Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Recently a company announced a smartphone at a price of a simcard. After initial jubilation, all sorts of speculations and allegations started flowing thick and fast. As a result, the company was forced to announce the return of the money and declare that it will now deliver phones on cash-on-delivery basis. Imagine this situation in a country where having a smartphone is the last priority for 50 million households. 300 million people can't read the messages in that smartphone given the absence of basic literacy skills. Leave alone e-literacy skills. In broadband penetration, we fare worse than Bhutan and hence the phone will be like a dud piece of electronics for rural folks. NFHS4's recent data shows stunting among children is still at alarming levels. Information and communication are tools of empowerment, but they cannot substitute for the basic needs especially food for a hungry population. A 3G phone cannot address the core 1G developmental issues that we still face. That requires adequate public investment, job creation and minimum social security to all, not a dubious marketing gimmick.

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