6. Instant Messaging
Real-time, nearly-free communications is changing habits. Instant Messaging has a unique quality — that of “presence”, being able to tell us when our buddies and business partners are online. I remember when I was in the US a decade ago communicating with family and friends back in India meant writing letters punctuated with short phone calls. Today, letter-writing is a forgotten art, as a combination of email, Instant Messaging, NetMeeting and VoIP have bridged distances to the extent of having daily conversations – in text, voice or video.
7. Air Travel
While air travel has been around for decades, what strikes you most about the last few years is the improvement in its quality. Private airlines like Jet and Sahara have forced Indian Airlines to improve. Punctuality is more the norm than an exception in travel nowadays. While air travel is still expensive, one is starting to see the impact of competition as multiple fare options are starting to make their appearances. Travelling by air is no longer the “once-in-a-lifetime” experience as it once was as the perceived value of time increases.
8. Outward-looking India
In 1991, India was still quite isolated. The first phase of reforms opened up the economy and the minds of people. Suddenly, India was part of a global economy. This has made Indians look outward – for technology, for ideas, for business. It has also made international companies look at India – as a marketplace. The success of Indians in software has also helped enhance the international image not just of India but also its people.
9. People Dispersion
Partly driven by the boom in software services (reversed a little off late), Indians are spread out across the world more then ever before. Indians are also travelling more than before. This dispersion of people (in transit or temporarily) increases the need for communications as families get distributed and businesses search for newer global opportunities.
10. Rising Aspirations
Perhaps, the biggest change has been in the mindset of people in India – for a better life. Salaries are rising rapidly. TV and the print media constantly deliver images of a better life. The Indian middle-class may not be the 200 million once envisioned by planners, but neither is it too small to be ignored. The roads have all kinds of cars, shops have a variety of brands. Choice – from among the best brands – is now available in India.
India has had its fair share of challenges in the last decade. Yet, inspite of the drawbacks, the overall mood is definitely one of optimism and opportunity. Ideas and entrepreneurship, technology and consumerism go hand-in-hand. Underlying this is the silent revolution being brought about by the mix of computing, communications and software. The distance which once separated India from the world is now being bridged.