What’s it like being a young man in urban India today?

Dec 05, 2022


Key Questions

  • What are the gender norms around masculinity placed on Indian men and boys in today’s Indian cities?
  • Is the freedom that boys enjoy conditional?
  • Do expectations result in anxiety to live up to them?
  • Does privilege come with the pressure to perform?
  • What assumptions about young men and boys need to be revisited?

Research partner: Cracker & Rush 

Beneath the apparent privileges that boys enjoy, there is immense pressure to perform. The societal expectations are set for them, irrespective of economic background. Men are an equal half of the societal dynamic. For behaviour to shift, we need to acknowledge the anxieties and motivations that propel actions. This understanding is relevant not just for the sake of our girls, but also for the development of boys.

There are all sorts of checks and balances to rein in the wildness of childhood. Young men are driven towards a few chosen professions, with proven results. Boys face intense competition, constant peer comparison, and physical punishment. All this is intended to make sure they don’t waver from the path of responsibility.

While they enjoy more advantages, does that privilege come with the pressure to perform? Is it time to revisit some of our assumptions about young men and boys?

The scrutiny of society is designed to tame the transgression. It sets them on a path towards achievement–to make the man laayak, or worthy.



  • A boy’s success is the ROI that families invest in—the insurance for their old age.
  • Expectations are the burden a boy must bear, whether he wants to or not.
  • Society’s never-ending scrutiny works as a check to ensure that boys take their responsibilities seriously. The intention is to prepare the so-called deserving gender for success.