More than half of the city’s youth thinks same-sex relationships are a personal preference, found a recent survey . It also found that one-third of the youth said they would opt for a livein relationship.The research was carried out by the School of Labour and Management at Tata Institute of Social Sciences and IRIS Knowledge foundation. The researchers interviewed 104 people in the city aged between 18 and 32 years.

Almost 60% of the respondents said they thought that same-sex relationships were a personal choice. On the other hand, 30.8% of respondents stated it as being unnatural, not being allowed by any religion, unlawful and sinful.

The survey looked at four areas and the youth’s engagement with it–work, health and wellbeing; public participation and family; social behaviour and perception. The findings indicated that 78% of the respondents said that they get less than five hours of free time for themselves and a third believed that their jobs did not leave sufficient space for an optimal work-life balance. Almost 60% of respondents said they had headaches, body aches and fatigue and 40% report respiratory stress during work.

“There is no data on the youth though most of our population is young. The youth is marginalized and on many occasions, live in vulnerable situations. It is important to understand how they perceive change,“ said Leni Chaudhuri, head, programmes, Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation, which along with UN-Habitat is part of the survey team.

In the area of public participation, the survey found that most youth are politically aware but not publicly active. Even as 70% voted in elections and knew elected representatives at the local, state and central levels, only 25% had participated in mass movements. Similar surveys will be conducted in eight cities.

Preliminary Analysis of Pilot Youth Survey focusing on the Challenge of Change
The State of UrbanYouth Report, 2015: Change and Challenge

The increasingly important role of youth in the country’s growth and development remains juxtaposed with a global context of sharpening inequity, shifting social equilibrium and transient socio-economic fabrics. It feels obvious that change and reform will be the leitmotif of the coming years. Yet, there exists no systemized literature on youth and change in India or the Indian context, and any available data remains non-specific or irrelevant.

The State of Urban Youth, India is a report that recognizes this gap and seeks to address it with evidence, data and discussion, with a view to informing policymaking, research and practice. The overall theme of the 2015 edition of the report is on the means and ways in which youth are addressing challenges of changes that they themselves are initiating.

The report sees the support of Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation and UN-Habitat as part of their broader programmatic focus on urban youth. It has been designed and led by IRIS Knowledge Foundation in association with prestigious institutions like the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.


The report has two important components. The first is a compilation of specially commissioned scholarly papers and essays, and the second is the analysis of a multi-city youth survey. The preliminary findings of the pilot survey were presented and discussed at the Young Social Innovators Conclave 2015.

The Working Group for the Report comprises: Dr K Narayanan (IIT-B); Dr D Parthasarathy (IIT-B), Dr Vibhuti Patel (SNDT University); Dr Anuja Jayaraman (SNEHA), Leni Chaudhuri (Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation); Dr Bino Paul (TISS) and Dr Padma Prakash (IKF). Chapter writers are eminent scholars drawn from various institutions and across disciplines. The Report is supported by the youth programme of the UN-HABITAT and the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation’s youth-related activities and especially the India Youth Fund.


The theme of the survey is ‘change and challenge’, and its observations are tied to the nature of social changes and their impact on youth.

Three sections of the report address distinct areas of youth’s lives. The first focuses on change – generational changes between parents and children; changes due to the target generation’s educational and career aspirations and geographic mobility; urbanization, educational reach and employment; as well as their impact on social attitudes, mores and behaviours. A second section focuses on the world of work – what work means to youth, what an ideal work environment is for them, how they manage time and work-life balance. The third section addresses governance, social movements, and youth involvement in both.

The survey design, operation and analysis has been anchored by the School of Labour and Management at Tata Insitute of Social Sciences, in collaboration with IRIS Knowledge Foundation. The report has been supported by Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation and UN-Habitat as part of their programmatic focus on the urban youth.


The survey remains unique in its focus on youth and their experiences. The pilot samples have been collected from three cities – Coimbatore, Mumbai and Varanasi, with additional samples coming in from Delhi and Dimapur. In Varanasi and Coimbatore case studies will also be developed especially focusing on the self-employed. In Mumbai a case study of a typical mid-size company in the area of technology, media and finance will be conducted with an embedded survey.

The survey, designed and anchored by the Tata Insitute of Social Sciences, has been hosted on a Google interface and is available to respondents online and on their mobiles. Collected data is collated by Tata Institute of Social Sciences and IRIS Knowledge Foundation, who will then subject it to progressively intensive analysis. The pilot, sample survey, discussed at the Conclave draws on quantitative data enhanced by qualitative inputs.


The pilot sample is a representative cross section between ages 18-32, appropriately distributed across gender, religion, caste and education, and largely comprised of those employed in full time jobs and not necessarily informal sector employees or self-employed peoples.

Highlights include –
80% of the sample is between 23 – 30 years of age
A significant majority were first time degree holders within their families. Fathers and mothers of 41% of respondents had studied only up till the higher secondary level
36% identify themselves as migrants to the city for reasons of education and employment, and quite often, migration for education turned into migration for employment as well.
25% hail from families that have followed a traditional art / craft occupation

Youth and Work

The sample indicates that formal avenues such as campus placements and job websites are more important in finding jobs than contacts and personal connections.
Nearly 2/3rd of respondents found their jobs, job titles, and entitlements ‘satisfactory to indifferent’
The proportion of people who found their salaries were adequate was roughly equal to the proportion who thought otherwise.
75% respondents were in favour of labour unionisation, but most themselves were not members of any such unions.
85% preferred working in groups to working by themselves, citing opportunities for ideation and personality development
78% said they get less than 5 hours of free time for themselves in a day
Over 1/3rd of the sample spent more than an hour one-way daily (on an average) on commuting to and from work
1/3rd of respondents believed that their jobs did not leave sufficient space for an optimal work-life balance.
A significant proportion have also said that if given a choice, they would opt for a different kind of work than the one they are presently in.
The numbers show that while young people may be more adept at finding jobs with satisfactory incomes, at least in the larger cities, few are able to find interesting and engaging work. These lead to some important questions – what are the pathways that youth can use to seek the change they desire in the workplace? Do employers look on employee involvement in labour associations negatively or do they encourage engagement with employees?

Status of health and wellbeing

60% report frequent headaches, body aches and fatigue through the working month
40% report respiratory stress in the form of coughs and colds for much of the working month
1/6th of respondents reported feeling depressed, disinterested and/or hopeless, and had trouble falling asleep
1/5th were dissatisfied with their lives
2/3rd did not know of any mental health support services
The findings on physical and mental health are only indicators as they are reported by individual respondents only and not supported by diagnostic investigations. However, even reported illnesses are an important indicator of ill health and mental distress, and clearly seem to be affecting urban youth in India.

Youth and Public Participation
Most respondents are politically aware, but not publicly active.
70% have voted in the last elections and believe they have a right and duty to vote, and have a strong perception of India as a progressive, democratic country.
They are politically aware and know their elected representatives at the local, state and central levels.
They also believe that youth need greater voice in politics.
89% have never been part of any political parties, 73% have never been part of student organisations and 98% have never been part of a labour union
75% have never taken part in any mass movements, with the remaining 25% having largely participated through social media and/or directly.
Here the questions that arise are – are mass organisations not conducive to youth participation? What is it that keeps young people, aware of the value of public participation, away from actually being active in public organisations and spaces?

Family, Social Behaviour and Perception

80% find marriage important or very important, while 15% found it ‘not very important’ and 3% found it not at all important.
Half of the sample was married, with 90% of them being married to someone from the same community, caste, religion, region and economic status.
40% of the unmarried respondents stated that they would not marry outside their community, caste, religion, region and economic status; as opposed to 20% who did not consider these factors important
1/3rd favoured live-in relationships and said they would opt for it if they had a chance to do so.
An overwhelming majority said the family was important, with 42% saying that families offered social and economic stability, and 20% saying that families offered continuity of values and traditions.
Youth, clearly, are beginning to articulate nuanced attitudes towards the institution of marriage, an indication that merits greater study.

With regards to same-sex relationships, 60% respondents said it was a personal preference.
Most of the rest said that such relations were unnatural and not allowed by religion or law
72% said they were not aware of anyone in their social circles identifying themselves as LGBTQ
Most respondents did not identify themselves as LGBTQ, while 17% said they ‘did not know’
Whether these data and others will be the similar in the larger survey across gender, class and city will be explored.

Social change is typically difficult to identify and record. The attempt in this Report is to use the output from the survey with the scholarly essays to cumulatively report of the status of urban youth in a rapidly transforming India.