Just a few days ago, a dinner table conversation at my home revolved around the explosion of mobile technology in India. My father was recounting the days when they got a landline connection at home.
“It was almost like a treasure chest that we kept under lock-and-key,” he quipped.
Since theirs was the only household in the colony with a landline connection, neighbours would often visit to receive calls.
“We would collect a 5 paisa fee if the call lasted very long,” shared my father.
Can you even imagine such a scenario today?
On 31 July 1995, erstwhile Union Telecom Minister Sukh Ram and then Chief Minister of West Bengal Jyoti Basu made the first call to each other on a hand-held phone.
Since then, India has also been among the fastest growing markets for mobile phones across the world.
From keeping their landline instruments under lock-and-key like my parents to the kind of mobile explosion where school-going kids own mobile phones, telecom has certainly seen a huge growth spurt in the country.
Today, telecom companies are not just wooing subscribers with great deals but are all out to increase their subscriber bases.
Not just that, less than two per cent of the population today has the once-popular landline phone while nearly three-fourths of the country’s villages have mobile connectivity.
The findings of a recent survey undertaken by the Rural Development Ministry as part of its Mission Antyodaya, shows that as many as 17 states and Union Territories have more villages with mobile connectivity than the national average.
Sikkim tops the list with mobile services in over 89 per cent villages, followed by Jharkhand (88 per cent) and Nagaland (86 per cent).
One of the primary reasons for such large numbers of people adopting mobile technology is the affordability of mobile Internet. The fact that a person in a remote village that has no television can watch videos and movies on his handset is a big plus point.
In what can only be seen as a great use of mobile technology, Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde brought in some rather radical changes.
The Minister further said, “One teacher introduces [a] world map to his students using his mobile phone and the audio-visual system installed in the classroom.”
In an earlier article, we wrote about eight amazing initiatives, all mobile phone-based, that have helped transform many lives in rural India. From helping women deal with the scourge of domestic violence to sharing secrets for growing the best coffee, these interesting initiatives using mobile phones are transforming the lives of people in Indian villages.
Empowering rural women by providing them with a platform to learn, Mahila Shakti uses mobiles as to impart education at a very basic level. Through this initiative, many women have learnt basic mathematics. A lot of these women now efficiently play the roles of entrepreneurs, bankers, teachers, accountants, etc.
Read here about all 8 initiatives.
So while the mobile connection and connectivity have reached far and wide, using it well also has great advantages.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)