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In Cellphone, India Reveals an Essence


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Sometimes a technology comes along and crystallizes a cultural moment. Not since the automobile and the American in the 1950s, perhaps, have a technology and a people wedded as happily as Indians and their cellphones. And neither India nor the cellphone will be the same from the pairing. The technology has seeped down the social strata, into slums and small towns and villages, and a majority of subscribers are now outside the major cities and wealthiest states.

What makes the cellphone special in India? They provide the first real contact with the outside world for hundreds of millions. They also serve variously as a personal computer, flashlight, camera, stereo, video-game console and organizer. The cellphone also 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.

From The New York Times
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