Grand Tamasha

Vivan Marwaha on the Hopes and Hype of Indian Millennials

Episode Summary

Millennials account for roughly one-third of India’s population. Milan and Vivan discuss the profound impact millennials will have on the future of India.

Episode Notes

There is arguably no more consequential generation to the future of India than today’s millennials. The median age of India’s population is just 28 years old. This means that Indian millennials number around 400 million--roughly one-third of the entire Indian population. By the year 2021, two-thirds of India’s population will be within the working age of 20-35 years. It is no exaggeration to say that the economic, political, and social views of India’s youth will have a profound effect on the country’s future trajectory.

This week on the show, Milan speaks with Vivan Marwaha, who is both an Indian millennial and the author of a new book on Indian millennials—What Millennials Want—that will be published by Penguin Random House India in 2020. Milan and Vivan talk about India’s much-ballyhooed “demographic dividend,” whether there is an Indian Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez waiting in the wings, and why India’s youth are bullish on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership.

Episode Transcription

Intro: 00:00 "Unabashed" "The most unpredictable" "becomes a headline." "The most volatile" "outrageous behavior." “Unsubstantiated narratives" "A battle of personalities."

Milan Vaishnav: 00:11 Welcome to Grand Tamasha, I'm your host Milan Vaishnav. There's arguably no more consequential generation for the future of India than today's millennials. The median age of India's population is just 28 years old. This means that Indian millennials number around 400 million or roughly one third of the entire Indian population. According to some estimates by the year 2021 two thirds of India's population will be within the working age of 20 to 35 years. The economic, political, and social views of India's youth will have a profound effect on the country's future trajectory. My guest on the show today is Vivan Marwaha, who is himself an Indian millennial, but he's also the author of a new book on Indian millennials, which will be published by Penguin Random House in 2020. Vivan joins me in the studio today in Washington D.C. Thanks for coming on the show.

Vivan Marwaha: 00:54 Thanks for having me. Yeah.

Milan Vaishnav: 00:55 So before we get into the subject of your book, portions of which a had the pleasure of reading, tell our listeners a little bit about you. Where are you from? Where did you grow up and how did you an Indian millennial come to write a book about Indian millennials?

Vivan Marwaha: 01:09 Yeah, absolutely. So first, thanks for having me. I grew up in Delhi and I was there for the first 17, 18 years of my life. And then I went at a school at a liberal arts college in California. And one of the most common conversations that you know, people were having in the United States was about millennials. They were just trying to figure it out how do these people think? Why did they behave like this?

Milan Vaishnav: 01:32 Why do they have so much avocado toast?

Vivan Marwaha: 01:34 Why do they have so much AVO toast? You know, what do they want? How can we get them to, to keep a job? And, and finally, how do we sell products to them? And when I finished school and I was back home for, for the summer I sort of found no understanding of Indian millennials. So there was nothing online and there was nothing in print.

Vivan Marwaha: 01:57 And this is the summer of 2017 and it really, it really was this huge gap in the understanding of India's youth. And as you mentioned, rough calculations estimate that they are roughly 400 million strong and that's more than the entire population of the United States. Now think about not knowing much about almost an entire country and not knowing about the opportunities and the incredible, what are the incredible costs of not knowing about the opportunities of this entire generation? And so I found folks in Delhi and Bombay who complained about millennials that they can't hold a job or they're addicted to social media, but what my research, which we're going to come to in a bit found that the reality couldn't be further from this false narrative. And so I'm excited to talk about that on this podcast and how I started this project is again, I thought that no one was really looking at Indian millennials and I decided being a millennial myself, no one else a better suited to take this on.

Vivan Marwaha: 03:02 So I just decided to jump into it.

Milan Vaishnav: 03:04 And were you daunted by this task? I mean, you're a recent college grad decide I'm going to write a book on Indian millennials. I mean, was that an intimidating thing to do?

Vivan Marwaha: 03:12 Absolutely. And, and because India is so diverse and there are so many different, Indias the way you look at it regionally as socioeconomically, culturally, linguistically. It definitely was a very daunting experience. So I just decided to sort of take things as they go. I started my research in South India in Mysore at the Infosys campus there. And then from there, sort of worked my way up geographically. And I corresponded a lot of my research with the elections, so I tried to understand how youth vote during, India's elections: state elections, and then the general elections.

Vivan Marwaha: 03:51 And I also conducted my own research while I was doing those interviews.

Milan Vaishnav: 03:55 So help us understand first, just to kind of an important definitional thing, which is, you know, what is their millennial technically?

Vivan Marwaha: 04:02 Absolutely. So, you know, people usually assume millennials as upper class folks addicted to their phones. And, and as you mentioned, AVO toast, avocado toast in the United States and the Pew Research Center in the U.S. defines millennials as a generation born between 1981 and 1996 and they largely do this because they believe that at the dawn of the new millennium they found that this generation is defined by similar life experiences, the most important being 9/11. And how a lot of millennials were either in elementary, middle, or high school at the time. And it really had an impact on the psyche and understanding of the generation on how they view the world.

Vivan Marwaha: 04:46 In the Indian context, I also find this cut off helpful but for a different reason. Because of the 1991 economic liberalization, when the country's economy began to radically transform. At least on paper, new industries and opportunities, they opened up for millions. And this was a total break from the past when, you know, the government, engineering or medicine, were viewed as the only possible careers for a young Indian to pursue. And so for the main pillar of liberalization and then the introduction of general entertainment channels, then the internet and social media people born in this period have all adapted to, you know, some of these transformational changes similar manner. And so while some millennials weren't born during liberalization, they were born after, they still grew up in a country and an economy that was defined by it. And even if you go a few years earlier, 1975, 1976, I think that's, that those people are defined by different experiences.

Milan Vaishnav: 05:43 So this is sort of if the generation after '47 was midnight's children, these are liberalization's children.

Vivan Marwaha: 05:50 Absolutely. Yes.

Milan Vaishnav: 05:52 If I had to sum up the core thesis of your book, it would be this passage that reads the following "at the dawn of the new millennium a young population was seen as India's biggest strength, but, two decades in, the promise of this demographic advantage is fading." So what, how would you define this great promise that India's millennials hold? And why is it that you think this great advantage, this demographic boom actually could be its peril.

Vivan Marwaha: 06:20 And so, you know, I don't think this is a particularly novel observation, but for someone who does research and someone who's traveled to the places where I've traveled, it's painfully glaring and obvious and nobody's actually talking about it. And a, there's just a total lack or breakdown of employment formal and informal all across India. And so whether you're in Bhopal or in Bombay, the rise of this widespread unemployment and the accompanying feeling of, you know, despondency or a lack of purpose really is becoming the biggest roadblock to India's growth story. And so as a child I used to - as nerdy as this may sound - I used to read The Economist sometimes and I would come home and I discuss it with my, with my dad, you know, once a week, maybe.

Milan Vaishnav: 07:12 The Economist is not a sponsor of this podcast as far as I know.

Vivan Marwaha: 07:16 And I, and I remember about 10, 15 years ago, you know, when I was a teenager and there was a lot of optimism around India, so-called demographic dividend and trajectory that, you know, as a democracy with the rule of law, and a fast growing population, it was only a matter of years before India overtook China. And that we had everything going for us. And, and India really would become the next incredible growth story. Think about, you know, the next South Korea or maybe even Japan and you know, Milan, its 2019, and we're not even close. China's far overtaken India and now even Bangladesh has, and it's now becoming clear that this huge population that India has since it hasn't been put to work or educated, probably might in fact become a liability. And so how will India feed and employ so many millennials if the economy isn't doing well and they don't have jobs? And there's just no action from anyone right now, but for maybe one or two regional outfits who are trying to tackle this, but some of their solutions are also not working. So we really need a national dialogue and then mobilization around what we're going to do to understand and then employ and, and really make the most of this demographic boom.

Milan Vaishnav: 08:36 So one of the key factors that's undermining the demographic dividend according to your book is the poor education that so many Indians receive. You write at one point that the lack of a good education is setting Indian millennials up for continued disappointment and possible failure. And you go on to say that education has become a vicious, rather than a virtuous, cycle. And what's odd about this is, you know, Indians are becoming more educated than they ever have been. So how has it that education has become part of the problem rather than part of the solution?

Vivan Marwaha: 09:07 So there's many reasons behind this and one of the things that explains it very well is the story that the Washington Post wrote about and other people have written about as well. When 19 million people applied for 63,000 jobs in India's railways last year, and these weren't high level jobs, many of them were cleaning the platform or issuing tickets. And many of those 19 million had PhDs, even more had MBAs or other masters degrees and many were trained engineers or at least on paper. And these people, on paper once again, were highly educated. But they felt the need to apply for such a job.

Vivan Marwaha: 09:49 The fact that they felt the need to apply for such a job shows two things, A, that their education might not actually be as advanced as it is supposed to be. And B, that the economy isn't creating enough, vibrant or stable jobs for them to join. Now. I looked at the education sector fairly closely in my book and when I traveled to Indore, and I've been there a few times, it's a thriving city. It's very clean. It's booming, but the most booming part of Indore's economy is the education industry. And you have these coaching centers that spawn from helping people become company secretary, even chartered accountants to helping students join the government and to helping people become doctors. And they're finishing schools that help you learn, that help you learn, spoken English. And there's all sorts of academies.

Vivan Marwaha: 10:48 And at one of the engineering colleges that I went to, it was this two room engineering college. And the teacher over there had told me that he was actually an engineering dropout. And he with now teaching other students how to become engineers. And what's happened is that in large parts of India, you've seen these education barons who are often connected to local politicians, essentially selling degrees. And they are also ways for people to just spend that time, two or three, four years getting this degree. And then they get another degree and then they get another degree, trying to get more prepared for the workforce, but then they find a, a workforce that might not be hiring or if it is, is not hiring for those skills. And so education in a lot of ways people - the reason why I say it's become a vicious cycle is because people believe that if I get another degree, it will be better for me, but then that degree also doesn't add anything.

Vivan Marwaha: 11:47 And then these people have gone in, invested their time and resources when they could have been doing other things. They could have been getting vocational degrees or they could've been developing other skills. But education has sort of been viewed as this magic wand that it's actually not turning out to be.

Milan Vaishnav: 12:04 I mean another risk factor you talk about, and this is obviously linked to education, is the question of employment. And I was shocked to learn that one of the statistics from your book I believe comes from the CSDS survey in 2016 that 65% of young Indians listed government job as their top choice for a career. And what's more than that is that the preference for a government job among graduates has actually increased by almost, I think 20% since 2007. I was shocked when I read these numbers because one of the most common talking points you hear in India and in conversations outside India, which are about India is thanks to liberalization, thanks to the growth of this private sector, government service really isn't all that attractive. People would much rather work for a private company. And in fact, the data showed that that conventional wisdom is pretty wrong. What was your reaction when you first saw these numbers?

Vivan Marwaha: 12:55 Honestly, I was just as shocked as, as you were. And when I first began this project, I went through that exact data set to find where that number is from and going deeper into the dataset. The same survey found that 19% of respondents wanted to have their own business. Now that doesn't mean they wanted to become entrepreneurs, but it also could mean agricultural work for becoming farmers. And just seven, yeah, 7% wanted to work for the private sector and going deeper into it, it's become clear that India's '91, 1991 economic liberalization have actually not permeated through society.

Vivan Marwaha: 13:33 It essentially created a lot of wealth and opportunities for those best positioned at the time. So these were folks on the boundaries of the public in the private sector or those with IIT IIM or Saint Stephen's educations, but for millions everywhere else they got access to things they never had access to - so technology and color televisions and 24/7 news - but their lives actually haven't been transformed. And so the jobs also haven't been able to keep up with population growth since 1991. And that's created a real sense of, of wariness of the private sector that any private job could just go away if things take a bad turn. And this is where the stability of a government job comes in. And that a stable, even if low paying government job is actually more attractive than a marginally better paying, but unstable private sector job. And then it's also important to keep in mind that many jobs in the private sector - so that's manufacturing or retail - are either informal or they exploitative or they both.

Vivan Marwaha: 14:41 And so IndiaSpend, which is a data journalism nonprofit, did a study of informal workers in Rajasthan and Haryana and they found that workers in informal contracts, were doing the same work as formal workers, but for almost half pay simply because the supply of workers far outstrips demand. And so, I mean, if one person has a problem with their, with their lack of a contract, they can just get someone else to replace them. And in that feature, one worker, he wanted to take a week or 10 days off for his wedding and they basically told him that he would have to leave and come back to the company at the same position and salary that he started at five years ago because he didn't have a contract and, and he was an informal worker. So its things like this that make the private sector very unattractive because you know, young Indians on average also have more responsibilities than a young person in the West.

Vivan Marwaha: 15:38 For example, the median agent of marriage in India is roughly 21 or 22, whereas, I don't know the figure for America, but I assume it's at least four to five years higher than that. And so, or 20 an average 21 or 22 year old also probably has a wife and in a few years, children to think about. Similarly, in average, 21 or 22 year old woman has a husband and in a few years also children to think about when they make these decisions. And so a stable a job becomes far more attractive than something that could just go away, which is what the private sector is associated with.

Milan Vaishnav: 16:13 When it comes to politics - if we just switch from economics to politics - you note that one of the biggest challenge that young Indians face is that they have sort of been clubbed together with every other generation. So, you know, in other words, politicians don't view them as some unique generation that faces its own set of opportunities and challenges that they're a part of this demographic bulge. What in your mind has sort of been the practical impact of this neglect?

Vivan Marwaha: 16:38 So we see the practical impact of this neglect daily. Crimes against women disproportionately impact young women and make them essentially hostages in their own country. And why I say that is because many women who I've interviewed and who I know don't feel comfortable being out at night in most of India's cities since there's never been any concerted effort in making cities safer or changing attitudes around women and youth. And then the employment crisis is another glaring example. The Indian political establishment's obsession with farmers and crony capitalists has come at the expense of the economic mobilization required to create large scale employment. And so they've always focused on the rural economy where a lot of people do indeed live, but most industrialized or advanced countries have the fewest people living in rural areas. But in India's case that's where most of the voters live.

Vivan Marwaha: 17:39 And this focus has come at the expense of actually mobilizing the economy in such a way that new, vibrant jobs are being created elsewhere. And this is once again, because the political establishment has always been more concerned with social engineering or waiving the wand of the government believing that change will sort of trickle down to everyone. But that's not obviously how it works. So if you want to capitalize on your youth - which you need to given the numbers and the immense potential - you need to really focus on them as a distinct group. And so, you know, when I talk to so many millennials, they tell me we want Bangalore to become the next Singapore or we want Mumbai to become the next New York. But that doesn't happen by simply building toilets. It happens by completely transforming the education system, revitalizing the economy, improving the human condition. And these are the things that impact young people as does air pollution and, and the fact that Indian cities are running out of water, but they've really never been prioritized because the youth vote is so spread out and has always thought of being co opted by cost considerations or linguistic considerations that there's never been a constituency for young people to have their issues addressed.

Milan Vaishnav: 19:00 But is your sense, if we take your argument to the logical extension that if the government were to wake up one day and announce the kinds of sweeping economic reforms that many economists have said are necessary to stimulate real manufacturing, creative destruction - so land, labor, disinvestment, you know, the laundry list of things - is your sense that the youth of India would be generally supportive of those moves because they can link it to some of these positive outcomes?

Vivan Marwaha: 19:28 Absolutely. I think millennials would be very supportive no matter of where they really stand. Again, I'm saying that with the caveat of largely being urban or developing urban areas. And that's because of millennials as a whole - And what my research and some other people have also found - is that they do support sort of this bold action. And this is clearly seen with demonetization where a lot of people will, will mention like, yes, it hurt us, but at least Prime Minister Modi did something to address black money and corruption in the country. So similarly, people are willing to take a little bit of economic hardship in the short term, in the promise of long-term payoff. And millennials, most importantly, are best positioned to to take advantage of India's possible economic success, but also bear the brunt of an economic downturn. And so they understand their place in India's economic trajectory. And they understand that if bold reforms are to be made, that people will have to get behind them. And so no, I don't think that there's going to be a lot of opposition among the people who are connected to the internet and who know what's happening. Or get some sort of news daily because they are broadly supportive of bold moves to sort of make their lives better, even if it does cause them some short term pain.

Milan Vaishnav: 20:58 I'm wondering if there's an Indian politician or political party out there that is tapping into this millennials zeitgeist. I mean, you make reference in the book to AOC - Alexandria Ocasio Cortez - who is the freshman member of Congress here in the United States from, from New York, who has sort of single handedly redefined the debate in Congress when it comes to issues affecting young people, whether it's jobs, inequality, the Green New Deal and so and so forth. Have you been able to kind of find an Indian quote unquote AOC that's kind of waiting in the wings somewhere?

Vivan Marwaha: 21:29 So what I say in the book is not that most American millennials agree with AOC, but I say that she has essentially just changed the debate and she's made it focused on youth issues and issues that will affect millennials in America today, but 20 years from now, like climate change and an economy that should work for everyone. Unfortunately, the answer to your question is no one, that is one of the problems which millennials face today and that's because factors such as caste and linguistic identity are still so deeply rooted in the identity of the young Indian that it's very difficult, almost impossible for one young leader to emerge and speak for a majority of the generation. And so we saw people like Kanhaiya Kumar and Jignesh Mevani sort of emerge into the national conversation but largely in the mainstream media only to fizzle out shortly after.

Vivan Marwaha: 22:22 And these people haven't been able to develop or nurture a young following. So most of Kanhaiya's campaigners in his Lok Sabha race in Begusarai, they were liberal, lesser known Bollywood style of people like Shabana Azmi and people like Swara Bhaskar who I know because I'm on Twitter, but they don't really actually have a large following among the larger public. And so if there is an AOC counterpart, he's definitely not a liberal. And he in fact made his career opposing and lampooning liberals and his name is Tejasvi Surya. He is the BJP member of parliament from Bangalore South. And he sort of rose up in student politics giving very fiery speeches labeling people who oppose the Modi government's policies as anti-nationals saying that they're not patriotic. And agitations, you know, he went up to West Bengal agitating against illegal immigrants and now he wants an NRC, which, you know, have uprooted so many lives and many within the BJP itself call it a failure and a disaster.

Vivan Marwaha: 23:32 He wants that to be implemented all over India. And in many ways, he actually does speak for a majority of young BJP supporters, not on the cultural issues, although those are a big part of his rhetoric, but on the aspirational issues that he says those are his words actually, that I want Bangalore to become like the next Singapore. Except they don't actually want the multiculturalism or diversity of Singapore, you know, which is a very opening city, to immigrants from all over the world. And so if there is an AOC in India who I don't think has redefined the conversation, but it's definitely adding some flare to it would probably be Tejasvi Surya.

Milan Vaishnav: 24:10 You know, that Indian millennials are the least politically aware and active generation in India today. According, again to some survey data that you analyze, half have no interest in politics at all and less than a 10th state that they have a lot of interested in politics. So these are pretty shocking numbers. Yet we know from the same survey organization, this is again CSDS that they're voting more than before in terms of turning out at the polls and they're showing a clear preference for Narendra Modi and the BJP. Given their lack of awareness, what is it that they, you know, why do they find resonance in Narendra Modi?

Vivan Marwaha: 24:47 And so this is one of the most interesting things that I find in my interviews and my field research that wherever I go, I always talk to people who they'll tell me we aren't politically aware. They're fairly disconnected with politics and current affairs. And I honestly think that's a great thing. It's, it's a great way to live. And you know, many of them, they don't know the name of the president. Many didn't actually have voter ID cards before the, before polling began. But whenever I asked them who they were going to vote for or who they would vote for there was only one name I heard and that name was Modi. And you know, I broke all the rules of political science research when I actually went around asking people where can I find a Congress supporter because I never found any.

Milan Vaishnav: 25:34 Well neither did the Congress it turns out Congress.

Vivan Marwaha: 25:37 But they clearly, where I did my research in Madhya Pradesh, and that's because since 2013 the BJP and Modi have entirely saturated the public space physically and virtually with Modi's image. And it's nearly impossible to go a day without seeing his face on a billboard or a social media post about him no matter where you are. And since so much of this material, particularly the material online is so promotional and fawning, he has essentially projected himself and been able to project himself as the only leader capable of leading India today. And so there's almost, you know, when I would ask people who you voting for it with, almost like, why are you asking me this question? Because it's so obvious I'm going to vote for Modi, and then when I'd go deeper in my interviews, I would ask if the voters, why are you voting for him?

Vivan Marwaha: 26:26 And I don't mean this as a skeptic, I just mean this as a researcher. I wanted to understand what were, what about him they liked and they didn't really have any policies that they would mention. Some would say demonetization and then if we would go deep, I would ask them why they supported it. Since it has actually been proven to have exacerbated some of India's economic crises and they didn't actually have a response to it, but they would only tell me that, well, you know, it was a very bold and courageous decision that someone only like Modi could undertake and at least he did something, you know, look at the others. They didn't even do anything, at least Modi's trying, at least he's trying to clean up the system. And then others would say that at least he wasn't under anyone's thumb and he truly cares for the common man.

Vivan Marwaha: 27:15 And this is what people would say to me when I asked him about about demonetization. Then there's the whole national security element, which really took off on social media. Now the BJP has a bunch of allied online Facebook pages. Some of them are called the Indian Eye, Nation with NaMo. And all of these pages sort of lit up after the Balakot airstrikes in February. And there was, you know, all of these memes and banners and posters where Modi was sort of front and center with silhouettes of the Indian army behind him, thanking the prime minister for his bold response. And it was very shareable. It was, it was, it had this aspect of vitality to it. And it was designed to have the maximum reach on Facebook, on Instagram, on WhatsApp. And the Pulwama attacks were a very unfortunate event, but Modi's response to them, which was this muscular response, was very popular, particularly when viewed against what happened in 26/11, which is another defining moment for many millennials because they were all watching the news and seeing what was happening.

Vivan Marwaha: 28:28 And they also noticed that nothing actually happened after 26/11. And so to see more the go after Pakistan and you know, thought of hit them in their own front yard, not even backyard, but in their own home was very widely supported. And it was sort of this assumption of India's muscularity, that they finally had a leader who was you know, willing to stand up for the Indian people. And that's a big part of his support. It really adds to it. It's a big part of the Modi voters love for him,

Milan Vaishnav: 29:05 I was on a panel this past Friday and an audience member asked, you know, whether what we're seeing in Indian politics is a kind of Modi phenomenon or if there's a kind of clear ideological shift amongst the Indian voter? And I found this passage in your book to be extremely exciteful. I just want to, to quote from it, it says "Indian politics is going through a fundamental reordering and millennials are leading the charge. Millennials are fed up of the so-called Lutyens elite and would like to replace the old lot with leaders who speak, look and pray like them." Do you think the kind of old rules of Indian politics have been sort of cast aside and people are sort of yearning for, you know, a representative class who they can identify with who maybe you know, speaks in their, literally speaks in their language and has some of the kinds of social attributes that many of the quote unquote old kind of elite, you know, liberals lacked?

Vivan Marwaha: 30:05 Well Milan you're giving the best parts of my book away. But yes, absolutely. This has been another very important change or transformation taking place, which I found where people no longer want advanced English speaking technocrats or entitled dynasts sort of embodied by this so-called all Lutyen's elite leading them anymore. And one of the most common responses among millennial voters on the campaign trail was about how Modi speaks when he's abroad. So he speaks in Hindi and how foreign leaders are now taking note of India. And while they may not recognize that this is because of the country he leads and not because of him personally they love that in eschewing English, the language of the Lutyens and South Bombay elites, Modi is essentially demonstrating to them that you don't need to be this privileged English speaking elite to become successful and get noticed.

Vivan Marwaha: 31:03 And so it's really giving them sort of validation. Like, look, I've made it abroad. I'm meeting all of these world leaders who respect me. They listen to me when I speak in your language and you don't need to change and you don't need to become someone else to get ahead. Just look at me. And so he's sort of become sort of this common man's leader, which India's traditional parties haven't really had. Jawarhalal Nehru went to Cambridge or Oxford. He went to one of the two. And a lot of people, I wasn't alive when he was around, but a lot of people say how he was more comfortable in English than in Hindi. Similarly, Manmohan Singh is a very intelligent and accomplished economist, but he's a terrible public speaker and he just has no emotion in anything he says. And it's largely in English a language still that most of India doesn't actually speak or speak fluently.

Vivan Marwaha: 32:01 And so when we think about leaders who look and pray like millennials, this is never said explicitly. Sometimes it is, but not always. But it's always the underlying assumption in each of my conversations. And so I spent a lot of time in Bhopal for my research and during the infamous Lok Sabha election where Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur whose name has been in the charge sheet for the Malegaon bomb blast was up against a former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, the Congress candidate. A lot of young voters would tell me how we, which essentially meant Hindus should vote for Pragya out of duty because they - or Muslims - would vote for the Congress candidate and this, that it was almost a duty of them to do this. Now, Sadhvi Pragya is not someone who behaves, looks, or speaks like an ordinary Indian.

Vivan Marwaha: 32:59 But what some of these comments highlighted to me is that there's some level of Hindu consolidation, that's taking place. And the notion that some policies and ideas in India should be in line with Hindu values. So a lot of people will tell me, we don't eat meat. We're fine with other people - if other people eat meat. But other people shouldn't need beef because they should just respect, you know, our values. It's fine if they eat meat, but they shouldn't eat beef. But, you know, isn't killing an animal the same? Whether you kill a donkey or a pig, it's, you're still killing an animal. And so the acceptance that there should be that the country should live in line with some Hindu values is taking hold among even moderate voters or individuals. And similarly, millennials want leaders who look like them.

Vivan Marwaha: 33:54 And once again, Tejasvi Surya very well exemplies this change or Tejasvi Surya very well describes this change where he dresses very Western and he speaks in English with a mix of Hindi. And but a lot of his speeches, you know, Hindutva leaders have been giving since the 1990s. But now you just have this young spectacle wearing, English speaking lawyer with a newly minted member of parliament making these speeches and they're resonating with some people. And so millennials are finally realizing that Hindutva leaders don't have to be saffron robe wearing religious folks, but they can just be anyone. And that's what's that's one of the most interesting things I've found in my research.

Milan Vaishnav: 34:45 I guess on the show today is Vivan Marwaha who is an Indian millennial based in New Delhi. He's author of the forthcoming book on Indian millennials. Thanks so much for coming to the studio.

Vivan Marwaha: 34:55 Thanks for having me.

Milan Vaishnav: 34:56 When will the book be out?

Vivan Marwaha: 34:57 It will be out sometime in the spring, so around March of 2020.

Milan Vaishnav: 35:02 And have you settled on a title yet?

Vivan Marwaha: 35:04 Yes. So we're calling it "What Millennials Want."

Milan Vaishnav: 35:07 What Millennials Want.

Vivan Marwaha: 35:08 Yes.

Vivan Marwaha: 35:08 Awesome. Thanks so much for coming on the show.

Vivan Marwaha: 35:10 Thanks for having me. And please get a copy when its out.

Outro: 35:17 The Grand Tamasha is a co-production of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Hindustan Times. You can find us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Don't forget to rate and review. It helps others find the show more easily. For more information about the show and to find the writing we referenced on this week's episode, visit our website Production assistance comes from Megan Maxwell and Rachel Osnos. Tim Martin is our audio engineer and Lauren Dueck is our executive producer. Thanks for listening and see you next week.