The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

September - 2007 - issue > Cover Feature

India, the emerging high tech superpower

Sanjay K. Jha
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Sanjay K. Jha
I remember when, as a child, I was once playing cricket with some of my friends in our front yard one of my friends hit a “six”, a well-hit half-volley that soared over our fence and landed in our neighbor’s yard. The neighbors happened to be having tea on their lawn at the time, and to this day, I do not know whether the ball actually hit anyone or not. However, the result of this play was quite far-reaching. These were the neighbors who had a telephone which they allowed us to use to stay in touch with our faraway relatives. With this transgression, they decided to stop this benevolent act of charity altogether. With one fateful hit of a cork ball, my baba (grandfather) decided not only that we could no longer play cricket in the front yard, but that we needed to get our own telephone connection.

Every second or third year, Dharbhanga (Bihar) floods during the monsoon season. We were lucky that it hadn’t flooded that particular year, but it had rained earlier and the dirt path to my grandmother’s home was muddy. We had been waiting for the telephone workers to show up for several weeks. When they finally arrived, they had to dig two holes for the telephone poles so they could string the wire to our house. It was a long process, and after many more no-shows and half-days as a result of rain and floods, we were finally connected. The process probably took eight months from start to finish. If my memory serves me correctly, the year was 1972.

A lot has changed in India since then. To be sure, energy generation and distribution, healthcare access, the consumer electronics industry, the private sector as a force for change, and the education system have all seen advances. But, I think, the emergence of the Indian wireless industry has, and will continue to make, some of the most fundamental contributions to the industrial, commercial, and consumer transformation of India.

Today, no one has to wait for someone to dig holes-for-poles, so to speak, to get connected. With 185 million wireless subscribers in the country today, India has established an excellent springboard to become a major high-tech player in the global market. An advanced communications infrastructure with wireless as its backbone will enable its people to become more integrated with the global community. By connecting more people in India with the minds and vast resources that the Internet offers, the amount of knowledge flowing in and out of the country will be broadened exponentially. Some estimates say that by 2010, the number of wireless subscribers in India will reach upwards of 500 million.

Wireless communication is becoming more affordable and more accessible than ever before. As a result, Indian consumers even in remote parts of the country today can access a wide range of information and entertainment services using their mobile device. Farmers are beginning to have the ability to compare the price of their crops at various markets at the press of a button. Fishermen can check vital information - such as weather forecasts, high yielding fishing zones, and conditions at sea - with their mobile phones displaying the information in their local language. And of course, Indian youth today can keep up and interact with the latest cricket and Bollywood action news from virtually anywhere with their mobile phones.

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