The lowdown on India's Web 2.0 generation

India's demographics (50 percent of India's population is below the age of 25 years) has been perceived as both a boon and a bane. During this decade, however, we have repeatedly heard the phrase "India's demographic advantage".

India's demographics (50 percent of India's population is below the age of 25 years) has been perceived as both a boon and a bane. During this decade, however, we have repeatedly heard the phrase "India's demographic advantage". That's also the reason why most marketers feel targeting the youth can be any product's shortcut to success. As a result, products are often launched and re-launched in their youthful avatars.

As per a Boston Consulting Group study, by 2020, the world will have a shortage of 47 million working people and the Indian workforce will have a surplus of 56 million people. This surplus manpower could help meet the talent needs across geographies, provided we overhaul our education system today.

But, this supposition is often refuted by the fact that in India, only one out of nine children finishing school joins a college. India has one of the lowest higher education enrolment ratios of 11 percent. In the U.S., it is 83 percent.

What's worse, a recent NASSCOM-McKinsey study revealed that only one out of 10 Indian students with degrees in humanities and one out of four engineering graduates are employable. This indicates that higher education does not make people employable.

In the backdrop of such contrasting statistics (opportunity versus the dismal state of India's education system), a survey undertaken by Tata Consultancy Services that looked at the Web 2.0 generation, came as a breath of fresh air. I found the findings of this survey quite interesting and thought of sharing it through my blog.

The survey was conducted across 14,000 high school children, between the ages of 12 and 18, in 12 cities across India during 2008-20009.

The survey of India's school children shows that the Web 2.0 generation comprises of digital natives. They are "technology savvy, global in terms of aspirations and outlook, and increasingly optimistic about India's economic future", according to the survey.

Conducted for the first time, the survey "highlights that urban school children in the metros and mini-metros are immersed online and have the technology at hand to access information through the Net at all times", said TCS in a statement. "Over 80 percent have access to mobile phones, find time for the Internet alongside school, classes and extra-curricular activities, and are starting to embrace Web 2.0 tools like blogs and social networking sites."

The study pointed out that 63 percent of urban students spent over an hour online daily. As many as 93 percent were aware of social networking. Expectedly, Orkut and Facebook were most popular online destinations among respondents.

What was even more interesting was the fact that 62 percent of urban students surveyed had a personal computer at home. In metros, 25 percent of the students surveyed owned laptops. Internet access from schools in Delhi (31 percent) was highest amongst all cities. In fact, nearly 99 percent of youth in Delhi had access to mobile phones.

S. Ramadorai, CEO and managing director of TCS, said in the statement: "The TCS Generation Web 2.0 survey confirms that today's students are shifting their academic and social life online, and embracing the digital world as true digital natives... The Web2.0 Generation will shape the next phase of India's growth and success."

TCS has identified the youth in four categories:

The Globetrotter: Today's students continue to express a strong desire to be mobile like previous generations. The Globetrotter has global ambitions and wants to study and work abroad.

The Gadgetphile: Students from both metros and mini-metros love gadgets and aspire to have the latest products available. The iPod Indian is more likely to be found with access to a Web-enabled mobile,the latest games console and iPods.

The Nation-Builder: The Indian student is focused on his/her career but is as much interested in the additional benefits that careers bring such as travel, learning new skills, experience to be gained, interesting workplace and salary. This "career kid" is also starting to branch out of the traditional career choices and going for some new options like games and animation. The Nation-Builder is optimistic about Indian companies and favors them over the most popular international MNCs.

The Social Networker: A true digital native, the Social Networker is likely to have as many online friends as real ones and these friendships go beyond the traditional boundaries of gender, caste and geographies. This social youth communicates with anyone and everyone as long as they have the same interests.


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