Currently, I am riding on a briskly cool coach bus on our way from Agra to our next destination, Jaipur. With a large portion of my family living in New Mexico, I’ve grown to love road trips so I’m incredibly excited about this journey. The cities are jammed packed and the rural areas are lush and green. This is a remarkable road trip and one that I will never forget.
Our exceptional guide, Madan, is so full of knowledge that I feel like we are getting an unprecedented audio tour of rural India in between cities and towns. The small shops and restaurants in between towns and cities are remarkably similar to what one would see on any road trip in America. However, what is amazing is the profusion of wireless storefronts that I see in the most remote areas. Small roadside stops are branded with notable wireless communication companies including Vodaphone, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and LG.
In his presentation on our first full-day in India, Professor Atul Tandan shared that there are 826 million cellphone users in India. According to The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the spread of wireless devices among the poor is proof of a market rife with opportunity at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP). According to C.K. Prahalad, the technology of wireless connectivity is allowing for the bottom of the pyramid to engage in a dialogue with each other and brands. Additionally, wireless connectivity allows BOP consumers to establish new patterns of communication away from their villages. As a result, BOP consumers are quickly finding avenues of communication to let brands know of the products and services BOP consumers demand to fulfill their wants and needs.
Armed with this information, I cannot help but disagree with those who argue that technology is driving us apart. In fact, India is a prime example of how technology is a powerful tool that could potentially eradicate poverty and move more people into the consumer class. In my time here in India, I’ve seen poverty like I’ve never seen before. However, the power the poor possess to make a substantial impact on India’s developing economy is unprecedented.