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.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Becoded Beehive : the encrypted semiotics among youth

"Forever & ever & ever till cherries grow on an apple tree on the 31st of February”. 

Can you guess the meaning? Well, what Rohan (18) meant is ‘the height of impossibility’ (there’s no 31st of Feb, neither the cherries grow in apple tree)! Now, guess this conversation that was in the facebook wall post of Dimpi (19 years): Dimpi ‘yesterday, ghost came in my bedroom’, Rimi ‘oh ya? Your aunty was there?’, Dimpi ‘yess, and in front of her, I sat with the ghost… for hours’, Rimi ‘cool! Aunty must be clueless… Lol’. Between Dimpi and Rimi, ‘ghost’ is a code language to denote sms or text from Dimpi’s ‘date’, which Dimpi received in her mobile phone and chatted with him for hours in front of her mom. But why this discussion is over the facebook wall? Why not through a personal message in inbox? Why not over phone? Ask Dimpi, and she will explain the fun of encrypted conversation in public places with best friend/s, the thrill of discussing it openly when nobody understands the meaning (especially when the topic is a social taboo). Also, it exhibits the depth of friendship between two (between dimpi and rimi) which others are not allowed to invade, even if they listen or read the thread. This trait of coded conversation is spreading across the globe (specially, in the developing nations, where social/ political/ family norms are stringent). In Morocco, the coded language is spreading very quickly and making sociologists assert that the whole subject is intended to rebel against the social situation prevailing in the state, where using the vocabulary appear in the Arabic language for the first time to express the words ( such as " Ttiyah " or " Bukus " and " Tlah " no go , and " splendor " in the sense as Thanks), and extended it to include changing the names of cars and spare parts as a completely different meaning. In developed nation, the youth are communicating among peers using encryption through various apps. Currently, there are hundreds of encryption apps available in market. The iPhone app iCrypter enables users to send free encrypted private text messages through sms, WhatsApp and email.  TextSecure, (the free smartphone app that offered open-source end-to-end encryption for text messages) was first launched by Moxie Marlinspike in the year 2010. Last year, Forbes magazine reported that this anti-surveillance software added about ten million users, more than ten times as many as it accumulated in the past three and a half years and far more than any other encryption app of its kind! Last year, TextSecure was integrated by default into the text messaging function of CyanogenMod, the most popular independent rewrite of Android. Any time a CyanogenMod user sends a text message to another user of that operating system or to an Android or iPhone user with the app installed, the message is  invisibly encrypted with a key that’s only stored on the phone itself, not accessible to any surveillance-friendly phone carrier. Because TextSecure uses the phone’s data connection, it also avoids revealing the recipient of a message to carriers, making it much harder for eavesdroppers to determine not only the contents of a conversation but even who is communicating. The investors are investing more money in the security start ups. Since 2009 investors have spent at least $2.9 billion on security technologies, according to data from CrunchBase. Investors are also valuing these companies more highly now. In the first quarter of 2013 investors made 44 investments with roughly the same amount of capital, the CrunchBase data shows. The need for new security technology is also driving up company valuations at the earliest stages of their development, the CrunchBase data shows. In the first quarter of 2013, 16 seed stage companies raised $4.9 million. For 2014, less than half the number of companies raised roughly the same amount.
Back home, in India, the youth are using various DIY techniques to send encrypted texts. For example, the sender will use the ‘alt’ key in Blackberry and ‘SYM’ option in Samsung to encrypt the whole conversation using punctuations and exclamations (:;!?/’” etc) or numerical (1=w, 2=e, 3=r etc). Then he or she will post it in social media, WhatsApp or send it as sms. Those, who are in the close circle of sender will read the encryption by decoding the same using their phone keys and will revert back accordingly. In India, the shortening of words initiated during the social media boom (2004) with most popular codes such as LOL, BRB, ROFL etc. and with time, grew stronger with the micro blogging sites. Due to extended generational gap, millennial mindset and need for secure communication the encrypted conversation became a natural extension to previous trait.

Obviously, the many parents are scared of non-transparency which can keep the youth out of their radar. Though, youth in India has a different take on it. Neel (21) says “Why should the parents, family members and their friends will hover over us? We also need our space which should not be invaded or interrupted”. The ethos are similar to what Marlinspikes stated earlier “The upshot is that a whole bunch of people are able to get transparent, secure messaging”. The dopamine rush that occurs during discussion of a social taboo with ‘best friend’ (in presence of parents) makes the encryption thrilling. Most of them supported the coded communication with an argument that it at least protects the youth from being harassed online (on social media) for commenting on controversial issues yet allows him or her to express freely. I can’t disagree after the social media surveillance last year that led to arrest of two girls in Maharashtra for expressing their views over facebook wall.

Whether it is through new semiotics, numeric, code or encryption among youth in India the coded communication is building walled beehives with closely knitted peer circles.

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