The standard media image of the youth is that of trendy, gadget-wielding, metropolitan boys and girls. A nationwide survey such as this reminds us of how far reality is from this image. Only one out of six Indian youth has a personal mobile phone or a two-wheeler ? possibly, the two most coveted consumer goods. Only three per cent have an internet connection at home. This figure goes up to seven per cent if all those who have access to the internet are included.
Access to such goods and technologies is strongly determined by location and the economic condition of the family. Urban upper class youth are nearly 10 times more likely to possess these in comparison with those who fall within the lower half of the rural population.
There is an information divide between rural and urban youth. A little over half the respondents say they read newspapers. The number of those who watch news on television is a little higher. However, youth are more exposed to the media than elders. They also access entertainment on television and in cinema halls in greater numbers. But even here there is a clear rural-urban divide, further accentuated by class divisions. It is worth noting that less than one-fifth of the respondents have read any book other than those prescribed in their syllabi.
The Indian youth are still far from entering the `information age.' This is reflected in their level of awareness. Nearly one-third of those polled could not say what August 15 was all about. Forty per cent failed to identify the year in which India became independent. And three-fourths had not heard of the Emergency. While the responses are closely linked to educational qualifications, the awareness level of graduates leaves much to be desired. More respondents knew about Valentine's Day than about the Emergency.
Class conditions aspirations. Respondents were asked to cite the monthly income that would be sufficient to meet the needs of themselves and the family. Fifty seven per cent mentioned a figure up to Rs. 5,000 a month. Among the rural lower classes, three-fourths were satisfied with this. Only one out of seven mentioned a figure in excess of Rs. 10,000 a month (five per cent among rural lower class and 50 per cent among the urban well-to-do).
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