UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENT PARTS OF “THE GREAT INDIAN PHONEBOOK”

PART 1-CONTROLLING

The first part starts off by giving an introduction to how the book will cover subversion and spying and also talk about governments and capitalism. It then makes a statement which aptly describes how human behaviour is highly influenceable by saying that the main crux of the book is how ordinary people’s lives alter when their access to information changes. This chapter is an overview of how information used to be communicated in the past until the arrival of the cell phone. The line “mobile phones pulverised characteristics of Old India” gives a clear image of the effect its introduction into society was. The first section mainly speaks about spreading of information by travelling physically from one place to another. It also speaks about the introduction of the printing press into the country and how it was used as an effective tool by people to obtain information about the working of the government. The attempts at placing restrictions on the press are also discussed. The section also includes the introduction and use of telegrams as channels of communication and the power it represented also the revolt it struck up.

The next section discusses the introduction and monopolising of telephones by India, especially how it helped with the freedom struggle. It covers the growth of telephones throughout the world and how it affected economies as well. The section deals more with the ideas formulated and plans implemented to help with the growth of the telephone because its positive effects were helping the country boost its process of development.

In the later section of this part the chapter reflects on the development of cell phone and telephone technologies. It speaks of innovation and initiatives adopted by different governments. It puts a lot of focus on the link between the government’s telecommunications policies with corruption and bureaucratic politics. One of the most successful ventures of the then government-controlled telecom industry was the establishment of MTNL for Mumbai and Delhi as it kept the monopoly on developing new telephone links and lines in these areas that produced strong revenue. The monopoly however, was highly criticised and the Ministry of Telecommunications took unfair advantage of its power over the market. Later, after technology was adopted, something known as radio frequency technology was produced that was commonly used in developing countries abroad, but not in India.

The final part of this section just tells us about how the number of subscribers to cell phones grew exponentially over the decade.

PART 2-CONNECTING

The first section of this part highlights how missionaries of the mobile took the phone to the people. It discusses the journey of the marketing strategies used for mobile phones for various companies in India. The section begins with a discussion on Airtel and it’s marketing strategies. It goes on to talk about how Airtel acknowledged the widely held preconception that a new device was geared only for the educated wealthy people because of the high talk time that only the rich could afford. But the Indian market broke the cost barrier in 2003 when a minute of talk time on the mobile phone fell below Rs.2 /-.

The new and innovative marketing created a huge market turnaround and the new target was urban people. New campaigns were created to expand the company’s customer bases to working professionals and small entrepreneurs. In India they relied on simplicity and mobility to expand their customer base. Companies also realised that their process of transactions had to be simplified in order to reach out to every sect in society and hence the prepaid scheme was evolved. The next section focuses on individuals who set up their own mobile phone stores and used different strategies to expand their customer base.

The later section of this part mainly seeks to address the people active in the telecom industries formal and informal sectors. The writers to further enhance his views on how big the industry is by citing the 2G spectrum case where the complainant pleaded for support by calling to attention the vast workforce that operates in this sector. The author also speaks about the Nokia Factory women’s productivity and contrasts it with the inefficient men who required minimal scrutiny to get the work and were not afraid of losing it either. Since becoming a reliable source of income, women are said to have achieved more and became leaders of their localities. This section further sheds light on the method of building of cell towers in the cities and their effects on the community coming under its range.

The section then addresses the informal sector and talks about mistris or informal workers in the markets who sell second hand phones and repair them as well without having a corporate modus operandi pushing their activities. At the end of this section the writer goes on to compare a foreign man’s experience as being similar to a the mistris experience with corporate repair centres.

PART 3-CONSUMING

The sixth chapter in this part mainly deals with the relationship between cell phones and politics. The cell phone was a simple tool for politics to be mobilised, news relayed and friendly officials alerted to legal and political shortcomings. News organisations and scientists quickly noticed that from indistinct mobile communications, they were able to assemble audiences. Telephones promoted demonstrations in Seattle in 1999 by the WTO and in 2000, students filmed violence at a rally in Toronto using a single optical camera. Roh Moo Hyun, a Korean presidential candidate, won an unlikely victory despite being ignored by the mass media for most of the camps and having his website shut down because of the availability of his qualifications through cell phones. The 145 bombings in Madrid, which killed more than 190 people in 3 days before national elections, were carried out in Spain two years later. The ruling party blamed the Basque separatists in the expectation that its strong opposition to separatism would attract electoral popularity. The real concern was that the accusations quickly became unsatisfactory and there was a breakdown in relations with the militant groups. Motivated by Al-Qaeda, tens of thousands of people took cell phones to the streets to condemn “government’s lies”.

An overview of Samaj’s successful campaign policy for the 2007 Uttar Pradesh elections shows the results of the victory was decentralised information. The success was not only due to mobile phones but it would not have been feasible without them. Telecom providers have helped Dalit BSP activists smash down the barriers of cost, distance and mobility, overcome insensitive press, rally supporters and prevent or impede the voting process. The ability to monitor violations of authority, such as balloting and corruption particularly through camera and video is a key aspect of the argument. Many such examples can be found in this book which helps create a general overview of how important the position of mobile phones is in politics.

The bulk of the author’s study focuses on the people who work and are affected by the massive mobile phone industry. The key point of their proliferation is the fact that cell phones are inexpensive. India has the world’s lowest call rates and minutes are available in the tiniest of prepaid chunks from the most unexpected places such as roadside vendors. Also, cheaper ‘China mobiles” are provided by a grey market which is originally a Chinese firm but is used in India to bootleg or resell smartphones. The writers go into the tiniest of details when discussing the availability of mobile phones and make it clear that it was available to all and sundry.

Image Source: Good Reads

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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