How do young people in India feel about their culture, their country, and its future?

We investigated this topic in a survey of 25,000 Indians aged 15 to 25, spanning over 400 towns and more than 100 campuses. (Note: this project was completed prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.) This research revealed that young Indians are no longer blinded by their determined explorations of Western culture. They’re returning to their roots to find that India and its rich traditions are cool. They feel they can succeed right here at home and they want to make positive change. Optimism about India’s future abounds.

Here are some key findings:

Virtually all young Indians take pride in their country and culture. Nearly all (96%) feel proud to be Indian, up from 87% in 2016.  They are similarly proud of their culture and traditions, at 95% (up from 85% in 2016). This pride is primarily rooted in their values and traditions, rich culture and history, Indian food, ancient knowledge like yoga and Ayurveda, and the contributions of India and Indians beyond their country’s borders. They encourage foreigners to get to know their country and people (95%).

Indian traditions are central to their identities. Most young Indians (90%) feel their culture and traditions make them who they are. To an increasing degree, they believe in following traditions but not religion (96%, up from 75% in 2016).

They believe they can compete on the world stage. The sentiment that Indians are as talented as people from anywhere else has also increased to near unanimity (96%, up from 85% in 2016).

To improve India, women’s safety is a top priority. While Indian young people proud of their country, they’re not uncritical of it. Security for women is the #1 area that they think their country could improve. In fact, among those surveyed, 85% of females and 74% of males feel that women’s safety is not given enough importance in their country. Eliminating sexual harassment is the #1 social issue that young Indians support.

In all, optimism about India’s future is widespread. Most young Indians (83%) believe that India offers them as much opportunity as other countries – and that things can only get better there. There is widespread sentiment that India will progress in the next 5 to 8 years (90%).