Connected India invites the world
DELHI, India, Nov. 9 -- Adil Mirza, an information technology professional from India working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, could not make it back to his country in time to be with his wife when their first child was born. Cultural traditions required his wife to be at her hometown in Warangal, India for the delivery.
Serendipitously, modern communication technology came to his rescue at this critical juncture of his life, quickly turning his feeling of disappointment into elation.
“I was all tears with joy when I could see my child within a few minutes after its birth, thanks to video chatting facility,” Mirza said. “My job responsibilities came in the way of my visit to India. I owe the most memorable moment of my life to the communication service providers of India.”
The world has opened up to Mirza and about 900 million subscribers in India whose lives have been touched by the latest innovations and the widespread availability of a quality communications system after the Government of India took its first baby steps in 1991 toward privatization of communication services.
The giant leap for the nation started as a small baby step, as it brought the world to the masses in the form of economic, effective and efficient delivery of communication services.
Before privatization, communication services were provided only by state-run entities and were considered a luxury. Also, it was typical to wait years even to get a new fixed-wired line telephone connection.
Now the service is expected to be installed in a fraction of the time and has quickly become a part of everyday life for residents throughout the nation.
The first baby steps of national and global communication quickly increased at a sure-footed pace, creating a free market of multiple service providers who were willing to compete for subscribers.
Communication services from fixed-line phone to Wi-Fi Internet connectivity became available as over-the-counter products and global communication increased as never before.
Now everything is up-and-running, and communications has developed into a full-blown industry. As a result, the Draft National Telecom Policy-2011, or NTP-11, recently was unveiled.
NTP-11 has motivated all the stakeholders to aspire for more benefits and new milestones. Uniform high-speed Internet connectivity throughout India, being focused by NTP-11, promises to further improve the outreach of communication services.
“The prospects for mutual cross cultural exchange between Indians and the rest of the world will influence the way how the mass culture of the 'global village’ that the world has become, redefines itself,” said Krishna Sankar Kusuma, assistant professor of mass communication at AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. “Information exchange as never seen before in the history of the world will initiate masses into citizenship of the world.”
Easy access to broadband envisaged by NTP-11 has been received well by professionals, as they contemplate ways to use it as both the means and ends for reaching out to clients and target audiences.
“We can plan communication packages for niche audiences suiting to their tastes and preferences,” Kavita Bhaskaran, a public relations and corporate communications expert, said. “Online communication will allow us to get accurate statistics about the significant aspects of communication like readership, feedback, cost per thousand, effectiveness, and so on.”
She cited cable and wireless worldwide research, which shows that more than 70 percent of Indians are bullish about global communications and video conferencing to become a part of their work environment.
“It will catalyze experimenting in corporate world leading to novel approaches in communication in in-house, media interaction and the client servicing segment of public relation industry,” she said.
Professionals of the mass communication sector show no signs of slowing the pace. In fact, they are gearing up the communications marathon by adding a variety to their services catalog.
“We have been conducting press conferences via video conferencing for our corporate clients,” said Bhaskaran. Cost effectiveness and outreach envisioned in the NTP-11 will allow us to offer innovative mass communication solutions to our clients.”
Costs of various services, including domestic telephony, international calls and mobile phone calls have declined because of economy of scale and the large market size of communication services subscribers in India.
Although video conferencing is expensive and is being used by individuals and organizations who can afford it, new technology and demand for services mean that affordability draws nearer for video conferencing enthusiasts.
“The video conferencing segment in India is set for a revolution,” said Shrikant Rao, an IT and human resource management professional.
“Cost effectiveness will bring video conferencing within the reach of common masses,” Kusuma said, “just like the Public Call Office outlets brought telephony to the reach of masses.”
Entrepreneurs see the finish line for fresh possibilities. They are keen to harness the flexibility that uniform broadband connectivity will bring to ITC-enabled service providers.
“Audio visual lectures, doubt-clearing sessions and motivational talks by mentors are some features we plan to work upon keeping in mind with the high-speed internet connectivity promised by NTP-11,” said Yogita Bhalla, CEO of a Delhi-based education portal. “We offer test preparation facilities to students preparing for various competitive examinations. We believe VC can redefine the tools and utilities we offer to our client .We are also contemplating online tutoring services to students outside India.”
Possibilities seem to be limitless as new technology is being harnessed creatively by Indian businessmen. As a result, India is quickly racing from an agrarian society to an industrial society. The evolution has resulted in rapid urbanization and an intra-national migration of population.
“It has a potential to serve as a cohesive force connecting relatives and friends who have been distanced due to rapid urbanization,” Kusuma said. “It can also be a boon to army personnel serving in remote areas, farmers, people and students staying overseas. It will ensure that every reason for familial and social bonding gets catered to. It will usher in inclusiveness by offering affordability even to migrant laborers.”