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7 things you need to know about India's millennials

Your guide to understanding who they are and what they want

Image Credit: Corbis
Tradition and culture are important to the Indian millennial
GN Focus

1. There’s 700 million of them

The United Nations said last month that India will become the most populous country by 2022, when it will draw even with — and exceed — China at 1.4 billion people. Nearly 60 per cent (701 million of the 1.2 billion estimated during the 2011 census) are under the age of 30. That’s more than the 503 million residents of the European Union and double the US population. They’re the best-educated generation in independent India and most likely to drive the country to long-term prosperity.

2. They’re traditionalists at heart

Like others of their age group worldwide, Gen Y appears comfortable in the nest. At least 57 per cent live with their immediate family, with only 22 per cent having set up on their own, a 2013 JWTIntelligence survey of Bric millennials found. Attitudes towards marriage may have something to do with this — while 83 per cent believe it is important, more than 50 per cent aren’t comfortable with the idea of getting married, and 65 per cent feel it prevents people from living the lives they want.

Tradition is important to them. The country’s much-touted diversity means more than 60 per cent want to bulwark their own language, food, music, dress, dance and religious customs against globalisation’s wave of homogeneity.

3. They’re ambitious, and Indian companies like that

The children of liberalisation see a clear path to the top. Eighty per cent of Indian millennials aspire to lead or reach a management position within their organisation, according to Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial Survey. Indian companies appear to prize their talent more than elsewhere. More than half of the Indian respondents felt their current employer valued and was making full use of their skills, as compared to only 28 per cent worldwide.

According to data from branding agency Universum Global, high salaries are just one reason for ambition. The opportunity to coach and mentor others also rates well.

4. They’re talented and will work for a purpose

This is the most socially conscious  generation of all time. Perhaps because of India’s developing world problems, its youth are ahead of the pack on this front. Deloitte found that a whopping 89 per cent believe their company has a strong sense of purpose, which 86 per cent can understand and relate to (compared to 80 per cent and 66 per cent worldwide).

Like their counterparts elsewhere, however, Indian millennials want to close the gap, and believe senior leadership should be focused more strongly on long-term goals, making a positive contribution to society and employee wellbeing. Nearly 70 per cent of Indian millennials will deliberately seek employers whose corporate responsibility behaviour reflects their own, PwC found.

5. Women don’t believe in a glass ceiling

Most female millennials believe they’re headed for corner offices. Seventy-six per cent of respondents in a female-focused PwC study said they expected to rise to the most senior levels within their organisations, as compared to a global average of 49 per cent.

However, 74 per cent of Indian females surveyed felt that opportunities are not equal for all. When asked about being promoted from within, 21 per cent felt their employer was male biased.

That chimes with Deloitte’s findings: men appeared more likely to pursue the top job within their company than women (59 per cent versus 47 per cent).

6. They’re into tech and working for themselves

The Indian software cliché rings true after all. Technology, media and telecommunications (the TMT grouping) are the most attractive industries for Gen Y, with men twice as likely to favour the sector. According to the Deloitte study, 64 per cent wanted TMT jobs, followed by professional services and the public sector (53 per cent each). Just over half want to work for an established global business, but many have an entrepreneurial streak — not only are they twice as likely as their parents to launch something of their own, 35 per cent already run businesses on the side.

7. More are working abroad than ever

The joke goes that Neil Armstrong met the owner of an Indian tea shop on the moon. More than 28 million Indians live and work abroad, as per the Ministry for Overseas Indian Affairs, and that number looks set to rise even further. Some 83 per cent of Indian millennials believe international experience is necessary to further their careers, compared to a global average of 66 per cent, PwC data shows.