Ravi Agrawal | INDIA CONNECTED – How the Smartphone is Transforming the World’s Largest Democracy
An immersive, sweeping, and sharp-eyed look at the creative and disruptive effect the internet is having on India.
“A remarkable work of non-fiction…a fascinating and very well-written account of the ways in which the smartphone is transforming every aspect of Indian life, from marriage to politics, and not always for the better…. India Connected is a must-read for everyone who is interested in contemporary India.” —Amitav Ghosh, author of Sea of Poppies and The Great Derangement
As always with India, the numbers stagger: in 2000, 20 million Indians had access to the internet; by 2017, 465 million were online, with three Indians discovering the internet every second. In the course of a single generation, access to the internet has progressed from dial-up connections on PCs, to broadband access, wireless, and now 4G data on phones.
The rise of low-cost smartphones and cheap data plans has meant the country leapfrogged the baby steps their Western counterparts took toward digital fluency. The results can be felt in every sphere of life, upending traditions and challenging conventions. Nothing is untouched, from arranged marriages to social status to business start-ups, as smartphones move the entire economy from cash-based to credit-based.
Access to the internet is affecting the progress of progress itself. As Agrawal shows, while smartphones offer immediate and sometimes mind-altering access to so much for so many, they create no immediate utopia in a culture still riven by poverty, a caste system, gender inequality, illiteracy, and income disparity. Under a government keen to control content, it has created tensions. And in a climate of hypernationalism, it has fomented violence and even terrorism. The influence of smartphones on the world’s largest democracy is nonetheless pervasive and irreversible, and India Connected illuminates both its dimensions and its implications.