Let’s talk about sex, within rules and conventions, say India’s youth

Hindustan Times | By
Oct 15, 2017 11:01 AM IST

Surbhi Badhauria, a 25-year Delhi-based digital marketer, speaks her mind. She has no qualms about holding forth the availability of sex toys in India. Or rather, lack of them.

Mrinalini Arora, Surbhi Bhaduria and Prateek Sarpal have differing views on sex, marriage and relationships, ranging from frank to conservative.(Ravi Choudhary/HT PHOTO)
Mrinalini Arora, Surbhi Bhaduria and Prateek Sarpal have differing views on sex, marriage and relationships, ranging from frank to conservative.(Ravi Choudhary/HT PHOTO)

“Sex is absolutely healthy and important for the well-being of a human body (unless you are a yogi),” she quips.

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“Sex toys will help singles live a less stressful life. I don’t think it is fair to get married or get into a relationship just for sexual satisfaction. One must always have access to sex toys. It will help people to consider others beyond sexual objects,” she adds.

Badhauria, however, is a voice in the wilderness. The Hindustan Times-MaRS Monitoring and Research Systems Youth Survey 2017 reveals only 15% of the country’s youth, aged between 18 and 25, agree to the idea of making the adult pleasure tools easily accessible in India.

Generally, the youth seems to be conservative when it comes to marriage and sex, according to the survey. Only 27% approve premarital sex while 85% frown on watching porn. And only 23% are comfortable with the idea of a live-in relationship without being married.

Prateek Sarpal, a 26-year-old entrepreneur from Delhi, is ambiguous in his response when asked for his take on watching porn.

“The answer to this question cannot be a simple yes or no. Watching porn can be a two-edged sword that could be good and bad at the same time,” he observes.

Then he goes on to explain: “The important thing is to understand the kind of education one has about the topic. If one has the appropriate sex education, pornography can be a positive thing but without sex education it can have a very negative effect.”

Mrinalini Arora, a 24-year-old company secretary based in Delhi comes from the other spectrum, though a minority. She does not mind being in a live-in relationship.

“Cohabitation prior to marriage should be permitted. There is no pretence or false emotions in a live-in relationship. Apparently in India, if you talk about live-in, you’re presumed to be talking about plain sex and nothing more,” she claims.

She points out that the perception is contrary to the Supreme Court’s observation that if two people are comfortable living with each other, it comes within the purview of their right to life.

While tying the knot, almost 68% prefer religious rituals over court marriage. A whopping 45.1% respondents said they would have no problems if their parents chose a bride or groom for them.

Most youth are also not ready to look beyond their religion or community when it comes to choosing their life partner . Around 60% of respondents say they have issues with inter-caste marriages.

“Inter-caste marriage becomes an issue when families get involved because they take into consideration kundli, (horoscopes) caste, status and related issues,” says Prateek Sarpal.

About 52% of the respondents also said they did not have friends outside their own religious community.

Author Natasha Badhwar says she is not surprised by the survey findings, particularly the results regarding the young generation’s thoughts on marriage.

“Somehow, people’s education, exposure, lifestyle have not affected their idea of a dream marriage. They still want a filmy wedding with multiple events such as sangeet and mehendi. Part of it has to do with how films have portrayed the big fat Indian weddings,” she says.

“Moreover, marriage is considered not only about the alliance of two people. It is also about reunions, networking, and the aspirations of parents and grandparents in both the families,” she points out.

For more stories from HT Youth Survey 2017, click here. Send in your comments and suggestions at or use #HTYouthSurvey on social media.

Survey Methodology: India Youth Survey 2017 was carried out by MaRS Monitoring and Research Systems in 16 state capitals and major towns in India- Delhi, Lucknow, Jaipur, and Chandigarh in the north, Kolkata, Patna, Bhubaneswar and Ranchi in the East, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune and Indore in the West, and Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kochi in the South.

Target respondents were both male and female from age groups 18-21 years and 22-25 years, belonging to households with durable ownership of CTV, Refrigerator and at least two of: Car, Two Wheeler, Home computer/laptop, Air Conditioner and Washing machine. The respondent was either currently a student of undergraduate or above or employed with education graduate or above. Additionally the respondent was a regular user of internet on the smart phone and member of a social networking site. Total sample size was 5700, equally divided among men and women and the two age groups. Survey was carried out from July 10 to July 31, 2017.


    Danish Raza is a special correspondent with the Hindustan Times. He covers gender, identity politics, human rights, conflicts and online speech.

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