India’s Mobile Revolution

International Herald Tribune has an article by Shashi Tharoor:

By 2010, the government tells us, we will have 500 million Indian telephone users. China will probably still be ahead, but on a per capita basis there will be little to choose between us.

Now to anyone who grew up in pre- liberalization India, that is astonishing. Bureaucratic statism committed a long list of sins against the Indian people, but communications was high up on the list; the woeful state of India’s telephones right up to the 1990s, with only eight million connections and a further 20 million on waiting lists, would have been a joke if it wasn’t also a tragedy and a man-made one at that.

The cellphone revolution is exciting not only as a sign of India’s economic transformation, but as a symptom of something far more important, a change in the attitude of India’s governing classes.

The government is marginal to this success story, since we don’t need it to lay telephone lines across the country any more, and the private sector telecoms companies develop their own connectivity.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.