If you think young India is progressive, unbiased and non-discriminatory, you are more likely wrong.
A recent survey conducted to study how young Indians think has indicated that much of Indian youth are quite patriarchal, intolerant and hold conservative thoughts than otherwise perceived.
Only one out of three (33%) Indian youth (including women) think that it is fully right for married women to work after marriage while another 16% of young Indians think that it is somewhat right for women to work post-marriage.
Similarly, 27% of Indians fully agreed that wives should always listen to their husbands and another 24% responded that they somewhat agree to the same question. Only 23% fully disagreed to the same.
These were some of the findings of the 19-state-wide survey with 6122 respondents in the age group of 15- 34 years taking part. The study was conducted by a Delhi-based social science research institute, Centre for the Study in Developing Societies (CSDS) and a Berlin-based political think-tank, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS).
Other findings that indicate a patriarchal nature among Indian youth included 20% agreeing to the idea of males being better leaders than women. Another 23% somewhat agreed with that notion.
Almost half of Indian youth (48%) opposed (fully or somewhat) to girls wearing jeans while only 19% of Indian youth approved of girls wearing jeans.
The survey concluded that the percentage of very patriarchal Indian youth (24%) were more in number than those who were not patriarchal at all (18%).
“We found about a quarter (24%) of the young respondents to be very patriarchal and only one in six (18%) to be not patriarchal at all. The remaining youth fall somewhere in the middle - 29% were somewhat patriarchal in their views and another 29% were less patriarchal than that as they held conservative responses on only a few questions,” the surveyors said.
The study found that patriarchal mindset was not only limited to men.
“About one in every three young women were of the opinion that women should not work after marriage and over two out of every five of them favoured the idea of an obedient wife. This internalisation of patriarchal norms may explain their widespread persistence,” the surveyors said.
While close to six out of 10 (57%) males were found to be patriarchal in their views, the percentage of females with similar views were found to be 40%.
According to the responses, urban youth were likely to be less patriarchal than their rural counterparts and the patriarchal mindset was noticed the least amongst those living in big cities.
“There are differences in young people’s patriarchal attitudes on the basis of locality. They decline with an increase in urbanity. Youth residing in villages were found to be more patriarchal (59%, if we combine the extreme and somewhat categories) in their mindset than youth living in cities (52%) and big cities (37%),” the surveyors noted.
A comparative study focused on community showed that Muslim (61%) youth were found to be the most patriarchal followed by youth who identified themselves as Hindus (53%).
Young people from Sikh and Christian communities were found to be the least patriarchal.
Incidentally, a geographical comparison on the same showed that north Indian youths were mostly patriarchal at 57%.
While southern and eastern regions had less patriarchal attituded with 49% and 46% of youths showing patriarchal traits.
This trend conformed to the different kinship systems associated with the different parts of the country, the researchers noted.
Education, exposure to media and interacting/ mingling with the opposite sex was found to be negatively related to patriarchal mindset.
“Youth who are non-literate or have studied only up till primary school were found to be far more patriarchal (77% and 66%, respectively) than those who have only completed high school or attained higher education (59% and 41%, respectively). Youth who have no exposure to news media were found to be very patriarchal. On the other hand, youth who were highly exposed to news media were less patriarchal,” the surveyors stated.
“For instance, 63% of young men who reported having no close female friends were found to be patriarchal compared to only 46% of young men who said they have close female friends. This difference was also noticed with respect to young women with close male friends and those without it,” they added.
The percentage of youth approving of homosexuality is less than 24%.
Interestingly, urban youth fare worse than non-urban youth when it comes to accepting homosexuality but age was a huge factor in this regard.
“Age makes a difference to how homosexuality is perceived by the youth. The youngest respondents (15- to 17-year-olds) were more approving of homosexuality than the older youth. Interestingly, urbanity reduces approval for homosexuality. Youth living in big cities were found to be less approving of homosexuality (21%) than those living in smaller cities (27%) and villages (29%),” the reports said.
Contrary to the common perception that religious youth were more intolerant, it was found religiosity was positively related to acceptance towards homosexuality.
“The CSDS-KAS Youth Survey finds religiosity to be not playing a significant role in determining attitudes towards homosexuality. If anything, it finds that those who are more religious (in practice) are more likely to be accepting of homosexuality."
When asked about marriage, a clear one-third (33%) of Indian youth opine that it was not important for them to get married while a little more than half of them (52%) said that getting married was important. And 67% of them do not approve of live-in relationships.
More than half of India's youth (53%) disapprove or are opposed to dating before marriage.
Inter-caste marriages were a no-no for more than a third of the Indian youth with 36% still considering inter-caste marriage to be completely wrong and an almost equal share of their peers (33%) approving of them. 23% of Indian youth see inter-caste marriage to be partially right.
The percentage of Indians opposed to inter-religious marriage is even higher. 45% is found to be completely opposed to marrying someone from a different community and only 28% were pro-inter-religious marriage.
After an overall study, the researchers concluded more than half of young India (56%) is not at all discriminatory and another 25% is low on discrimination. Less than one-tenth (9%) of young Indians is very discriminatory, while another 10% are somewhat discriminatory.
These figures were reached after considering prejudices observed among the subjects of the survey.
Willingness to have neighbours belonging to a different caste, religion than theirs, or from a different state were some of the factors considered.
Vegetarians vs Non-vegetarians
Dietary choices also mattered in this regard, especially among upper caste Hindus. Incidentally, 47% of upper caste Hindus and 30% of OBC Hindus were pure vegetarians.
“In total 30% of Indian youth reported to be vegetarians and nearly half of them (47%) said they would have problems with a neighbour who consumes non-vegetarian food,” the study said.
“Among Hindus, youth from the upper castes were most opposed to idea of non-vegetarians as their neighbours. Over a quarter of them (26%) said it would cause discomfort to them. Along with upper castes, youth from the OBC community, who over the years have attempted to ape the social and cultural practices of the upper castes as a process of ‘sankritisation’, were equally resistant (26%) to their neighbours eating non-vegetarian food,” the study noted.
In the bright side, 81% of Indian youth said they do not have any caste-based reservations and only 13% of them saying they had problems if their neighbour belongs to a different caste than theirs.
Surprisingly, these trends were most noticed among Adivasis followed by Hindu OBCs.