Universe is expanding and so is the possibilities in rural India. Over a decade researchers, policy makers as well as general public at large have witnessed a paradigm shift in the behaviour, mindset & lifestyle of an average rural person. They have started harnessing new technology, spending more on lifestyle devices like smart phone and internet. In fact NSSO data reveals that the people of rural India spend 25.33% of their income on the use of mobile phones and telephones & this percentage is increasing on a very fast pace with every passing day.
Smart phones have brought a radical change. With the increase in the disposable income of rural folks, they spend more money on buying devices that provide them an opportunity to get connected with the rest of the world. Before discussing about the changes that smart phones have brought, let’s first venture into the reasons behind penetration of smart phones in the hinterlands:
1. Increase in disposable income of the rural folks
Before digging into the equations, let’s first understand what disposable income means. In simple words, it is the income remained after expenditure on basic needs and tax payments that one can use to fulfill their wishes. Earlier rural India had a different mindset to save more but with the changing times they have started spending more to live a life that they always desired for. And buying a smart phone is something that they can easily afford.
2. Increase in exposure of media mediums
Media plays a pivotal role in shaping public opinion. There was a time when rural folks were least exposed to media-mediums like Television, radio to name a few due to several issues including electricity but now the situation has made a shift, if not 360 degree, a 180 degree change can be easily seen. When people see that having a smart phone is as basic as having a pair of shoes, they tend to buy it.
3. Migration of rural youth to the cities
This is one major reason behind increase in use of smart phones among the rural folks. We all are aware of large-scale migration of rural youth to the cities in search of jobs & a better lifestyle. When the rural youth comes out of their shell & witness a new world filled with lifestyle products like smart phones, they tend to buy them in order to be at the same pace as others are. They not only adapt themselves to the different world but also try to bring about a change to the place they belong to. For instance, a labourer working in a city not only buys a phone for himself but also for his family who lives away from him in a village so that he can stay in touch with them.
4. Reputation & Image building
Everyone wants to earn a reputation in the society & to get the same they try to uplift their lifestyle. Though having a smart phone has become a need for the urban masses, it is still perceived as an image building tool among the rural folks.
5. Access to everything
Smart phones offer an opportunity to the rural folk to have an access to everything. It caters their every small need- from information to entertainment. Being more precise, smart phones empower them. Smart phones provide them an umbrella of services owing to the facility of internet. Now a farmer can have an information of the weather forecast irrespective of the fact whether he has a TV or not. In fact smart phones have bridged the gap between once media-dark hinterlands to the urban world.
Taking into account the wide reach & benefits that smart phone has provided, we can say that it has brought a revolution in the lives of the rural folks. Having it in their hands, they feel more connected & empowered at the same time.
By Sanoj Kumar Chauhan.