At a time when telecom companies in certain countries are finding it hard to sustain and improve their top & bottom line, it’s a different story all together in India. With a thriving mobile phone market, the country has over 900 million mobile subscribers as of January 2012(report by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, TRAI). Urban subscribers are roughly 65% of this whereas subscribers in rural area constitute the rest 35%.
The Government of India recently announced a scheme under which each and every family which falls below the poverty line will be provided a mobile phone plus a talk time voucher worth INR 200 every month. 6 million additional subscriptions (falling below the poverty line) will thus be added to the figure of 900 million. What next is becoming visible is the power of using mobile phones to help address the needs of people especially the under privileged lot.
E-Choupal, an initiative by ITC (a major FMCG player in India) delivers real-time information and customized knowledge to farmers which improves their decision making ability, helps them fetch a better price for their produce. E-choupal initiative has already benefitted up to 3.5 million farmers across the country.
Eduvarta, an award winning UNESCO recognized social SMS enterprise aims to use mobile phones intelligently. It provides local information through SMS on topics such as politics, crime, water & electricity problems in the area, etc. to the local people. Eduvarta has a reach of 700,00 households and is still expanding its reach by tying up with community leaders in the villages. Another local NGO in the state of Uttar Pradesh is using mobile phones as a tool for teaching alphabets and calculation.
Coupled with the onset of internet facilities in mobile devices these days, mobile phones will go a long way to empower the poorest and disadvantaged sections of the society through effective communication techniques.