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, December 26, 2008


An article by INgene member Neha Shah

The internet has become the most popular medium of mass communication after the recent terror strikes in Mumbai. The candle light march held on 1st December in Mumbai, where hundreds of civilians turned out to pay homage to martyrs of the nation and hope for a peaceful India, was a result of anguish against the system posted on a blog by a citizen, which was supported by several others online and assumed magnitude in no time because of social networking sites, websites and mobile text messages.

The internet is flooded with opinions, news, visuals, surveys, polls, forums, mails and much more all relating the 26 /11 Mumbai terror attacks. Social networking sites like Orkut and Facebook are playing a major role in bringing about a virtual change. Communities on Orkut are undertaking polls and forums with regards the horrendous event. Sites like Facebook were used largely by the Indian youth to notify their friends and relatives about the candle light march happening in Mumbai during the first week of December.

Not only Indians but people all over the globe are posting thoughts onto their blogs about the incident. Such acts are largely responded with comments of readers. Yahoo answers and indiatimes QnA are loaded with surveys and opinions of users not just about 26/ 11 but also about related issues like global terrorism, politics and efficiency / inefficiency of governments, actions and changes to be brought about by Indians and especially youths etc...And surprisingly the respondents are not just Indians but even Pakistanis and civilians all over the world, comprising of all age groups.

Several websites have sprouted in wake of the event, condemning the acts of terrorists and expressing views to make this nation and mankind a better and safe place to survive. Other than social networks, emails on latest updates and latest online news sites are other areas that have gained popularity recently.
The most obvious reasons for the virtual networks gaining popularity in wake of such events and acting as a major change medium, is the ease of availability of the internet, predominantly in Indian metros and tier- I cities. The youth, who dominate social networks and survey websites like Yahoo!Answers and indiatimes QnA; have an easily available arena to communicate with the rest of the virtual world. One does not have to spend finances to advertise an event, print pamphlets and send posts or book venues for gatherings.Emails and offline messages are the fastest means to spread information. Opinions and suggestions are available for minimal costs and maximum participation is possible with help of the internet.

Virtual networks do not categorize anyone on basis of religion, age, sex or nationality. One is free to express ones opinion without the fear of being suppressed or unheard. People with similar feeling of anguish against the governments or systems, youngsters with urge to bring about a change, even civilians from different nationalities have an equal platform to comment. There is no question of bias when it comes to virtual communications, as the identity of an individual is unknown. This works well when online debates or surveys are conducted.
Even though the virtual media has done tremendous good in terms of creating awareness, spreading news and gathering opinions one fears that the actions will be restricted only to the virtual medium. Picking on drawbacks of governments and commenting on the defects in the system is not sufficient to bring about a ‘real change’ in the society. Also credibility is an issue when one is online; misuse of knowledge shared online is the most common risk these days.

Thus, virtual networks have their pros and cons. However, there is no denying the fact that they are here to stay for decades and only enlarge in magnitude. Whether the acts will just virtual or fructify in real deeds is a question that only time will answer.

• www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com
• http://in.answers.yahoo.com
• http://in.indiatimes.com/
• http://qna.indiatimes.com/
• www.orkut.com
• www.facebook.com
• http://epaper.timesofindia.com

Copyright to:
Neha Shah
Masters in Design, NIFT
B.E (Telecommunications), Mumbai University

INgene team

Friday, December 19, 2008

My article at The Hindu, Businessline

An extract of my article was published in The Hindu, Businessline dtd. 11.12.08
The full article can be read at The Smart Manager (http://www.thesmartmanager.com/doc_content.aspx?docid=531):

Brand Line - Marketing Research
United colours of India

[India’s youth cannot be painted with the same colours as their global counterparts..]

India’s young prefer colours to stand out and make a statement. The colour palette also differs from the rest of the world.

Kaustav Sengupta

A national retail chain in India decided to stock a chic international brand of T-shirts and watches that were being touted as the ‘in thing’ among the youth globally. Contrary to all expectations, the collection failed to capture the imagination of Indian youth. This marketing failure was not a one-off instance; other marketers have made the same mistake of bringing globally popular youth brands to India.

A different palette

With over 60 per cent of its population under the age of thirty, India is growing younger whereas most developed countries are facing an ageing population. Rough estimates peg the size of the Indian youth segment (between the age of 15 and 25 years) at around 250 million. However, Indian youth are not a homogenous group. They comprise three broad categories:

Bharatiyas who live in rural areas account for around 67 per cent of the youth population. They are the least influenced by globalisation and have high traditional values.

Indians who constitute around 31.5 per cent of the youth population are only moderately influenced by globalisation, as this segment is firmly rooted in Indian family values, customs and ethos.

Inglodians or the creamy layer accounts for just 1.5 per cent of India’s youth market.

However, this segment, which is fast expanding at a growth rate of over 70 per cent, is affluent, Internet-savvy, influenced by Western thought and trends, innovative, ambitious and different from the masses, but Indian at heart.

The Indian youth market is undoubtedly a big and lucrative market for global and local retailers. However, as illustrated earlier, the danger for marketers here lies in not truly understanding the lifestyle, habitats, and attitude of India’s youth. To succeed in the Indian youth market, marketers need to remember the golden rule — India’s youth should not be painted with the same colours as their global counterparts.

Theory of adopted differentiation

In an effort to understand the “we are different” behavioural patterns and choices of Indian youth, we undertook a study in six A1 and three A2 cities in India. An analysis of the findings revealed an underlying theme, which could be modelled into a theory to help marketers understand why Indian youth do not conform to global trends.

Called “the theory of adopted differentiation”, it states, “to distinguish and separate themselves from the mass culture of India and other youth categories, the Inglodians and most Indians have consciously adopted a sophisticated, yet cool look and attitude that is not as young as the global perception of youth culture”.

To illustrate: India is an extremely colourful and decorative country with a variety of cultures, festivals, lifestyles and decors. Naturally, black, white, gray and pastels are the most awkward colour tones among this riot of colour. India’s young, therefore, prefer these colours in order to stand out and make a statement. These and other factors influence the attitudes of India’s youth.

The colour of money

Globalisation has opened up new and lucrative job opportunities for the Indian youth. As more and more companies set up shop in India, there is tremendous pressure on liberalisation’s children to ride the first wave of ‘becoming rich’ before it eases off. In India, children are considered a family asset and therefore, expenditure on their education is considered as an investment for the future for the whole family. Unlike their global peers, Indian youth study hard to make their parents proud and pay them back by achieving success. This explains why the icons of Indian youth today are successful Indian entrepreneurs, sportspersons, film stars and so on. rather than rebel pop stars or leaders of alternative sub-cultures.

Colours of cool

Indian youth’s penchant for exhibitionism, stemming from a need to project an image of money power, indulgence and sky-high aspirations, leads to a ‘mature, yet cool’ styling influence. That is, a look and feel of ‘neat, balanced and sophisticated’, which is seen as a way to differentiate themselves from the masses. This explains why bright yellow or khaki were not popular with Indian youth though they were hot selling colours worldwide.

Colours of tradition

Our findings reveal that a ‘certain level of frustration’ over the existing society is required for the development of a sub-culture or style tribe. But surveys reveal that young middle class Indians are amongst the happiest people and much more satisfied with all aspects of their lives compared to those belonging to other nationalities. The young in India do follow ‘trendy’ sub-cultures but ‘superficially’; they don’t get sentimentally attached to a brand unlike in the West.

Colours of duality

Indian youth typically lead a ‘dual’ life — professional and personal. However, they balance both lives with expertise. For instance, their clothing ‘mutates’ according to the occasion. Often, two layers of clothing are worn. The outerwear, meant to please the parents, is shed as soon as parental eyes are not around. There’s some amount of corporate influence on modes of dress as well. For example, call centres and BPOs are encouraging Western apparel.

Colours of confidence

Current youth are essentially self-centred and materialistic; even their friendships and relationships are conditional due to intense competition. This is compounded by the fact that families are increasingly becoming nuclear and opting for a single child. The entire interest and attention of the family often revolves around children making them even more demanding. Narcissism or the “I love me” syndrome is on the rise. The positive aspect of this situation is growing levels of confidence within young individuals today unlike their yester year counterparts. Risk taking is now encouraged, leading to nurturing of successful young entrepreneurs and professionals in newer fields, for example, human interface consultants, DJs, scuba diving experts, style and image consultants, and so on.

Colours of acceptance

India follows a different system while adopting a global trend. Youngsters do not simply consume a trend but filter it through a unique osmosis process where it is treated with an Indian flavour and mixed with the finer elements of age old customs and then ultimately readied for consumption. An interesting example of this phenomenon is the way young Indians create a unique ensemble consisting of a Kurta with wood or glass beads worn around the neck, a Swatch on the wrist, Levi’s jeans, Kolhapuri footwear, sunshine stones, a gold ring on the finger (gifted by the grandparents), a red charm thread around the neck or wrist and so on. This mix of fashion, tradition, spirituality and family values pervades every aspect of the lifestyle of Indian youth.

In sum, marketers need to understand that Indian youth are increasingly asserting their individuality while remaining Indian at heart.

(The writer is Associate Professor and Internal Design Consultant at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Chennai.

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in The Smart Manager. Reprinted with permission.)

Source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/catalyst/2008/12/11/stories/2008121150070300.htm

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tendulkar is voted as the role model of Health & Happiness

Tendulkar is voted as the best role model for "Health and Happiness" in India...a country where the opinions are hugely influenced by the glossy silver screen, TV (ads, news and ya soaps) and eternal beliefs Tendulkar seems to touch all the cords correctly...he is the most prominent face in health drink ads (for kids & adults)without even a single scandal (very family person...yes in India thts again a barometer of a healthy and happy person!) and looks "healthy"(with his little tummy, round face and kidish smile…and immature voice)...

Check the report below:

Tendulkar voted as India's best role model in survey
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Mumbai: Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar has been voted as India's role model of health and happiness in a countrywide survey initiated by a magazine.

According to the survey done by global research firm Synovate for 'Complete Wellbeing' magazine for its December issue, out of 320 nominations, Tendulkar emerged as the best, a media release said.

Alongside Tendulkar, Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan and former President APJ Abdul Kalam emerged in the top three bracket.

Tendulkar, who guided India to a sensational Test victory in Chennai against England on Monday, expressed pleasant surprise at being crowned as the top role model of health and happiness.
"Is it true? My countrymen think I am the healthiest and happiest person in the country? What a compliment! I am truly overwhelmed. I will cherish this compliment forever," Tendulkar was said to have reacted to the survey results, the release added.

© Copyright 2008 PTI. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


INgene Project survey

(all rights reserved)

[The survey was conducted across the country covering 963 respondents (September to December 2008). The report is made on the basis of primary data analysis.]

Eco-consciousness is a global trend now. The Indians & Inglodians love to perceive that they are either attached with some social activity or with the eco-drive and concerned with global warming issues and save-tree movement.

INgene team did this survey covering 5 A1 cities (Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai & Hyderabad) at various colleges , schools , shopping malls to understand whether actually the consciousness about ecology is from the heart of the Indian youth or just a trend / fashion statement as FAD.

What we found is described below:

• In our very first question we asked (rather bluntly) whether they are ECO CONSCIOUS or not and as expected everyone said “YES”.

• The next question we asked how many steps they will walk to find a dustbin to drop the garbage and many of them was not even ready to walk a shorter distance for a dustbin, they would rather prefer littering around instead of walking for it! (Fig.1)

• Most of the respondents would like to go to a mall or movie theater instead of botanical garden or eco-park or where eco awareness show (even if it’s free) is taken place !..”uhh so boring u know…why to dump my weekend” (Fig.2 & Fig.3)

• When we asked them about eco friendly products, the funniest answer we got was “dustbin”! It depicts that the youth are not even aware of the eco friendly products. Most of them could not write more then a “recycled paper” as eco friendly…(Fig.4)

• And when it comes to switching off fan and light then we hardly found people who do this always! (Fig.5)

• Surprising fact came over that out of all we found only eleven young Indians who wrote the correct definition or true meaning of GLOBAL WARMING.

• When we asked them about any active website, magazine or any journals which make people learn about global warming and related facts, they can hardly name some.

• Maximum people wrote, google search, Discovery channel, National geographic ! only few people wrote about specific reading or awareness materials…

• Yes, it was great to hear from people that they are ready to compromise on bursting crackers (during Dipavali or other festive) for helping this cause and moreover, some have already left this earlier….though we don’t know if its for the consciousness of global warming or for the thought that this is a wastage of money…(Fig.6)

During the survey we got a few interesting testimonies:

“Me alone, I cannot change anything, why should I then change my personal behavior?”

“I respect the laws, I don't do anything illegal. I am not against your saving energy, but leave me in peace with your ideas.”

“My energy requirement is modest. I won't change before the big polluters have changed their behavior.”

As I have earlier predicted, eco consciousness is becoming “trendy” (though superficial) among Indian youth. I called it eco-trendy. Good to show-off…ehh.
But it will take few more years (check my prediction in earlier posts) to go deep into the core of the heart of Indian youth until and unless the “need” becomes evident in this society.

So, for FMCGs, being eco-trendy can be an added advantage to grab the crowd in this segment...cause, exhibitionism persists!


Indians ready to pay more for environment friendly goods
Mon, Dec 15 01:11 PM

New Delhi, Dec 11 (PTI) Indians don't mind paying more for environment friendly goods, compared to the Chinese or the Japanese, even though they are not unduly worried that the environment is in a crisis. Thus, 88 per cent of Indian consumers are prepared to pay more for goods that are environment friendly against 82 per cent in China and 68 per cent in Japan, according to a study of consumers in India, China and Japan.

Findings are part of a 10-market global study by international communication firm Edelman. Unlike their peers in other countries, respondents in India believe there is too much fuss about the environment (79 per cent) and they do not believe the world is experiencing global warming (56 per cent).

Still, 92 per cent feel it is their duty to contribute to a better society and environment. The study sought to understand consumer attitudes and preferences on the emerging issue of social purpose.

Its findings show that despite the economic downturn, a strong majority think it is important to purchase products and brands they perceive to be socially responsible India (90 per cent), China (90 per cent) and Japan (64 per cent). "What we find particularly interesting in this study is that economic concerns are taking a distant place behind consumers' demands that quality brands be produced by socially conscious companies," says Alan VanderMolen, Edelman's Asia-Pacific President.

"The current economic crisis has made little or no difference to the financial or voluntary support given to good causes by Indians. We found that 23 per cent of Indian respondents have actually paid more for a brand because it supports a good cause.




Eco-consciousness of China & India

CHINA, believed to be the world's biggest carbon emitter, is showing the first stirrings of a 'green movement', Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said today at the International Energy Week conference here.
He singled out China and India as the two populous countries key to resolving the climate change problem during a dialogue with 400 delegates after he a keynote address at the conference.

Mr Lee, who compared differing attitudes to environmental protection around the world, also noted in his comments that Americans do not feel the same urgency to act against climate change compared to the Europeans because their vast hinterland mitigates the impact of extreme weather changes.

During his 80-minute keynote lecture and dialogue with participants, MM Lee stressed that climate change was a global problem and every country was under threat from the prospect of melting ice caps and rising sea levels.

The problem the world faces, he said, is that 'China and India want to achieve what they think they have missed in life - the quality and standards of living which Japan, Europe and especially the Americans have reached'.

He believed some Chinese are realising that economic growth should not come at the expense of environmental degradation, though he was doubtful they could reach the same sensitivity to the environment as the Europeans within the next 10 or 20 years.

Nevertheless, China's plan to build an 'eco-city' with Singapore's help in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin will have an impact, as will the cleaner air experienced by Beijing residents during the Olympic Games in Aug when numerous polluting factories were shut down and cars taken off the road.

As for India, he did not sense an urgency to act against climate change because industrialisation has proceeded more slowly. But as the country builds up its infrastructure over the next 10 to 20 years, its energy consumption would go up.

Asked by a delegate from the World Bank what could be done to press the Chinese and Indians during climate change negotiations, Mr Lee said they were unlikely to 'see the light on the road to Damascus' anytime soon.

'I think there'll have to be a series of meetings and each time reluctantly they'll be dragged into committing themselves to targets which they hope will not be too high for them,' he said.

'The penny will drop only when they see the consequences for them, as Europe has seen.'

But such scepticism about India is unfounded as it is 'deeply committed' to fighting climate change, said India's Minister of Science and Technology Kapil Sibal, who is attending the conference and spoke during the question and answer session with MM Lee. He was India's chief negotiator during the last major international climate change meeting in Bali in Dec last year.

Mr Sibal suggested that what was needed is a 'technological solution' and not just a political one for weaning the world away from its fossil fuel dependence.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_298373.html

GLOBAL SURVEY - Study: Indians, Brazilians most eco-conscious.....Chetan Chauhan New Delhi

INDIANS ALONG with Brazilians are most environment friendly people among the most carbon emitting countries in the world. Americans are most polluting, a new global survey on consumer behaviour has revealed.
The survey of a 1,000 people each, from 14 countries listed as high polluting nations by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has India and Brazil tied for the top spot with 60 green index points. Americans had the lowest score with 44.9 points along with Canadians and French performing slightly better with 48.5 and 48.7 points respectively.

The survey by National Geographic and Globalscan also negates the claim of US president George Bush that India's prosperity has caused global food crises. Food habits of Indians have been rated best with 84 per cent claiming of eating locally grown vegetables at least once a week, highest for any country, the survey released in Washington on Wednesday said.

Sunita Narian of Centre for Science and Environment said Indians don't believe in wasting and are very good at recycling, thereby making them as one of the most environment friendly people in the world. "We consider wasting food or water as a bad habit traditionally unlike west where the market induces people to waste," she said.

Indians scored high on green index on account of low per capita energy consumption and ability to use recycled goods. India's per capita energy consumption was 0.7 kilowatt, which is among the lowest in the world. India along with China has been listed as best users of solar energy. Although Indians and Brazilians ranked top on environment friendly behaviour, their environment knowledge was lowest. Only 25 per cent Indians questioned through an online survey knew that plastic is made from crude oil.

Source: http://www.karmayog.org/environmentnews/environmentnews_15047.htm

As I said earlier, in India everything needs a layer of religious faith (or spiritual pinch) to gain popularity among the mass...here's a report on how the trees are "discovered" as a mirror of lord siva!...anyway, this may help to make the mass eco-sensitive.

Bahuguna rekindles eco consciousness

DH News Service, Sirsi:

Soil, water and forest are the basis of human life and they should be conserved for the future generation, environmentalist Sundarlal Bahuguna said here on Sunday.

Addressing a gathering after planting saplings in the premises of Salkani Secondary School to commemorate the silver jubilee year of Appiko movement in Sirsi taluk for conservation of trees. The Appiko movement was a revolutionary movement based on environmental conservation in India. The "Chipko Andolan" (Hug the Trees Movement) of Sunderlal Bahuguna in Uttarakhand in the Himalayas inspired the villagers of the Uttara Kannada district to launch a similar movement to save their forests. In September 1983, men, women and children of Salkani "hugged the trees" in Kalase forest. The movement was called “Appiko”, Kannada word of "hugging.”

“Trees are just like God Shiva (Neelakantha) because trees release pure oxygen even after absorbing poisonous air. Therefore the onus of conserving trees is on human beings. The conservation of trees should become objective of every citizen”, he said.

He said although science enables us to grow more agricultural produced in less area of land, the indiscriminate use of fertilisers can lead to various ailments including diabetes. The richness of the land is deteriorating and nobody is aware of this suffering of land, but we as children of the land should save our mother by controlling pollution, he said.

Environmentalist Koushal from Jharkhand said that social work does not mean welfare of human beings alone but also includes conservation of forest.

Source: http://www.deccanherald.com/CONTENT/Sep82008/state2008090888787.asp
Eco conscious mobile gaming

NEW DELHI, India - An interesting new initiative has been launched using mobile gaming as a mouthpiece in helping educate gamers on issues of climate change. Dubbed Connect-2-Climate, this innovative program is a collaborative project between games developer ZMQ Software Systems and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), with the release of games such as 'DeCarbonator' and 'Mission Lighting' across India, it hopes to engage players on a fundamental entertainment level with an eco educational agenda in tow.

ZMQ has a history of giving games a sense of global social responsibility, having previously launched games in India to educate people on the subject of HIV and AIDS. This follow-up series of titles, themed around issues of climate change, again shows a serious commitment to harnessing the reach of mobile gaming to help affect positive change. Dr. R. K. Pachauri, Director General of TERI and co-recipient of 2007 Nobel Prize for Peace and Understanding on behalf of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said:

“Mobile games on climate change awareness are ideally suited for youth and children. It is from there that the change is going to come”

Echoing this vision, Hilmi Quraishi, Project Director on the Connect-2-Climate initiative said:

“It is our corporate social responsibility to use latest technologies that enable us to reach out to millions on one click of a button”.

The games are now available in India through Reliance Mobile World, a portal for mobile entertainment in India. Mahesh Prasad, President of Applications Solutions and Content Group at Reliance Communications explained how far reaching the initiative is within India:

“Connect-2-Climate is yet another important initiative through which we hope to spread the awareness of environmental conservation among the vast Indian population. Reliance Mobile World has today become the access point for over millions of unique customers, making it one of the most popular medium in India today. With this reach cutting across more than 4 lakh villages and over 20, 000 towns, we offer a unique opportunity to spread environmental awareness using latest technologies”

Granted, the games aren't pushing the gaming envelope in terms of technology, nonetheless if you fancy trying them out you can test them in the Mobile Games section on the Connect-2-Climate site.

Source: http://conversations.nokia.com/home/2008/06/eco-conscious-m.html

check for eco movements worldwide: http://www.ecostreet.com/blog/climate-change/2007/10/05/power-shift-2007-the-first-ever-youth-global-warming-summit/

Ragpickers: The Bottom Rung in the Waste Trade Ladder
By Bharati Chaturved, Specialist in Organizing Rag-Pickers in CHINTAN, INDIA

In India, recycling is a funny business. It’s been around for years. Much before the term itself seeped into everyday vocabulary, women separated newspapers and sold them to weekend buyers – the kabaris (from kabar, approximately meaning dry waste) who still cycle along on weekends with a weighing scale and loose change to pay with. Bottles were reused them till they broke and tins just never got thrown away. As a 13 year old, I could still see tins of baby food from my baby years, storing dals and rice. It happens even today, but its’ been pruned down by the uncontrolled introduction of the non-recyclable, non-reusable sachet and metalized plastic packaging. Now, as then, when something is either broken or entirely unfit, even to store away for a rainy day, it is thrown all mixed up into a dustbin. That’s when recycling begins.

For every hundred residents of Delhi, there is one person engaged in recycling.

All recycling in India is undertaken by (and via) the informal sector. This sector includes ragpickers, small middlemen, transporters, larger middlemen and finally, reprocessors. In terms of human resources this sector is arranged in a table top pyramid with ragpickers at the bottom of the pyramid and forming the backbone of waste collection. At the thinner end of the wedge are the small middlemen, who buy the waste from these ragpickers and sell it to larger middlemen who deal with specific items and materials. Above them are factories, who procure supplies from these godowns through omnipresent agents.

Delhi is a particularly interesting case in point, because it has one of the biggest and most vibrant recycling bases in the country. The wastepickers, of whom there are 100,000 in Delhi, are therefore, the base of a large recycling pyramid, handling between 9 to 15 percent of the solid waste generated in a city. In Delhi, which generated over 7000 MT waste daily, this comes to a substantial amount. There are a range of material which are picked up and recycled by this sector. These include plastics, paper, glass, and metals. Studies estimate that the amounts this informal labour forces saves the three Municipalities is a minimum of Rs. 6 lakhs (appx. 12,000 USD) daily. It is also seen that a piece of plastic, for example, increases 700% in value along the recycling chain, before it is even reprocessed.

For every hundred residents of Delhi, there is one person engaged in recycling.

But the point is : is recycling a green activity ?

Think just of the ragpicker – typically, a young person (though not a child) with a large woven HDPE sack flung on his shoulder. A ragpicker would have to begin work as early as 4 am, because otherwise, s/he’ll miss the waste. As a resident, you could begin to recognize your own ragpicker, because the routes are totally territorial. By the late afternoon, or whenever the bag is full, a ragpicker will return to the store of a middleman, also called a kabari, and sell. Even as he sells the waste should be sorted out according to almost 30 different types of plastics, paper, metals. They must be clean and dry, or the kabari can’t accept them. So you have little segregation patches in secret corners of the city, where thousands of the poorest sort out waste. From makeshift water sources, they might even wash them. Hunched over for hours, the poor undertake what the privileged preach: segregation of waste. If the privileged had done this themselves, the poor would have less cuts, burns, backaches, allergies, dog-bites, respiratory disorders.

The transaction at the selling point is complex : you could get paid less if your waste is sub-standard and wet, if you already owe the seller money or if he himself is cash strapped. Or, you could get a loan, which is likely to trap you in debt for a long time.

This shop, this site of exploitation and symbiotic living is the local hangout join, a club in the truest sense, a home for many in the rain and cold.

Ragpickers mostly live either in slums (usually the shop of a kabari), on footpaths or inside dustbins. Their access to basic amenities are poor, and few essential services are provided for them. The police beats them regularly, and often burns their bags of waste, leaving them with nothing to show for a day’s work. The municipal workers make them pay bribes to be allowed to forage in a bin. If it’s a lucrative bin, with lots of paper, for example, the rates get higher. Once ensconced, the municipal worker makes them do some of his work too : sweeping, loading trucks and all that’s not nice. If the ragpicker simply walks or cycles around a route, he’s not spared either. The police can pick him up to clean the police station, or the municipal sweepress can beat him to being independent. Long after the ragpicker, workers in the dingy stores of traders relive this unhappy state in their terms of work. So do factory workers, who run entire units on only a single 40 watt bulb and their bare hands. In a nutshell, it’s called survival.

Indian recycling thus runs on the efforts of the poor and the marginalized.

Meanwhile, this also subsidizes the consumption of various materials by other citizens. The example of plastics stands as a fine example. According to a report by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Plastics industry is growing at 10% per annum, and almost 52% of this is expected to be used in the packaging sector. Clearly, this is a short life use and will be cleared up as waste by the informal sector. Sadly, it will be undertaken in a manner which ensures that ecologically, economically and socially, the costs will be internalized by this recycling chain.

The informal sector has an important role because it is able to undertake recycling of most recyclable materials, which the municipality cannot. Although it is critical to the solid waste handling in India, the sector is unable to optimize its work due to lack of awareness and specific skills, as well very poor working conditions and access to basic facilities. The services provided by this sector, albeit gratis, are also poorly understood and hence, it is difficult for any other sector (eg, formal savings sector/banks, insurance) to support it .
Recycling should therefore be treated as the flip side of the urban middle class consumption.
Ironically, state attitudes towards this sector displays a schizophrenic quality.

On one hand, in seminars on Solid Waste Management, the sector is extensively , though selectively praised. The ragpickers are complemented (in absentia) for their hard work in cleaning up the city. NGOs are encouraged to work with them more intensively. There is at best a silence about the kabaris, bigger middlemen and factories which actually undertake the reprocessing and who are a part of the entire chain. This also links to the social/political imaging of ragpickers in the public mind as against the rest of the chain. Hence, ragpickers are poor/weak/exploited and posited against the exploiters: the rich(er) kabaris and middlemen who are seen as “opponents” rather than being involved in the symbiotic relationship that really exists between all these sectors. Despite their invaluable service, this sector is ignored by planners and policy makers, who do not take them into consideration at all . The current process of making the Third Master Plan for Delhi, though still being drafted in secrecy and not shared, has been acknowledged by the Delhi Development Authorities and NCR Authorities to have “left out the informal sectors,” including those in the area of waste. This then results in actually ignoring this sector and not translating into practice the theoretical acknowledgement of its services. Worse still, the lack of planning converts the sector into an illegal and illegitimate one, which is projected as encroaching upon the city, rather than serving it.

The situation has worsened since the Lt. Governor of Delhi, Vijay Kapoor deemed in 2000 that all commercial activities, such as kabaris, taking place in slums, be stopped and banned. Meanwhile, implementation of planning activities resulted in dislocation of several recycling factories, while previous “cleaning drives” have attacked waste storage stations. Two years ago, in Delhi, several illegal factories were closed down forcibly, primarily for environmental and planning reasons. No effort towards cleaner production or a toxics reduction agenda was seen as acceptable. Many of them were recycling factories, which were responsible for reprocessing the city’s waste and were therefore a part of the environmental agenda of recycling.

Simultaneously, government bodies are encouraging recycling as a good practice amongst citizens. Notably, this classification of citizenship does not seem to be inclusive of the urban poor recyclers, or even less poor denizens, as their efforts are not encouraged within this domain of recycling. In India, therefore the recycler becomes undesirable, although recycling itself is becoming more and more desirable in recent years .
Chintan is trying to address these issues through its efforts of organizing wastepickers, enabling them to access information, knowledge, assitsance from us and each other in times of need and above all, to see themsleves as they are : people who are amongst the most important pulses of the city. People with a right to a clean environment and safe work environment. Just People. Demanding a break.

CONTACT: Bharati Chaturved, Specialist in Organizing Rag-Pickers in CHINTAN, INDIA bharatich@hotmail.com


Thursday, December 4, 2008

faith+fashion...the mix trix@Indian Youth

Neha has sent these photos of "cool dudes and babes" mixing faith and fashion...thats the spirit of Indian youth.

copyright: Neha & Ingene

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

politics? ehh...

Young, restless, angry
Thu, Nov 13 03:30 AM

It is hard not to think of Rahul Gandhi's call for more youth to enter politics more as wishful thinking than as serious grappling with the complex sociological and institutional realties of youth in India. At a surface level the problem is institutional. Political leaders simply don't inspire; rules of entry are not clear; the sordid compromises associated with politics are enough to dampen the idealism of youth; there are serious financial obstacles to most people working in politics. This is for traditional politics. But there are other forms of engagement with public affairs, more likely to be expressed in arenas away from normal politics. The other two faces of this engagement reveal the fissures and disjunctures emerging in modern India: both its promise and peril.

The benign face is the active engagement of a large number of professionals in the NGO movement. There is an astonishing range of experiments going on, driven by young people: from Janaagraha, to PRS legislative research based at CPR; from Lok Satta to groups valiantly working on producing accountability in health, education, RTI, NREGA. These interventions are political in the sense that they want to penetrate to the core of politics, producing accountable institutions. But they are driven by what some might call an overinvestment in professionalism: they are not so much about wielding power as improving process. They are driven largely by people with professional backgrounds, many of whom have returned from abroad after giving up glittering careers. They are confident in their own skills and have something of a sense of what the future should look like. The extent of their impact is an open question: their social base is very thin, the terms in which they understand the purpose of politics is at odds with the obsession with identity and partisanship that drives so much of our politics, and they are undermined by the political economy of power. But this phenomenon is very real.

The other face is more troubling. An RSS leader recently told me ruefully that the RSS was finding it hard to attract young people. "Woh sab to Bajrang Dal ya Raj Thackeray ke paas ja rahein hain, ya phir Gurjjar type agitation mein lag jaate hain." We are in dire straits indeed when we begin to feel that the RSS of the old days was something you could understand: at least it had some connections to a larger spirit of service than what is replacing it. In a strange way this insight also captures another, more disturbing sociological reality. Extend this argument to the attraction of SIMI, the fascination with violence and terrorism now spreading amongst some sections of the Hindu youth, the continued attraction of pathologically violent Naxalism. The extent of these trends is hard to know, and we all have our favourite theories of what explains this. We also console ourselves with the fact that these groups do not represent the majority within their age cohort. But it is true of both communalism and violence: the actual numbers matter less. A toxin may be only a few drops, but it can contaminate everything else. But for all the supposedly mitigating circumstances that explain the turn to violence, marginalisation of Muslims, sense of frustration amongst Hindus about terrorism, economic injustice, you cannot but feel that for certain sections of youth, particularly educated youth, there is a deep rage against the system, expressing itself in pathological forms. This is a violence that merely needs a pretext and we are all too happy to provide it.

What is driving this? It is difficult to tell, but there is an odd way in which these two styles of political engagement represent the dualities being produced by the experience of education. From Raj Thackeray to the VHP, to caste groups, there is an attempt to target educated youth, a class that does, across many places, have a deep sense of feeling cheated. Just listen to the anxieties of students in regional universities. In some cases education is creating a new social identity, confident opportunity and self-image, one that is sometimes, perhaps, too "above" the messy realities of India. But in other cases it reminds one of a description Pierre Bourdieu once gave of the pathologies of educated and disillusioned youth. "These young people, whose social identity and self image have been undermined by a social system and educational system that have fobbed them off with worthless paper, can find no other way of restoring personal and social integrity, than by a total refusal. A whole generation, finding it has been taken for a ride, is inclined to extend to all institutions the mixture of revolt and resentment it feels towards the educational system."

Most public institutions are also unable to create a sense of purpose and identity to those who participate in them. Malegaon may be a warning sign that even the one institution that we were so confident could do so, the army, is fraying at the edges. It is not an accident that a politics that appeals to these youth is not one of high ideals, but one that confirms their status as victims. This politics also provides them with an easy narrative, one that blames outsiders for their state: this is what Raj Thackeray, SIMI, Bajrang Dal, all trade on, though there is some evidence that amongst Dalit youth Mayawati does act as a palliative. It is also not an accident, that this politics is divorced from any sense of long-term goals. It is in search for instant affirmation, symbols of revolt, something that grants an immediate sense of identity. Precisely because this politics feeds off disillusionment and resentment, it cannot brook the message that politics is the slow boring of hard boards.

We had hoped that with the arrival of our first genuinely postcolonial generation, the fading memories of Partition, some of the old communal issues would go away. But they have found a way of feeding off new forms of identity crisis. The Bajrang Dal is not about lifelong service and self-denial as the RSS with all its faults was; nor is there any equivalent of JP movement around, the last social movement to draw in waves of young people (Rajiv Gandhi attracted young people in a more top-down way). So we have three genres of youth politics: traditional, defined by boundaries of access and money; professional approaches to reform, limited in effect; and the politics of resentment. Transforming all of these will require not just appeals, but a battle on many fronts.

The writer is president, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi

source: http://in.news.yahoo.com/48/20081113/1241/top-young-restless-angry.html

Thursday, November 27, 2008

mix trix: spirituality+customs+faith+fashion @ Indianway

Two very inconic images from INgene resource library shows how well the Indian Youth mixes the faith and fashion.

faith and fashion- IN

Previous article speaks about how the youth today have faith in spirituality, numerology, astrology and other such not-so-conventionally youth interest fields. To talk in terms of fashion trends, these interests have moved beyond just holding religious sentiments into the daily lifestyles of the youngsters. Many young-adults are seen flaunting red-yellow holy threads, silver-bronze kadas, colored beaded neck pieces with equal poise, as they flaunt their branded accessories. Discussions on zodiac signs, with respect to the similarities and dissimilarities, attitudes of persons belonging to different star-signs, attributing one’s nature to his/her sign etc… is quite a common topic amongst these age-group. There are many who just like the aesthetics of these items, like wearing a cross even though one may not be a follower of Christianism or wearing mythological pop-prints on ones outfit when one may not even know their names, but are still passionate about projecting their culture...a true Glocal indeed. Whether or not these items are worn by youth as a style statement or out-of-religious beliefs, these religious and spiritual symbols not just reflect the Indian identity of these youngsters but also reinforce the fact that, however western or modern we may become in our attitudes and behaviors we will always be rooted in our rich unique culture and tradition.

As we have mentioned earlier “the gen V (V for virtual)” of India is a truly balanced generation… touching traditional base they knows how to fly… where the tradition/ spirituality and culture/customs are not taken as burdens but a point of pride (unlike the earlier generation)…for detailed photos of “mix trix” please check the earlier posts.

Copyright to : INgene Team (Kaustav & Neha)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

astro being trendy among Indian youth

Soothsayers popular with Gen Next

Tue, Nov 25 01:51 PM

Ruby Nanda New Delhi, Nov 25 (PTI) They maybe smart suave new jetsetters but the modern youth are still facinated by the age old art of astrology, tarot reading, numerology more then ever. "A lot of young people come to me.
Today's youth is ambitious they want everything very fast. They do not want any problems in their life.
We never say that there is any replacement for hard work but minor changes can bring you better luck", says Niraj Mancchanda, a numerologist from Mumbai. The new-age soothsayers are popular with the young with a desire to get ahead fast in life .
"People come to correct their names so that they vibrate with positive vibes for good luck", says Mancchanda. Come marriage season and event the educated and the illiterate make a beeline to astrologers seeking their advice.
"Young people want it both ways; they want to marry the person they love yet not have any problems. So they come to consult me, so that there are no problems in the future,"
said Prem Sharma, a popular astrologer.

A visit to a palmist, numerologist, tarot card reader or astrologer has become quite a fashion statement now-a-days. It has become quite a thing to have theme parties or a tarot reader in a party, says Nandita, 23, a Public Relations executive.

"My friend a top government official is going through a bad phase in her married life, she consulted a tarot reader whom she claims told her every thing correctly," says Kabita "This has always been there for centuries in India, it is much more widely accepted because of insecurity and unsurety in the modern world. Any individual cannot survive in a condition of ambiguity," says senior consultant, Fortis hospital Clinical Psychologist Vandana Prakash.
Source: http://in.news.yahoo.com/20/20081125/1418/tnl-soothsayers-popular-with-gen-next.html

Kaustav says : If you check the earlier posts in this blog, I have posted the trend prediction last year where it was stated that there is a growing affinity towards “trendy” spirituality and youth will tend to bend more towards the traditional “faith” to find resorts from growing anxiety and pressure (work, economy, competition, ego) in India.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

brights IN

Is ‘BLACK’ really the color of the season???
Certainly not the color of the day for most (who cares for their “style”)…BLACK IS DEAD for Inglodians.
though bollywood and celebs still facinates to be blackend :)

Believe it or not frnds, these pics were taken within 2 hrs on 17th Nov eve, at NIFT, Delhi campus. Dunno how many more were there around unnoticed!!!
Surprising how the whole pallete of pinks and purples was all that one could witness around…Wat r these babes in pastels and solid monotones looking at???
Feminity, sophistication, elegance or just getting rid of dull tones???
(by Neha, INgene member, Delhi)

INgene analysis : Yesterday I was chatting online with Neha and she stated that at Pragati Maidan fair she has noticed a Sikh gentleman (and many more) in all pink (including his stylish turban) ! the probable cause can be “metro-sexual look”…soft, sophisticated…umm…and manly…pink (precisely fuchsia) is anyway a royal color in India and one of the most popular staple color for Indi-teen girl’s wardrobe. But, the interest lays on how its turning to fascinate the men too…pink dude.
The bright tones are spreading faster…the natural neons (swimming pool blue, tweed green, fresh lime) are IN.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

bachha buzz

I hate to write about politics / politicians...but the youth finally came in buzz...and the "grey hairs" will understand their "power" soon.

I (and this blog) dont support any political parties / netas (bachha or buddha).

Tue, Nov 18 06:06 PM

Amritsar, Nov 18 (IANS) In a polite riposte to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Rajnath Singh who called him a 'bachcha' (child), Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi Tuesday said he should keep in mind that 70 percent of people in the country were young like him.

'Yes, I am still a bachcha for a senior leader like Rajnath Singh. I really respect him and agree with whatever he says as I do not have even half the experience he has," Gandhi told a news conference here.

He was in Amritsar along with former chief election commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh to review preparations for Indian Youth Congress (IYC) elections in Punjab.

"Compared to the likes of Rajnath Singh and others, I am still a bachcha. I am a much younger person. I think in a completely different way than how they think. They think politically.'

Rajnath Singh had dubbed Gandhi a bachcha when he was asked by Shekhar Gupta, in his Walk the Talk programme on NDTV, on what he thought of the Congress MP and his politics.

'However, fortunately or unfortunately for him (Rajnath Singh), 70 percent people of India who are powering the country are also bachchas," Gandhi said sarcastically.

Punjab is the first state where IYC elections are being held in a new democratic manner.

The move has been initiated by Gandhi who wants to replicate the same in other states to give greater representation to grassroots workers.

Source: http://in.news.yahoo.com/43/20081118/818/tnl-i-may-be-a-bachcha-but-so-are-most-i.html

Friday, November 14, 2008

indian adventurers- decent yet cool

A small group started forming in cyberspace which has existence in real-ground too. A biker group of young Indians which has 764 virtual members...the moderator said that now he owns two bikes...once being denied to ride two-wheeler by the parents...
the aspiration to create a subculture is there among young adults...
But, check the dress and attitude, they looks "decent" yet cool...More of "teddy boy" look with bike in addition...that’s how we are.

Quoting a few bloggers for more idea about "indian adventure" :

"do u all people ride in mumbai???? or just go long ways??? i have a pulsar 200, even i love riding together, i have my small gang of 6 people including me, v can ride 100-150 one side, but our parents wont allow me to go long, so if u ride in mumbai, can v join u all guyz???
i think it will great fun for us……" - (hoshang said,November 4, 2008 @ 7:05 am)

The group states :

“A mad idea that worked… a sense of achievement… a dream that became reality, ” says Vibhu Rishi , fondly recollecting his memories of BikeNomads, his Yahoo! Group. As a teen, he was not allowed a two-wheeler. Today he owns not one, but two motorbikes.

Chasing his passion for travel and biking, he started looking out for bike travel groups where people share their experiences. Upon not finding one to his liking, he created, in 2002, a group of his own - BikeNomads. Today, the group boasts of 764 members and high levels of energy. The first annual meet was held in Goa in 2006, followed by Hampi in 2007 and Dandeli earlier this year. More than forty bikers, some with their spouses, had gathered before the ruins of the magnificent temples of Hampi, celebrating yet another year of great biking.

Vibhu and his fellow moderators are putting every bit into moderating this dream group. The members are taking the group to the next level by introducing trip-organization process. Volunteers start off by planning trips to interesting and adventurous destinations. They then coordinate with other members and bring them together to ensure successful bike trips.

Well, we aren’t stunting group, we are purely touring group. People who like to go far off places on their bikes to fullfil their wanderlust.

Source : http://www.ygroupsblog.in/blog/2008/11/03/presenting-the-bike-nomads/

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mobile messege- A major communication tool for Indian youth segment

Wed, Nov 12 09:51 AM

Aizawl, Nov 12 (IANS) Text messages on mobile phones are the most popular mode of seeking votes in Mizoram, which goes to the polls early next month to elect a new state assembly.

'Sending text messages through mobile phones is the main mode of campaigning this time. Candidates are also sending their election symbols through SMS to make the voters aware,' said Vanlalremruata, a senior journalist and campaigner for inexpensive poll campaigns.

The election to the 40-seat Mizoram assembly is scheduled for Dec 2 and the results are expected Dec 8.

The influential Mizoram People's Forum (MPF), a conglomeration of major churches and NGOs, has issued a set of election guidelines for political parties and candidates.

'Election campaigns, specially 'door-to-door' campaigns, always end up with candidates and party workers using money power to persuade electors. We disapprove of this practice,' said Zosangliana Colney, MPF vice president and a leader of the Mizoram Presbyterian Church.

With election fever gripping the state, sale of mobile handsets and SIM cards is on the rise.

'Sales of SIM cards and mobile handsets have gone up manifold since the poll diktats were imposed by the MPF,' said Robert, a mobile phone dealer in this state capital.

Unlike in the past where poll rallies and meetings were organised to drum up support, electioneering this year is rather low key.

'This is because nobody would dare to go against the diktats of the church leaders,' Vanlalremruata said.

The Election Commission has appointed 18 observers to keep an eye on candidates and their campaigns.

Besides guidelines to have inexpensive campaigns, the MPF has also urged militant groups not to interfere in the elections. Some of the rebel groups in the northeast have their presence across the region and hence the appeal.

MPF general secretary Lalbiakmawia Ngente and Colney earlier met top leaders of the two warring factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) and other militant outfits.

'We sought the help of the militant groups to ensure that no armed insurgent groups from neighbouring states interfere in the assembly polls,' Colney said.

In all, 150 candidates, mostly young, had submitted their nominations till Tuesday. Wednesday is the last date for filing nominations.

Chief Minister Zoramthanga, two former chief ministers - Lalthanhawla of Congress and Brig (retired) Thenphunga Sailo of the Mizoram People's Conference (MPC) - and a host of bureaucrates are leading their respective parties in the polls.

Mizoram Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) C. Ramhiuna, who took voluntary retirement from government service last week, and former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Lalduhoma will also try their political fortunes.

Zoramthanga is pitted against United Democratic Alliance's (UDA) H. Lalhmingthangi, a 32-year-old theologian, who last month resigned as secretary of the Presbyterian Women Fellowship (North East) in Champhai South constituency bordering Myanmar.

Another young student leader Lalhmachhuana Zofa will be fighting as an independent candidate against Zoramthanga in Champhai North seat. Three-time chief minister and state PCC chief Lalthanhawla is also facing a challenge from R. Lalhnuna, general secretary of the ruling MNF and a first-time contestant.

Young social activist Lalruatkima, who last month resigned as general secretary of the central committee of Young Mizo Association (YMA) is pitted against UDA's chief ministerial candidate Sailo in the Aizawl West-II constituency.

Source : http://in.news.yahoo.com/43/20081112/818/tnl-mobile-phone-key-mode-of-campaign-in_1.html
Upwardly Mobile

Cellphone companies captured young India’s potential. Other marketers should take note.


Mere paas gaadi hai, bangla hai, daulat hai... tumhare paas kya hai? Mere paas latest mobile hai. You know the type. Youngest kid in the office, but the guy with the coolest cell phone. And not necessarily funded by Daddy Big Bucks. “I blew my entire salary on this phone” is an increasingly common story. Yet, there is no permanent purchase satisfaction. The owner of a Nokia N70 is already eyeing an N91.
The term ‘upwardly mobile’ has acquired a whole new meaning; the wheel has turned full circle. The cellphone started life in this country as a status symbol, became a utility, and now it’s once again symbolic of your status in life. More so for the young. It is also a metaphor for the restless nature of youth — change becoming the only constant.

Wasi Ansari started using a cellphone four years ago, when he was in his second year of college. “The first handset I bought was a second hand Ericsson GA628 for Rs 2,500. I gave it away because it was no better then a cordless phone. I had to upgrade.” Since then, he has owned eight different handsets, four he managed to lose and one got stolen.

On one hand, Wasi is sheepish about being so careless. “When I think of all these phones and the amount of money that I spent on them, it feels terrible,” he says. “But it also feels OK because I think that this is the reason that I am using a N91 today.” Wasi may be one of a tiny minority who can be so blasé — he can afford it. But the average Anand and Aarti also satisfy their wanderlust. They change screensavers and ringtones, if not handsets.

Today, when a cellphone rings in Café Coffee Day, a dozen hands reach for the hip pocket. This was not always the scene earlier. The cellphone-toting teen we now accept as normal did not exist less than four years ago. In January 2003, India had just 10 million mobile subscribers. By the end of that year, the number stood at 28 million. Today, it is 110 million — and counting.

So, how did cellphones wriggle their way into the hearts and minds of young India? And could there be lessons in that success story for other companies trying to connect with that elusive animal called ‘youth’?

The most obvious answer is: pricing. In January 2003, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India made incoming calls free. Then Reliance entered the market; GSM fought back with lower prices and aggressively pushed pre-paid cards. Cheap handsets became available and everyone from plumbers to pesky 16-year-olds joined the party.

But it is not that simple. Rs 330, the minimum monthly pre-paid card at the time, was no big deal for a working young adult. Or, even the student with a part-time job. But a large population of teens was — and continues to be — funded by parents. And Rs 7,000 a year (airtime charges + a basic Rs 3,000 handset) is money a middle class family thinks twice about.

A conversation circa 2003 went something like this:

Teen: Mom, I need a cellphone.
Mom: I don’t think so.
Teen: But Aparna has one.
Mom: Aparna is a spoilt brat… Look, I will think about it, maybe next year.

Then, parent bumps into Aparna’s mother at the sabzi mandi and there is a conversation about how there is ‘so much peace of mind’ now that beti has a cellphone. “I mean, what if there is an emergency. And so many times children are kept back late in tuitions...”

Aha! A perfectly rational reason to buy your kid a cellphone without seeming like an over-indulgent parent. It is a different thing that while parents may feel a sense of security in knowing ‘where their kids are’, they actually have less of an idea than ever before. The cellphone actually accords unprecedented privacy, especially to young women. The days of paranoid papas vetting all incoming calls are gone forever.

Luckily for young people, parents did not wisen up before it was too late. As more teens got cellphones, peer pressure became the prime motivation to join the connectivity club. A study by the Market Analysis and Consumer Research Organisation in Mumbai in April-May 2004 found that 70 per cent of respondents aged 15-24 cited, “everybody around me has one” as the major reason for purchasing a cellphone.

Rashmi Bansal is co-founder and editor of popular youth magazine JAM (jammag.com). She also writes Youth Curry, a blog on youth and trends (youthcurry.blogspot.com)

The ‘herd mentality’ is an inherent part of teenage life. But few marketers have been able to create that ‘gotta have it’ feeling. It is nice to have a pair of Nikes, yet an unbranded but good-looking ‘Made in Thailand’ will do just as well for the average teen. Of course, it is not entirely their fault. The world has changed and so has what is cool and iconic.

“For an earlier generation, clothing and fast food brands were ‘badges’. Now, technology occupies a much larger mind space,” says Lloyd Mathias, marketing director, Motorola. That was one of the reasons for Mathias to shift to Motorola from Pepsi after a long association with the archetypal ‘cool’ company.

What Mathias did was apply many of the youth marketing ideas he internalised at Pepsi. For one, ‘be different’. Faced with a market dominated by Nokia users, Motorola appealed to the audience to make an ‘active choice’ and stand out among one’s peers. That need to be provocative resulted in the widely noticed Abhishek Bachchan vs Razr V3 campaign.

Simultaneously, Motorola rolled out a slew of models at more affordable price points. The company worked closely with carriers to create attractive bundled offers and even tied up with GE Money to introduce ‘mobile financing’. Repayment is over a 9-12 month period, with minimum documentation requirement — only ID and proof of address. Today, Nokia remains the dominant brand with around 66 per cent market share. But according to the third quarter results released by Motorola, the company is now in ‘solid No. 2 position’ in India, with a market share of approximately 10 per cent.

Here is the point marketers need to note. Price, advertising, promotion and distribution played a key role in Motorola’s success story. But at the heart of Motorola’s ‘look, I’m different’ positioning, lay a product with a difference. Its Razr phones were sleeker and better looking. Tweaking the marketing took the brand from ‘object of desire’ status to attainable.

The question is: How many companies outside the digital domain try to achieve ‘object of desire’ status in the first place? Most are happy offering — and then heavily advertising — a slight cosmetic change. So, a toothpaste will tweak the way it smells, or add an ingredient, or change its packaging or endorser. The advertising implies that using the brand is an important element in attaining social success. The reality is quite different.

While young people may be loyal to certain brands, the importance of toothpaste as a category in their life is declining. Brushing your teeth is a necessary evil — nothing more, nothing less. Must the toothpaste manufacturer shrug, “Well, can I do anything about that” and watch helplessly from the sidelines? The answer is both yes, and no.

On the one hand, the mobile is a unique and complete world in itself. One with physical form and virtual depth. Couple that with portability and you have a product that is so personal, it is almost like a part of your inherent self. “The digital is our new mental model of the world,” says Santosh Desai, President, McCann-Erickson (India). Virtual is reality. The sight of a group of friends sitting in a coffee shop absorbed in SMS-ing people not physically present — instead of enjoying the present company — is a common one.

So yes, a bike can work on its looks and improve power, speed, or fuel efficiency. Beyond that, it remains constrained by its real world existence. But must it? Nothing stopped the bike from becoming a ‘Bikeman’ with music on board. And the toothpaste guys — why can they not come up with a teeth-cleaning gum? Why are they OK with Wrigley’s Orbit occupying that space?

The mobile phone, on the other hand, has no problem invading ‘other’ territory and annexing it. Going by conventional wisdom, phone companies should have stopped at improving voice clarity and enhancing looks. But they never thought of themselves as merely a phone. Instead of waiting for someone to express the desire for a service called SMS or a camera embedded into a phone, someone just went ahead and invented it. Part of the reason the mobile maintains its cool is the scorching pace the industry has set in terms of innovation.

“We are used to the idea of a world where change happens in long cycles,” says Desai. “The Internet, and more so, the mobile, give us a sense that the world needs to update itself constantly.” Even iconic tech products such as the iPod are quick to keep reinventing themselves. Before the dust settled on the original, you had a Nano, a Shuffle, and then video versions. Why? Because refuse to update, and you may die.

The bottom line: all companies will have to invest more in R&D. And also think beyond the narrow definition of their core business. As virtual world offerings get more exciting, the real world can either throw up its hands and say, “I give up”, or take up the challenge and find new ways of becoming relevant to the young person’s life. And there are brands in India that have made the transition.

Yash Raj Films has moved from naris in chiffon saris to biker chicks and dudes. Titan revitalised its Fastrack brand, while Brylcreem went from grease for balding uncles to gel for the new generation. But all these brands — and others that have not been as successful in their youth thrust — must keep pushing the envelope.

The term ‘mobile’ happens to be associated with a technological device, but ‘mobility’ lies at the core of what it means to be young. Even mobile phone operators are learning that the hard way. Reliance CDMA, despite being the ‘most economical’, never caught on. GSM may be a little pricier, but young people prefer it because they can keep changing the card — or handset. Taking note, Reliance is changing.

Every youth brand — not just cellular ones — will need to to answer that question: “Am I mobile?” If not, you are making noise on silent mode as far as India’s youth is concerned.


Monday, November 10, 2008

scarves IN @ Delhi early-winter 08


Neha Shah
INgene team member
Masters in Design (Fashion and Appareal),NIFT,Delhi
B.E (Telecommunication),Mumbai University

Monday, November 3, 2008

this summer indian teen moves to indi-pop (as reported by neha shah)

Copyright to :
Neha Shah
Masters in Design (Fashion and Appareal),NIFT,Delhi
B.E (Telecommunication),Mumbai University

Monday, October 27, 2008

Be gadgeted

The gizmos and gadgets are next to the heart for Indian youth. They literally breathe in it. Cell phone is the most popular gadget with the highest usage (because of its affordability, attractive facilities like sms, games, camera, music & downloads). My recent survey reveals that more than 62% Indian & Inglodian youth maintain more then one mobiles. One exclusively for communication with the parents and other for the peers. The recent “trend” is to obtain the apple i-phone even if most of the options are not used. Laptops are considered as an essential gadget for them and it crossed the level of being a show-off gadget to the utility gadget. I-pod is not a must have but considered as a “show-off” gadget. The usage of wrist watch is going down (the time can now be checked in mobile, laptops or even in the places of hang-out). The watch is now a “show off” gadget if it’s a prestigious brand like Swatch and the emphasis is given more into the “look & brand value” rather than the technology & quality.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

True Swadeshis; smart patriotism

With continuous global exposure through internet and hundreds of satellite channels, frequent abroad visit for jobs (projects, training, services and even reward packages) and academics the Indian youth are becoming more India-oriented. As drishtikona.com reports “Indian executives dread foreign postings: Gone are the days when an overseas posting would necessarily bring cheer. While Indian CEOs often don’t want to move, companies insist these postings are a means of giving their senior executives international exposure”. The AC Nielsen survey conducted on the occasion of the 60th year of Independence said 89 per cent respondents wished to be reborn as Indians if they were given a choice. The respondents felt India has improved its position in the past decades in the fields of business and commerce (57 per cent), science and technology (43 per cent) and education (19 per cent). The recent downfall of economy in USA and Europe strengthens the feeling of remaining in India rather then dreaming of migrating abroad unlike the earlier generation. The method of expression of patriotism also has largely changed. Even the Bollywood movies are no more bluntly patriotic but smartly patriotic where saving a country doesn’t necessarily means of die for it over the Tiranga but contributing to its economical growth and prosperity.
One respondent in Mumbai exclaims rather astonishingly, “Rebirth? yah…in India…where else u have d guts to spit on street…and freedom to break d speed limit with a small tips to the policewala…listen, Dubai and Singapore are great for shopping, Paris, Milan and New York are sweet to have fun but living is cool in India…”

This attitude is opposite to the attitude of earlier generation who aspired to immigrate...settle down to some dream land...in west.

The patriotism is now expressed through becoming sensitive to social issues. Below are a few tee-shirts designed and marketed by The Doers (http://thedoers.blogspot.com/), a group of young designers promoting the spirit of Mumbai and addressing various social / health related issues. Take a look:

(be proud of your heritage)

(this tee collection celebrates the spirit of Mumbai...after the serial bomb blasts in train)

All designs and photographs are copyright to http://tshirtsdonebydoers.blogspot.com

Friday, October 24, 2008

exhibitionism is GORWING

With the ever-growing confidence level and money power Indian youth are becoming habitual exhibitionists. As the population of novo riches are growing in the segment of Inglodians the difference in the pattern of exhibitionism is also increasing in between them and the traditionally rich Indian youth; where the former is showing off extravagance through conspicuous consumption and the later is resorting into more “antique” and traditionally own family wealth through elegant yet not-so-loud (“if you have the eyes you will see it”) exhibitionism.

“Its all about celebrating yourself, feeling good about who and what you are, about finally coming to your own”, is how Sakhi Rao, a first year college student chooses to describe what liberation in 21st century India means to her. A fair enough description, except that her idea of celebrating herself begins and ends with “making sure that in every room I walk into, I turn heads”. “For years we have been pushed behind the veil, and now we are hitting back with a vengeance” she says (The Week).

As Hebdige once stated “the politics of youth culture is the politics of metaphor…it forms up space between surveillance and the evasion of surveillance, it translates the fact of being under scrutiny into the pleasure of being watched. It is a hiding in the light”. The fine balance between the pleasure of “showing off” (to the peers & other half of India) and “hiding in the light” is the factor which is shaping the consumerism of young India.

Friday, October 10, 2008


As I have mentioned in my post (dtd. 5th Sept.2008)the “I Love Me” attitude is picking up among Indian Youth…a core lifestyle trend…the Narcissism is at high…
A discussion / opinion pole in The Hindu Metro plus is emphasizing in it...

The recent issue of PINK- India Today Magazine depicts an young couple in cover page and the advertisement of “Luxurious care …assisted living” (ahh…a new definition of Old Age Home) in the back…and launching at the right place...BANGALORE...hub of IT Culture in India...

Cocooning is growing…

The Hindu-Metroplus,Wednesday,1st October,2008

Pink-India Today, Oct.2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

mint green and swimming-pool blue...IN

The counter-trend is becoming stronger...

Due to "remain fresh" & "go green" attitude the unsusal green/ blue tones are becoming pop (not the natural green or blue)...chk urself...the third slide is a compilation of party pictures at the opening of "rock on"...

a still from the movie "rock on" also depicts the color...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Finally black comes to mainstream

March 15th 2007: I stated that "The most favorite unisexual colors are black & white. Boys love blues and rugged while the girls are more into pinks and ethnic mix"

March 21st 2007: I have mentioned the growing dominance of "back" and other darker tones among various college campus (Indian winter 07/08)
Also showed how bollywood is getting inspired by the "darker frames".

July 15th 2008: Fresh summer report shows black is still a dominant color along with pink, grey, pastels and mid tones.

blogger ramya mentioned : "blacks n greys r surely in!! the whole mob of college goers is affected by the 'i wana look sofisticated yet casual' look this season... most of them who r not sure wat is in.. try to play it safe by sticking to blacks greys n whites... good observation!!"

The same day, one more report I have posted which showes black is creeping in as the "latest trend"...worldwide...

and...finally...today's posting confirms that "BLACK IS BACK"...the whole Vogue India current issue talks about "how to wear black" !!!
Interesting, how Satya Paul also arrived with a black saree collection!

Now, WHAT'S NEXT? the next color which was a counter trend as posted earlier are coming as a major trend : mint green, greenish blues...pink remains a staple.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I love me...

The Indian youth are becoming self obsessed…thanks to the social networking sites like orkut and facebook the internet is becoming a common arena to display a “better me”…larger than life picture…the user-friendly software like Photoshop is the most common tool to edit and present “enhanced” self pictures in internet space….this trend shows that youth are getting confident about their look and attitude and will emerge as a bigger fashion trend in the days to come.

talent hunt...

Showoff your talent (even if you know a little bit of it)…to impress peers…another growing trend among the youth.


Check the photos...how glocalization is spreading in the country...the youth in the photo is not actually a punjabi...but he says he likes being one!


Tattooing and piercing is a major trend…the tattoos are almost unisexual…no particular motif specified for any gender…but most of the tattoos are “mild” and “non provocative”…the piercing are mainly in the facial region and naval( for gals).

influence: "GOTH"

Gothic influences are slowly gaining popularity…mainly as tee graphics…the black nail polish or eye mascaras can also be seen.

graphics & prints...

Being multilingual is one of the major characteristic of Indian youth…the letterings doesn’t appear much informative to us than the visuals…