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Tuesday, May 27, 2003

How is Bombay Quaint?

Short piece from Yahoo India on the telephone situation there:

India, expected to be one of the world's fastest growing phone markets this decade, had five phones per 100 people at the end of March 2003, up from 3.64 two years ago, the government said in a statement on Friday. It said overall teledensity was 15.16 in urban centres on March 31, 2003 compared with 10.37 two years ago but was only 1.49 in rural areas compared with 0.9 phones two years ago. More than 60 percent of India's billion plus population lives in rural areas. Teledensity was highest in the national capital, Delhi, which had 26.85 phones per 100 people, and lowest in the central state of Chhattisgarh at 5.55. India has liberalised its telecoms industry over the past decade in a bid to boost investment and is aiming for a teledensity of seven by 2005 and 15 by 2010.
Source: Yahoo India

And a more personalised insight from Ubaid, our man on the streets of Bombay.

I guess I'm in a position of advantage, if not envy, having had the opportunity to observe the world's largest and richest democracies first hand. The social and economic fabric here is rich, varied and very complex. On one hand there is the ever rising curse of pop music and insufferable soaps on television, on the other there are shanties lining the railway tracks, the stark reality of urban poverty. Not withstanding my lack of qualifications as an economist, as a mere observer one thing can be said, the difference between the rich and urban poor is not as great here as seems to be the case in america. the sheer number of people, however, in the middle class and the economically disadvantaged bracket is huge. i find it difficult to accept projections of india becoming a super power in the next twenty years. we have over a billion people and rising, filtering economic well being to even a simple majority of this population is no mean task. the information technology revolution has definitely helped keep the wheels churning, accelerated the juggernaut even, but we are still quite some way off from being really well off as a nation. china seems to be running away with pie but it is a communist country and i'm not sure how well or evenly the wealth is distributed there.

I haven't read the death of vishnu but have read about it and yeah from what i hear, suri does a commendable job of portraying the ethos of the city. it is just that there are so many colors here, people have and amazingly wide array of perspectives. how's bombay quaint? well an example, the absolute disregard for traffic rules, people cross roads as and when they wish, there is a continuous cacophony of screeching brakes and shrieking horns, but pedestrians keep crossing the road as if they were strolling in the park. the pollution borders on being criminal and corruption, though people rant and rave about it all the time, is almost cultural.I recently read a report saying the telephone density in india is around 5 per cent with the metros beingfar better off than the rural areas. Cell phones are cheap and air time is cheaper. Everyone, no matter what attire, seems to sport one. I mention the attire because when cell phones were first launched, they were as much a fashion accessory as a communicatins tool. Nowadays every working professional seems to have one as does a large percentage of the college going crowd. Two uncharacteristically violent incidents have taken place in the past week, both related to stress at work. In the first one a 'jawan' (soldier) of the Central Industrial Security Force shot and killed a superior before taking five women and a man, all of them his colleagues, hostage at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. The situation was diffused after some six hours of drama when his parents talked him into surrendering. As a bizarre sequel to this incident a cop shot and killed his wife and son before taking his own life on Sunday, a day after the occurence at the airport.

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