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CfB Bureau

India has the world’s highest number of 10-to-24 year-olds at 356 million, followed by China with 269 million, Indonesia with 67 million, Pakistan with 59 million, and Bangladesh with 48 million. It is clearly in a stage of demographic transition that occurs when a population shifts from high fertility rates and high mortality rates to low fertility rates and low mortality rates.

There has historically been window of rapid economic growth in countries experiencing the demographic transition, a benefit called the “demographic dividend.” This accelerated growth occurs when a country’s working age population grows larger than the non-working age population, creating a more productive economy in a state facing fewer costs associated with non-workers, like children and the elderly.

The challenge was to see how the processes that are producing transformation are being refracted through the lens of Indian youth. The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) initiated and commissioned a study in 2007 by the Lokniti programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies to investigate the attitudes and perspectives of Indian Youth. It had a broad mandate to understand India’s youth especially since India is seen as the new happening place by the global media.

The Report of the study Indian Youth in a Transforming World : Attitudes and Perceptions edited by Peter Ronald DeSouza, Sanjay Kumar, Sandeep Shastri was publicly released in December 2008, and later published by Sage Publications.

The preview on the publishing house’s website claims the book as “the first nationwide study based on face-to-face interviews with 5000 youth to capture the popular mood of this important demographic segment of contemporary India. It records their perceptions of various issues, ranging from modernity, development, globalization and unemployment, to leisure and lifestyle, social networks and family, and their hopes and aspirations for the future.”

While the book breaks some myths about them, on one hand, it helps strengthen some commonly shared perceptions about them, on the other. Indian youth reflect an authentic multiplicity of aspirations, 'world views' and interest, quite like the rich tapestry of India's diversity. It indicates that they are a mix of continuity with change. However, they stand distinct in many ways from the youth the world over. This book is also likely to break some myths related to the youth, opening avenues for new debates. For example, the study reveals that there is hardly any decline in interest in politics between two generations.

The book would be invaluable for professionals in advertising and other media sectors and all those involved in market research. Students and teachers of specialized psychology courses, behavioural sociology, political sociology, social change and modernization will also find it useful.

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