If you’re willing to accept the fact that The Times of India’s website commits no small number of sins, Gems Sty found an interesting story about the impact cellphones have had there.
For the cellphones are now in the hands of people who would not have presumed, a generation ago, to put themselves on those eight-year-long waiting-lists. If you are chauffeur-driven these days, you can be sure that your driver carries a cellphone. If you visit a friend in a Delhi suburb, the istri wallah on the side-streets — with his wooden cart, using a coal-fired steam iron to iron clothes from the neighbourhood — carries a cellphone, to know which apartment needs his services. Farmers carry cellphones; just being able to call the nearest town to find out whether the market is open and what prices are being charged saves a farming family hours of fruitless walking. In Kerala, fisherfolk carry cellphones, so they can call in to the coastal towns after their catch, to know where they should sail to in order to obtain the best prices for their fish.
The cellphone is not a panacea; it will not single-handedly usher in the development that our country has been striving for since Independence. But it is making a huge difference. Above all, it has empowered the Indian underclass in ways in which 45 years of talk about socialism singularly failed to do.
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