India’s youthful population is constantly described as a potential “demographic dividend” for its government and also a goldmine for the businesses here to tap, so expect a slew of studies by government agencies and firms on their habits. Last week, India came out with the first national survey to find out what young Indians are reading and how that compares to how much time they spend watching TV or surfing the web.
Visitors at the Delhi Book Fair in Sept.2006. India’s youth and their reading habits became a subject of a survey in 2009, a report on which was released in New Delhi late last week.
Last year, India’s National Book Trust, a government body that publishes and promotes books, asked the National Council of Applied Economic Research to carry out a survey of the reading habits of young Indians, classified as those between age 13 and 35. The report was actually completed in February, but only “officially” released late last week.
According to the report, in 2009 the number of people between 13 and 35 in India was 459 million, or 38% of the country’s total population. Among them 333 million were able to read, 44% of them women. About 62% of India’s literate youth live in villages, which is roughly proportionate with the number of Indians as a whole who do.
Of these young people, 77% are interested in music and films, 72% in news and current affairs, 59% in religious and spiritual topics, 35% in science and technology and 34% in environmental pollution.
When it comes to the language they prefer for “leisure reading,” 33.4% are most comfortable with Hindi, 13.2% with Marathi, 7.7% with Bengali and only 5.3% prefer English.
Only about 10% of those who can read are college graduates.
Some of the findings were surprising to say the least. According to the report, “a literate youth spends on an average 98 minutes daily viewing TV” and another 61 minutes dialy listening to the radio. The report also said these youngsters spend 70 minutes surfing the Net, 44 minutes reading a magazine and 32 minutes with a newspaper. That would add up to an average of almost five hours a day consuming one form of media or another, which seems rather a lot. What about school and work?
The survey covered 432 villages and 200 towns in the country, according to a public advertisement on the report’s release in newspapers.
“It is the first formal research into the rich possibilities that lie ahead for the nation in marshalling the intellectual capacity of youth for national progress,” said Rajesh Shukla, a senior fellow at NCAER who wrote the report, at its release according to a statement from the National Book Trust.
Source: Wall Street Journal