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Cellular telephony has also grown enormously and cell phones are part of the self for most urban-based middle class youth. This has been a tremendous growth in the usage of cell phones and a marked change in how its use is seen. The 3 boxes below mark out that shift.

In 1988, the Indian Home Ministry banned the open sale of pre-paid cash cards for mobile telephones, arguing that a number of criminals were using these pre-paid cash cards so as to leave investigators with no way of tracing them. While the use of telephone cards by criminals is a miniscule part of overall numbers, telephone operators have been mandated to verify the name and address of a customer before retailing a cash card. Private operators believe that they are loosing almost 50 percent of their business because of this needless verification. …New subscription to mobile telephony services dropped by about 50 percent in 1998 when the Indian Income tax Department decreed that anyone owning a mobile telephone must submit their income tax. This decree was premised on the notion that if an individual could afford a “luxury” item such as a mobile telephone, the individual earned enough to file a tax return. (Singhal and Rogers: 2001: 203-04)

BOX 6.5

BOX 5

India has become one of the fastest growing mobile markets in the world. The mobile services were commercially launched in August 1995 in India. In the initial 5-6 years the average monthly subscribers additions were around 0.05 to 0.1 million only and the total mobile subscribers base in December 2002 stood at 10.5 millions. Although mobile telephones followed the New Telecom Policy 1994, growth was tardy in the early years because of the high price of hand sets as well as the high tariff structure of mobile telephones. The New Telecom Policy in 1999, the industry heralded several pro consumer initiatives. Mobile subscriber additions started picking up. The number of mobile phones added throughout the country in 2003 was 16 million, followed by 22 millions in 2004 and 32 million in 2005. The only countries with more mobile phones than India with 123.44 million mobile phones (September 2006) are China – 408 million, USA – 170 million, and Russia – 130 million.

BOX 6.6

103

Globalisation and Social Change

metered charges, had mushroomed all over India, including the remote, rural, hilly, and tribal areas. The emergence of PCOs satisfies the strong Indian socio-cultural need of keeping in touch with family members. Much like train travel in India which is often undertaken to celebrate marriages, visit relatives, or attend funerals, the telephone is also viewed as a way of maintaining close family ties. Not surprisingly, most advertisement for telephony service show mothers talking to their sons and daughters, or grandparents talking to grandchildren. Telephone expansion in India thus serves a strong socio-cultural function for its users, in addition to a commercial one. (Singhal and Rogers 2001: 188-89)

EXERCISE FOR BOX 6.2 Write an essay on personal relationships and telecommunications.

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