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.

Monday, September 28, 2009

politics and Indian youth

“The king, the king has arrived”…the maharajas in world’s largest democratic country

The most frequent question am being asked is “why [the hell] educated, smart and well-placed Indian youth are not interested in politics! Why they are so selfish to think about themselves only…where are those sons of the soil who used to devote their whole life (and soul+blood +sweat+wealth and so on…) to the good of country and its people…the khadis are no longer luring the young Indians…” “is desh ka kea hoga” (what will happen to this country in future…) the grey hairs will cry…
The only answer I can give is “unless the kings (read ‘politicians’) being stripped of their autocracies and corruption to become real democratic leaders and politics no longer remains a ‘profession’ for a lucky few who’s corrupted to the core…the wonderful Young Indians will not be interested to idolize, contribute and serve this land ‘politically’ (if not in the other ways)”

Confused? Let me ask you a question then: How can you call a neta (political leader) the desh bandhu (friend of this country) or the father/ brother/ sister of this nation when he or she is being surrounded by 100s of commandos (in fear of being assassinated! Or simply to show off his / her power / status)…the crowded roads being “cleaned” / “sanitized “ with proper police barricades whenever he / she “takes a tour” which creates massive traffic jam for rest of the day…the utopia being created before he or she visits a place…overnight the roads will be made (temporarily) , bijli (power supply) will be “arranged”, anti social elements (unless they r the member of same party) will be captured (again, temporarily)…the hard earned money of public which is submitted as tax to the government is spent to make the marble statues of political leaders (who’s still alive!...it reminds me Mr. Saddam Hussain…) and amusement parks! In India, the “system” remains as “British” till date (the dreadlocks of feudal system to “extract” the wealth from the poor) where as the “dream” remains “romantically democratic”…the fatal dose of fantasy and faith in toxic combination of custom, cast and religion being fed to aam admi everyday by the politicians to earn money, power and legacy. Still India remains as just a “theme” which somehow glues people around it at certain occasions and sentiments and politicians very well utilizes this fact to their own benefits.
Let us see how “ Indian” and “son of the soil” our leaders were in past who’s being followed by their heir at present. As Nandan Nilekani describes in his book Imagining India, page 13- “ He (Mr. Nehru) had described himself as ‘the last Englishman to rule India” – he had grown up under the eye of a Westernized father, a successful lawyer and a late convert to the cause of India’s independence from the British. Motilal Nehru insisted on knives and forks at the dining table, spoke in English at home (although his wife did not know the language) and employed British tutors for his children. Nehru was sent to England when he was a teenager, to study in Harrow, then Cambridge and the Inns of Court…Nehru was thus very much a child of the Western Enlightment…he (Nehru) also disagreed with his (Gandhi’s) more traditional beliefs, once writing, ‘Ideologically, he [is] sometimes amazingly backward’….during a visit to Uttar Pradesh, the local Congress leader Kalka Prasad introduced Nehru as the ‘new king’, and the peasants gathered echoed, ‘The king, the king has arrived’…” if you have noticed, Nehru presented himself as the “ruler” of India, though he was supped to “represent” the people!!! This legacy was continued by his daughter. “she was almost smug in her assumption of how the people regarded her, apparently telling the author and journalist Bruce Chatwin, ‘you have no idea how tiring it is to be a goddess.’ ( Imagining India- Page 16)…

As Pravat K Varma wrote in his book, Being Indian, page 18- “In the Indian tradition the powerful are not expected to be reticent or modest in the projection of their power. In the eighteenth century Lord Wellesly told the East India Company in London that to rule ‘natives’ it was essential to build palaces to awe them into submission. The Company was persuaded to accept his logic, and the massive Residence for the Governor came into being in Calcutta. More than fifty years after the British left, the imposing palace fulfills more or less the same purpose. The governor of West Bengal lives in isolated splendor in the sprawling estate, maintained by 168 underlings. The departure of British effected a transfer of power. A transfer of the paraphernalia of power accompanied the transfer of power. This was not an uncommon occurrence. Colonized elites all over the world emulate the pomp and ceremony of their oppressors, once rid of them. But the Indian elite could have been different. The man who got them independence, and whom they chose to call the Father of the Nation, shunned the trappings of power. He did not live in government palaces. He traveled in the lowest class in trains. He celebrated his austerity, wearing little more than a loincloth. He wanted the massive Viceregal Palace in New Delhi to be converted into a hospital. He exhorted the members of the New Indian government to live, and rule, with humanity. Undoubtedly, his example was very difficult to follow. Even those who believed in him could hardly be expected to be as austere, or as utopian, or as self-denying as him… The first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, was a committed and prominent devotee of Gandhi. Yet, soon after the Union Jack went down and Indian Tricolor fluttered proudly in the breeze in August 1947, Nehru moved into the Flagstaff House, the palatial residence of the British Commander-in-Chief. The residence of the Viceroy, arguably the world’s largest palace, became the home of President Prasad.”

Nilekani argues(page 16, 17) that “India’s fragmentation has grown only more complicated with economic reforms. The new policies transferred economic power from the centre to the states, giving more strength to regional parties. Since then we have seen our divisions came into high relief…The leaders of these smaller parties have a very different political and social vision from that of India’s founders, and align themselves to the interests of not just the state they represent but also of particular caste and religious communities within it. India’s first leaders had wanted to put an end to categorizing, separating, classifying, enumerating and granting of special concessions’. But with the rise of powerful community-based parties, such concessions have become central. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has brought specific benefits to voters from her caste, the state’s oppressed Dalit communities, in government appointments and jobs. In Bihar, some complained that ‘the department heads and heads of electricity and water boards Laloo Prasad Yadav appointed were all Yadavs’. In India, vote is not to improve the country or countrymen but a tool of trade (of certain immediate benefits and rewards…ie. The free color TV for all BPL population in the state as promised by Mr. Karunanidhi, CM of Tamil Nadu…)

The politicians’ saves the back of each other in this “game” and the bureaucrats are there to develop a system to hide the dirt. Nilekani states (page 26) “ The bureaucrats I encountered had learned that protecting their turf and not recoking the boat were key to thriving in government. I have seen enough enterprising bureaucrats in Karnataka who, when they tried to implement bold reforms in areas such as infrastructure or government transparency, found themselves transferred overnight to minor departments as punishment.”

Hence, until India, as a country, innovates its own system which will ensure transparency, break the network of corrupted political leaders and the dreadlock of “unnecessary protocols of bureaucracy” this young political aspirants will be sucked in the dirt to become a part of it (ie. Raj Thakarey and Varun Gandhi’s regional and religious motives respectively) or will be defeated unless they are “blue blooded”….and as the history exhibits, the legacy of dirty personal ambition will flow in families / parties…


So, what’s the changing scenario in contribution of youth in contemporary politics? Any change is happening or it’s the same black hole as earlier? Will it be the same assembly where the grey hairs will break chairs and dance over the bench? will it remain the place where illiterates will fight to ban computers in their own state?

Fortunately traits of change are seen. The editorial of India Today, June 1st, 2009 issue states “ Not only did the decisive mandate of election 2009 come as a pleasant surprise but the profile of the 15th Lok Sabha is also quite refreshing. It will have the largest-ever number of MPs below 40 years of age, 82 to be precise, which is twice as many in the last Lok Sabha….education levels have gone up to; the entire Lok Sabha has only one MP who is illiterate” Among these, Mr. Hamdhullah Sayeed (26yrs) is the youngest MP, Ms. Mausam Noor (28 yrs) is a law graduate, Mr. Jayant Chaudhary (30) is LSE graduate, Ms. Shruti Choudhry (33yrs) is a lawyer, Mr. P.K. Bijju (34yrs) is a research scholar in polymer chemistry and the list goes on…the list sounds very promising but will all of these MPs succeed in their agenda (and oath) of doing “good” to the country and countrymen unless the “system” enables them to do so? My personal experience is that most of the youth power is being used to show the “muscles” during the election and grass-root movements. I was the three times winning candidate [in the college election] of SFI , the Student’s Federation of India, an youth wing of CPI(M) and the Local committee member in Chandannagore, West Bengal during my college days and understood that the power of “change” remains in the hand of grey hairs and the youth are actually being utilized[read misutilized] as puppets…my father was a hardcore communist at his youth and active in the “revolution” against the congress autocracies during 1972,(in West Bengal at the dreaded industrial belt of Asansol, Ranigunj, Chittaranjan) when the gun battle was “normal”…he suffered a bullet injury in his right leg (and was proud of it!)…after coming to the power the CPI(M) leaders became almost the same autocrats as of their “enemies” and after 33 years of dirt and stagnation, today, exactly the same “revolution” is happening against the communist party, with the youth in forefront!

Is there any hope alive where a sate is running towards growth and the youth are groomed to become the future leaders? Let us take the example from India Today’s June 1st 2009 issue again (page 34), where Mr. Abhijit Dasgupta reports Sikkim’s CM Pawan Kumar Chamling’s success story and his faith that his party will stay for another 15 years. The has not come “words” (as of many other states of India) but by works. During his period Sikkim got the Per Capita GSDP Rs. 23,786 which is above the national average, the Infant Mortality Rate (per 1000) is 30 against an All India figure of 60, in Sikkim the Teacher-Pupil Ratio is 1:18 against 1:34 of All India, in 15 years, the Government has invested over Rs. 30,000 crore in core sectors like tourism, agriculture, horticulture and floriculture, the state revenue as of now is Rs. 600 crore (when his party took over in 1994, the state revenue was only Rs.44 crore); and above all, he is encouraging the youth to be groomed to become future leaders. India today states that “A school drop out, Chamling is clearly not lacking in vision and means business. For most people in the state, there could not have been a better ray of hope and they have reposed faith in Chamling again giving him victory in all the 32 Assembly seats of the state as well as the lone Lok Sabha constituency… significantly, Chamling’s new 12 member cabinet has eight first-time ministers who have been MLAs earlier and three are first timers, including two women… Incidentally, Chamling dropped 22 sitting MLAs this time, set them up as chairmen of local party committees and asked them to groom the youth as future leaders. ‘you have done enough from the assembly and I can see the rust. Please go out and work with people. Teach them how to get involved in politics and groom the youth. That should be your job now.’ He told a full house party meeting six months back. Waiting with a red carpet to greet what it thought would be a procession of disgruntled MLAs, the BJP got the rudest shock of all when none of the SDF legislators left Chamling. The BJP was left high and dry.” H’s popularity can be measured when the report states that despite the visit of big shots of congress (including the prince charming Mr. Rahul Gandhi) and BJP Mr. Chamling not only won both of his seats but 10 of his rivals lost their deposits…where as his opposition leader ex-CM Bhandari lost both of his seats by 1,268 and 2,100 votes respectively, a significant margin in a thinly-populated state. Other than these, Chamling has brought 15 pharma units and 19 hydroelectricity projects to the state. He said “ Till now, I have survived because I have worked for the people. The day they feel I am failing, they will not think twice before throwing me out. That is why I keep on trying. I would hate to loose the confidence of people…”

How many so called 'netas' can promise [and deliver] and give space to the young (other than their brothers /sons /daughters)…?

Kaustav SenGupta

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