One wonders how the mobile phone penetration (at about 30%) has reached such a high level in a country where 80% of the people earn less than Rs.20 per day(less than half a dollar) (that assets worth 25% of the GDP is owned by as few as 100 people out of a billion-odd people is another story). Validity of these data apart, I keep thinking that the popularity of the cell phone in India has a lot to do with the closed spaces in which India’s vast majority of people live. Imagine a typical Indian family of around 4 to 5 people living in a tiny space of around 300-400 sq. ft of space, where everyone is within seeing and hearing distance of the others all day. The family bonds are very close and extend beyond the family, embracing people in the neighbourhood and the entire community. In such a milieu drawing on each other’s support in the daily business of life is a very natural thing.
A mobile phone enables all the members of the close-knit community to stay in touch when some of them are out eking out their living in other parts of the town or even in other towns. The mobile phone keeps together all the members of the community making others of the community available instantly. A real good substitute for the traditional community habitations like mohallas, poles, chawls in which several families live in close communities. That probably is what explains the phenomenal popularity and use of the mobile phone in India