. The message of the video, explains YTV founder Naman Sharma, is to get the nature of the problem across to viewers. “The biggest problem that young people face is lack of communication with parents. The video aims to tackle that,” says the 26-year-old, who founded his company only two years ago after completing a Phd in business and finance and a teaching stint in Melbourne, Australia. The video has already garnered as many as 3.6 million views.” The video posted by Awkvid shows how the ‘dropped wallet’ is picked by another youth in front of all as nobody protests or tries to return the wallet! Awkvid, in their Facebook page wrote “wkvid creates Awkward Videos that are fun to watch and share”. While posting these prank videos, they writes ‘social experiment’ in the title to ensure that the videos are taken seriously.  

The Telegraph Newspaper reported another video of ‘screaming woman’ inside a van. It mentioned “Experts and activists said the video posted on YouTube pointed to a general apathy in India about violence against women despite outrage in some quarters over the gang-rape and lynching of two girls in the country's north. "There's still an apathy about what's happening to women, an insensitivity on the issue, although attitudes are changing," said women's activist Ranjana Kumari.  The video, which has been viewed more than 1.2 million times since it was posted last week, shows a white van parked in a secluded area of Delhi with the windows blacked out at night. Although the screams of a woman are clearly heard coming from inside, a handful of men are seen walking and cycling past. Some stop to listen before calmly moving on.  Finally, a young man tries to break into the van, clearly upset about the 'staged rape' occurring inside. An elderly man is also seen attacking the van with his stick. The video was posted by a group called "YesNoMaybe" in what they said was a social experiment in the wake of the horrific attacks on the two girls, aged 12 and 14, late last month in Uttar Pradesh state. The attacks reignited anger over violence against women with small-scale protests held in the state capital and in Delhi, while a political row erupted over a perceived lack of law and order in Uttar Pradesh.  Since then, the media has highlighted a string of alleged rapes and hangings of women in Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous state.  The attacks came just 18 months after the fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in Delhi, a case that made global headlines and left India reeling over its treatment of women. The video sparked an outcry online, with some saying they were "ashamed", while others said the lack of help was probably reflective of attitudes in most capital cities. The group that posted the video did not draw any conclusions. "We hear about rapes every day in India, which leads to widespread protest," the group said in a message accompanying the video. "Thousands of people attend candlelight marches but only a handful of people act when it really matters. "So we set out to find how many people would actually help if someone's in trouble." Kumari told AFP that many were reluctant to intervene, fearful of being dragged into a lengthy police investigation or even face charge themselves in India's notoriously inefficient criminal justice system. "There is also still this rationale that the woman must have done something to deserve the attack. There must be some justification for what is happening to her," said Kumari, director of the Delhi-based Centre for Social Research.

 Social scientist Shiv Visvanathan said he was wary of drawing conclusions from the video but he said many Delhi residents were scared of being attacked themselves if they intervened. Visvanathan, a professor at the Jindal Global University just outside Delhi, said the capital drew millions of young men from impoverished and remote rural areas searching for work. As a result, he told AFP: "There's an absence of a community spirit in many parts of Delhi, a feeling that we should work together to stop these attacks happening. It's a city of strangers."

 For past 5 years there’s a series of social awakening activities among the youth in India. The funny yet convincing way to spread awareness or ‘change’ social mindset started with the Pink Chaddi’ campaign in the year 2009.

 In that year Times of India news paper wrote “Perhaps never before has underwear played such an important part in Indian cultural history. The `Pink Chaddi' campaign, launched by the Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose Forward Women, has attracted hordes of members — the number has touched 34,032 and still counting — making it one of the most popular sites these days.  With barely a few hours to go before D-day, or V-Day in this case, women and men from across countries have joined the campaign against an unsuspecting Pramod Muthalik, the Sri Ram Sene chief who has claimed responsibility for attacking women in a Mangalore pub earlier this year.” The rude shock of receiving chaddis (female underwear) ensured that the extremists stopped catching and harassing young couple during Valentines day. 

DNA news paper stated “Faced with a deluge of pink underwear from women across many cities, Sri Rama Sene convener Pramod Muthalik seems to have gone weak at the knees. No demonstrations or dharnas before pubs and other happening places on Valentine’s Day, but only affectionate advice for unmarried couples… the Sri Rama Sene’s sudden change of heart on Wednesday should perk up spirits of lovers here. Muthalik told DNA, “We will not force couples to tie mangalsutras, to solemnise marriages, or a rakhi, a symbol of sibling relationship. I have instructed my workers not to trouble people, but only advice lovers humbly to get married to honour their love.” 

For past, I have written about much such activities in this blog. The social experiment videos are new addition in it. The definite way to ‘change’ mindsets of people and spreading ‘social good’.







Similar videos can be seen at Varun;s channel" https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5GMWJmrR0LDUQ8MojJyXEQ

Reference articles: http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/living/age-of-the-clickactivist



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Becoded Beehive : the encrypted semiotics among youth

"Forever & ever & ever till cherries grow on an apple tree on the 31st of February”. 

Can you guess the meaning? Well, what Rohan (18) meant is ‘the height of impossibility’ (there’s no 31st of Feb, neither the cherries grow in apple tree)! Now, guess this conversation that was in the facebook wall post of Dimpi (19 years): Dimpi ‘yesterday, ghost came in my bedroom’, Rimi ‘oh ya? Your aunty was there?’, Dimpi ‘yess, and in front of her, I sat with the ghost… for hours’, Rimi ‘cool! Aunty must be clueless… Lol’. Between Dimpi and Rimi, ‘ghost’ is a code language to denote sms or text from Dimpi’s ‘date’, which Dimpi received in her mobile phone and chatted with him for hours in front of her mom. But why this discussion is over the facebook wall? Why not through a personal message in inbox? Why not over phone? Ask Dimpi, and she will explain the fun of encrypted conversation in public places with best friend/s, the thrill of discussing it openly when nobody understands the meaning (especially when the topic is a social taboo). Also, it exhibits the depth of friendship between two (between dimpi and rimi) which others are not allowed to invade, even if they listen or read the thread. This trait of coded conversation is spreading across the globe (specially, in the developing nations, where social/ political/ family norms are stringent). In Morocco, the coded language is spreading very quickly and making sociologists assert that the whole subject is intended to rebel against the social situation prevailing in the state, where using the vocabulary appear in the Arabic language for the first time to express the words ( such as " Ttiyah " or " Bukus " and " Tlah " no go , and " splendor " in the sense as Thanks), and extended it to include changing the names of cars and spare parts as a completely different meaning. In developed nation, the youth are communicating among peers using encryption through various apps. Currently, there are hundreds of encryption apps available in market. The iPhone app iCrypter enables users to send free encrypted private text messages through sms, WhatsApp and email.  TextSecure, (the free smartphone app that offered open-source end-to-end encryption for text messages) was first launched by Moxie Marlinspike in the year 2010. Last year, Forbes magazine reported that this anti-surveillance software added about ten million users, more than ten times as many as it accumulated in the past three and a half years and far more than any other encryption app of its kind! Last year, TextSecure was integrated by default into the text messaging function of CyanogenMod, the most popular independent rewrite of Android. Any time a CyanogenMod user sends a text message to another user of that operating system or to an Android or iPhone user with the app installed, the message is  invisibly encrypted with a key that’s only stored on the phone itself, not accessible to any surveillance-friendly phone carrier. Because TextSecure uses the phone’s data connection, it also avoids revealing the recipient of a message to carriers, making it much harder for eavesdroppers to determine not only the contents of a conversation but even who is communicating. The investors are investing more money in the security start ups. Since 2009 investors have spent at least $2.9 billion on security technologies, according to data from CrunchBase. Investors are also valuing these companies more highly now. In the first quarter of 2013 investors made 44 investments with roughly the same amount of capital, the CrunchBase data shows. The need for new security technology is also driving up company valuations at the earliest stages of their development, the CrunchBase data shows. In the first quarter of 2013, 16 seed stage companies raised $4.9 million. For 2014, less than half the number of companies raised roughly the same amount.
Back home, in India, the youth are using various DIY techniques to send encrypted texts. For example, the sender will use the ‘alt’ key in Blackberry and ‘SYM’ option in Samsung to encrypt the whole conversation using punctuations and exclamations (:;!?/’” etc) or numerical (1=w, 2=e, 3=r etc). Then he or she will post it in social media, WhatsApp or send it as sms. Those, who are in the close circle of sender will read the encryption by decoding the same using their phone keys and will revert back accordingly. In India, the shortening of words initiated during the social media boom (2004) with most popular codes such as LOL, BRB, ROFL etc. and with time, grew stronger with the micro blogging sites. Due to extended generational gap, millennial mindset and need for secure communication the encrypted conversation became a natural extension to previous trait.

Obviously, the many parents are scared of non-transparency which can keep the youth out of their radar. Though, youth in India has a different take on it. Neel (21) says “Why should the parents, family members and their friends will hover over us? We also need our space which should not be invaded or interrupted”. The ethos are similar to what Marlinspikes stated earlier “The upshot is that a whole bunch of people are able to get transparent, secure messaging”. The dopamine rush that occurs during discussion of a social taboo with ‘best friend’ (in presence of parents) makes the encryption thrilling. Most of them supported the coded communication with an argument that it at least protects the youth from being harassed online (on social media) for commenting on controversial issues yet allows him or her to express freely. I can’t disagree after the social media surveillance last year that led to arrest of two girls in Maharashtra for expressing their views over facebook wall.

Whether it is through new semiotics, numeric, code or encryption among youth in India the coded communication is building walled beehives with closely knitted peer circles.