Friday, December 8, 2006

He can't send an SMS!

SDR, who is a scientist in the US, is in Bangalore on a two-week holiday. The other day, we were standing at a roadside tea stall at Indiranagar (in Bangalore) and sipping tea. A casual labourer standing nearby and sending a text message on his mobile phone immediately caught SDR's attention.

“Look at him sending an SMS…” he exclaimed.
“So what…” I remarked.

“You think he has enough knowledge of English…” he asked.
“Obviously he has some knowledge. May be broken English,” I said. “As if we all text error-free top class prose…”

“But I don’t know to send or receive an SMS…” he said with a shrug and a smile.

That was a bombshell to me. My friend is from the IIT. They guy used to write codes for computer software, and he presently deals with some high-end research in Washington DC.

I just froze for a couple of minutes lost in a whirlpool of thoughts. Around me were two guys: One a scientist who doesn’t know to send an SMS and another, an apparent illiterate who is sending an SMS. And in between we have lots and lots of people who are literate but who don’t seem so, with or without modern gadgets. I just didn’t know what to make out of this…
And, I thought SMS was the most quick and convenient method to pass on an information.

The report that India has overtaken China in the growth of mobile phone subscribers seemed to be making sense.
Each month, 66 lakh people are getting a mobile phone connection in India: which means the daily growth is 2 lakh 20 thousand. I am sure this includes renewal of prepaid subscriptions besides fresh connections.

In India as on Oct 31, 2006, there are 13 crore 33 lakh 25 thousand 611 mobile phone subscribers. But, that’s less than the number of people in China with a mobile -- 44 crore.

Anyway, India’s mobile phone march is astounding. This is one single revolution that has touched every human being, rich, poor and those in between. Affordable rates and the ease with which one can get a connection are two factors which have catalysed the growth.

The increased speed of transmission of information has had its cascading effects on business relations and personal relations. And, that has made this world a different place. And, mind you, it’s changing still. And, changing fast.

Mobiles also have been a great leveller. And, it has turned on the head some of our existing concepts. Like that incident at the tea stall a couple of days back revealed.

Figures give you an impression that all people have mobile phones. No. There are still people -- working men and women -- who don’t possess one… They don’t need, perhaps. Obviously they aren’t very mobile; plus, they have good and continuous access to a landline.


  1. it will soon become fashionable to say "I dont have mobile'.

  2. Lot of geeky people still prefer a call to a SMS...I believe this is something to do with habits!

  3. Lot of geeky people still prefer a call to a SMS...I believe this is something to do with habits!

  4. what i have seen is that in places where minutes are cheap, people prefer talking to text unless they are doing it in a meeting or in a train or something. in asia texting is popular since it was cheaper than minutes. i was caught the other day in a mall by a bunch of students doing surveys. apparently a company is launching hindi texting and they wanted opinions... so now texting will become more meningful for a large number of the hindi speaking crowd..soon other languages will follow

  5. Joseph:.... That sounds too far fetched.

    Kishore....: Even I guess so.

    Maddy:.... Yes, development texting in different languages will be the next revolution...