Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Life on Fingertips

Mobiles have literally taken over our lives. The latest information on telephony indicates that there are 500 million mobile telephones in the country.By 2012, it is expected to become 712 million. Nearly 75% of India’s population will have telephones in another three years! A mind boggling growth indeed!

Today every one has a mobile. Drivers, maid servants, watchmen, vegetable vendors, carpenters, plumbers, masons and even beggars! I saw recently overheard a beggar exchanging notes with another beggar regarding the menu at different weddings – all on mobile. A recent ad film for Airtel shows a cute looking boy complaining to his father on his toy mobile requesting him to pull up his mother on the phone for scolding him- even children are not spared by the impact of mobiles.

Mobiles are not only popular in urban areas but are also sweeping the countryside. It is clear that this mobile revolution is going to change the way we are going to connect with the rural folks! Every one in rural India, from a poor farmer at the bottom of the pyramid, to skilled workers, traders, scavengers, gypsies and even goat herds have mobiles provided by their Ejamans (bosses) so that they can be reached easily. It reminds me of a scene from a recent Tamil film. A boy, an uneducated goatherd in a village is chasing a man driving a bullock cart who is talking on his mobile. The goatherd requests the driver to lend his mobile for a minute, as he wants to make an urgent call. While the man is dithering, the boy literally snatches the mobile and runs into the filed pressing some number. Suddenly he hears a mobile ringing behind him. He turns and searches through the field and locates a mobile – he has found his mobile which he had lost while driving the herd of goats through the field. He returns the bullock cart driver his mobile and orders him to get out of his way as he is obstructing the signal coming from the tower! I thought it to be a brilliant portrayal of how mobiles are impacting the lives in rural India. Though lacking in literacy, mobiles are helping the rural people to become more informed because information is now available to them on their finger tips! I believe this facility is going to wipe off the middlemen who have been exploiting the rural folks for generations.

A friend of mine recently had an interesting experience traveling by train. Normally as a train is approaching many big cities it is a common sight to see both men and women from nearby slums, squatting on either side of the railway track and defacating. As the train passes them, they will quickly cover their faces. But this time my friend found many of them busy talking on their mobiles, oblivious of the passing train.

While mobiles are undoubtedly a great boon, they are also becoming killers, breakers of relationships, creators of social upheavals resulting from the spread of rumors through SMSs.In day to day life, mobiles have become the biggest intruders of privacy and conversations. It is so irritating when you find that a serious discussion with a colleague / customer/ a family member being repeatedly interrupted by calls on mobiles.

But mobiles have come to stay. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, as I found out recently. Thanks to the mobile I could reach the site of an auto accident involving my daughter, within 10 minutes, because lying on the road she could reach me on my mobile with the help of her mobile.

Everyday, so many new features and value added services( like the net on mobile) are being introduced by the mobile manufacturers that it is now possible for people to run their offices using the mobiles. Housewives , especially the office going moms can closely monitor the happenings at home . The old saying “your life is in your hands” will soon have to be changed to “your life is now on your fingertips”.

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