Affordable mobile telephony services made India ‘more democratic’: Dr. Robin Jeffrey

1st May 2014 | By Mouseworld Now Correspondent |

Dr.-Robin-Jeffrey's-Cellphone-NationNew Delhi, April 30, 2014: Unimaginable things became imaginable. The changes – like those brought by the inexpensive mobile phone and service – made conditions “faster, more efficient and” – and here is what I think is so important for India – “more democratic,” observed Dr. Robin Jeffrey, Visiting Research Professor, Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore” and co-author of the first major book on the social changes made by mobile telephony in India, “Cell phone Nation”.The book is co-authored by another Australian scholar - Dr. Assa Doron.


Stating that mobile telephony is the most significant thing that has hit mankind since the arrival of shoes, Dr. Robin Jeffrey observed that in India mobile telephony even changed the way democracy functions, empowering the people to better information about the events around them.


“Until about 10 years ago,” observed Jeffrey, “phones in India were meant for important people with important work to do. Not for the ‘aam aadmi’ or ‘aam aurat’”. Affordable mobile phones have made conditions “faster, more efficient and – and here is what I think that is so important for India – ‘more democratic’”, Dr Jeffrey observed.


“The 2007 state elections in Uttar Pradesh were India’s first ‘mobile phone’ elections, when Mayawati managed a huge victory – thanks to her dedicated cadre armed with mobile phones to connect with voters. Current Parliamentary elections’ high turnout is surely linked with mobile phones,” observed Jeffrey. In Jeffrey’s opinion, mobile telephony has been playing an important role in India’s Lok Sabha elections providing candidates access to their supporters, the Professor, a veteran India expert with many a book on  India, pointed out.


The Professor described the mobile phone as a device that has brought fisher folk in Kerala, boatmen in Banaras, great capitalists in Mumbai and power-wielding politicians and bureaucrats in New Delhi on the same platform, ensuring a democractic equality in communications.


Dr. Robin Jeffrey was speaking   today at the inaugural chapter of his three city lecture series “Cellphone Nation – How mobile phones changed India”. In New Delhi, the lecture is hosted by India International Centre (IIC). COAI has organised the lecture series to showcase the importance and critical role played by mobile phones and related communication systems in our day-to-day lives.


Rajan Mathews, Director General of COAI, said, “Mobile telephony has not just emerged as the showcase sector of Indian economic reforms, but has also initiated changes in society, the way no other technology or device has done in the history of India. We, in the industry are happy to know that Dr. Jeffrey and his co-author Assa Doron have captured these unprecedented changes in their book, “Cell Phone Nation”. With the three city lecture tour of Dr Jeffrey, covering New Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai, we are sure the citizens of India will provide the mobile telephone sector the rightful place it deserves in the history of the country’s economic and social progress”.


Discussing the importance of more than 900 million mobile phone connections in a population of 1,200 million, Dr. Jeffrey said, “Even if we allow for double-counting and the fact that mobile phones are not evenly distributed, these figures mean that the mobile phone is a commonly known device and that most citizens could get access to one.”


“Why is that important? Because knowledge is power, and putting a little knowledge-Power in the hands of hundreds of millions of citizens for the first time is immensely disruptive.” he added.


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