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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Digitizing Indian Texts

The challenges of creating the Digital Library of India - which aims at digitizing significant literary, artistic, and scientific works for free distribution and appreciation. 


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Youth in Urban India - Businessworld Cover Story

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The latest issue of the BusinessWorld has a cover story by Rashmi Bansal on urban youth in India. A well researched story, with some neat stories and interviews, and insights on the youth idiom, the thrust is on figuring out what the youth has that marketers want.  Rashmi has begun to scratch the surface with this story - hope she takes it further into a series that will provide real insight into youth as a 'state of mind', and 'state of being' in the Indian context.

A few excerpts :

"Sociologists and media pundits have homed in on this cruel fact: 54% of India is estimated to be under the age of 25. However, the consuming class that is the target of most youth lifestyle brands numbers approximately 16 million* (* - The number of consumers aged12-30 in SEC A and B in the top 35 cities, according to NRS 2003 data.)"

"Youth is no longer a mere transit dharamshala between being a dependent of the family and creating one of your own. It is a potent economic and cultural force. The consumer of today, the growth engine of tomorrow.  Says Santosh Desai, president of advertising agency McCann-Erickson: "In popular imagination, childhood was seen as the golden era of one's life, while youth was something much more troublesome. Films about youth in India were about the restrictions youth faced and their attempts to break out of them. Now, youth is a far more celebrated phenomenon. Almost all cinema is about youth. And the consumption of the youth and their pleasure seeking has moved centre stage.""

There are sub-sections on youth and careers, youth and technology, youth and parents, youth and buying power.  In the technology section, the author talks of why youth prefers IM over email and the implications it might have for the workplace of the future. 

"IM is a kind of metaphor for the mindset of the new millennium youth. It fulfils a deep-seated need for constant stimulation. And keeps pace with their shorter attention spans. So short for some that buddies with slow typing speeds are huge turn-offs!"   

"Corporate India at large seems ambivalent or unconvinced about the technology. As a Citigroup employee, when questioned on his office policy on IM, commented, only half in jest: "This may be an indication of the generation gap between me (or my company) and the 14-24-year-olds, but what does IM stand for?"

And i've been quoted too :) - Rashmi found me through my blog but thats another story - "The marketing fallout of the IM phenomenon? You can't bullshit this generation. Says ex-IMRB research consultant Dina Mehta: "They are savvy consumers who sift through an offer and reject it if there's nothing in it for them." If a product or experience does not live up to its hype, you can be sure that news will promptly be IMed to every Tom, Dick and Hari in due course. This, of course, happened in the past too but today, the speed at which such information is disseminated is simply light years ahead."

I wish she had taken the implications of this into an "always on" world which is facilitated by technology like IM, VOIP, forums, blogs and online journals (have you ever left a comment at a youth journal or blog - either at a specific post or on their guestboards, and noticed how very promptly you will get a response to your comment - not just from the author but from a whole host of readers ?), simple SMS to enhanced functions offered by new generation mobile phones. How this is impacting and changing the way youth thinks, communicates, and takes decisions. And the implications this might have for the future as they enter the workplace, bringing in their new "culture-of-use", and for marketers seeking to address this segment. 

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