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.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Why fashion forecasting agencies are not successful in developing India-centric forecast

India (the largest democracy of the world) is forecasted to overtake China as the most populous country within a decade (by 2027), according to a United Nations report. China and India combined currently account for 38 per cent of the world’s population, with 1.43 billion and 1.37 billion people respectively. India is also the youngest country in the world with the millennial population as large as the population of USA . Though, it is interesting to note that even with the said population and demographic dividend, the nation still depends on fashion forecasts and trend reports that are not largely meant for India! The reports are typically developed in west and mostly either Europe centric or very 'American' unless they are focused on Japan/ Korean youth/pop culture. The question is why this country lacks an indigenous fashion forecast powered with our ethnicity, plurality, cultural richness and global vision. Or is it the market worth of Rs 20,000 crore (was US$ 102.2 Billion in 2018) is not lucrative enough to develop a forecast? The market is further projected to reach US$ 225.7 Billion by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 14.2% during 2019-2024. There are three key factors that I will explain below:

1)      One key factor is how this market in India is segmented. The branded Fashion market's size is nearly one fourth of this or Rs 5,000 crore. Designer wear, in turn, covers only about 0.2 % of the branded apparel market. Hence, three fourth of the market is still unorganized and dominated by family run shops at the bottom of pyramid which depends on age-old Judaad (manage) as ‘cut and paste’ method of developing their products. If we analyse the 0.2% designer wear, most of them designs the same lahenga-cholis (Indian ethnic wear), Salwars/ Kurtis and sarees years after year. Those who are in niche western-wear, are also not visibly experimental in their collection (apart from Manish or few Gen Next designers).  This is also because their clients seek ethnic wear from designers and buys western wear whenever they travel abroad (“oh, this one is Chanel ka latest collection… from our last holiday in Paris”). The dominant colonial gene still prevails, among many Indians. Moreover, the resell value of global luxury brands are much higher than the domestic designer-wear. The branded fashion market (largely family owned) is still at nascent stage and hardly allocates any money in consumer research or trend analysis comparative to their global counterpart. 

2)      Most of the branded market are into menswear (Rs 1,24,423 crore/ US $19 billion) where the scope to forecast ‘shift’ is much lesser than the women’s wear. Hence, the scopes of business for a fashion forecasting agency focusing on domestic market is not lucrative at this moment unless they can addresses the local nuances and attract all market players across the country.

3)      Another key challenge for the forecasting agencies is the vastness and plurality of this country. It’s cultural maze, socio-political tectonic-shift and ever-changing consumer mind-set baffles many. My theory of Adopted Differentiation defines the logic behind it. The sheer number of Indians (133.92 crores in 2017 comparing to 32.57 crores in USA) may sound lucrative but the segmentation is opaque and with multiple layers superimposing each other, the very mantle of consumer need remains a curtailed black-box.

The psychophysics of consumer response is key to understand the very essence of this market which very few could crack in past. Right from the automobile, electronics and fashion many brands that arrived in India lured by sheer number had to shut their shops in past few decades. Artificial Intelligence will not work to resolve cultural maze or mind-mapping. Essentially, a ‘human mind’ can only map another ‘human mind’ but the mind has to be from the same swarm. Unfortunately, most of the agencies working in India are depending upon their ‘global intelligence’ and not trying to build their ‘local hive’. Building local hive takes time, energy, patience and selection of right ‘mind’. However, with millennials taking over the consumption power with their voracious ever-evolving need (coupled with mounting ‘unhappiness’, ‘depression’, social stress and ‘rebooting identity’), the job of agencies looking for developing indigenous forecast will be tougher in future unless they hire and nurture the right home-grown team to execute the same.

(Original article published by Dr. Kaustav SenGupta, All copyrights reserved)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

What corporates must know: How to leverage on India’s Millennials and Gen Z through gig economy

I am in expert panels and think tanks (honorary) of few companies, Govt bodies and startups for past one decade. The most common complaints from corporates that I keep hearing is about the job attrition rate among India’s Millennials and gen Z (collectively denoted as  “young workforce”). The companies (and their HR) are coming up with desperate innovative strategies to keep their young workforce “happy” and “loyal”. One e-commerce giant in Bangalore throws party every Friday at their classy glass-cased office space which converts into a mini dance floor (with live DJ, beers, breezers, snacks and surreal lights)! Others are throwing parties in every possible occasions (right from birthdays to break-up celebration). Some brands started giving stakes / shares to their employees. Some even invented new ways to ‘hold’ by inviting parents at office the to celebrate ‘mothers/ fathers day” (with top boss appearing as ‘lord Pluto” to bless all)! The huge steel building of an IT park in Chennai celebrates annual “family day” and I see the proud parents walking up to the ‘magnificent office” to attend this village fair like get together (with games, rides, parent of the year award, locally flavoured high emotion cultural performances  and what not). I am sure, these parents (and other siblings) will create a good amount of emotional stress to ensure that the young employee remains in the company . “see how safe, beautiful and respectful is this company.. . and you want to shift to that new start-up just because of few thousand rupee?” will be the stand of these parents, that the HR presumes.  

As published in Mint, according to the extensive “State Of The Global Workplace" report (2017), mere 13% of Indians (whether employed in the organized sector or otherwise) who feel engaged with their jobs.  The report quoted that the Millennials need to be appreciated, encouraged, given enough opportunities and training for their career growth to be kept engaged other than a good salary and professional growth opportunities. The Millennials also look for inspirational leaders. Even the workspace design makes a difference, according to the “Global Employee Engagement Report", released in 2017 by research firm Ipsos and office furniture company Steelcase. 

In an article in Forbes, points out the Mercer survey highlights that no fewer than 54% of Indian workers are seriously considering leaving their jobs, and that figure spikes to 66% in the 16-24 year age bracket. It also points out the other independent studies “confirm the correlation between intention to leave and actual turnover.” What’s puzzling is that the people considering leaving are not even highly disengaged employees! 76% of Indians surveyed reported satisfaction with their jobs and 75% with their organizations.  

Average Voluntary attrition (2016-17) stats show the highest attrition was reported by the retail sector in India, with e-commerce being on the higher side with the average voluntary annual attrition of 20.4%, followed by media and advertising (18.5%) and banking and financial services (17.4%).  According to KPMG Annual Compensation Trends Survey India 2017, top 3 reasons reported for attrition are: 1) Better Pay Elsewhere (28.1%), 2) Better Career Opportunity (23.4%), 3) Personal Reasons (19.6%).

However, a report published on 26th of June 2019 at Livemint quoted Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, both these cohorts (Millennials and gen Z) admit that freelance work appeals to them more than full-time jobs! Eighty-four per cent of millennials and 81% of Gen Z’ers surveyed said they would consider joining the gig economy. However, for India, this figure is higher as 94% millennials and Gen Z say they would consider joining the gig economy. Overall, the gig economy appeals to four in five millennials and Gen Z’ers, the report said. Only 6% of the millennials said they have chosen to be part of the gig economy instead of working full time but 50% said they would consider it, and 61% would take gig assignments to supplement existing employment. Those who said they would consider joining the gig economy enumerate several reasons for doing so—a chance to earn more money (58%), flexible work hours (41%), or a better work-life balance (37%). However, those who said they won’t join the gig economy counted unpredictable income and hours as the reasons (39% and 30%, respectively). According to the survey, almost half the millennials believe gig workers can earn as much as those in full-time jobs, and the same number think gig workers have a better work-life balance. But 51% said the unpredictability would be stressful. To cater to millennials, more firms are now offering flexible working arrangements and other features designed to mimic what appeals to those considering a gig existence. Though, in India, young men are taking more leverage of gig economy than the young female. As per a Flexing It survey, 70% of freelancers were from core management functions. It added that the supporting eco-system is flourishing with growth of freelance platforms, new regulations for freelancers and adoption across organizations. The white paper said that the gig economy in India has the potential to grow up to $ 20-30 billion by 2025.

According to the Deloitte survey, of the millennials it surveyed, 49% said that if they had a choice, they would quit their job in two years. This is higher than the 38% in Deloitte’s 2017 report.

Gig economy (also known as "flex economy" or "mobile economy”) reflects the cultural change brought by a new generation of workers, especially millennials. Though there is no accurate estimate of their numbers, it is projected that gig workers will comprise half the workforce by 2020, and as much as 80 percent by 2030. Gig economy is a temporary work system based on a short-term relationship between workers and companies. Workers perform “gigs,” in which they are employed for a specific task or time. This is done to achieve advantage of cost, quality, and flexibility. Once the task is complete, the worker is free to move on. A McKinsey report says, 20-30 percent of the developed countries’ workforce is today engaged in independent work. 

As India becomes younger further, the “gig” workers as freelancers (with their ever decreasing loyalty towards a company and attention span) will increase in multi-fold and basic HR rules with their measuring “attrition rates” will work no more. Rather, the company must think of developing a micro-recruitment plan and break the large job sets into smaller deliverables. The responsibilities should be given to the youth on the basis of “capacity to deliver” rather than trying to keep them bound to the company.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

WHAT is a daughter? : an article by a millennial Indian

No, I’m not about to define a daughter. That’s not where I’m going. My objective is to drive your focus to the choice of interrogative pronoun that I just used. “What” rather than “Who”. And most of our Indian people would go on to answering that question, never realizing that the “what” just reduced a female from a person to an object. But why does this objectification of women run so deep in our culture? Right now, I’m not talking about the objectification of women in cinema and advertisements. That is a separate topic of debate. But right now, I’m talking about the objectification of women that is deep rooted in our religious texts. Majority of our population may not have read these texts themselves, and may not be as strictly religious, and may not follow all day-to-day religious practices, but still follow some customs under the guidance of the religious pastor on some special occasions like mundan (customary shaving of a baby’s head), sanskaar (funeral rites) and different kinds of havan (this one could form a separate list). Not going into the essential meanings and reasons of these rites, let’s move onto the one that binds two people, and subsequently their families, into a LIFE-LONG BOND – Marriage.

Very recently, I attended my cousin’s marriage ceremony – an overnight affair of mantra and phere that none of the witnesses can understand, and who are just sitting there to witness the couple performing some actions on the pandit’s command. And that’s when my contempt for a custom was sparked anew as I heard the mention of “kanya daan”. For anyone who does not know, it’s direct translation means “girl donation”. Done by a girl’s father or the next elder male member of the family (along with his wife), it is regarded as the donation of the highest order – the one that would earn the donor the most punya (credit of doing good deeds). The religious texts of Hinduism – which I haven’t read myself, nor anybody in my extended family as far as I know, but whose teachings we hear all around us, translated by those who claim to have read them – declare a female as a property, an object of ownership. How? Because you can only donate what you own.

And talk about the vachan (vows) of marriage exchanged by the bride and groom, which are probably the only part of the whole ceremony that we can understand as the pandit translates them into the commonly spoken language for the benefit of the couple (because you can’t really make a vow without knowing the terms of that vow which were mentioned by a different person in a language that you don’t understand, right?), these vows sound like the terms of a 50-Shades-of-Grey style of BDSM contract for LIFETIME! (which still wouldn’t be as sick if the terms were enunciated by the couple themselves and mutually agreed upon after negotiation). BDSM is actually sane and gives the highest regard to consent. But these vows? They roughly translate into telling the woman that she will no longer be her own person. Seriously!! One of the vows that the bride is supposed to make states that she is not supposed to go to a park or garden or lakeside without the “permission” of her husband or his family. And the rest of the vows are also along the same lines. They bind a woman to “taking permission”, which is different from “informing your folks of your whereabouts”. These vows are basically telling a woman that she is not supposed to make her own decisions. Just consider having to depend on your husband’s or in-laws’ permission to go to the mall. How stupid does that sound? Or controlling. This leads me to realize how the Hindu marriage system is actually a Power-exchange dynamic that all the people sign up for at the time of their marriage without even realizing it. And we don’t see our modern wives taking on the submissive role in the relationship, nor the husbands being the dominant ones. The modern youth believes in equal status and responsibilities of both man and woman within a relationship which leads me to believe that most of them just go with the flow of the mantras and agree to such vows just to complete the formalities of the marriage ceremony. “How many of your marriage vows did you actually believe in and still practice?” I ask you, my readers, who have been married. If we aren’t exactly practicing what we vowed to do, then where’s our integrity? What’s the value of our words?

Coming back to what the religion preaches, despite all that is preached about respecting women as mothers, we can all agree that it regards the females as second-class citizens – always a male’s “amaanat” (possession, property), passed on from one male (the father) to another (the husband) as a donation, and always subject to the male’s permission for her life’s smallest of decisions. But as the modern youth who no longer believe in such patriarchal norms, isn’t it our duty to bid them away even from the customs and formalities? Why not make our own vows that we mutually consent to abide by as a couple, or revamp the old customary vows according to our modern beliefs, rather than nodding to whatever the pastor says when we don’t really agree with them? Why lose the integrity of our vows?

As for those who might be worried about losing out on the punya of the most sacred donation, no need to fret. Let me introduce you to the highest order of donation in the modern world – Organ Donation. Yes, the highest, because your one pledge can save 8 different lives and improve another 50. And this is a true form of donation, NOT controlling a woman’s life in the name of some rusty norms.  A daughter is not your property. So, go to one of the organ donation websites and pledge to donate your organs. And while you are at it, also pledge to do away with sick customs like girl-donation aka kanya-daan.

Author Lipika Aggrawal is a millennial Indian who has expressed her views on modern Indian society and gender disparity

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Plight of a Young Girl who is Looking to Buy her First Vibrator

Are you a girl? Great! Born in India? Even greater! Well, are you a sexual being? Uh, that doesn’t make a good combination. Duh, this is India, girl. Here, you are not supposed to have an ounce of sexuality, not before marriage. And well if you do, guess what new status you attain in the minds of your conservative-minded parents?

Congratulations! You are ready to be tied in the bonds of marriage with a guy of their choosing.

Well, most of the females in our country do not even discover their sexuality (at least till the time they are faced with the man who is going to be their prospective sex partner for life), to explore it is further off the gird. And I doubt what becomes of it after marriage is anything more than fulfilling their duties to their pati parmeshwar (husband raised to the status of God).

If you are one of the luckier ones who discovered her sexuality during her adolescence, be ready to be stupefied by the numerous “should-not”s that the taboo-stricken Indian society has to offer you.

Dating is unthinkable
Having a relationship is unacceptable
Having a live-in relationship? Only happens in the lives of “celebrities”
Talking about sex is bad
Talking about periods to a guy or guys? What? Who does that!?
Going out to party is wrong
Masturbation is unnatural
Wanting to buy a sex toy? Well, from where do such thoughts even come into your head!!!

Are you one of the lucky ones who have been able to debate yourself into reaching the conclusion that masturbation is natural, healthy and the safest form of sexual pleasure, and that indulging yourself for sexual satisfaction is not a crime? Congrats! A pat on your back!

Now that you have grown up a bit and learnt to accept your sexuality, explored all you could with your hands and your mind reading erotica and watching porn, you want to go for something more than your own fingers; a vibrating sensation that is more satisfying than your mobile phone’s. But where do you go?

There are no physical shops, not that I am aware of, where you could go browsing and purchasing adult toys. Google for buying vibrators in India and you get several links to e-commerce sites, both adult ones as well as the popular ones like Amazon, Snapdeal and Flipkart. But your friendly neighborhood e-retailers cannot sell sex toys by the name of sex toys, not in INDIA. So, all the vibrators that turn up in the list of available products on Amazon, for instance, are named as “vibrator massagers” for your back, neck, head, even face and eye-bags, yes! And mind you, these are the vibrators that turn up even when you clearly mention that you are looking for “sexual vibrators”. And you are left wondering if that lipstick-lookalike vibrator will actually work the way you intend to use it.

Well, I know what you would be thinking by now. Why don’t you go a proper adult-toy site, girl? Go to one of the websites that explicitly call themselves a dealer in adult products, and you would either find a little word to the left of the site’s URL that says that this site is “Not Secure” (which is less occurring since I conducted a search few months back), or you find secure sites that would list out highly expensive products. Not planning to invest in a good expensive vibrator as your first one, you look for the cheapest options, but even they seem out of your expected budget. You wonder where is that below-a-thousand-bucks lipstick-lookalike vibrator that you have heard some people mention to you before. Oh yes, there it is under the mini vibrator section, and it costs… 900 bucks (discounted from its original price of 1200 bucks). But wait…. Isn’t this the same “eye massager” from Amazon that cost just 150 bucks (discounted from its original price of 500 bucks)? Yep, it is! EXACTLY THE SAME!!! But with such a disparity of cost! Not a disparity of just the discounted price, but that of the original price as well! Do these people have any standards to set prices of sex toys? What if they’re just fooling us with listing whatever price they desire, even for the other products? How do I know the real price of a product? There’s no trustworthy source! The trustworthy ones like Amazon and Flipkart don’t give you so many options under their “modified” names of vibrators. Even the sexual wellness site Durex lists only three products which cater to only males’ or couples’ needs.

Revolving among the top-listed adult toy websites that explicitly call themselves so, now we know that a good quality vibrator is not going to be within your existing budget of a thousand bucks, not even the double of it, unless you are satisfied with paying over a thousand bucks for a lipstick-lookalike one. And we still do not know the authenticity of these prices. But we’ve got no choice than to succumb to their demands.

Next step? Save Up! Now this can be a little easy or difficult depending on your pocket money and your expenses. Oh wait, who are we kidding? We all have our pocket money designed to fit our expenses. I don’t know how much of your expenses you could cut out to save for a vibrator in case you’re one of those who get a bigger amount of pocket money than most 20 years old kids (well, kids in the sense that we’re non-earning), but a couple hundred saved every month from my meagre pocket money is not gonna help me at least. Oh, and did I say it was a problem only for the non-earning community? Nope. In my case, even my own earned paycheck (as a fresher) goes into my bank account which… is taken care of by my mother. So, we’re back to square one. You can’t withdraw your money just the way you can’t ask them money for a vibrator.

Next option? Gotta figure out something else, as expensive as your toy, for which you could ask them for money, but which you wouldn’t have to show them as an evidence that you bought it. That’s tough to do for something priced around 4-5 thousand rupees. But if you have an idea, do share.

The next hurdle you face is that of the delivery address. Although the retail sites say that the package would be discreet with no mention of the product inside, you just can’t receive a package without your family members finding out about it. You’re lucky if you are living out alone in a PG or a rented flat, but if you’re someone like me - living with your parents, one of whom is always home - it’s time to think of all your friends and come up with at least one who could be your trusty and receive the product for you and let you collect it without asking too many questions or judging you for what’s inside. Sounds easy? Or hard? Well, if you ask me, I can’t think of any of my friends who I could ask for such a favor. I’m too conscious of revealing that I am sexual enough to want a vibrator.

And all this hassle because this is INDIA – “the land of culture”.

This article was written by Ingene's millennial author Lily. 
Lily, in her early twenties, is a free-spirited modern Indian girl who believes that talking about sex, not only in terms of sexual health but also in terms of sexual pleasure, should not be taboo.
To read about her own journey of embracing her sexuality, you can visit https://bdsmadventuresofavirgin.wordpress.com 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

caste and youth in India: an article

In my last post, I was insisting that the surveying agencies must consider pyschographic/ mind-set segments of youth rather than age group before they analyze any data to avoid stereotyping the youth. The below article published in buzzfeed emphasizes that 'progressive' millennial (a mind-set again) avoids discussion on caste where as my last post shows that caste is an important issue to consider!


Progressive Millennial Indians, Let's Talk About Why We Never Talk About Caste

A meme recently appeared on my Facebook timeline: a child plays as her mother asks, “Are your dolls having a tea party?” The little girl answers, “No mom, they’re protesting against patriarchy.”
The clever cartoon is accompanied by a proclamation: “omg, Priya this is so you”.
There are several likes and cheeky comments. Priya responds with faux-embarrassment – “LOL stop it!” – though everyone knows there’s pride in being outed as a feminist.
Variations of this exchange light up my timeline. I watch, smirk, and judge till I get tagged myself. And then I respond like Priya, secretly thrilled to have been validated as progressive.
This is the grammar of the metropolitan, well-off, English-speaking, millennial internet. We curate online identities, knowing that social justice knowhow is their hippest ingredient.
We’re young folks of privilege, negotiating professional and urban struggles one weekend at a time. We live in India, but haven’t given up on “Bharat”.
We’re interested in the vagaries of our national discourses on gender, nationalism, social conservatism, and more. We perceive injustices around us and raise hell about them. We outrage quickly and happily.
(For evidence, see the popularity of millennial-darling comedians and YouTube stars All India Bakchod, whose popularity is owed significantly to their satirising of issues as varied as homophobia, victim-blaming in rape culture, and policy debate around net neutrality.)
In some ways, this is an ideal scenario – caring about a better world has become coveted cultural currency among people of privilege.
But, while we tweet ourselves hoarse about feminism and colourism and veganism and ally-ism, there’s an omnipresent injustice which doesn’t enjoy the halo of our Facebook moralising.
The big, confusing C-word.
Nagraj Manjule, fresh on the success of “Sairat”, was asked in an interview why he makes films only on caste. He responded that it required a special talent to avoid the topic, and that he wasn’t a particularly talented person. Witty, and also extraordinarily true.
At the Jaipur Literature Festival, that famed annual gathering of progressives, Kajol declared that people had become over-sensitive these days and that there was no intolerance in Bollywood, no dividing lines of caste or creed.
It takes “special talent” to stomach her mann ki baat considering that only a week earlier, a young man in Hyderabad hung from a fan because his value as a person was reduced to his caste.
Kajol’s statement is not in isolation. A study by The Hindu in 2015 showed that only 6 out of 300 Bollywood films made in the previous two years had featured lower caste protagonists.
Too often, “poor” is the blanket identity of characters who would most likely hail from lower caste backgrounds (think Arjun and Ranveer’s irascible Bikram and Bala from Gundey, or Nawazuddin’s delightful Shaikh from The Lunchbox). Too often, Bollywood cinema has invisibilized caste under the more simplified construct of class.
The word “jaat” has today almost disappeared from Bollywood vocabulary, surfacing only occasional references to criminal tropes.
And television is no different. A quick glance at the top TRP-rated shows on air currently reveals that none of them features a dalit protagonist.
Luckily, online entertainers have an opportunity to reject some regressive conventions ingrained in Bollywood and TV. But nonetheless, when it comes to caste, there’s a strange diffidence, a disquieting silence, even from model millennial progressives All India Bakchod.
On their Hot Star news-comedy show On Air with AIB, the group raised bold issues week after week, still managing to never touch the C-word. They even did an entire segment on police brutality without mentioning caste.
Dalit activists have been arguing for years that there’s a casteist bias in India’s judicial and law-enforcement apparatus, as evidenced by the NCRB report which found that almost 33% of inmates in Indian prisons are SC/STs.
It must have taken special talent to avoid that.
Things are no different on the cricket field. Until very recently, cricket was the preserve of upper-caste city elites. Today, even the most die-hard Indian cricket fans will only be able to name one dalit cricketer – Vinod Kambli.
Few know of Palwankar Baloo, the pre-independence left-arm spinner who was made to use separate dining and lodging facilities on tours, and denied captaincy owing to his caste.
The most commonly peddled dismissal of the cricket-and-caste conversation is that sport is about technical excellence and that the best team should be selected, irrespective of caste or religion. But sport is not beyond social justice.
South Africa has experimented with affirmative action to change the composition of its teams and dismantle deep-rooted and invisible racist structures of discrimination. Is their system working well? No. But at the very least, there is acknowledgement of the problem, and experimentation with the intent of solving it.
Here, even in the most educated circles, the moment I attempt to trace casteism into anything beyond the designated cauldrons of caste oppression – honor killings, khap panchayats, dalit rapes – I’m quickly dismissed as a fanatic.
Jootha is not a caste thing, yaar, it’s scientifically proven to be more hygienic.”
“But do you even know what the SC and ST cut-off for IIM is?”
“I don’t care how much soap he uses. The bathroom guy can’t cook the food. Basic hai.”
There is a suspicion towards reading casteism into the everyday structures that we’re used to, even if they normalize caste-based oppression. In this orbit, caste has almost become a “bad” word, considered the domain of the subaltern, small-town political class who use it for their nefarious mobilisation. Lower caste assertionism in form of political blocs, caste-alliances or even Ambedkarite social politics is often dismissed with a shake of the head.
In other words: for those Indians who truly, genuinely believe that “there’s no such thing as casteism in 2016,” trying to talk about dalit rights feels divisive, not progressive or productive or urgent, as it is.
What’s perplexing is how this coexists in a completely non-ironic way with #BlackLivesMatter, pro-Bernie Sanders memes, and the Tumblr-ised notion of “checking your privilege”.
Perhaps the answer lies in the idiom of oppression. The thinking, sensitive millennial is a product of privilege, a fact that is made amply clear to him or her over and over again.
This upper caste urban sliver is the first Indian middle class to have never known mass-scale unemployment. They’ve been told they’re spoilt, that they have it easy, and that they should be thankful.
But they don’t actually feel thankful. They've learned that great inequalities exist warranting outrage.
In the office, he witnesses gender disparities, so he becomes a spokesperson for workplace feminism. On the streets, she sees men beating a dog with sticks, so she’s now an advocate for animal rights. We see public spaces as our own, so we stand up for the Kiss of Love event. We witness Western victories for LGBTQ rights, and we outrage because things are just as bad (in fact, much worse) for queer Indians.
We know very well how to spot an obvious injustice, point at it, and say “no, in fact, this is not how things should be.”
To question caste however, is to question one’s own feudal privilege, inherited from our own parents, family, teachers, and social peers.
There isn’t any far-removed injustice to point at and detachedly deem problematic.
It’s your own world view, your own accidental advantage, the comfort of your own home.
Casteism is not something “out there”, and hence it falls outside the gaze.
You are the insider. Very often, you are the inadvertent oppressor. And it is these deeply ingrained privileges which preclude us from questioning the gravest injustices.
Why can’t the domestic help use the toilet in the house? Why can’t the cook eat at the same table with you at lunch? They made the food and they will clean the dishes, after all.
Why does he or she sit on the floor to watch TV, while two sofas stay unoccupied?
On a more broad level, whose cuisine is marketed in restaurants and chains in all manners of streets and lanes, and whose food is found illegal? Whose gods and goddesses are being invoked and televised into serials, and whose are ignored?
Whose customs are normalised as axiomatic, and whose social customs are seen as primitive, even uncultured?
Delving into these discussions, an astute mind can quickly observe entire races of enslaved Indians and suppressed cultures around us.
Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once made a speech about the dangers of a single story, how it blinds us to the possibilities of other alternate narrative imaginations.
In India, we have been peddling the same single story across films, television, advertising, newspapers, cricket fields, restaurants, and living rooms.
In fact, this single story is so powerful and all-pervasive that a lot of urban millennial professionals feel caste is something that no longer exists. It does take a special talent to invisibilize the deaths of sewage workers who die inside drains everyday.
It does take a special talent to tediously raise the “I know this one rich SC guy who got a college seat basis quota” argument at every opportunity, even as campus suicides by dalit students has been widely written about and been the subject of documentary productions.
There are no dalits among the upper management of most corporations, the most powerful editors and journalists, higher judiciary, chiefs of armed services, and even the organisational elites of most political parties.
If every major social institution of nation-building is not representative of the oppressed castes, then is it representative at all? And if “belonging” in a democracy is determined by representation, then do dalits “belong” in India at all?
And then there’s us: the well-read, well-meaning, and “woke”.
If we refuse to engage with and question our most insidious privileges, and our complicity in perpetuating non-inclusive social structures, then are we really the liberals that our memes and hashtags paint us as?

Monday, October 23, 2017

national survey of their attitudes, anxieties and aspirations of Youth in India - A survey coducted by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Lokniti

With my more than 2 decades of experience, I have understood that the “youth” can not be boxed as one category of age group; though in every survey across this nation the agencies generalize the youth and try to portray a single opinion/ statement!  As I have mentioned way back in 2009, the youth in India has 3 distinct psychographic segments ( mind-sets) with unique mind-sets and AIO (Attitude, Interest and Opinion) of every segment. In this survey the agencies covered 19 states (Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh,Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) though they have not mentioned the cities/ villages they have surveyed or the proportion of youth from villages, SEC II cities and SEC I cities. It is interesting to note that the study divided youth on the basis of their caste (Upper Caste youth, Dalit and Adivasi youth) rather than their mind-set! These further exhibits that the agencies are keen to stereotype the youth over and over again on caste which further complicates the socio-political situation of this nation. 

Below is a brief of the report as published in The Hindu

Indian youth are certainly becoming more modern in their appearance and consumption habits, “but their thoughts and views reflect a troubling inclination towards intolerance and conservatism”, says a national survey of their attitudes, anxieties and aspirations, released in New Delhi on Monday.
The survey, jointly conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Lokniti, covered 6,122 respondents in the age group of 15-34.

It was carried out in April-May 2016 in 19 States. This is the second such survey. The first one was conducted in 2007. Among the respondents, 49% were in favour of death penalty, while only 33% felt that it should be abolished. An overwhelming 60%, cutting across religions, believed that films which hurt religious sentiments should be banned, with only 23% opposed to such bans.
Beef eating

On the lately contentious subject of beef consumption, 46% disagreed with the liberal sentiment that “consumption of beef is part of personal eating habits and nobody should have an objection”, while only 36% agreed with it.

However, 40% of non-vegetarian Hindu youth and 90% of Left supporters had no problem with beef consumption. At the same time, the survey also found the majority of Indian youth (58%) to be non-vegetarian, while 30% and 9% described themselves as pure vegetarians and “eggitarians” respectively.

The illiberal orientation was further underscored in the domain of interpersonal relations, with 67% of the youth opposed to live-in relationships. On the question of inter-religious marriages, 45% were opposed to them, while only 28% were in support. The majority of the respondents (51%) agreed with the proposition that “wives should always listen to their husbands”. Also, 41% agreed that it is not right for women to work after marriage. While 53% were opposed to dating before marriage, 40% disapproved of Valentine’s Day celebrations. A fairly high proportion of young women respondents also held such conservative views, the report said.

Marriage and caste

While acceptance for the idea of inter-caste marriage had risen, from 31% in 2007 to 55% in 2016, the reported incidence of inter-caste marriages among respondents was only 4%. Over 84% of the married youth had had an arranged marriage, compared to the 6% that reported a love marriage. While one-third of those with a love marriage had married outside their caste, 97% of arranged marriages were found to be within caste. Arranged marriage was also the preference among the unmarried, with 50% saying they would like their parents to take the decision regarding their life partner. Only 12% expressed a preference for love marriage.

The survey also found Indian youth to be quite religious, with 78% of the respondents stating that they prayed often, while 68% reported going to a place of religious worship frequently.

Modern values such as gender equality did not seem to have much purchase.
The survey also found strong support for existing quota for SC-ST and OBCs in government jobs, with 48% in favour and 26% against.

The full report can be read here: