Cellphone, thy name is Individuality

The NYT columnist Anand Giridharadas writes -

In cellphone, India reveals an essence :

Cellphone appeals deeply to the Indian psychology, to the spreading desire for personal space and voice, not in defiance of the family and tribe but in the chaotic midst of it.

Imagine what it was like, back in the Pre-cellular Age, to be young in a traditional household. People are everywhere. Doors are open. Judgments fly. Bedrooms are shared. Phones are centrally located.

The cellphone serves, then, as a technology of individuation. On the cellphone, you are your own person. No one answers your calls or reads your messages. Your number is just yours.

Imagine the future: A young woman sits on her sofa. With a few taps, she checks that her tax return has been cleared. With a few more, she learns that her local legislator is a criminal, and she switches to the other candidate. She wires a campaign contribution by text. And then she notices on television a debate on her favorite topic, and listens to the arguments and taps hurriedly into her phone words that will soon scroll across the screen.

It is not Athens, but it would be a start: in the world’s largest democracy, government not by passive consent, but by something like a conversation.


I think days of imagination have passed. Indians are already living in the new eon.

I know few farmers from Pune and Satara who operate the water pump at farm through cellphone. The technology called ‘nano-ganesh’, invented by a Puneite enable those farmers sit at home, start the pump in the night, and switch it off in the morning by way of just a call. The same farmers sell their produce through cellphone. The text message informs them about prices for produce. The same message also has next day’s weather.

These farmers, who never handled landlines, sends text to ensure only their favourite singers win in the reality show.

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