International Herald Tribune writes:
Mobile phone usage is rising faster in India than anywhere else in the world, with some six million customers added every month. Large cities and many medium-sized towns are already blanketed with retail outlets, and competition among manufacturers and carriers is fierce.
Rural India has become the next frontier for the industry’s biggest players. About 70 percent of India’s 1.1 billion population, 770 million people, live in villages and rural areas.
Phone manufacturers have begun introducing new products that will be targeted at rural markets. On Thursday, Reliance, the Indian mobile phone service provider, said it would sell a Chinese-made phone that would retail for 777 rupees, or $19. Nokia also unveiled seven new models last week targeted at emerging markets to be priced at $45 to $120. In November, Motorola introduced the ultra-low-cost Motofone in India, costing about $40.
Sramana Mitra has a post by Sujai Karampuri:
The drivers [for growth] will be-
* Decreasing cost per line
* Decreasing operating expense
* Decreasing cost of PC (or similar device)
* Social attitudes and habits embracing broadband facilities
* More Indian content
With the decreasing cost of PCs to under Rs. 10,000 and then to under Rs. 5000 soon, and with increasing in content for Indian masses, the broadband penetration will be going through a revolution, and I call it the Broadband Revolution in India. The cost per line will dramatically reduce from the current Rs. 7000-10,000 per line to around Rs. 1500-2500 per line by 2010.
The pieces of puzzle are falling into place. With advent of wireless broadband (such as WiMAX and WiFi), with decreasing costs of PC, we will see the penetration grow slow and suddenly, when the price points have achieved that critical milestone, it will take a dramatic upswing and go on an exponential path for the next few years.
WSJ has an interview with Gartner analyst Mark Raskino on CK Prahalad’s Bottom of the Pyramid theme:
What is the thinking behind the suggestion that businesses in rich Western countries should be interested in “the bottom of the pyramid?”
A couple of different ideas are connected. The first is the rate at which people of the Third World are moving from subsistence to being consumers. That means huge numbers of new people to sell new technology to, particularly in China and India, but also elsewhere.
Because you can’t spend very much money developing these products, you are challenged to create your technology innovation under serious constraints. But many of those innovations are things that would not only be useful in Third World markets, they also would come back to the First World.
There are other consequences to consider, too. Once people have, for example, mobile phones, they can exchange prepaid minutes with each other. And that can become something like a currency exchange. You might exchange minutes with the vendor in the local market, or give five minutes to your grandfather or a friend as a present.
Wired Magazined writes about plans to create a new Chinese city:
Dongtan breaks ground later this year on a plot about the size of Manhattan on Chongming Island. The first condos and commercial space will hit the market by 2010, around the time a 12-mile bridge and tunnel combo and subway extension will link the city to Shanghai’s new international airport (45 minutes away) and financial district (30 minutes). By 2050, Dongtan will have a half-million residents, more than Miami or Atlanta today.
That may count as a cozy little town in a country of 1.3 billion people. But Dongtan is a dramatic gambit, and not just because a whole city will rise, fully realized, from nothing. With Dongtan, Arup is testing a radical new approach to urban design, one that suggests cities across China and the rest of the developing world can actually get greener as they grow.
An excerpt from Ajit Balakrishnan’s convocation speech at IIM-C:
By , some say, India’s GDP in US$ terms will exceed not only the European countries and Japan but also, perhaps, the United States.
But what these reports also say, and this part is often overlooked, is that in 2040, India’s per capita GDP will be just 15% of that of the United States and a third of that of even Russia.
Another way of putting it is that even thirty five years from now, the average Indian will earn just Rs 5,000 a month. On this income he will have to feed and educate his children, look after their healthcare needs, afford entertainment and life insurance.
This means he must have a place to stay with clean water supply at, say, Rs 200 per month , uninterrupted electric power, perhaps at 50 paise per unit at the consumer level, medical insurance at, say, Rs 10 per person per month and life insurance perhaps at Rs 5 per person per month.
Atanu Dey quotes from a Scientific American article by Nikhil Swaminathan:
Are you one of those people who think of big cities as little more than hotbeds of pollution, crime and social inequalities? Well, think again. A new report in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA confirms what many city dwellers, who account for the bulk of people on Earth, have claimed for years: Cities have an almost magical ability, spurred by increased human interaction, to stimulate innovation and increase wealth.
The report also pooh-poohs the popular comparison of the growth of cities with biological organisms. An animal slows as it balloons in size ; in contrast, the researchers note, cities speed up as population and everything from crime to per capita income grow.
The New York Times writes:
Even as American educators seek to emulate Asian pedagogy a test-centered ethos and a rigorous focus on math, science and engineering Chinese educators are trying to blend a Western emphasis on critical thinking, versatility and leadership into their own traditions. To put it another way, in the peremptorily utopian style typical of official Chinese directives (as well as of educationese the world over), the nations schools must strive to build citizens character in an all-round way, gear their efforts to each and every student, give full scope to students ideological, moral, cultural and scientific potentials and raise their labor skills and physical and psychological aptitudes, achieve vibrant student development and run themselves with distinction. Meijies rise to star student reflects a much-publicized government call to promote suzhi jiaoyu generally translated as quality education, and also sometimes as character education or all-round character education. Her story also raises important questions about the states effort, which has been more generously backed by rhetoric than by money. The goal of change is to liberate students to pursue more fulfilling paths in a country where jobs are no longer assigned; it is also to produce the sort of flexibly skilled work force that best fits an international knowledge economy. But can personal desires and national demands be reconciled? Will the most promising students of the new era be as overburdened and regimented as before? As new opportunities have begun to emerge, so have tensions. If Meijies own trajectory and her Hsylc brainchild are any guide, the force most likely to spur on deep-seated educational ferment in China may well turn out to be students themselves still struggling with stress, yet doing so in an era of greater personal independence and international openness. Overachievers of the world unite!
India Knowledge@Wharton writes:
With the relaxation of the country’s foreign direct investment (FDI) rules, publications as diverse as Newsweek, Fortune, Time Out, Men’s Health and Auto Car have set up Indian operations in recent months. The Conde Nast group has come in through a 100% privately held subsidiary, and will launch its flagship Vogue next year. On the newspaper front, there is now company for the International Herald Tribune, which had come in two years ago to launch an identical locally printed version of its international edition (called a “facsimile edition”). The Independent of the U.K. tied up with Dainik Jagran, a leading Hindi-language newspaper publisher. These are just some of the new arrivals.
Why this sudden interest in Indian print media?
First, in contrast to the West, where in recent years the print media have been left bloodied by declining circulation and staff layoffs, India is adding millions of readers. The National Readership Survey 2006, an annual review by an autonomous division of the Audit Bureau of Circulations, said the entire Indian press had added seven million new readers in the year leading up to June 2006. The number of readers of dailies and magazines grew from 212 million to 216 million in the three years leading up to June 2006. The survey did not cover the string of niche titles that are regularly launched and whose collective readership estimates are unlisted, but considered sizeable. “There is still significant scope for growth, as 359 million people who can read and understand any language do not read any publication,” the report stated.