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, December 24, 2012

Obesity : an Indian context

A recent survey by Madras Medical College of 5,097 students in classes XI and XII in schools run by Chennai Corporation, found that more than 10 per cent of the children were obese and over nine per cent, hypertensive. While 250 students (184 girls) were obese and 510 students were overweight, it was found that among them, 530 students (492 girls) were centrally obese, with a waist circumference over normal limits. The report also stated that over 40 per cent avoid vegetables every day, and nearly 90 per cent of them eat no fruits. The students were also found to consume sugary beverages (soft drinks) twice a week and around 35 per cent of them watch television for more than two hours a day — making their lifestyles somewhat unhealthy.

In another report, it was observed that for every 10 Bangaloreans, four are obese! The IT capital is just a spot behind another growing metropolitan city of the South -Kochi ---- when it comes to obesity. A recently compiled survey by market research firm AC Nielsen has put Kochi at number 1 in India with 46% incidence of obesity and Bangalore close behind at No.2 with 43% incidence. The all-India survey was conducted on 30 million people. As for the other two South cities, Chennai scored 38% while Hyderabad 30% incidence of obesity.

"Basically, the sudden urbanization of the two-tier cities, transformation to metros and altered lifestyle are to be blamed for increasing obesity. People prefer to use transport over walking small distance and eat junk food. There is no time to exercise because of hectic work schedules. All this has multiplied into increasing obesity in growing south Indian cities like Kochi and Bangalore," said Dr M Ramesh, bariatric and diabetic surgeon, Vikram Hospital.

Working in different shifts and almost round-the-clock, which is prevalent in IT sector and call centres, not eating on time and less physical activity are being blamed for increasing obesity amongst Bangaloreans. The survey found that 71% Bangaloreans preferred eating fried and fatty food while 43% preferred eating junk food like pizzas and burgers over healthy diet. Compared to Bangalore, 53% in Chennai, 67% in Hyderabad and 59% in Kochi preferred eating fried and fatty food, while 8% in Chennai, 38% in Hyderabad and 25% in Kochi preferred junk food.
It is also said that 22% of those surveyed did not do or never intend to do anything to control their increasing weight. 33% in Chennai, 15% in Hyderabad and 17% in Kochi said that they did nor or never intend to do anything to control their increasing weight.

Indian gene is also said to be one of the causes. Said Dr Nandakishore Dukkipati, bariatric surgeon and MD, Livelife Hospitals, Hyderabad: "Obesity is a multifactorial disorder. Besides lifestyle changes, the genetic structure also plays a role in increasing obesity. Indian and most of Asia-Pacific population have mutation of MC4R genes, which essentially increases the risk of putting of extra weight around the waistline and thereby leading to obesity."

36% Bangaloreans eat out once a week. The two IT cities of South have higher frequency when it comes to eating out. While 36% of Bangaloreans said that they eat out at least once a week, it is 17% in Hyderabad. While 6% in Bangalore said that they eat out every day, the figure is 14% for Hyderabad. In Chennai, 0% people surveyed said that they eat out every day, while in Kochi it is 10%.
Dr HV Shivaram, chief of gastrointestinal and bariatric surgery, Columbia Asia Hospitals, said: "Obesity is directly related to behavioural and environmental factors. Eating out falls under behavioural pattern. Today, food is readily available by simply making a phone call and at affordable rate. Outside food is rich in oil, fats and calories, which increases weight. Eating out for a long period of time can increase the risk of obesity and lead to many complementary diseases. Physical activity is a must."

 In a report, last year (2011) it was stated that an alarming 70 per cent of India's urban young population (24 to 39 years) in the obese or overweight category. And, at risk is the generation that Facebooks rather than go over to meet friends, bonds over gaming sessions on Playstations or X-boxes rather than play cricket or badminton, the study warns. The national capital faces the ignominy of being the obesity capital of the country, while Chandigarh shares the top spot with Delhi. Why urban India? Experts suggest obesity has to do with the lifestyle of the majority of the population in urban India. The urban populace has easy access to high-calorie packaged foods such as burgers, chips and colas. Moreover, people in cities follow a sedentary lifestyle. Little or no physical activity and a predilection for gizmos such as video games, computers are to blame.

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/urban-indian-youth-obesity-study/1/157508.htmlin the obese or overweight category. And, at risk is the generation that Facebooks rather than go over to meet friends, bonds over gaming sessions on Playstations or X-boxes rather than play cricket or badminton, the study warns. The national capital faces the ignominy of being the obesity capital of the country, while Chandigarh shares the top spot with Delhi. Why urban India? Experts suggest obesity has to do with the lifestyle of the majority of the population in urban India. The urban populace has easy access to high-calorie packaged foods such as burgers, chips and colas.Moreover, people in cities follow a sedentary lifestyle. Little or no physical activity and a predilection for gizmos such as video games, computers are to blameThe study which suggested that 70 per cent urban Indians are fat or overweight was conducted on 46,000 people who had internet access. Increase in the sale of cigarettes and alcohol consumption does not help either.

Interestingly, I have observed that obesity is perceived to be “healthy’ in Indian context! In socio-psychological aspect, the ‘curves and rounds’(irrespective of gender) becomes a sign of ‘wealth and good health”. In Hindi, the over curved body suggests the individual is from “khate pite ghar’ (from a well to do family).
If you have a look at Hindu gods (shown below) , you will understand that obesity is a part of our social recognition to appear ‘wealthy’!

Not only in human body, a ‘obese looking car’ (ie. Mahindra XUV = xuv sounds as XXL / Extra large) is also considered as ‘good design’ and hence remains in higher demand. The individuals buy this car to show off their wealth in respect of volume.

Hence, the real change to avoid obesity needs to take place in social perception of being wealthy. The tendency among parents to overfeed their baby initiates the initial trait of being obese.

News reference: The Hindu, Time of India, India Today

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

the 'game plan' to recruit B school graduates - Youth in india

due to inscreasing number of B school graduates, the companies are developing competitive mode to select the best, resulting another stressful environment for the students that they dream to avoid by choosing MBA (management) courses thinking that the path will be less competitive, in a country of billions.

here's an article :

Students graduating from business schools know the summer vacation that follows is anything but a holiday. It is placement season, when they must gear up to meet prospective employers. And companies visiting campuses are increasingly using competitions to recruit the best among them.
Take Mahindra & Mahindra, for instance. Since 2009, it has had a competition platform called 'War Room' which holds contests of job aspirants. These allow students with different specialisations to work on strategy solutions to real-life problems the group companies face.

"This is a very good way for us to source talent as we are able to gauge the candidates in an in-depth way," says Rajiv Dubey, HR Head at M&M. "It is not a substitute for other methods of campus recruitment but complements them."

Five of the many students who participated in last year's War Room are now part of the company's management training programme.

Vipul Manglik, 26, who pursued an MBA from Management Development Institute (MDI) Gurgaon, has joined a management training programme at Bharti Airtel and will be assigned a permanent role in January. Manglik was a runner-up at iCreate, a competition platform organised by Airtel.

"I was offered a per-placement interview with the company after my team won. This put me a big step ahead of my batchmates," he says.

Competing alongside more than 300 teams from India's top 15 B-schools, Manglik's three-member team worked on one of four case studies assigned by Airtel. In this case too, all four studies related to actual problems faced by the company. Manglik's team had to find a way to increase Airtel's 'Green SIM' service penetration in rural areas. Through this SMS and call service intended for farmers, registered subscribers get region-wise information on pesticides, crops and how to increase farmland production.

The project was extensive and required secondary research, as well as field visits to Haryana's Rewari district, about 60 km from the MDI campus. Manglik's team observed business transactions between farmers, vendors and middlemen at the local mandis and was able to draw connections between what they saw and heard and concepts they had read about. Their final proposal involved setting up a platform to bring vendors and farmers together.

"While the competition was launched in 2009, we started awarding students the pre-placement interview offers only from last year," says Krish Shankar, Executive Director, HR, Bharti Airtel. "We selected two students in this way." Manglik was one of them.

Many other companies have joined the fray, including PepsiCo India, whose platform - named after its global CEO, India-born Indra Nooyi - is called 'Become Indra's Advisors'. This is a new, trendy means companies have found to create a brand for themselves in colleges and hire quality talent, says MDI professor Kamal Kapil.

"While such platforms have been around for more than a decade, it is only now that this trend is catching on in recruitment," he adds.

So while companies use competitions to pick and implement new ideas proposed by the students and keep an eye on the potentials, students see them as a great opportunity to network with industry professionals, gain valuable insights and, of course, get job offers. It is a win-win situation for both.

News source : Business Today. © 2012. LMIL.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Youth & Unemployment in India

Youth unemployment remains high in India, and it hasn’t been helped by the global crisis. The latest World Development Report by the World Bank says India’s youth unemployment — as a percentage of the youth work force — was 9.9% for males and 11.3% for females in 2010. In 1985, the figures were 8.3% and 8%, respectively. Youth unemployment in India, like most countries, has consistently been above the national average. But of late, the data indicate rising youth unemployment, now virtually 50% more than the national average, or total unemployment rate.
The National Sample Survey Organisation found that India’s unemployment rate fell to 6.6% in 2009-10 from 8.2% in 2004-05. The general perception is that unemployment in India is high, but the actual numbers seem reasonable. That’s because self-employment accounts for about 60% of India’s employed population.
Given the lack of viable employment opportunities, a large number of Indians opt for self-employment. And a big chunk of this includes low-paying activities like hawking magazines and flowers at traffic signals. Casual workers — who get jobs at times and remain unpaid at other times — account for 30%, while only 10% of the working population are regular employees. Given the scarcity of opportunities, higher youth unemployment shouldn’t come as a surprise.

But rising youth unemployment in a country that is expected to reap the demographic dividend is a concern. The latest NSSO survey shows there has been a drop in the labor force participation rates – as in, those who are willing to work – among the youth. Many young people are delaying their entry into the workforce, partly because they are extending their years of education. This at least is positive as it indicates a higher degree of skill formation in the young laborforce.
The desire to acquire better skills is reflected in a substantial spurt in education loans in India. Reserve Bank of India data show that outstanding educational loans (in the personal loan category) more than doubled in the past four years. And a growing number of educational loans are turning into non-performing assets, particularly in the last few years. According to the Indian Banks’ Association, education loan NPA accounted for 6% of outstanding education loans as of March 2012, sharply up from 2% in March 2008. The spurt in defaults can to a large extent be attributed to the difficult employment environment in India, especially for students looking to enter the job market as the economy slows.

The rising demand for education clearly shows that young people are looking to move away from menial and low paying work to jobs that require comparatively higher skill sets. When distinguishing between levels of literacy and youth unemployment, various NSSO surveys reveal one common thread: Unemployment is lowest among the illiterate population. That’s because this segment is more willing to work as laborers and in low paid menial jobs.  Not surprisingly, youth unemployment is the highest among young graduates, which is a clear indication of the lack of employment opportunities for educated youth.

Although India’s manufacturing and service sectors have been growing faster than agriculture for many years, they failed to wean people from agriculture at the necessary pace, leading to lopsided employment distribution. As of 2007, just over 50% of total employment in India was associated with agriculture, while industry accounted for around 20% and services 30%.

The number of people still engaged in agriculture in India doesn’t compare too favourably with its emerging market peers. To raise industry’s contribution to GDP and move the disproportionately large number of people engaged in agriculture to industry requires a greater focus on manufacturing. It also requires reforms in the labor market, greater transparency in land acquisition and realistic environmental policies, as well as availability of quality education. It would be easier to move people from agriculture to industry through appropriate skill development programs, rather than to the service sector directly.

The challenge for the government is to ensure that appropriate policies are framed and meticulously implemented to meet the future aspirations of India’s youth. The adverse impact of the global crisis sends out a strong message. India has its work cut out.

Source : http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2012/11/23/young-jobless-and-indian/ 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Children in India are more interested in saving the envornment- Childfund study

While the prior study by INgene (in 2008 ans 2011) among youth (17 to 23years) enlighted us that the eco friendliness is till a 'fakoconsciousness', kind a 'eco cool' but the recent study among the chindren (10- to 12-year-olds) by Childfund brought is much brighter picture.

Here's the report :

Indian children are more interested in protecting the environment from ill-effects of climate change than their counterparts the world over and are concerned about lack of proper sanitation and drinking water, according to a global survey on children's hopes and fears.

The survey on the hopes, aspirations and fears of the future generation also found out that children are "deeply concerned" about pollution and other environmental hazards, with more than a quarter of children in India wishing to make a difference through planting more trees.

The survey conducted on 6,200 (10- to 12-year-olds) children in 47 countries by ChildFund said 27 percent of Indian children, more than the global average of 22 per cent, are interested in contributing to environment by planting more saplings.

The third annual Small Voices, Big Dreams global survey, commissioned by the ChildFund Alliance and compiled by GfK Roper, found that 10- to 12-year-olds from Africa, Asia and the Americas put an overwhelming emphasis on their schooling, have lofty aspirations for their future and have personally experienced such natural disasters as drought, flood or fire.

"While one-third of children around the world cited pollution as the environmental problem they worry most about, 21 percent Indian kids said lack of sanitation worries them the most, followed by pollution (17 percent), lack of drinking water (14 percent) and deforestation (11 percent)," said the survey.

 “The Small Voices, Big Dreams survey is an ambitious, comprehensive undertaking, carried out largely on a one-on-one basis with children in literally every corner of the globe,” said Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund International, which is a member of the Alliance. “Although often overlooked and discounted, theirs are important voices. Their perspectives not only help validate the work we are doing on a community level, but also guide us in ways that can enhance our capacity to help improve the lives of children in a self-sustaining way. While this survey is global in nature, the findings provide value on a very human level.” This year, children were surveyed about their hopes, dreams and fears, as well as their thoughts on the environment.

Dola Mohapatra, National Director of ChildFund India, said the results suggest that Indian children are not very happy with the environment which they have inherited from us.

Consistent with their emphasis on education, a majority of children in developing countries, when asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, responded with professions that require a college education, with doctor (27%) and teacher (24%) as the top answers.

For the first time, this year's survey included some questions related to the environment. While the survey found that at least one in three children from developing countries has experienced drought (40%), flood (33%) or forest/bush fire (30%), their biggest ecological concern was not a natural disaster but the growing threat of pollution to the environment. One in four children (26%) cited various forms of pollution as the environmental problem they worry about most, edging natural disasters, named by 23 percent of children in developing countries. One in three children (33%) in developed countries singled out pollution as their most-pressing environmental concern.

When asked what one thing they would do to change the environment around their community, 28 percent of children in developing nations said they would plant more trees and build more parks. A similar number (29%) of children in developed countries said their top priority would be to reduce or stop littering.
As for their fears, the top answer among children in both developing (29%) and developed (21%) countries was the same: animals.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fairness syndrome : Indian socio psychology

As discussed earlier in this blog, the skin color is a symbolic representation of social strata, in India. Not only while selecting the brides but also during the selection of surrogated mothers! According to researchers surrogate mothers still face discrimination over their caste, skin colour and attractiveness despite the fact that the foetus they carry has none of their own genetic material.

The survey by the women's health charity SAMA, carried out in-depth interviews with surrogate mothers, agents who commission them on behalf of couples suffering fertility problems, and gynaecologists.

They found that couples commonly insisted that the woman who carries their child should be beautiful, from their own or similar caste, and have fair skin – similar requirements to those expressed in India's notorious newspaper advertisements for brides and grooms.

"Parents want someone from the same background in terms of caste and religion. When they are asked 'how does it matter?' they don't explain but they are willing to pay extra – up to one lakh rupees (£1,155) more. It's caste or religious prejudice and notional ideas or what is acceptable and unacceptable," said Deepa, programme coordinator at SAMA.

She said that while the surrogate mother merely gestates the foetus and does not contribute any of her own DNA to it, commissioning parents still think of her as a mother who contributes her "body and blood" to nourishing their child. For caste conscious Hindus this could be regarded as 'caste pollution.'

Dr Naina Patel, who runs one of India's most successful fertility clinics in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, said she does receive requests for surrogates to be of specific castes or religions, but once parents understand the surrogate's background will not influence the appearance of their child they usually accept any healthy and stable woman.

The fairness syndrome in India is age old and embedded in the social system via 300 years of colonial rule. The apathy of ‘fair is better’ reflects Indian diasporas of social system.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Malala effect : Stand up together for the cause (youth in South East Asia)

After centuries of suppression using animalistic force the Talibans are literally cornered now by a teenager and her passion for education. The Hindu newpaper reported it as below :

When gun-toting men stopped their school wagon in Mingora last Tuesday around 12.45 p.m. asking for Malala Yousafzai, none of the three girls inside spoke. This, despite the terrorists threatening to shoot all of them if they did not identify Malala. Today, stirred by the braveheart, who dared to stand up to the Taliban, and her friends, Shazia and Kainat, who refused to identify her even under threat, girls across Pakistan are saying ‘I am Malala.’ This is happening not just on the social media – which offers a degree of anonymity and security – but also on television and on the streets; some with their faces uncovered. ‘I-am-Malala’ has been trending not just in Pakistan but also in Afghanistan where girls’ education is equally at risk from the very same elements.

On Saturday, the Afghanistan Education Ministry organised a nationwide prayer for her at schools. She is being likened to ‘Malalai of Maiwand,’ the ‘Afghan Joan of Arc’ who rallied the Pashtun army against the British in 1880.


In an echo of the Pakistan People’s Party pet slogan kitne Bhutto maroge, har ghar se Bhutto niklega (how many Bhuttos will you kill, every house will produce one), the refrain across the country is “how many Malalas will you kill?’’ As daily vigils are being organised to pray for the speedy recovery of Malala and her friends, girls were coming forward; willing to stand up and be counted. Her classmate from the Khushal Public School in Mingora, asserted: “Every girl in Swat is Malala. We will educate ourselves. We will win. They can’t defeat us.’’ If anything, the fate of Malala – who came to represent the ‘voice of the girls of Swat’ because of her blog, written under the pseudonym Gul Makai, in which she advocated girls’ right to education during the Taliban reign of terror over Swat – has made the media a bit circumspect about exposing the girls too much for fear that the terrorists might target them, too. Still, at vigils and demonstrations, children are turning up in considerable numbers; a rare sight in Pakistan where crowds are avoided given the impunity with which terrorists penetrate. Even in Peshawar – where there are indications of various terrorist outfits regrouping and mobilising after a brief lull – girls are coming out in support of Malala; fearing that silence is no longer an option.

Interestingly, The wave of protest is surging in this side of border too. The fresh protests are seen in Bhopal (India) and other places. Victims and survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy have extended their support to Pakistani teenager Malala Yousufzai who has stood up for women’s education. “We salute the young lady and the brave front she put up against extremist elements. We pray for her well-being and hope she recovers soon,” said Abdul Jabbar, a gas victim and convener of the Sangathan.
(protests in Bhopal, India)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Aged vs Young : population in India

A country which is becoming younger also has a large number of aged people. By 2050, India will be home to one out of every six of the world’s older persons, and only China will have a larger number of elderly people, according to estimates released by the United Nations Population Fund.

Here’s a report published at The Hindu newspaper:

Thirty years ago, there were no “aged economies,” in which consumption by older people surpassed that of youth. In 2010, there were 23 aged economies. By 2040, there will be 89.

Japan is today the only country with more than 30 per cent of its population aged 60 or above. By 2050, there will be 64 countries where older people make up more than 30 per cent of the population.  In simple terms, within a decade there will be one billion older persons worldwide. And by 2050, nearly 80 per cent of the world’s older persons will live in developing countries — with China and India contributing to over one-third that number.  
A report released by the United Nations Population Fund and HelpAge India to mark the International Day of Older Persons — observed on October 1 — suggests that India had 90 million elderly persons in 2011, with the number expected to grow to 173 million by 2026. Of the 90 million seniors, 30 million are living alone, and 90 per cent work for livelihood.
The report says the number of elderly women is more than that of elderly men. Nearly three out of five single older women are very poor, and two out of three rural elderly women are fully dependants. There is also an increasing proportion of elderly at 80-plus ages, and this pattern is more pronounced among women.

The study, undertaken in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Orissa, West Bengal, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh by HelpAge, suggests that one-fifth of the elderly live alone. This proportion has registered a sharp increase in the past two decades and is more evident in the case of elderly women.
The housing data from Census 2011 also point out that the number of households has increased substantially in the last decade, and the number of persons per household has come down substantially. Declining fertility, migration and nuclearisation of families are three possible reasons for such reduction in household size.

Across the States, there is a substantial variation in the type of living arrangement, particularly in the proportion of elderly persons living alone. The percentage of those living alone or with spouse is as high as 45 per cent in Tamil Nadu, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Kerala. This indicates that with a demographic transition under way and youth migrating out for economic reasons, there will be a drastic change in the living arrangements of the elderly in rural and urban areas. The large segment of the elderly, those living alone or with spouse only, and the widowed who are illiterate, poor and particularly those from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe families, low wealth quintiles will definitely require various kinds of support: economic, social and psychological. These, at present, are woefully lacking.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment put in place the National Policy on Older Persons in 1999 with a view to addressing issues relating to aging in a comprehensive manner. But the programme failed at the implementation level. The Ministry is now formulating a new policy that is expected to address the concerns of the elderly. The idea is to help them live a productive and dignified life. There is a scheme of grant-in-aid of the Integrated Programme for Older Persons, under which financial assistance is provided to voluntary organisations for running and maintaining projects. These include old-age homes, day-care centres and physiotherapy clinics. While the scheme, indeed the concept, is still alien to India, the Ministry is considering the revision of cost norms for these projects, keeping in view the rising cost of living.

The most recent intervention has been the introduction of the National Programme for Health Care for Elderly in 2010, with the basic aim to provide separate and specialised comprehensive health care to senior citizens. The major components of this programme are establishing geriatric departments in eight regional geriatric centres and strengthening health care facilities for the elderly at various levels in 100 districts. Though the scheme is proposed to be expanded during the Twelfth Five Year Plan, the regional geriatric centres are yet to take off because of lack of space in the identified institutions.
The enactment of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, was a legislative milestone. However, its implementation has been poor.

With poor social security arrangements for the elderly, it is not surprising that around 37 million elderly in India are engaged in productive work, according to NSSO data for 2004-05. A majority of these workers are illiterate or have limited levels of education. Half the women elderly workers are from the two poorest consumption quintiles. This indicates that illiteracy and poverty push them to undertake work outside as a survival strategy, or out of compulsion.    


Sunday, September 16, 2012

The ‘FUN Generation’ : Youth in India

An overdose of entertainment, never-ending wave of highly emotional advertisement and media campaigns are moulding this generation as a group of youngsters that always wants to remain ‘high’ and seeks fun out of anything / everything. This Friday, I went to watch the Bollywood movie Barfi, and was shocked to see the reaction of many youth (15years to 28years) who were laughing, making catcalls even when an autistic girl on screen was not able to pronounce the name! They were trying hard to squeeze fun out of every reel!

The socio-cyber life of youth is always exciting! The made up and blown-up news in cyber world spreads faster than the real. The news can be as simple as the nudity of a Prince or the topless image of a Princess, who’s not even worthwhile to look at! The certain embarrassment (as perceived) at the other end brings in ‘thrill’ (and fun) to the viewer. The dopamine rush prolongs and youth tries hard to find similar experience out of anything (from the news of mob molestation to the reality shows). The anti-corruption movement was another form of ‘adventure’ with which one wanted to associate to ‘like’ and ‘talk’about it so they remains ‘cool’ and 'authentic' among peers. The mobile cam was on as well as Facebook updates. ‘Fun’ factor was obvious, almost similar to rock music fest ‘woodstock’!

Monday, September 3, 2012

The cumulative luring of ‘provocative media’ : Yahoo’s ‘raunchy’ propaganda

In India, Yahoo had 39.9 million unique visitors in June and invariably most of the users were young Indians (15 to 25years of age). Recently, I am observing that yahoo has taken a strategy to promote raunchy and misleading news items to popularize their website. The news items are strategically positioned and timed in such a way that the moment one wants to log in to the mail, he / she has to ‘see’ (and unconsciously read) the luring news. One such news is given below.


The propaganda that Yahoo has taken is not only fatal to a young Indian (teenage mind and curiosity) but also to the whole nation. I am not sure about the long term vision of this strategy that global internet giants like Yahoo are taking but definitely it is going to effect the social mindset and moral habit of the largest democracy in the world. The above news “I had sex for money” will lure many teenagers with a perception that ‘having sex for money is cool’ and one can come to the front page of Yahoo just because she was doing it and now twitting too!

The moral ethics of Yahoo has gone to drain in the name of ‘business’ that they are expecting to churn out of this developing nation, even if that is achieved at the cost of cultural damage.

Social media behavior among youth in India : a review

in a previous report quoted in my post on "multiple user accounts at social networking site" mentioned the 'fatigue' among youth from social media. Here's another report published at comscore found that Google Sites ranked as the top destination in June 2012 reaching nearly 95 percent of the online population, while social networking reigned as the top online activity accounting for 25.2 percent of all online minutes!
The study – conducted by ComScore in June 2012 – exposes the accessible and engagement habits of Indian Internet users. While the Google Sites leads the list of top online destination in India with 94.8% reach, Facebook stands quite close behind with 83.4%. More than 57 million unique visitors accessed Google sites in June 2012 compare to Facebook’s 50.8 million. Among Indian brands, Times Internet sites took leads with 20.5 million reach beating its close competitors Network 18 and Rediff.com with significant margin.Yahoo and Microsoft Sites are comparatively less attractive among Indian internet users. While Yahoo Sites gained attention from 39.9 million unique visitors in June, Microsoft Sites reduced to only 29.3 million unique visitors. The report mentioned, Indian Internet users are more connected and engaged with social media titan than Google Sites. Each Indian Internet user spent around 224 minutes in June compare to 155 minutes over Google Sites. Social Media has emerged as the most preferred among users as it consumes more than 25% of total internet time spent. Surprisingly, Search and Email grabbed only 8.1% and 3.2% of total internet time respectively – losing the attention among Indian Internet users.In last few years, Google has been the most preferred and responsive destination for advertisers and marketers. However, the trend seems to shifting towards social networking sites, especially towards Facebook. For advertisers, the most valuable aspect in digital marketing the amount of time users stay engaged with any site and Social Media clearly leads here with 25% of online time consumption. Facebook has emerged as a clear winner over Google where Indian Internet users are spending more time than any other online property. In India, Google Android is the leading Smartphone OS and Facebook has serious take on it. While 93% of Android users in India are accessing social media from their phone, Facebook is equally recording high response from Google’s Android than any other mobile device currently available in 3rd biggest Internet country in the world.

The interesting contradiction of insights are arising due to the misunderstanding of 'usage' of social network. As mentioned earlier in my previous article, the youth in India are having multiple accounts to stay connected at social networks. It can be a growing trend due to affinity towards 'split persona' and easy 'mutation' behavior among youth. India, being a diversified multi-layered society encourages individuals to mutate according to the social environment (in regards to dressing, attitude, having, interest and opinion). 

In this song sequence of "Delhi 6" Bollywood movie its realistically shown on how the youth 'mutates' according to the social environment. The heroine of the movie changes the dress to appear 'different and contemporary' which might not be 'recorded' in a conventional 'survey' if any organization do the same on dressing styles / dressing behavior among youth in India (cause, she will never tell in the survey that she wears 'western dresses' !).

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mob molestation and moral policing - an expression of anguish over the social disparity: youth insights in India

Molestation and mass attack on ‘youth of higher socio-economic class’ is becoming a prevalent trend in Indian urban cities which is unsially coined as ‘social stigma’. Though the blame is on ‘social perverts and mob behavior’ but the real cause remains somewhere else.

The varied economic and socio-psychological difference between the “have” and “have not” in India are widening faster with the rapid wealth accumulation among the ‘creamy layers’. As per an article published in India Today (dated. Oct. 23rd, 2011) “India is shining for only a select few. The impressive economic growth of our country has brought smiles on the faces of the rich and the powerful even as the rest suffer in distress and drudgery. This was revealed by the human development report (HDR) released by Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia”. The report also stated “In India, the distribution of assets is extremely unequal, with the top 5 per cent of the households possessing 38 per cent of the total assets and the bottom 60 per cent of households owning a mere 13 per cent. The disparity is more glaring in the urban areas where 60 per cent of the households at the bottom own just 10 per cent of the assets. It is not just the gaping income inequality that is alarming. The difference in the consumption expenditure between the rich and poor households has also increased both in rural and urban areas between 1993-94 and 2004-05. The report paints a grim picture on the poverty front. It clearly states that despite the economy growing at 6 per cent this is not enough to reduce poverty in the country. In fact, the rate of decline in poverty in India is not in sync with the high rate of economic growth, which is evident from the fact that the number of poor people in the country has barely fallen over a 30-year period. In 1973-74, the number of poor in India stood at 332 million. The figure remained the same in the next decade, registering a marginal decline in 1993- 94 (320 million) and witnessing a stagnancy in again 2004-05, the report states.”

80% of your likely income is determined at birth by your citizenship and the income class of your parents, says Milanovic, an economist at the World Bank’s Development Research Group. With intelligence, hard work and luck, you can move up in your country’s income distribution, but it may do little to improve your ranking among the almost 7 billion people in the world unless your country, too, forges ahead. Sometimes, if constrained by access to education and income mobility, you can’t even pull ahead in your own country. That, in a nutshell, is the story behind global inequality. And, at a time when the incomes of the world’s top 1.75% earners exceed those of the bottom 77%, it raises all sorts of questions, such as the role of development, international migration and the global equality of opportunity, says Milanovic, one of the world’s leading experts on inequality.

The Right to Education Act in India, passed in 2009, mandates that private schools set aside 25% of admissions for low-income, underprivileged and disabled students. This act, though ensures that the children of varied class / socio-economic status study together but it doesn’t ensure that there will not be any ‘frustration’ among those kids from low-income group seating in the same class with higher income group and understanding that their parents are actually ‘poor’!  The article published at The Wall Street Journal  presents the case of Sri Ram school in Delhi. “Yet the most notable results so far are frustration and disappointment as the separations that define Indian society—between rich and poor, employer and servant, English-speaker and Hindi-speaker—are upended. This has led even some supporters of the experiment to conclude that the chasm between the top and bottom of Indian society is too great to overcome…Shri Ram itself is challenging the law in the Supreme Court, arguing in part that the government exceeded its authority in imposing the quotas. "We have a social obligation to bridge the gap between rich and poor," says Manju Bharat Ram, Shri Ram's founder. "But sometimes the gap is just too wide."… Some parents, having encouraged their household staff to enroll their children, are also grappling with a profound change in the nature of their relationship with their servants. The article quoted Ms. Sharma, the 51-year-old principal, who felt this jolt herself two years ago when Chan Kumari, a floor-mopper in her home, enrolled her son, Vipin, at Shri Ram. That's when the school first adopted a similar quota for underprivileged kids under a local Delhi law, increasing it to 25% this year, when the federal Right to Education Act took effect. "I was horrified. A parent in my school, mopping my floors—I just couldn't handle it," says Ms. Sharma. "I can't sit across the table from someone who sweeps my floors."

The ‘dikhawa’ of wealth as a growing need of exhibitionism of one’s belonging is rapid among the younger population of ‘creamy layers’. Saldanha (2002) articulated well in his article “MUSIC, SPACE, IDENTITY:GEOGRAPHIES OF YOUTH CULTURE IN BANGALORE” : “By driving away from parents and school, the car provides the possibility of creating own space and time. The car is fetishized, specially by boys, who integrate the technics and aesthetics of the thing into their sexual culturesince the car stereo has been widely available, driving around became driving on a soundtrack. In the car, you play music for friends. It can be played louder than at home, and loud music urges the driver to speed up, and speeding up makes the outside seem even more hectic. In the car, you can smoke and drink and make out. For the wealthy youth of Bangalore, driving around is a very urban, very modern, very non-Indian matter.. In Indian cities, motor vehicles symbolize  strong  classiŽcations  of  social  groups. Rich youth have enough time and money to enjoy driving around – petrol is relatively costly. Rich youth can afford a bribe when any problems should arise with the cops. Rich youth give a cultural (as opposed to functional) meaning to these rides through what they do inside the car: playing Western pop, gossiping, flirting, preparing themselves for the evening out. They don’t just go somewhere… Driving around in a cooled ivory tower. A solipsistic inside that coheres when you  know that  because  you’re there, you’re  eluding something. Often, young Bangaloreans skip school, homework, tuition or family get-togethers to go for a ride. And thus, at least phenomenologically, the conspicuous consumption of the car creates a break-away from everything that the old India stands for: poverty, chaos, ignorance, useless education, duty, fanaticism, collectivism, sexual segregation, sluggishness and the absence of style… The  pleasure  of being looked at interacted with the pleasure of dancing. Sexy clothes are pretty pointless if you don’t let yourself be admired from all sides while dancing. Hence the comparison was made quite quickly, both by myself and by the participants, between the Whitefield pool party and the MTV programme The Grind. The Grindis basically a collection of good-looking youths in swimwear, dancing suggestively in a summer setting, all trying  their  best to attract the camera  lens. Only, in Whitefield there wasn’t any camera. There were  peepers, though. Over the surrounding  walls, poor  workers from  neighbouring  farms  were  watching  the  party  bustle. An  interesting, perverse form of exhibitionism/voyeurism came into  being. The global youth knew  very  well  that  they  were  being  watched, that  these  local  others  had probably never heard such loud pop music, never seen so much liquor and tight tops  together  before. They  knew  that  every  three  free-of-charge  vodkas  they drank added up to the weekly salary of the peeping Toms behind the wall. But they feigned an indifference for the fascination they produced amongst the lower classes, just as they do when they drive around. They feigned, because they were thoroughly aware of the visibility of their Western fashion, music, behaviour and wealth. To a certain  extent this  visibility  is  inevitable  in a modern  space  like Bangalore. And  provoking  culture  shock  can  be  fun  for  both  sides. Yet, the workings of power in this situation are undeniable. There was, in Whitefield, an ambiguous balance between exhibitionism and voyeurism, a delicate consensus on the rationality of power; the poor devils could also have been rudely chased away…”

Incidentally, till date most of the ‘mass molestation’ cases in India took place outside the bars / pubs or in some places that can be noted as ‘places of socio-economic discrimination’ (ie. rave party houses, resorts, gardens, malls etc.)! In one of the recent incidents that occurred at Guahat a 17-year-old girl, who is pursuing studies in fashion designing in the national capital, was attacked when she was returning home after celebrating the birthday of her friend, a teenaged girl, at a bar. The girl was subjected to assault and molestation for nearly half an hour before being rescued by some passers-by. The similar incidents occur every year in the capital during the “new year bash” (mostly outside, after the party gets over and drunk girls wait for the drive home).  In one such incident at Gurgaon a young girl was allegedly molested by a group of New Year revellers. The police had to resort to lathicharge to prevent the group of 25-30 people from harassing the girl outside a pub, media reports said.  While the ‘creamy layers’ were celebrating inside the clubs, at M.G. Road, in public space the ‘mass’ started celebrating “new year”. Windscreens of more than two dozen cars were smashed, hooligans danced atop cars and traffic was held up, before some policemen baton-charged the crowd. The victim stated “I was horrified to see boys touching me and passing derogatory comments. They were many of them and they lifted me up. They were taking me away but the police saved me that night or I would not have been alive today,” she said. An eyewitness, Rajesh Kumar, said, “They were touching her initially and ended up tearing her clothes. They were passing lewd remarks in the middle of the road. I was shocked to see what could happen on Gurgaon roads.”

The anguish is majorly among the fastest growing middle class and lower middle class. Them, who is in the duality of lifestyle due to the rapid economic growth,.

The so called ‘extremist’ religious-political groups such as “Ram Sene’ are also attacking the places of socio-economic discrimination in the name of ‘purification’ of the society as ‘moral policing’.  These political parties understood that the fastest way to gain popularity among the ‘have not’ in India is the social bashing against ‘have’ in the name of moral policing.

The mass molestation and planned moral policing in India are varied ways to take ‘revenge’ and express anguish against the ‘other’ socio-economic class.

Read more :

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The 'Multipls accounts' in Social networking sites : Youth trend in India

In a report citing the survey conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) stated that the youngsters in urban India have started experiencing social media fatigue, logging on less frequently to social networks like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Orkut, Linkedin, Myspace, Friendster, Hi5 and BigAdda than when they initially signed up, according to a survey. About 55 per cent of all respondents across these cities said they have consciously reduced time spent on social media websites and are no longer as active and enthusiastic about their favourite social networks as when they had signed up. Nearly 30 per cent of these said they have deactivated or deleted their accounts and profiles from these websites and it is no longer a craze among them, while most of the remaining users said they have started maintaining a low profile on social networks as their privacy is being breached.

  If the report is believed, then the downfall of popularity of the social networking could have been termed as ‘ SNS fatigue’ among youth due to various reasons including ‘breach of privacy”. But, according to the qualitative research by INgene (conducted via personal interviews in 3 metro cities of India) there’s another ‘social wave’ of having ‘multiple accounts’ in SNS. The youth are clustering friends, family members and ‘new found strangers’ according to the ‘closeness’ (especially among young females). Various accounts are used to keep the interaction mode controlled (hence, the transparency of identity). Even, sharing the photos is ‘controlled’ via multiple accounts. Even in the display image actual photos are not uploaded (can be a photo of a celebrity whom the youth adores or a nice flower!) always unless it’s a ‘personal’ account. The ‘[anonymous accounts’ are used to ‘understand’ a stranger, before indicating him / her about the ‘actual’ account.

Many offices have banned the use of Social networking sites hence the SNS mobile apps are more in use.

Moreover, as I have mentioned in my earlier report, the ‘adopted differentiation’ is visible even in the use of Social Networking sites where the ‘niche’ sites (the beta version of Zucker) are becoming more popular than the mass (ie. Orkut, Facebook, Bigadda etc.).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Emerging socio psychological trend among young girls in India

The alternative ways of recognition gaining is becoming popular : http://www.desiclub.com/community/culture/culture_article.cfm?id=511

Though the social resistance over changing gender role change is visible:



Friday, July 27, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

the trend in hiring youth : a mixed reaction

Keeping in mind the rapid down trend in global recruitment here's a report that was published at The Hindu newspaper :

The general downturn across many industrial sectors in India is influencing the hiring scenario but recruitment firms and jobsites predict that there will be an improvement in the hiring trends if the government implements some long due economic reforms.

The hiring activity in the past month has been a mixed bag according to the Naukri job speak index for June 2012. Sectors like construction, insurance, oil and gas and ITES are going slow on their hiring plans, but others like auto and pharma are hiring fresh talent. The IT sector, which is the largest employer of skilled workforce, has also shown a slowdown in hiring and lateral hiring across companies has almost stopped All this has led to the overall job speak index stabilising in the last few months. The Naukri Job Speak Index which is an indicator of online job demand moved up to 1,210 in June from 1,194 in May. Compared to June 2011 when the index was at 1,129, the hiring trends were better this year.

“Selective hiring is happening across most sectors now. However, the next few months will be challenging for the overall recruitment market in India,” says Hitesh Oberoi, Managing Director and CEO, Info Edge India.

Coming to a sector wise analysis of the hiring trends, most sectors are facing the effects of a slowdown and sectors like construction, ITES, oil and gas and insurance saw a 17%, 10%, 8% and 6% dip in hiring levels in June when compared to the same time a year ago. Software services, banking and pharma sectors have, however, seen their hiring levels pick up by 9%, 16% and 19% respectively in June this year compared to last year. The hiring trend for auto and the heavy machinery sector in June was similar to what it was last year. Hiring activity in the media sector has increased by 19% in June 2012 when compared to June 2011. Trends indicate that hiring is positive in sectors like education, healthcare, life sciences, pharmaceuticals etc. But hiring in sectors like telecom and some areas in financial services are down.

A functional area analysis of the report indicates that sales and business development professionals have seen a steady increase in demand in June by 29% compared to last year. Coming to other sectors, professionals in software services and production have seen a 6% and 4% increase in demand respectively, in June this year compared to June of last year. On the other side professionals in BPO and project management saw hiring levels go down by 12% during the same time period. Accounts and HR professionals have not seen any visible change in their recruitment levels when compared to last year.

A city wise analysis of the report indicates that except for Hyderabad which saw a dip in hiring levels by 5% in June compared to last year all the other cities have shown some increase in the hiring activity. Mumbai and Pune witnessed a 9% increase in the index while Delhi, Pune and Kolkata saw an increase between 3 to 6% during last month. However, compared to June last year the hiring in cities of Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune has come down this year.

Coming to hiring based on experience, professionals with several years of experience have seen an increase in demand by over 9% in June. However, freshers and those with four to seven years of experience have seen stable hiring levels in June this year compared to the same time period of last year.

The hiring scenario has been a mixed bag in June. Industries and recruitment firms believe things will be better in the coming months provided some long pending economic reforms are implemented

Sunday, July 8, 2012

INgene survey on Addiction

If your are youth in Indian subcontinent, kindly perticipate in this nationwide survey to understand the motivation of addiction among young population :

Click here : trend in Addiction among Indian youth

Substance abuse and addiction : Youth in India

Among amid restrictions over the addictive substances in urban India and the abundance of medical shops (that provides medicines without a prescription), the youth are exploring and exploiting new materials such as Codenine and Vicks. Here’s a report published at Times Of India :

Priyam Panchal's parents found nothing amiss with the 16-year-old sleeping all day and staying awake at night, until the Malad girl slapped her father for stopping her from going out with friends. It was then that her shocked parents found over 40 empty bottles of cough syrup under her bed.

Priyam (name changed) was not suffering from any ailment that would require her to consume cough suppressants. Her parents remained in denial for over a month and delayed consulting an expert even as she became more abusive and violent. When they finally took her to a psychiatrist, she was diagnosed with codeine addiction, which was making her heavily dependent on cough syrup. The Panchals sent her to the Drug Abuse Information Rehabilitation and Research Centre in Kalyan, where Priyam is undergoing a nine-month therapy.

De-addiction experts say Priyam's case is neither isolated nor surprising. Codeine addiction, or rather a trend northeastern states are infamous for, has suddenly caught the fancy of adolescents in the city. An essential ingredient in cough syrup, codeine's prolonged use can lead to addiction. Experts say 6-15% of those enrolling in de-addiction programmes in the city have a history of codeine or cough syrup addiction.

"The addiction hits those aged 13-14; the ratio of female addicts is more," said Dr Yusuf Merchant, president, DAIRRC. The observation was shared by other rehabilitation centres in the city, where authorities said four out of the 10 addicts are teenage girls.

Fr Joseph Pereira, founder, Kripa Foundation, a rehabilitation centre for those affected by chemical dependency, said codeine addiction was affecting a "silent and hidden majority". He said, "Young boys are into designer drugs, but for girls, cough syrups are the easiest to access and cheapest to use."

Some centres also receive housewives as codeine addicts. In February, a south Mumbai hospital treated a 32-year-old mother of two from Gamdevi. She was taken to the hospital with complaints of drowsiness, lethargy and extreme mood swings. "After tests costing about Rs 40,000, a doctor suspected that her problem was elsewhere. The woman confessed to the addiction only after four-five counselling sessions, citing lack of attention from her husband as the reason," said a doctor. "The woman admitted to buying cough syrups in bulk."

Counsellor Jatish Shah, who was attached to Masina Hospital's alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre, said the facility may have treated 400 patients over eight years. "Codeine addiction leaves no traces like smell. The number of housewives addicted to it could be shockingly large."

The FDA has started raiding chemist shops to find unexplained sales of cough syrup. It cancelled licences of 40 who sold over 1,500 bottles without bills or prescriptions. JJ Hospital professor of psychiatry Dr Yusuf Matcheswalla said some earn Rs 40,000-50,000 from selling the syrups and called the problem "alarming".

Saturday, July 7, 2012

child workers in India : new ways of exploitation by retail giants

Corporate conspiracy to recruit children for various strenuous jobs is now becoming an evident trend in India that needs social awarness and protest. The corporates and retail giants are using child works through curtained channels and layered recruitment process to protect the brand persona.

Here’s a report published in The Hindu newspaper today:

School dropouts cycling long hours in the heat to promote a product seek less strenuous job

  Not many would have taken note of these children riding tricycles fitted with triangular banners offering ‘free’ lenses to students on behalf of a private company. And fewer still would have noticed that they are child workers. For Vinayagam, Nirmal and Gouthaman, all school dropouts, this is no hobby. It is a long ride, too. “We start at 9 a.m. from Mambalam and go to Adyar, Kotturpuram, Alwarpet, and Nandanam. At 7 p.m., we come back to office to surrender the cycles and take a bus back home,” says Gouthaman, barely 11 and a class VI dropout. Vinayagam, claiming to be 17, says Gouthaman can’t work like the others, but still insists on joining them at work. “We have been sticking posters, carrying load and running errands for smaller companies. But this is the first time a big company has taken us in,” he says. Their assignment started on Monday and they have been promised Rs. 300 a day. They hope to be paid on Saturday. All are residents of S. M. Nagar on Pallavan Salai, and there are at least 30 other children who take up such jobs. Rajendra Kumar, who takes care of these children and arranges jobs for them, says, “No amount of persuasion seems to convince them to go to school. Some of them have also taken to stealing.” Nirmal, son of a mason, often goes to Tindivanam, Villupuram and Puducherry for work and also cycles the ‘marketing vehicle’ for selling saris in T. Nagar during festival seasons. “This time, a man on a bike is following us to ensure we don’t rest. He got us tea when we rode really fast and covered more areas. But it is difficult to keep riding without breaks.”

The company whose product they are advertising, Lawrence & Mayo, said it had no clue that children were hired. It was unfortunate that the advertising agency had done it without informing the company. Personnel from one of the ad agencies said: “We only wanted to help them with books or paying their tuition fees.” However, the children say they have not been going to school for the past one year. “We want to work, not ride cycles in heat. It makes me faint after a while. Can you please arrange a factory job for us, where can pack goods or work sitting in one place,” asks Nirmal.

A Labour Department official said since ‘cycling to advertise a product’ was a new form of exploitation that does not come under the term ‘hazardous work’ it was difficult to take action. However, many children from poor families might not have physical abilities appropriate to their age, and hiring them for jobs such as this is dangerous for them.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The trend in Indian novels and the youth readership

Reading the novels that revisits the history and discover ancient myths, are predominantly popular among the youth in India. The trilogy of “Mehula” (The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi ) a myth based fiction is one of the bestsellers. The report in The Hindu newspaper states "As a nation grows confident, its people become more interested in their own history".

The Empire of the Moghul(series) by Alex Rutherford, Chanakya’s Chantby Ashwin Sanghi, The Palace of Illusionsby Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and almost always something by Amitav Ghosh are blusting the chart. Two of these are retellings of mythological themes, while the others, which have been on the lists for at least a year now, are all, in one way or the other, set in a time and place in Indian history. Authors such as Amitav Ghosh, (famous forThe Calcutta Chromosome,The Glass Palace, andThe Sea of Poppiesand the ongoing Ibis

Trilogy, almost all of which have won literary awards), according to the Blossom bookstore, Bangalore, are staples for the city’s book-reading crowd. “His works are steady sellers. But recently, I see that mythology-based books such as The Immortals of Meluha and The Palace of Illusionsare selling a lot more,” says Mayi Gowda, proprietor, Blossom book store. He credits the sales to the ‘modern format’ that the authors follow.

Formulated in a phrase It’s difficult to put works such as The Immortals of Meluhaand Chanakya’s Chantunder the historical fiction category. Even their authors, Amish Tripathi and Ashwin Sanghi, are not happy classifying their works exclusively under this category. But they do agree that they have made a conscious attempt to keep their writing style ‘modern’. “By setting my books in the Indus Valley Civilisation and calling it that, rather than the traditional name ‘Jambudweepa’, I have tried to make the stories more relevant, so that people can connect to them,” admits Amish. But the real reason his books fly off the racks, he feels, is because Indians are now keen to explore their roots. “As a nation grows more confident, its people become more interested in their own history. At the same time, people are not interested in taking a history lesson, so they like to read something which draws from history and crafts an engaging story out of it,” he says. “Twenty years ago, historical fiction was written either from a subservient or a defensive perspective, both of which come from a space of insecurity. But today’s historical fiction comes from a space of relaxed confidence, which people are drawn to.” Though he says his works are more political thrillers rather than historical fiction, Ashwin Sanghi makes similar observations about the genre’s popularity. “For the longest time writers have been writing for a global audience. But today’s books are written for an Indian audience. A Western audience might not appreciate Chanakya’s Chant because of its dependence on history and ancient statecraft,” he explains. “My book is a modern-day thriller set on a bedrock of history. My primary object is to entertain, not educate.”

Contemporary stories with historical plots, therefore, seem to be the order of the day and Manreet Sodhi Someshwar’sThe Taj Conspiracyis one of the latest additions. Steeped in Mughal history, the thriller is the first of a trilogy. And Manreet’s reason for writing a book that falls broadly under the genre of historical fiction is quite straightforward. History buff “I am a history buff. My second book,The Long Walk Home, published in 2009, is the first fictional examination of the 20th century history of Punjab. History, therefore, has been a part of my storytelling and is an inextricable part ofThe Taj Conspiracy.I guess this fascination for history has to do with the small town that I grew up in, Ferozepur, which is located on the border of India and Pakistan and has witnessed Partition, three Indo-Pak wars and the Khalistan movement. It is impossible not to be touched by history when the air of the place you grow up in is suffused with its stories.” Much of Indian historical fiction is set in the Colonial or the Mughal era or during Partition. For instance Amitav Ghosh’s work in set in Colonial India and Salman Rushdie’s Booker prize-winningMidnight’s Childrenis set in the period of Indian independence (post-Colonial and Partition).

Are stories now moving away from traditional historical fiction, blurring the lines between genres like fantasy, mythology, crime and politics? Paul Vinay Kumar, Editor of Westland books, says, “Historical fiction as a genre has been vastly underdeveloped in India, which is ironical considering how interesting and diverse India’s history is, and also because our glorious past is systematically invoked by everyone as a pointer to our glorious future. I am a big fan of Amitav Ghosh, and Alex Rutherford. I wish there were more writers writing like that,” he says, observing that a variety of sub-genres like Madhulika Liddle’s historical detective novels, and historical romance are becoming popular. Manreet adds “The immense success of some recent books — the Meluha trilogy for instance — might give this impression, but it could also be a fad. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the genre grows.”