‘The Great Indian Phone book’ by Assa Doron and Robin Jeffrey is a well-rounded book that shows journalistic immediacy combined with years of research and thorough field work. The book is divided into three parts, connecting , controlling and consuming. It sheds light on the bureaucrats and capitalists power struggle and their fight for bandwidth rights, cellular structure and market share. It also shows us how hard it is control information and build trust over the years . It continues about the various modes of communication that have evolved in the span of ten years and elucidates upon the polices introduced by various governments and connects policies and the government with corruption and politics.
The second part highlights how the “missionaries of the mobile took the phone to the people” by intense advertising and new marketing strategies developed after lot of market research. It also talks about the magnitude of the industry, the process of putting up cellular towers and the requirements for maintaining it and about people in the telecom industry, both formal and informal. The book ends with the third part describing how cell phones are being used by people of different walks of life in different activities, it also focuses on politics and the impact of the decentralized information “revolution” supported by a study of the Bahujan Samaj Party’s successful campaign strategy.
If we review the entire content of the book we see that the matter is connected to theories founded by the founding fathers of Sociology. Chapter one, two and four can be connected to Social Solidarity by Emile Durkheim . Social Solidarity is similar to social cohesion, it believes in a well-integrated functioning society. If cohesion and integration come together then collective actions can lead to achievement of group goals. People feel connected by similar work, lifestyle and educational training. It simply means consensus of mind. There are two types of Social Solidarity, 1) Mechanical Solidarity and 2) Organic Social Solidarity. Here the mobile phone is an instrument used to propagate the theory by spreading information and making everyone aware hence leading to consensus of mind. In chapter four we even see how woman are allowed to work in factories together hence gaining respect in society as being a source of income, which leads to social solidarity as their social standing improved.
The next theory we can connect the chapters to is Positivism by Aguste Comte , another founding of sociology. Positivism states that “ genuine knowledge” that is derived from experience of natural phenomena. It confines itself to the data collected and excludes the previous metaphysical speculations made. It is interpreted through reason and concrete logic. We did see how the telecom Industry kept on changing their advertising strategies by reading the market and launching new advertisements to see the response of the public, the biggest example we can use the Cheeka campaign and the Magic card by Airtel.
The last theory we could connect the book to is social dynamics by Aguste Comte . Social dynamics refers to behaviour change of individual members as a result of group interaction. It is based on three stages: theological, metaphysical , positivist. We can see social dynamics when we see how mobile phones have changed society as a whole, it also said how it is ‘pulverised’ the characteristics of ancient India. It has made communication much smoother and has made spread of information much easier but has led to lesser interaction face to face. The book gives insight on change in employment patters and how woman are empowered.
Assa Doron and Robin Jeffrey have done a wonderful job writing a book that is so well rounded and informative. The ground work and the research work clearly shows in the writing. What makes the book interesting is that the authors have given their opinions on a lot of their research and have written a well-connected book with a beautiful flow highlighting every aspect related to a mobile phone.
The authors certainly have a blunt opinion and take on topics regarding politics , government policies and the impact of mobile phones on societal behaviour which makes its more unique. As mentioned above , the research work and ground work clearly shows hence the authors have backed up their writing with very pertinent data and statistical figures.
I do agree with the authors opinions as mobile phones have certainly changed how the society functions and by touching on the most important topics regarding mobile phones in great detail shows the authors have stated information after years of studying and collecting data to back up their opinions and whatever they have stated in the chapters regarding mobile phones is clearly evident in the modern times.
The way the authors kept on going back to the obsolete methods for communication which made the reading monotonous and extended.
The book has made me realise is that even though we spend hours on a certain device on a daily basis , we do not even know the half of it. It also highlights the struggle behind bringing the technology to the masses which teaches us how much planning and forecasting is needed to make things big. It teaches us how wonderful and deteriorating technology can be for mankind.
Even though the book highlights opportunities for skilled and unskilled Labour in terms of employment , in this modern era the technology is so advanced that the need for unskilled Labour has certainly reduced and even skilled Labour is being replaced by artificial intelligence.
“ Mobile phones have reduced discrimination” well true, communication has become smoother and people from different classes can interact , but due to different brands and different models and variations, sadly people are still judged over their choice.
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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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