ShoppingWhy do 47 per cent of India’s urban youth prefer to stay home when malls and multiplexes with their doors wide open for them are mushrooming all over the country? Why do 48 per cent of the country’s urban young hang out at friend’s places when pubs and discotheques promise,ShoppingWhy do 47 per cent of India’s urban youth prefer to stay home when malls and multiplexes with their doors wide open for them are mushrooming all over the country? Why do 48 per cent of the country’s urban young hang out at friend’s places when pubs and discotheques promise them happy hours at every corner?Why is cinema-going the single-largest outdoor activity (at 32 per cent) and sports, at 8 per cent, below even studies? A generation of slackers? Of stay-at-homes? Quick answer: None of the above. If you could catch their attention for just a moment, as they rush between home and office, wired up like cyborgs with hands-frees and earphones, you would notice that this generation of have-it-alls has everything except time.As 540 million Indians between the age of 18 and 34 take charge of a new, globalised India, they are seeing a never-before boom in careers. But as doors open to jobs, they also close to the idea of leisure for pleasure. With odd hours, or worse, long hours, becoming the norm, life for the working youth now revolves around office, and the struggle to find a balance between time in office and life outside it is a daily routine. Today’s youth don’t need to hit the dance floor to meet the world. The world is at their fingertips.Programmed to wake-work-sleep mode through the working week, time for leisure is effectively reduced to a few hours of television at night. As the survey shows, 51 per cent of those polled watch news on television, 41 per cent music channels, and 31 per cent movies.advertisementClick here to EnlargePerennially short of time, the youth of today have found the answer by going mobile, and cellphones, laptops and iPods are their new threepiece. In a country with a teledensity of just 16 phones per 1,000 people, the youth of urban India, the survey says, own 70 cellphones per 100, up from 55 per cent last year. Computer ownership too has risen by 10 per cent to 23 per cent.Call rates are hitting rock-bottom, but more importantly, the mobile phone is fast becoming more than just a calling and messaging device. The ‘cell’ is now a digital camera, MP3 player, FM radio and increasingly, a USB storage drive rolled into one-an electronic Swiss knife which has become an intrinsic part of the youth’s attempt to squeeze more into less time and still make a statement. Says Hemant Sachdev, corporate director, marketing, Bharti Enterprises, “Our focus areas when targeting the youth are music downloads in the form of ringtones, caller tunes or songs.”To keep pace with their warpspeed lives, the youth are also fast taking to the Internet, with 50 per cent of those surveyed having access, nearly 40 per cent in even mini-metros. A high 48 per cent regularly chat and 35 per cent use the worldwide web as a source of news and information.TravellingSays Rithankar Chatterjee, “I’ve got a laptop and a wireless Internet connection, and it allows me to stay in touch with my friends all the time.” Chatterjee, who is studying for his CA while working as an auditor in an international audit firm’s Delhi office, finds it almost impossible to fit in time with friends between long hours at office and studying at home for his examinations in May.For others, like Nikhil Madgavkar, online gaming is virtually a real playground, but without the play ever being interrupted by rain, bad light, or most importantly, unearthly playing hours. “Online gaming is more than just entertainment. It helps one relax,” says the 29-year-old head of network operations at a gaming portal in Mumbai.Which of these places, if any, do you plan to visit in the near future?Hill station30%Beach20%Pilgrimage18%Do not plan to go anywhere13%Abroad8%Wildlife sanctuaries5%Places of adventure sports3%It is only on the weekends that the youth have any time on their terms. For many-a huge 48 per cent, according to the survey-the weekend is a time to keep up social ties. Says Mohit Gautam, who works with a BPO in Delhi, “Most of us are working and have our own commitments on office days. So the weekend is really the only time when the whole group can meet up.”And no, there is no time for dhoom with the sexy lady on the floor. A fact evident in the survey: 50 per cent of the respondents never go to discos and pubs. It’s a surprisingly high figure, says filmmaker Rohan Sippy. “It’ll save me a lot of time and money on shooting the obligatory nightclub song in my next film,” he laughs.advertisementNow, if only the music companies read the survey. Clearly, what the youth is looking for is not a ‘good time’ in the usual sense of the word, but rather some quality time with friends. Many others, however, prefer to stay home on weekends, often out of a sense of obligation to the family.For Ritika Som, an assistant art director at an advertising agency, the weekend is about spending time with her husband and wrapping up household chores. “During the week, it is only when both of us can get off from work early enough that we can go out. Most of our time together is over the weekend.”Even the survey shows that more than half the married respondents (51 per cent) spend their weekends at home. Also, 54 per cent women stay home on weekends, as compared to just 40 per cent among men. “Women either stay home to spend time with the kids if they are married, or to help around the house. They are still tied down to oldfashioned roles,” explains sociologist Dipankar Gupta.Many, like Gautam and Chatterjee- both unmarried and staying with their parents-feel the demands of family. Their parents expect time with them, and it is only on the weekend that they can do that. Says Gautam, “We often have relatives visiting. And one can’t always be out when they come over.” Staying at home is the preferred choice in mini metros (52 per cent vote for it, compared to 46 per cent in big cities) perhaps because of paucity of options.Click here to EnlargeFor out-of-towners like Atish Tripathi-an animation producer with a Delhi-based production firm-whose circle of friends is more or less limited to their workplaces, the weekend means some time to oneself: “Sometimes, you just want to get away from everyone and be free to do as you please.”And that could be sleeping, reading (as 18 per cent of those surveyed do), or just staring at the ceiling. This may even mean squeezing in an engagement into an already packed work-week, but that, as he says, “is nothing compared to being able to sleep the whole day if I want to.”There are also economic reasons behind many preferring to stay at home. As the survey shows, a higher percentage of less well-off (SEC C) youth-51 per cent-stay home on weekends as compared to 46 per cent among the more well-to-do, the top socio-economic category, SEC A. The number of youth hanging out with friends, however, is nine per cent higher amongst the more affluent.44% of youth would be willing to pay more to be able to buy branded productsLonger vacations are a chance to bond with friends or family while taking a break from the hectic pace of work life. Which explains why as many as half of those surveyed are planning to visit either a hill station or a beach in the near future.Adventure sports, understandably, don’t find many takers among near-burnout office-goers in repose mode. The possibility of getting hurt and being unable to rejoin office on time is deterrent enough.advertisementThe youth of today is a generation in screensaver mode: on the outside, a bunch of lazy bones who spend their time doing nothing, but their apparent somnolence is only an illusion, as all social processes thrive unhindered in the background, as they tame the genie of technology to do their bidding.METHODOLOGYA follow-up to the youth surveys conducted in October 2004 and January 2006, the 2007 INDIA TODAY AC Nielsen-ORG-MARG survey set out with the primary objective of understanding how young Indians spend their leisure- who do they hang out with and what do they spend on. While the 2004 and 2006 surveys looked at youth between 18 and 35 in 10 and 14 cities, respectively, this year’s survey covered 2,846 respondents aged 18-30 in socio-economic category A, B and C using the street-corner sampling technique. Respondents were interviewed in the metros, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, and the mini-metros, Ludhiana, Lucknow, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Kochi, Patna, Jaipur and Ahmedabad. The sample comprised 1,448 respondents between 18-24 years and 1,398 between 25 and 30. Of them, 1,414 were male and 1,429 single.