Monday, 28 September 2015

Make What In India? {Narrative Series}

An article in TOI today tells me that GOI is primarily focussing on 3 sectors : Services, Manufacturing and Agriculture! Now this is primarily a large scope contained in this statement, impossible to go into detail as is. The question is and remains, where is the plan 15 months down the road? Where are the specifics, the what and the how - namely MWII? It should be MWII now, not MII which is fine as a slogan, but means nothing as a strategy.

MWII : Make What In India?


Identify specific sectors, industries where we can build capabilities; identify what is needed in each sector and each area. Then go to market for whatever is needed. Without the specifics, it is mere sloganeering.I do not decry the value of slogans to drive a diverse population : but slogans can only carry you so far. And, as on date, I cant see much beyond slogans. If there is a specific plan in the public, please bring it to my attention : this is an honest request.

I dont for a moment doubt that there must be some sort of a go-forward plan; why keep its distribution limited {if it has been revealed - as I request above, please call my attention to it}? Why not translate it into a national vision for and of and by the people? Why not ensure buy-in from the citizens? Surely if you can coin slogans like MII, SBA, DI you can also do an equally bang up task of selling your specific vision to the people? That will ensure a burst in innovation, ideas and action as more and more people buy-in.

Slogans wont help beyond a certain point; you have to outline your vision for Indian Manufacturing, and drive that vision - not in isolated silos of Government Bureaucrats, Politicians and Industrial bodies {although that is admittedly a vital part of any successful plan]; but in the public discourse. And the public discourse, sorry to state, is far more concerned about Caste, Class, Language, Religion and other aspects that are not conducive to the overall vision of Make In India, which is now beginning to lose its sheen.

I can only hope this is in the works. India needs it. What is needed is the building of a national narrative around Manufacturing In India. A narrative perforce means aspects far beyond sloganeering; it involves a shared vision, a plan and a shared confidence and belief in its eventual success, as also a shared realisation of obstacles. A narrative is a story, a set of connected events that move in a particular direction. It requires a vision, a goal, a set of rules & processes to take it forward, an action plan, and a shared acceptance of resources and their limits.

So far, we only have a slogan; one slogan cannot be a narrative; the slogan has now outlived its utility. 15 months down the road, high time we started building a narrative. High time the Government got into details, and built momentum basis facts and ground scenarios, not slogans. That we can do the building of a narrative is beyond debate; within the past 5 years we have seen two or three excellent examples of a narrative in the public discourse in India. The reason why this is vital is because the building and nurturing of a narrative on a national scale requires buy-in by large segments of the population with the divergent interest and needs. The moment you attempt to do this, some hard questions will emerge, as also a clear direction, which will ensure eventual success.

Once you try to get into specifics, questions will emerge, that will eventually need answering not in slogans, but in hard realities. This is not a negative approach, but a practical one. Any path towards success will need circumventing questions : we cannot run away from the questions. While the Government is certainly not running away from the questions – recent events are proof {more in later articles}, some segments of the public certainly are, as by and large, any questions on MII are met with either a stoic silence, summary ignorance, or worse.


THE INPUTS REQUIRED :
To identify questions, we will have to get into brass tacks, and look at what MII requires :

* Business Environment {Study the Indian Economy, its structure as well as the global/local Macro-Economic Environment; Excise/Customs duties & their structure}

* Land

* Labour {Not just skills; skills are dead easy to impart with training; legal landmines need attention; socio-cultural parameters need attention, socio-political matters need close attention and so on and so forth}

* Markets

* Enviromental Impact and its related issues. This is not a small point; the impact of large-scale industrialisation on the environment in a democracy is certain to lead to massive, massive issues. Combined with socio-cultural & political landscape, it is a major stumbling block}

* Corruption Eradication {Subvention of any point above, in a high vigilance atmosphere of both law enforcement as well as Media means regular and consistent exposure of scams and unhealthy tactics. Certain to stall projects fully and finally}


Let us consider just one or two questions or scenarios :
More than 44-58% of Economic Output is from unorganised sector; More than 70% employment is in Non-Corporate Sector - quoting from Memory. Large range of products and industries are controlled by Non-Corporate Sector {Think point of Markets}. Corporate India is less than 19% of the Indian Economy. Large - Millions - of units are SSI and MSI; What happens to these units if large-scale unplanned industrialisation happens? Their manpower is not employable in your class manufacturing units. Translation : displacement of labour on a national scale - leading to social unrest, and rising tensions amid unemployment. This is not a scaremongering scenario, but a statement based on absolute and verifiable facts of the current Indian Economic Structure.

I have yet to read one word in any English Media outlet or Newspaper that has raised this issue, which is gung-ho about MII. Vernacular is another matter, where a few articles have appeared, although they seemed a bit strong on rhetoric. What do you think will be the impact? The large majority lead the vernacular. What happens if MII does succeed? Look for a problem after the horse has bolted?

Thrice between 2000 and 2010, a body of Indians conducted an experiment, which called for construction of scenarios of development. These experiments were conducted by three unrelated sets of people; and the result of each was the same. In each and every case, the only path that lead to true development - given the ground realities of society as well as economics - was the one that concentrated on the small scale sector in India. All other modes and methods adopted led to an increase in the Gini, with much slower impact on the people who have real need for development. The poor of India. And all other methods delivered lesser GDP growth. Does Make in India cater to this?

This sounds so nice, so decent : "Slower pace of growth" - doesnt it? This slower pace of growth means Millions of people will continue to be poor for one more generation, perhaps more. Please try and explain to these Millions

It isnt about large or start-ups; it is about the structure of the Indian Economy & Democracy & Society, which does not support MII. The roadblocks are tremendous; one such - just one - resulted in the central government devolving the matter to the states. Land.

The presence of large - humongous - numbers of companies in the SME sector is another factor. The ecosystem revolves around these small companies. What happens to them if large scale industrialisation happens? What happened in Mumbai when the textile mills closed down? Who paid the price for development? Watch either Lalbaug – Patel : Zhaali Mumbai Sonyaachi {Mumbai becomes a city of Gold}  , or read S Hussain Zaidi. Are we saying that these should pay the price for development?

There is a way out; plan for the industries, and their manpower, so that a smooth transition is made. I have certainly heard absolutely nothing along those lines being talked about in Public. Which is why what Arvind Kejriwal says – education, health etc need priority attention if the needs of the entire nation are to be catered to. The reason is simple : only an educated and healthy person will be in a position to cash in on the benefits of increased manufacturing jobs opportunities. Both have to g hand in hand for true success. Is this happening?

Another alternative is to focus not on Large Industries - but on purely Indian Start-ups, Indian companies that want to grow, as well as the Small and Medium Sector. Invest in their capability development, enhance their competitiveness. This will generate employment in all classes, as well as focus on technology and skill upgradation; this will generate consumption internally, generate cash internally, meet far lesser resistance as well as require lesser resources.

Large Scale can be looked at on a case-to-case basis, as the economic structure matures & societal development parameters like education etc mature, and companies grow in size and capability. Special case approval for notified sectors can be looked at, where large size is an imperative, like the core sector as an example. This is an eminently feasible solution to the quandary we face, and easier to do than what we are currently attempting.

But let alone seriously consider it - we arent even willing to discuss the feasibility, and intent on ignoring any serious questions that may be asked of MII. Few people are even willing to engage in a fruitful dialogue with those who are objecting basis facts and not rhetoric, with the attendant focus on FDI and FII, which is not entirely supported by numbers. By and large, people ignore – or worse –the ones who raise questions and consider it an attack on the GOI. Well, it isn’t an attack : these are just genuine questions that are arising, and will need urgent attention... Is anyone listening?


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Changing Gender Equations In India

Sexual violence in India and its increasingly relevance to the public discourse, that is frankly a comparatively smaller problem in comparison to the major problem facing our society : that of Gender roles, and their redefinition in the changed world. The reality may even be that it is the percentage of reported rapes and sexual misdemeanour that are increasing. This, far from being a problem, is actually a welcome development, if that is indeed the case. It means that the stigma is receding, at it is being perceived as a plain and simple crime. This cannot be viewed in isolation, but has to be seen in the complete socio-cultural mileu, especially if we are to label an entire society.


The major aspect that needs attention, in my opinion, is the concept of Gender Roles in Indian Society, and especially how the Man {including I Me Myself} views this. The Challenges and questions being posed to the Indian Family Unit due to this need answering. Further, we need to move away from accusation and self-accusation, and blame games; this isn’t Gender Suppression, although that is also a factor in some cases, to be honest. It is just that I cannot say how prevalent Suppression is...


Suppression is when the act is one-sided. A lady once said to me categorically, "Women are also the ones responsible for it". It was a statement that initially stunned me, but is increasingly making eminent sense. A Hindi movie from the 50s had a very interesting scene in it, when the lady defends her husband beating her by saying that he also loves her deeply {which was a fact as shown in the movie}. This is but one parameter of the problem. I have seen this quiet acceptance in many a household, and majorly in the educated classes, rarely in the lower classes.


And the solution isnt empowering women : that is an insult to women in general. The women does not need "empowerment". That statement itself implies the inherent superiority of the male of the species. The need of the hour is education of the male mind, and engendering equality of the sexes right from childhood. That means social programmes to educate society and the parents. And, unless you understand the level of the full problem, its deep-seated nature and its genesis, all such outreach programmes are bound to be less effective. That is why understanding why this arose is so important.


Just who is the male to "give the women power"? Is he God? Or, does he own the woman? If not, how can the male give something which anyways does not belong to him in the first place? There are many, many parameters to this issue, which get lost out in the brouhaha.



People say Women should not tolerate abuse, But what about the attendant issues? Some women, just to take one tiny example, tolerate abuse for the children. What happens to them – the Women and The Children? Their lives get destroyed, that is what. That act of sacrifice makes the women far stronger than the male, and a far better human; but that comes at a high cost to the individual lady. Point is that there are a myriad set of parameters involved here, all of which need consideration. Unless all questions are answered, even a majority of women will {might} not support, and that is a sad fact.


That also indicates the solution cannot be just plain empowerment, or legal remedies etc alone. What is truly needed is a combination effort of legal remedies, laws and their implementation, social education programmes, setting exemplars of everyday women and men who have reached a balance, {not your famous women, people dont relate to famous personalities}, This involves changing mindsets, and is a very tall task


Why is this so? The answer lies in the socio-cultural constructs of our society and its historical experiences, whose current impact is a matter of studied and documented research. For example, castesim, once thought to be a core sanaatani construct, has been proven as a hard-core colonial creation in more than one solid research, one of which I have read. In it, the impact of history on the modern world and society has been effortlessly traced. I refer to Maria Misra's Vishnu's Crowded Temple - {Vishnu's Crowded Temple Book Review}


Thus, if we are understand this problem, we have no choice but to go back to its genesis. Societal trends, norms and behavhiours only change over the course of generations, and if you have to alter the course of society, you perforce need to understand the history. Then and only then can a solution emerge. Then key question here is why is this so in Modern India? Since when has it become so? Why did this emerge?


If the emergence is recent in history, relatively simple steps like laws are the answer. But if the genesis lies deep in history, then there is no solution apart from a combination of laws, education and social change steps that need to be taken.


It isnt a Power issue, it isnt an issue of men wanting power over women. This is a deeply ingrained cultural attribute, whether or not you like it, or anyone else for that matter. Gender Relations and Balance is a fundamental construct of Society, more so a stratified and hierarchical society like India's. Indian Society is at its core hierarchical, with strictly defined roles, norms, modes and behaviours and styles of conduct.


This hierarchical structure has both good and bad points, just the same as any other structure. One cannot only look at its negative ramifications and blame the entire structure for it, forgetting the other good points. Any structure will be definition have both good and bad points. This isnt Power; it is a simple case of hard-wired behavioural parameters, ingrained into collective memory over generations.


It has been said that the current dispensation is against Dignity; while I don’t deny that there may be some cases where this is true, but the questions remain. A person's dignity is non-negotiable, granted. But how do you define dignity? Does the other person accept your definition of dignity? Your definition of freedom and independence? If not, then you are also imposing, and this cannot lead to a solution! This is a classic western concept, sorry to state; and does not apply to eastern constructs of society with its many shades, parameters and nuances. If the people themselves do not accept such imposition willingly, we are back where we started.


This is a highly subjective and relative issue, one that cannot and should not be discussed off hand without proper lines of thought. Furthermore, if the respondent does not accept the imposition, the result is a backlash. This cannot be ignored, or forgotten. Individual dignity is again a core societal construct that arises from roles, mores, morals, hierarchies and their inter-relationships nuances and other cultural parameters. Solving this complex equation will take generations, not less - as it is a painstakingly slow process that involves a variety of solutions and approaches


Add to this the purely eastern concept of Honour, and dignity takes on exceedingly complicated hues that defy definition. The interplay of these two in society determine a lot of what we see, more so in the Indian Context. And that fact of the matter is that these two are exceedingly powerful forces in Sanaatani Society - Honour, and Family.


Thus, in order that we understand this situation, we perforce have to cater to the ground reality. And Western constructs, theories, views do not apply on the Ground in India, that much is an absolute. Till lately, this was so deep-rooted that even crimes went unreported; I refer to rape and wife-beating. So strong, so hard and so deep are the bonds of honour and family that even heinous crimes went unreported.


The very fact that unreported crimes are now on the decline proves that our society is actually moving in the right direction. This is actually not a problem - honour and family are what define our uniqueness, and the two have a massive range of practical and powerful ramifications in the Modern Context. So much so, that they are actually a massive plus of our society. But each plus has some attendant weaknesses; the challenge before us is to remove the attachment of these two from crimes. And that is happening at an ever-increasing rate.




If you look at the increasing participation of ladies in the workforce, as an example, and juxtapose it with the continuing and in fact strengthening hold of honour and family in the Indian context, it can be readily seen that Indian society is changing quite rapidly , adapting itself without compromising its uniqueness, and its basic precepts.


What is happening is that increasingly, there is a subtle redefinition of constituent roles in the family unit, with the male increasingly shouldering some increased burden. I dont say that this is happening willingly in all cases - again, honour and family interplay force change on males as well, who are notoriously slow to change {genetic defect in the male? :) } - but change is happening. And newer forms are emerging, adapted to the newer reality, making for a much better India.



And, speaking as a Man, what it requires is for Males to accept that the equations between the Genders are now changing; it would be better for all of us males – starting with Myself – to accept this change, and adjust, change ourselves for the benefit of the Family’; the same Family for which Women have more than frequently given their all...

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Developing A National Narrative - 1 : Self-Belief and National Dreams in Foreign Policy

Why cant we, as a nation, develop a self-confidence in our own ability, back ourselves, realize our own power and back it to the hilt? In recent times, there has been one indication – when in the negotiations on trade when India stood firm over food security, against the entire world – which was an indication of our power and the strength of our resolve as well as our reputation. And yet, this confidence is at times absent in our strategic and economic thinking at an individual level, when we tend to idolize over relations and closeness to one nation or the other, usually the USA.


Let us study this in the context of and  the example of the USA, for the simple reason that it is the most powerful pull for some Indians. The increasing tendency of us Indians to go ballistic over  the USA, and our relationship with them needs highlighting; there is no need whatsoever to treat the USA with kid gloves; high time we took it on head-on; the structure of the Global Economy will ensure that the business comes to us, provided we manage our own economy well enough. If we just strengthen ourselves, just focus on that point : nothing else is required vis-a-vis the USA


DREAMS OF PARTNERSHIP

The main problem with the USA is that there is a manifest tendency, overt and in-your-face, of mixing stragegic considerations with Business; and a complete abhorance of sharing technology, or partaking in investing locally. It might be, in fact, harmful if we were to come too close. They use business as a tool for strategic considerations, and cruelly, This is what an unbiased study of contemporay post-WW2 Indian History teaches us. History leaves no room for doubt; the USA has always used business as a strategic tool, in addition to caring little for mutual development.


I dont hate them, or get angry at them. The act of hating them or being angry at them reduces me to their level of childishness, churlishness, contemptible stupidity, and unconscionable acts of cruelty, selfishness and brutality. We have grown beyond that centuries ago as a people. India is the land where every religion was welcomed, no one was persecuted; we are the land that taught the world non-violence.

How can we go away from it? We are the ones who taught Vasudev Kutumbakam, dont forget that. Hating them {angry at them as well} as a people or as individuals implies my own inability to deal my emotions, control my thoughts for my own good; nothing good ever came of hate or anger. That is an established fact.


Coming back to the main point, that is why we should keep our distance from them, while simultaneously interacting with them, trading with then, cooperating with them for overall good of both sides. But at no point should we align with them : protection of our fierce independent spirit is and should be paramount. Even at the cost of GDP Growth and Strategic Considerations.


There can be no answer to the manifest truth that there are a veritable list of nations that have paid a heavy, heavy price for proximity with the USA in particular. Furthermore, there can be no doubt of the one-sided nature of their economic policies, be it Solar issues, Agriculture {AMS, as an example}, Climate, Carbon and many many other deep penetrating questions and issues that can be raised with oodles of proof.


Why are we dreaming of getting close to a people and a nation steeped in blood, with one-sided policies, which uses nations for own means, and has no qualms of openly lying? Why did they look the other way when Pakistan was going Nuclear? There is evidence that they may have started so before India. Why did the USA look the other way when Kashmir was flooded with Pakistani Arms and people? I could go on and on… but that would be over-kill


DEVELOPING OUR OWN NARRATIVE

It isnt a question of trusting blindly; it is a hard-core question of dealing with the public perception and craze for an overt pro-USA stance, despite there being a veritable encyclopaedia of questions, hindering factors and objections to a closer relationship with the USA. None of us here is in a position to impact policy {thankfully! speaking for self, at least}; but we are in a position to influence readers. Therefore, it is essential that we anaylse fully and properly, so that the public realises the major downsides of an overt shift towards the USA.


There is an increasing tendency to gloss over the negative in the Media on some of the more significant problem areas in this relationship, which is in fact neither strategic nor a partnership - when analysed fully along Strategic, Economic, Political, Cultural, Social and People-to-People parameters. The last factor aside, we have nothing in common. The need of the hour is a change in narrative in our Media {which admittedly does highlight the problems fully, to its credit} – to a more independent, analytical and developmental tone, rather than reportage. But that is another story.


Even on the Economic front, the indispensability of the USA is a highly debatable assumption; with the strong emergence of EU as a trade block, the emergence of strong relationships in trade in ASEAN, SAARC, Pacific Rim etc are opening avenues of trade that have yet to by fully exploited. By our manic chasing of the mirage of a good relationship with the USA, we might just be ignoring other more promising areas and relationships, as well as screwing up current and existing relationships.


There is no sense in getting into a relationship with a new partner if it destroys or threatens your existing relationships. It is also a mirage, as we do not possess the needed clout to be more relevant to the USA than China, Pakistan and Russia. Strategic, Economic and Trade factors preclude that assumption and possibility. We are chasing a mirage, and probably getting used in the bargain. Rather than go ballistic on pro-USA, it would be far better for us to build a working relationship with China, and take the Russian partnership deeper. My fear : we are being used, just like a whole list of other nations. Note the deeds of our so-called friend the USA, not its words, Words are cheap, and a dime-a-dozen.


And their deeds consistently speak only one language, and it isnt the language of a strategic partnership. That is a fact, and any number of irrefutable supporting evidences of this can be produced, at length, and in detail. Get access to the full reports, and you can write a book on the areas of concern.


Read the signs : The world is moving AWAY from the USA in Trade and Economics at least. The emergence of regional trade blocks, regional power centers, regional agreements, bilateral relationships and agreement, consolidation of some major markets into one bloc and their consequent re-emergence are all the lead indicators that the era of the USA is over. Why are we chasing a has been? Because it is a military might?


The movements in the money markets on the global scenario, especially in the the background of then QE steps, and the consequent clarion calls by bankers from emerging markets for the USA to show caution and concern for other nations' issues is yet another lead indicator of the collapse of the henemonistic rule of the USA. It is being openly challenged in each and every forum of international discourse, and rightfully so.


The rule of the Dollar is now being openly challenged; the development of the ADB is yet another factor that is pointing to the demise of the hegemonistic pro-western rule. The world order is changing, and rapidly. And to be a leader, the only way forward is to read the signs, take the mantle of leadership into unknown areas and regions, rather than follow the beaten patth - one that has always led to problems for us.


Militarily, its power is a factor - yes; but even there, it is highly debatable whether they will get support from anyone except is Parent the UK. Separate issue that the UK is itself collapsing. Especially so after Iraq; it will never get support in anything for some time to come, if ever. Why are we saluting a power that is falling - especially since it has never done anything in India’s favour?


We arent just anyone; we are India. The oldest living civilization, the cradle of society and life for 9500 years of uninterrupted societal and stable life as per documented scientific evidence; A nation of 1.27 Billion; One of the largest economies in the world; a record of stable political and economic performance, the many challenges notwithstanding; A fast growing military clout with a well-deserved reputation of balanced non-interfering use of power; an acknowledged soft power; a scientific establishment that has won the world's respect - its shortcomings notwithstanding; a reputation for peace and stability internally and externally; a reputation for complete dependability;


Few nations, IMHO, can match this. The first point alone is enough; nothing more needs be said. We taught the world how to live; this may sound emotional drivel - but is completely practical, if properly used. And, in the modern world, it is yet again India which has proven its stability and advancement, even as large sections of the planet implode.


If you add all the other points, it makes for an irrefutable case : let us start a new narrative, a narrative of an India that is very different from the narrative in the people’s minds. The lead developments indicated above have extensive Indian steps and policies in place in most cases; the need of the hour is a re-calibration of our internal responses and thought processes – a change to one of self-confidence. Not for us the ballistic response when any US President visits; can we dream of a day when that will be a non-event? A day when Indians don’t place inordinate emphasis on one dream, and calibrate their responses basis facts and not dreams?


Let us hope so…


Make My Blog WIN for BlogAdda Awards


My blog has made it to the Top-5 in the political blogs in India on Blogadda; thanks for the support everyeone!

Friday, 4 September 2015

15 Days Only On A Smartphone {Understanding the internet - 3}


The Internet, The Digital Age and Social Media is all over and ubiquitous, at least in Modern Urban Life; everywhere you look, everywhere you turn - you can spot its presence, its over-arching and all-pervasive influence. Virtually every news media, every conversation on the topic of the internet - all of it focuses on its all pervasive presence and the impossibility of staying without the internet & social media  on a personal level.



This is now getting into an entirely new field : The Smartphone. It is increasingly thought that the power of the smartphone can replace the old desk- and laps by a segment of thinkers; that the smartphone can do just about everything; that it is now as essentiality; that be it personal or professional, you cannot survive in the modern world without the smartphone; that it is not a luxury but a felt and present need, as essentiality.



Life put in my path a chance, an opportunity to test both hypotheses, this all-prevalent understanding, this universally accepted truism by virtue of a transfer to Nagpur, without my Laptop or Desktop, at the mercy of a smartphone only till my new asset was allocated to me by the central team.  And truth be told - while at the official level, it may pose challenges, at the personal level, I have enjoyed it immensely, as it has exposed me, or rather reintroduced me to joys long forgotten, methods and habits now thought dead... 




On an official scale, it did pose many challenges- not insurmountable, but still challenges. It is just not feasible to get the same level of productivity on a smartphone as it is on a laptop; while basic tasks can be achieved with a modicum of ease and even convenience, complex and long tasks require the comfort of the laptop. That said, I cannot function without a smartphone anymore - not professionally, not anymore. Neither can I do so without a laptop - I require both. 



On a personal scale - it did not pose any challenges. There was not even one single bad point of not having a desktop or a laptop; it was a complete waste and a completely useless product, having no value addition. Not one personal task suffered, not one inconvenience was caused by not having access to the desktop or the laptop. Of course, you might comment that there was the smartphone : but hold on just a minute...



In the past 15 days, my usage of the smartphone was minimal for my personal purposes. While on an official level, I cannot function, I just cannot function - on a personal level, much to my surprise, I found myself quite comfortable not using the smart functions of my smartphone. I minimised my presence on Whatsapp, was sparing on LinkedIn and Facebook, and so on : and I did not miss it. Let alone miss it, to my tremendous surprise, I found I quite liked it.


  
I chose to call my relatives in place of Whatsapp messaging; as one example. I chose not to respond to comment on facebook and other social media and so on. I could go on and on; but the fact remains that on a personal level, my life suffered no major hiccups without the smart functions. This does not mean that the smartphone is useless; I did use it for important tasks - like ticketing, googling important things like stores in Nagpur, locations etc


 The impact of this conscious effort at abstinence on a personal level were learnings on professional and personal arenas; in the personal arena - many occasions and tasks, which could have been easier with a little bit of support, became hard in the absence not of the smartphone or the internet, but of the absence of the proper supporting infrastructure like apps and payment mechanisms. Not using the smart capabilities for these tasks revealed the immaturity of the overall market and that it has still a long way to go before being fully relevant and developed




I stopped playing games -  no Candy Crush, no Subway Surfer - nothing. I found a lot of time for neglected aspects like reading, which broadened into interest areas I would not have thought of earlier; I found other ways and means of using leisure. I rediscovered the beauty of the night sky and the environment, found a like-minded person who is interested in wildlife, found the inclination to plan a visit to the nearby Forest...


Can we function on a personal level without a smartphone? In Urban India, not really. But is it an essentiality, an unavoidable reality? Happily {being from Telecom}, No. I say so because while I minimised my usage of the smart capabilities of my phone, I could not take them to zero usage. Railway ticketing, option hunting, house hunting etc would be pretty much impossible without a smartphone. Thus, being from the Handset Trade, I am happy that the smartphone is now a ubiquitous presence in large parts of India


I found my residence in Nagpur on the Internet on my smart device; I found a job this way; I found many locations and other titbits of information that way; I got great value addition.  Most critically, not one task came up where I felt that I missed a Desktop or a Laptop. In my personal space, that had no value. But all of this together did not use up much data, and therein lies the rub. In a nutshell, while the smartphone was a massive value addition in important tasks and is irreplacable, removing it from my personal space proved to be a value - plus.


This places two clear challenges for the app space and for the service companies : the absence of offline payment mechanisms and their easy access {Cash cards, itzcash etc}, are one area of deep concern. The complete absence of apps that can really add value in personal tasks was another area. But most importantly, the fact that all my personal tasks taken together did not use more than a few hundred MB of data is a clear indication of the trend for the service industry in Telecom, and its challenges, but more of that in another article in this series. Let us leave this thought here.   



I close this article with one thought  : is social media over-rated? In 15 days of minimum usage, I have noticed no problems in being absent from Social Media. Sure, it is needed and a nice way to keep in touch and being informed, but it is, beyond a point, completely useless; moving away from Social Media has caused no problems so far as I can see. As a matter of fact, it has lead to positives in many ways...