Cover: The Great Indian Phone Book: How the Cheap Cell Phone Changes Business, Politics, and Daily Life, from Harvard University PressCover: The Great Indian Phone Book in HARDCOVER

The Great Indian Phone Book

How the Cheap Cell Phone Changes Business, Politics, and Daily Life

Product Details


$34.50 • £30.95 • €31.95

ISBN 9780674072688

Publication Date: 04/02/2013


336 pages

38 halftones, 1 line illustration, 2 maps, 2 tables

North and South America only

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  • Preface
  • Glossary
  • Abbreviations
  • List of Maps, Illustrations, Figures and Tables*
  • Acknowledgements
  • Radio Frequency and Mobile Phones
  • Introduction: ‘So Uncanny and Out of Place’
    • In India
    • In the world
    • In conclusion
  • Part One: Controlling
    • 1. Controlling Communication
      • Horses, runners and rulers
      • Untying communication
    • 2. Celling India
      • Act I: ‘…Within a fortnight…’
      • Act II: Sidelining the referee
      • Act III: Bread, clothing, shelter—and a mobile
      • Act IV: Schools for scandal
  • Part Two: Connecting
    • 3. Missionaries of the Mobile
      • Man’s best friend
      • Talk time—small, medium, large
      • The art of retail
    • 4. Mechanics of the Mobile
      • People
        • Factory workers
        • Tower walas
        • Mistriis
        • Trainers and trainees
      • Process
        • The Care Centre
  • Part Three: Consuming
    • 5. For Business
      • On the sea…
      • Around the globe…
      • At the bank…
      • On the river…
      • On the farm…
      • Empowering, ensnaring or just chatting…?
    • 6. For Politics
      • ‘Smart mobs’ in the world
      • ‘Smart organisations’ in India
      • Limits, lessons and possibilities
    • 7. For Women and Households
      • Who will guard the mobile?
      • The household mobile
      • Ownership and property
      • Romance, marriage and the mobile
    • 8. For ‘Wrongdoing’: Waywardness to Terror
      • ‘Waywardness’
      • Pornography
      • Crime
      • Scandal and surveillance
      • Espionage and terror
    • Conclusion: ‘It’s the autonomy, stupid’
      • Health
      • Mobile waste
      • Social networks
      • Language and media
      • Politics and governance
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • * Maps, Illustrations, Figures and Tables
    • Maps
      • 1. Union of India: States, state capitals and places mentioned in the text
      • 2. Telecommunications circles: A, B, C and Metro circles as declared by the Government of India
    • Illustrations
      • 1. Multi-tasking. Ganga River boatman ferries passengers and checks phone. Banaras ghats in background. July 2012.
      • 2. Love in a time of SMS. India Today’s artist gave 17th century lovers 21st-century devices.
      • 3. Vanishing species. Yellow-painted Public Call Offices (PCOs) were everywhere but for fewer than 20 years.
      • 4. Swamy’s Treatise on Telephone Rules. The 850-page guide to the mysteries of the government telephone monopoly was a profit-maker as late as 1993.
      • 5. Duelling telcos. Vodafone and the government provider BSNL fight for attention in Banaras. October 2009.
      • 6. Cheeka to the rescue. The mobile-phone dog started her advertising career with Hutch and helped move the brand to Vodafone. Cheeka, like the cell-phone service she represents, is always there when you need her or so the ad would like us to believe.
      • 7. Educating consumers. In one of the many Vodaphone outlets in Banaras, a placard explains to English speakers the wonders of mobile communication—from &lsuqo;SMS’ to &lsuqo;3G’ and &lsuqo;Wifi’. October 2009.
      • 8. ‘I have the touch’, Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, ‘Brand Ambassador’ for Samsung, tells buyers. The handwritten notice makes clear to newcomers to capitalism: ‘Fixed Prices, No Bargaining’. October 2009.
      • 9. The art of retail, Part 1. Ravi’s privileged Samsung Mobile Outlet. Banaras, June 2010.
      • 10. The art of retail, Part 2. Sales promoters explain features in Ravi’s shop. Banaras, June 2010.
      • 11. The art of retail, Part 3. Nokia display at Samir’s modest shop. Banaras, October 2009.
      • 12. Seasonal work. Sumit came to Samir’s shop to promote Nokia mobiles prior to the Diwali festival in October 2009.
      • 13. ‘Make Distance Vanish’. Cheap calls made long-distance romance possible. 50-paise-per-minute (one US cent). October 2009.
      • 14. Three towers out of 400,000 across India. North side of Delhi. July 2012.
      • 15. Road-side fixer. Lucknow’s Hazratganj. June 2010.
      • 16. Pavement paraphernalia. Mobile-phone gear includes batteries, chargers, cases and more. Delhi. February 2011.
      • 17. Mushrooming industry. Diploma from a mobile-phone repair institute. Banaras. February 2011.
      • 18. ‘Choreography of consumerism’. Nokia’s classy service centres may alienate poor customers. Banaras, October 2009.
      • 19. ‘Nokia laaiif tuuls [life tools]. Valuable information—within your reach’. New Delhi. January 2010.
      • 20. Tied to the state. Getting a SIM card requires filling out a form, attaching a photograph and providing personal details.
      • 21. Sea cells in south India. Kerala fisherman and their phones gained early fame.
      • 22. Banking comes to a shop near you. An EKO bank outlet (large white signboard, top centre) and Fast Moving Consumer Goods. New Delhi. February 2011.
      • 23. Everybody’s doing it. From Airtel’s smooth middle classes to nicely posed rickshaw pedallers. Chandigarh. May 2009.
      • 24. Communication technology, old style. Kanshi Ram, organizational genius of the Bahujan Samaj Party, on a cycle yaatra.
      • 25. SMSing to the faithful. Message to Bahujan Samaj Party workers calling on them to celebrate the 75th birthday of their late founder, Kanshi Ram, in 2009. Blue is the party colour—thus ‘Blue Salute’.
      • 26. Communication technology, Mark II. Akhilesh Yadav takes up Kanshi Ram’s bicycle and adds a mobile phone for the 2012 election campaign in Uttar Pradesh.
      • 27. Communication technology, Mark III. Tribal women send news items to CGNet Swara.
      • 28. Phoning or broadcasting? Tribal woman sends message to SGNet Swara.
      • 29. Buying vegetables? Unsettling society? Mobile phones force families to make choices. Why didn’t she ring her vegetable seller and ask him to deliver? Banaras. October 2009.
      • 30. Who owns the mobile? India’s leading mobile-phone magazine calls itself My Mobile and puts phone-wielding women on its cover. Elsewhere, families agonized about whether women should have phones.
      • 31. A woman with a phone excited some people. Bhojpuri video clip, Mobile Wali: Woman with a Mobile Phone. Singers: Manoj Tiwari, ‘Mridul’ and Trishna. Publisher: WAVE VCD.
      • 32. For some, a phone in a woman’s hand was a disturbing accessory. Mobile Wali: Woman with a Mobile Phone. Singers: Manoj Tiwari, ‘Mridul’ and Trishna. Publisher: WAVE VCD.
      • 33. ‘The Washerwoman with the Mobile Phone’. Cover of DVD entitled Mobile Wali Dhobinaya. Singers: Dinesh Lal Gaundh and Noorjehan. Publisher: GANGA, VCD.
      • 34. Youth market. ‘Adult film star’ Sunny Leone became brand ambassador for Chaze mobiles. Chaze chased younger buyers with the offer of cheap multimedia phones.
      • 35. Terror and an amulet. A burned victim of the Mumbai bombings of 13 July 2011 clutches a connection to aid and succour—his cell phone.
      • 36. Brain tumours, heart attacks, cancer and impotence are some of the things mobile-phone radiation can do to you, according to this advertisement on a men’s toilet in New Delhi in July 2012. Prabhatam, the advertiser, offered ‘radiation-safe mobile solutions’.
      • 37. SIM card throwaways. Discarded telecom goods pose growing challenges. The tiny SIM-circuit portion of these cards has been popped out and inserted in a phone.
      • 38. This adult-sized mound of waste was being picked over by cottage-industry waste-recyclers. Outskirts of New Delhi, 2012.
    • Figures
      • Fig. 1. Phone subscribers in India, 1998–2012, Wireline and Wireless, in millions
    • Tables
      • 1.1. Phone Connections in India, 1947 to 2011
      • 1.2. Items carried by Indian Posts, 2004–05 to 2008–09

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