India/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation  

8.2.1 Trends and figures

At present, with available resources, it is not possible complete this section. It is, however, easy to conclude that in spaces of heavy government subsidy – crucially those of tourism (where access to monuments for Indians is almost free) and public libraries (where access is literally free) – are far more heavily used by the people than those activities which are not subsidised and, therefore, expensive. This extends into massive festivals such as the Kumbh Mela, where by one estimate, over 100 million pilgrims visited over 55 days in February and March 2013, and the number of pilgrims visiting on February 10, 2013 (30 million) is sometimes touted as the world’s largest peaceful gathering of people ever.

Regarding more ‘organised’ spaces for cultural consumption, there are no specific surveys along the lines required. The following broad conclusions may nevertheless be made:

Cultural consumption for the most part within the upper-middle class and the rich

According to a Credit Suisse India Consumer Survey of 2011,[1] the closest we have to the issues addressed here, 20% of those surveyed (over 10 cities) had an income of between INR 20,000-30,000; 6% between INR 30,000-40,000; and, 7% above INR 40,000.

Patterns of overall consumption: India’s national average of saving (according to the Reserve Bank of India) is 28% of income. According to the Credit Suisse survey, the breakdown of the spending is as follows:

  • 14% of income on housing
  • 23% on food
  • 4% on entertainment
  • 7.5% on education
  • 5% on autos
  • 6% on health care
  • 7.5% on education
  • 6% on household personal care
  • 2% on mobile phones

There is no accurate data available on household spending on culture. According to the ‘Forecasts on Consumption Patterns in 2020’[2] higher economic growth in India will lead to a per capita income growth of about 8% per annum. So, by 2019-20, spending on recreation, educational and cultural services will see an 8% growth, one of the highest growths seen in consumer expenditures.

Gender divisions on consumption:

If there is one single major issue, it is to do with the varying nature of media habits between men and women. According to the National Family Health Survey- III 2005-06,[3] media (as in cinema, magazines, newspapers, radio, television) access is directly proportional to education and affluence. Overall, the most common form of media for both women and men is television: 55% of women and 63% of men watch television at least once a week. Almost 30% of the female population across different age groups are not exposed to any form of media. Among women across all categories, television is the most preferred and newspapers and magazines the least preferred of media forms.  Radio, television and a small share of print media and reach out to rural women.  More than 40% of urban women read a newspaper or a magazine on a weekly basis with women from high income families have a greater exposure to different kinds of media.

Across all groups men have a higher exposure to media forms than women. Among men, media penetration is the highest among the youth with radio and television exposure highest among the age group 15- 19 years, newspaper and magazine reading the highest in 20-24 age group. Rural men too have greater media exposure than women with more than 40% of men accessing different kinds of media at least once a week.




The combined total circulation of print media (newspapers and periodicals) exceeds 218 million with the % age of penetration being 20% of the population.

Language-wise circulation of newspapers and periodicals[1]




Annualised trend growth rate between 2003-04 and 2008-09


In millions

In %ages









Other Languages





Internet usage has been increasing rapidly. The Internet subscriber base has grown from 5 million subscribers in 2003-04 to 14 million by the end of March 2009.[2] Internet user studies[3] also show that the majority of internet users are in the urban areas as cities have better infrastructure when compared to rural areas.

[1] Source: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India

[2] Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TARI), Performance Indicator Reports

[3] Juxt India Online Study, 2009


Chapter published: 22-04-2014