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India's youthful revolution

From CNN's Andrew Stevens

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Young Indians are being called the "liberation children."

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(CNN) -- An independent and global generation is coming out in India as the South Asian nation rushes headlong into an era of prosperity.

In a small dance studio in the suburbs of Mumbai, 22-year-old Praytesha Bole is practicing her routine.

Bole packed her bags and left a small town in Gujarat state, heading to India's commercial and entertainment hub of Mumbai to become a model. She made the move against her parent's wishes.

"We have a perspective of how we look at things and it's very different from how they look at things," she says.

Eighteen-year-old Ashkay Deodhar is another member of this new generation embracing change in one of the only nations in the world whose economic performance comes close to booming China.

Confident and self-assured he's as comfortable sharing in family religious gatherings as he is trying to emulate his rock idols, Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin.

Deodhar says India is changing. He thinks there are more and more opportunities opening up for young people because so many more people have a modern approach to life.

There is even a name for these young Indians. They are called the "liberation children."

They are too young to remember the hardships and shortages their parents faced right up to the early 1990s when economic reforms started sweeping across India.

More than half of India's population -- 555 million Indians -- are aged less than 25 years old. And attitudes among India's youth are changing faster than ever.

Analysts say a key reason for that is the spread of ideas through the booming cable television industry and the Internet, especially in the cities.

Shobha De is an author, social commentator and the mother of six children.

She says the social changes she sees taking place among Indian youth is encouraging.

"The main change I'd say has to do with how they perceive themselves," says Shobba.

"They don't seem themselves as just Indian kids. They see themselves as global teenagers. They belong to a much, much bigger community than the community they were born into."

But that doesn't necessarily mean that the Indian tradition is disappearing.

Back at her dance studio Bole prepares to pray before a Hindu shrine. She says she is happy wearing both Indian and Western clothes.

She is just one of many young Indians branching out. But it is not so much crossing the cultural divide between India and the West, as it is having a foot firmly and confidently placed on both sides.


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