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Indian Government Mulls Giving Away Mobile Phones To the Poor

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the let-them-eat-phones dept.

Handhelds 104

jalfreize writes "The Indian government is finalizing a $1.2 billion plan to hand out free mobile phones to the poorest Indian families (around six million households, according to some estimates). The Times of India reports: 'Top government managers involved in formulating the scheme want to sell it as a major empowerment initiative... While the move will ensure contact with the beneficiaries of welfare programmes (sic) ..., there is also a view the scheme will provide an opportunity for the (government) to open a direct line of communication with a sizable population that plays an active role in polls.'"

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104 comments

I would guess.. (2)

lordfoul (108260) | about a year and a half ago | (#40928939)

So they can track them and listen in on their calls.

Re:I would guess.. (5, Informative)

William Robinson (875390) | about a year and a half ago | (#40928989)

No. This is done typically in India, just before elections, to make sure the voters forget their inefficiency and incompetency while choosing their leaders. This is nothing, compared to 80000 Crore rupees (US$ 20.8 billion) loan waiver before previous elections.

With the level of corruption in India ... (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929039)

... I won't be surprised if 12 students, in the whole India, ended up getting the free device
 
But of course, they will be photographed and will appear on the front page news tomorrow
 

Re:With the level of corruption in India ... (2, Funny)

hihihihi (940800) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929523)

photographed... just that!?! you are just humiliating us sir!

they will initially be photographed and on front page tomorrow. by evening 5 of the 12 phones will develop some "technical" issue. As this happens, opposition will uproar about the quality of phones. by weekend, there will be a leaked tape circulating in media about backroom deals involved in buying of these phones. Of course, there will be demand for "very high level" enquiry from opposition and govt. critical media types, and ofcource, govt. will try to calm people that there is nothing major and that just a "high level" enquiry should be sufficient. Finally, maybe within next 5-6 years, a "judicial enquiry" will be setup, submitting its first report in next 10-12 years.
in the meantime, by next month, there will be some people on road asking govt. to come clean. after some he said-she said, and some roiting, govt. will decide maybe this needs to be done better. After a loan of 2.4 Billion USD, a study will be done how this should be done better.
Ah! and those 12 students... how can we forgot those poor souls. Complete analysis will be done on what is their caste/ creed/ social group/ religion/ state are. The one less represented have all rights to demand more, including state level strikes. But certainly, the ones which are over-represented will deny the claim saying they are still less and need more phone.

and you think just photographed... talk about knowing other cultures
(Disclaimer: me no govt. employees, so some few issues might have been left out)

Re:With the level of corruption in India ... (2)

punit_r (1080185) | about a year and a half ago | (#40930181)

This is exactly what the GP claims it to be. A populist measure before the election campaigns start. Only difference being that it is happening at the Central Government level instead of being limited to a few state governments till now.

There have been numerous such pre-election promises and surprisingly they work. Few examples [indianexpress.com] in the recent state election in south Indian states for freebies [msn.com]

"Taking the war of freebies to a new high, AIADMK manifesto for April 13 Assembly elections today promised 20 kg of free rice for ration-card holders, laptops for students from classes XI, free fans, mixers and grinders to all and mineral water to BPL families."

"free grinders to 35 kg free rice every month for 1.6 million poor families, free bus passes for senior citizens to free laptops for Dalit engineering students, increase in old age pension to new insurance scheme for fishermen"

Re:I would guess.. (1)

camperslo (704715) | about a year and a half ago | (#40931163)

This is done typically in India, just before elections, to make sure the voters forget their inefficiency and incompetency while choosing their leaders.

A significant percentage of the population doesn't have electricity. I doubt that a free-phone will make them forget that for very long. I suppose those people would also have to be given some sort of solar charger?

Although much has be said about incompetence and insufficient infrastructure related to the recent wide-scale power outages, A few things suggest that many have jumped to conclusions. Here's another possible explanation:

1) They routinely have shorter outages from a practice called "load shedding" (what the U.S. called "rotating outage blocks"), so high demand along with insufficient generating capacity should not cause a grid failure. The frequent outages seen by many are of this non-failure variety.

2) The first outage wasn't at a time of peak demand, being around 2 AM.

3) The outages occurred during a minor geomagnetic storm and the arrival of a CME (coronal mass ejection) that followed a flare event. Storms sometimes may trip protective circuits without major components failing.

4) The last wide-scale outage there was on January 2nd, 2001, also during solar events seen of the previous solar maximum.

Re:I would guess.. (1)

second_coming (2014346) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929509)

Now if they have their heads screwed on they will use this as an opportunity to be able to contact the poorest parts of the community when the next natural disaster happens and hopefully save some lives.

Re:I would guess.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929559)

We do this in America, give them free phones and welfare so they can stay fat n happy. So we can save lives of people who should starve for being lazy wankers and not put men into space, go socialism and lazy Euro ideas!

why is it programmes (sic)? (5, Insightful)

acidfast7 (551610) | about a year and a half ago | (#40928965)

"Programmes" is proper British English.

Re:why is it programmes (sic)? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929469)

In any case, the 'sic' should be in (square) brackets, not parentheses, as: '[sic]', when not part of the original quoted content.

Re:why is it programmes (sic)? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929649)

Indeed. The [sic] here does serve a useful purpose though. It lets us know the submitter is illiterate.

Re:why is it programmes (sic)? (1, Interesting)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929891)

What do you expect from someone who spells his own name wrong?

He probably answers the phone and pretends to be from Newcastle, the fucking cunt.

Re:why is it programmes (sic)? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#40932319)

The [sic] here does serve a useful purpose though. It lets us know the submitter is illiterate

You misspelled "aliterate." If he were illiterate, he wouldn't have been able to write the summary at all. But it doesn't matter, as Mark Twain noted, someone who doesn't read has no advantage over someone who can't read.

Re:why is it programmes (sic)? (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929709)

"Programmes" is proper British English.

I dunno .. its a step up from when I have submitted articles and have had the proper English spelling of words (that were quoted directly from the article) changed to their US spellings.

Re:why is it programmes (sic)? (3, Interesting)

LordSnooty (853791) | about a year and a half ago | (#40930789)

There's an interesting tale behind the word "programme" and its use to describe television or radio shows.

When TV & radio listings were first printed regularly in the (London) Times in the 1930s, the listings were headed thus: "Television and Radio Programmes". But if you read news reports on the topic you'd see that "programme" was used in its traditional sense, i.e. this is a list of the programme of events. The individual shows they struggled to give a name to, as "show" or "series" hadn't gained wide usage (new technology after all).

But eventually that heading stuck and people interpreted it to mean "programmes" as in "a list of programmes on today". So programme gradually gained traction in the UK as the term for an individual edition of a show. Well into the 60s the Times was still heading its listings in the same way, and by then the term was in widespread use.

Of course in later years, the computer program would come into being, and as much of the theory and early development came from the USA, their spelling stuck when describing a set of instructions interpreted by a computer. That almost goes back to the original meaning of a distinct set of events addressed as a whole. But it means that in the UK we are now saddled with "program" to describe a set of computer instructions and "programme" to describe a single edition of a TV or radio show (and indeed a magazine sold at music concerts or sports events, or a set of individual events combined to make a programme).

I'm not sure but I don't think "program" is used heavily in the US to describe TV shows, and it's an interesting example of how new technology can change the use of long-established words, even in just one part of the English-speaking world.

Re:why is it programmes (sic)? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#40931495)

Our space program just rocket skycraned a 6-wheel robot onto Mars.

It had alumnum in it.

Re:why is it programmes (sic)? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#40931529)

I would appreciate it if I would at least spell my spelling-related snarks properly.

Here, I'll helpa Brit out, "You misspelled the metal. It's not 'alumnum' but 'aluminium."

Sigh. I shall slink away now.

Re:why is it programmes (sic)? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40931741)

Woosh!

"programmes (sic)" (5, Informative)

cupantae (1304123) | about a year and a half ago | (#40928967)

"programme" is the British English spelling, and the predominate form outside of North America.

Just so you know.

Re:"programmes (sic)" (2)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about a year and a half ago | (#40932589)

Outside the U.S., you mean. Canadians are closer to British usage than American, and in the English-speaking Caribbean British English is de rigueur.

No electricity... (3, Insightful)

neither_geek_nor_ner (1002460) | about a year and a half ago | (#40928977)

When there is no electricity supply in the villages, this is an innovative way of giving 'power' to the people!

Re:No electricity... (1)

Badger Nadgers (2423622) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929011)

Well, when the elctricity is working to start with - big outage in the north of the country recently? And if you're poor there you may well be tapping into the power lines illegally - try plugging a charger in to those. You'd have thought food, clean water, sanitation and housing would be a bigger priority.

Re:No electricity... (2)

acidfast7 (551610) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929043)

6 million phones is much easier than what you are asking for (sanitation/housing/food supply infrastructure.) In fact, for a few USD/phone (including infrastructure), everyone is connected in manner that occurs by TV in the west (news/weather/warnings by SMS)

Re:No electricity... (5, Interesting)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929167)

Something I found interesting: in rural areas in africa and india there is now such a thing as traveling charger and internet access men.

someone comes round the village once a week with a small generator or similar and often a few other things like a satalite dish and tools for some some repairs to electronics.

He comes round, people pay a few pence to charge their phones or some other small electronics or to send a few emails. (a very important service since it means families can keep in contact when a few of the kids have gone off to work in the cities)

It's hard to organise food, clean water, sanitation and housing without people being able to talk to each other.

Re:No electricity... (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929367)

And yet somehow a couple of dozen countries managed to do just that without 21st century technology.

Re:No electricity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929851)

I've often wondered that too - why did the Age of Enlightenment / Industrial Revolution not occur in Africa? What was the driver in Europe that caused such changes?

Re:No electricity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40930267)

Basically, Europeans aren't niggers.

Re:No electricity... (1)

mathew42 (2475458) | about a year and a half ago | (#40930509)

I wonder if it is the fact that the harsher climate in Europe means that you need shelter to survive winter is the differentiator. This may also explain the difference between northern and southern European countries. This would explain help to explain China, but I'm not sure about the Middle East. If correct, then it may also explain a potential cause behind welfare support programmes often not actually causing transformation.

Re:No electricity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929865)

And it only took them a few thousand years.

Re:No electricity... (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year and a half ago | (#40931911)

and they had those same few thousand years. in fact since it is believed that we all came from africa to begin with they have had even longer to work on the problem

Re:No electricity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929399)

Something I found interesting: in rural areas in africa and india there is now such a thing as traveling charger and internet access men.

Bullshit. There is nothing of the sort here in India. And only a very few places don't have access to electricity in the country.

Don't know about Africa though.

Re:No electricity... (1)

ickleberry (864871) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929131)

Stationary bike generator. One person peddling should be able to charge at least 50 phones at a time

Re:No electricity... (1)

Frohboy (78614) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929253)

When there is no electricity supply in the villages, this is an innovative way of giving 'power' to the people!

A few years ago, I read about a tangentially-related (mobile phones without in-home electricity) situation with Mennonites using cell phones. (Apologies for any factual errors in my recollection below -- it was an article I vaguely remember from reading an in-flight magazine maybe six years ago.)

Like the Amish, the Mennonites are nominally supposed to live simple lives free of modern trappings. However, some Mennonite farmers have devised a rationalization for using cell phones. In particular, they can be really handy to be able to communicate short messages across the fields, without having to trek on foot or by horse. (They had some religious argument, where they didn't really own the phones -- but were just "borrowing" them from outsiders, or some such other way of resolving the cognitive dissonance.) In this article I read, they explained that, while the farmers didn't have electricity in their own homes, they would regularly travel to nearby "modern" shops to sell their produce or buy supplies. While there, they would leave their phones with the shopkeepers to charge up. In theory, the shopkeepers could have charged them a small fee for this service, but usually would just offer it up as a nice way to help their loyal customers.

So, that said, there are ways to charge cell phones without fully electrifying a village. If there's a single, shared charging point (either in a shop or in some public building), it should be enough. Furthermore, it's a lot easier to install a single mobile phone charging station than it is to run power lines and/or land line phone service to the entire village. Strictly speaking, the charging point doesn't even have to be in the village, as long as someone can be trusted to take everyone's free phones to the nearest charging spot (which could be a few hours away) ~once/week.

Re:No electricity... (2)

91degrees (207121) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929329)

Technology itself isn't banned by the Amish. They even use some modern farming equipment. Just that it's pulled by horses. A lot of specific technologies are for various reasons, usually to do with preserving the community or to prevent the sin of pride.

The Amish objection to electricity is primarily that they're opposed to connection to the outside world. They've always been allowed to use phones, but not allowed to have them in the household (i.e. they can go to a public telephone on the edge of the community).

Re:No electricity... (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929355)

Since I happen to live in an area with Mennonites... I'll point out that different communities go to different lengths about 'living simple lives'. Some local groups own cars, tvs, and other things that have a utility purpose. I would bet those ones have cell phones as well.

Other groups are much more Amish (who also live in this area) like and avoid even utility items when something simpler works (radio instead of tv or horse instead of car). Usually the best way to tell an Amish person from a Mennonite is actually clothes. The Amish make their own clothes in the same style they have for generation and their is effectively no customization. Mennonites usually have no issue buying clothes from a store and you can even see them shopping for clothes regularly, though they are unlikely to throw away old clothes that can be repaired.

All that said... Even the Amish are changing in some places... It used to be Amish didn't go to school past 3rd grade, but more recently I've seen Amish teenagers going to high school. Those kids even look more like Mennonites as they will wear modern clothes while away from the farm.

Re:No electricity... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#40930391)

One place I worked at contracted with a group of Mennonites that did ASP software development.

So yeah, there is a VERY wide range of technology they tolerate.

Re:No electricity... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#40930357)

It doesn't cost very much to put up a station for charging DC devices through solar. They have plenty of solar power.

That hasn't stopped the Kenyans (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | about a year and a half ago | (#40932485)

No Electricity AND No coverage! yet Kenyans[1] in those out ward places still use mobile phones, and are better off with them.

****

First, the logistics. The farmers send a boy to the nearest city with electricity and coverage, on a bicycle carrying all their cellphones. He leaves them to charge at one of the various charges stations that have popped up there, which ask for a few cents per charge.

Then the boy can reply to any SMS as per instruction. Also, he carries out M-Pesa[2] transactions and reloads them on their behalf.

He comes back at the end of the day, cellphones charged and loaded, and full of new SMS, which the farmers can read and create replies for.

And then it's a fresh new day, and boy sets off again....

****

Secondly, the reasons. Basically, the cellphone has become combination of a telegram and wallet.

The SMS acts as a telegram, farmer can communicate with market dealers in big cities far more quickly and easily, then they could have if they had to rely on older means, which meant trudging all the over multiple forms of transportation, often just for a minor piece of information.

The other is the mobile wallet. While you folk in the west have been quibbling over how to slice the pie (and we in the east are just to damn stupid to care) Africans just said "Fuck this!", went ahead and created a true, and *simple* mobile wallet solution. Now farmers can send and receive money far more quickly and easily.

The best part of the article[2]:

The growth of the service forced formal banking institutions to take note of the new venture. In December 2008, a group of banks reportedly lobbied the Kenyan finance minister to audit M-Pesa, in an effort to at least slow the growth of the service. This ploy failed, as the audit found that the service was robust.[15]

Ha! In your face suckers! Now try charging 150 to send a 100! (true story, banks here ask a minimum 150 for a bank draft :( )

****

So, in reply to the common refrain of "WAHHH NO ELECTRICITY", I humbly propose that where there is a will, there is a way to find that power source.

I am under no presumption that this is *not* merely and election ploy, or that there won't be massive corruption.

However, if even if one poor soul gets a dumbphone, and that phone saves him the regular commute to a bigger city just to hear "SEND 150 CRATES BY TUESDAY", I think that would a be a job well done

****

If you wish to know more please read this article and watch the videos there in:

http://conversations.nokia.com/2011/02/02/eyes-on-africa-videos-12/ [nokia.com]

http://conversations.nokia.com/2011/02/03/eyes-on-africa-videos-22/ [nokia.com]

Lest I be accused of being a Nokia shill, I merely linking because this happens to be a nice collective resource on this issue; you can benefit just as well on a Samsung dumb phone.

Also, IIRC, Chinese crap-phones were selling by the bucket-loads there, since if all you need them is for SMS, they are very cost affective.

****
****

[1]:Not limited to Kenyans of course, this is becoming popular all over Africa and other regions with poor communication.

[2]: "a mobile-phone based money transfer service"; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-Pesa [wikipedia.org]

They are creating jobs (1)

Cute and Cuddly (2646619) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929015)

Someone will have to manufacture the six million phones, batteries, sim cards and power adapters.....

Re:They are creating jobs (3, Insightful)

million_monkeys (2480792) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929225)

Someone will have to manufacture the six million phones, batteries, sim cards and power adapters.....

How thoughtful of India to create all those jobs for Chinese children.

Most likely someone is getting paid (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929091)

like similar programs in the US, some politician is setting themselves up to get something back. Where in the US it is in the form of campaign contributions given the graft and out right corruption in India I would not doubt there is a whole chain of companies and politicians just giddy with this proposal.

Far too many programs which help the poor merely use their backs and nothing is really done to not keep them poor

HOW ABOUT PAVING THE ROADS FIRST !! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929179)

It's like Alabama there !!

Re:HOW ABOUT PAVING THE ROADS FIRST !! (1)

isorox (205688) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929359)

It's like Alabama there !!

Why? These people can't afford mobile phones, do you really think they can afford a car, or the petrol to get somehwere, or even have a need?

India has an extensive train network, and cheap domestic flights.

Re:HOW ABOUT PAVING THE ROADS FIRST !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40931165)

Flights aren't that cheap. I grew up upper-middle class in India and didn't step on a plane until I was 23 and travelling to the U.S. for school. I couldn't afford it.

Re:HOW ABOUT PAVING THE ROADS FIRST !! (1)

will_die (586523) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929659)

But why would American poor want to give up thier smart phones?

good post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929181)

what Eleanor responded I'm in shock that someone can earn $6241 in 1 month on the computer. have you seen this website http://qikr.co/7nn9m

(sic) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929205)

what's with these Wanker's who quote an article then correct it with a '(sic)'. So the original article had a spellen (sic) mistake, who gives a fcuk (sic) . Live with it. We don't care that you know your proper English. Live with it wanker

Re:(sic) (3, Informative)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929219)

what's with these Wanker's who quote an article then correct it with a '(sic)'. So the original article had a spellen (sic) mistake, who gives a fcuk (sic) . Live with it. We don't care that you know your proper English. Live with it wanker

Its not even a mistake, its British English

Re:(sic) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929325)

That's wankers, not Wanker's. If you're planning to troll the language police, at least get the bits right that you don't deliberately get wrong.

Re:(sic) (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929333)

what's with these Wanker's who quote an article then correct it with a '(sic)'. So the original article had a spellen (sic) mistake, who gives a fcuk (sic) . Live with it. We don't care that you know your proper English. Live with it wanker

Its not even a mistake, its British English

Heh, its funny when spelling nazis slip up ... and just to piss them off even more: British English == proper English.

Re:(sic) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929237)

Actually, in this case it seems they don't know proper English

I just wonder how many handed out to Muslims (-1, Flamebait)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929233)

I just wonder how many handed out to Muslim families will end up triggering an explosive device

Re:I just wonder how many handed out to Muslims (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929279)

Probably a lot less than the percentage of bigoted bellends on Slashdot who think Muslim = Terrorist

Empower the poor! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929265)

Because giving them a phone is so much more important than giving them food, water, sanitation, healthcare, education, electricity, roads

Re:Empower the poor! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929361)

It is if you want to tell people how to vote.

India is the largest feudal nation ever disguised as democratic. At least it started caring for the people up to the '70s when it started showing signs of socialism, but the neoliberal disease put a stop to that.

Re:Empower the poor! (1)

badfish99 (826052) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929725)

It's important for politicians to ensure that voters in poor countries to have mobile phones. Their use has revolutionized democratic elections in many countries.

Before, when a politician bought your vote, you had no way to prove how you actually voted. So the politicians had to trust the people to vote the way they were told.

Now, when the politician visits your village, you just show him the picture you took of your voting paper on your mobile phone in order to collect your bribe.

this is coming everywhere (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929381)

finances, voting, wallet replacement, identification: it is all converging onto cell phones

therefore, for any country concerned with social justice (I guess this excludes the USA then) the poor must have a supplemented device

Stupid Indian government (2, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#40929383)

The Indian government is solely responsible for the poverty in India at this point - all the insane rules and regulations prevent people from investing in India. Starting a business in India is ridiculously difficult compared to other parts of Asia, especially China. Indian government is extremely corrupt in a way that prevents competition and prevents business.

Government "providing phones to the poor" - what a ridiculous concept.

Do you know who is the best to provide for the poor? The businessmen who are looking for profit. How come the phones were impossible to own when it was a government monopoly with AT&T for most of the last century, but then when the gov't allowed the competition, all of a sudden the people could finally own phones, phones became cheap, ubiquitous, there were all these new features. From answering machines and radio phones to buttons on the phones, different colours (not just your beige). Eventually fax machines, modems and cell phones and now smart phones.

Everybody has more than one phone, while the first cell phones could only be afforded by the top wealthiest individuals, who could pay a few thousand bucks for one and then hundreds or thousands per month in usage fees.

Cell phones are so cheap today, if competition and business was actually allowed to exist in a FREE market (without government interference) in India, there would be even cheaper phones there, maybe a few dollars for a phone, maybe 1 dollar, who knows.

Government is going to do it? How? It's NOT going to create a better cheaper phone, it's going to pay more for some existing phone, it's going to give some monopoly license to some company that has people in government and it's going to overpay obviously, while interfering with the free market further, reducing the competition with this government subsidy.

Eventually the people in India won't PAY for the cell phone, so it means almost no cell phone retailer will exist in India, and so the cell phones in India will be ridiculously expensive - subsidised by taxes and inflation, borrowing (taxes + interest) and so instead of a couple of bucks for a phone it will be the destruction of economy.

Well, they won't destroy the economy just with this program, it's what they do overall that is the same thing as with these phones that will prevent their economy from rising.

Poverty in India? It's the government that causes is, like all poverty around the world. It's the governments of those nations that cause it and prevent it from being reduced by the competition, free market, vibrant businesses started by individual entrepreneurs without gov't interference.

Nah, Indian government is really smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40930131)

This is a smart gesture to secure votes. With secured votes come power. With power comes profit. We all know that profit is the most important thing.

Other people's poverty don't matter. What matters is profit - your own profit. Indian government is not responsible for other people's poverty. They are responsible for their own profits. And they probably have a good chance to profit by giving away phones to the poor, otherwise they wouldn't be considering it.

Giving phone to the poor may be a ridiculous concept to YOU, but that's because you lack the economies of scale or the skills or knowledge the Indian government possess. They most likely have a plan to profit out of it (again, otherwise they wouldn't be considering it)

It's not a complicated strategy: sell cheap/give it away to secure market share, then use market share to make profits back later. Not every company can do that, but this is government we're talking about so they can do a whole lot more.

What would be stupid is if the Indian government figured out a way to profit by giving phones to poor people, but then choose NOT to do it. They would be denying themselves profits.

Re:Nah, Indian government is really smart (0)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#40930413)

Giving phone to the poor may be a ridiculous concept to YOU, but that's because you lack the economies of scale or the skills or knowledge the Indian government possess

- you fully missed that point in my comment that addresses this exactly - somebody will be a monopoly phone provider in India, they'll make a killing, the government officials connected to them will make a killing. They will kill the economy of-course.

--

It's like with any government regulation. How about minimum wage? This regulation prevents people from finding jobs and prevents many jobs from appearing. There can be plenty of jobs that people without skills and experience could do for a year or two before moving on, while living in their parent's basements. How many are stuck on welfare because it actually DOES provide a more comfortable existence than a job at a low wage?

Think about it from POV of the employer - they are not allowed to take a better offer.

Turn the tables around, imagine the same law applied to employee. So this would mean there is a MAXIMUM pay that one cannot go above. You are getting an offer for more money, government says: sorry, you can't have it, you can't take it, that job doesn't have the right to exist and you have no right taking it.

It's the same exact thing applied in reverse to the employer: you are getting a better offer for labour from somebody? Sorry, you can't have it. You are not allowed to take that better offer, in fact to prevent better offers in the first place, we are going to tax you and we are going to give money that we taxed you for to people so that they wouldn't even give you better offers.

Every law and regulation that is imposed by the government rather than by the free market is there to serve the politicians, not the economy at all.

Re:Nah, Indian government is really smart (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#40930505)

Please provide one study that shows this is true about minimum wage... because every study I have ever seen says exactly the opposite.

Re:Nah, Indian government is really smart (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#40930581)

Study of what? What are you talking about? Minimum wage prevents jobs from appearing that cannot exist at such a high level. Is anybody wiping your windshield or bagging your groceries? How many live phone operators do you see instead of an answering machine? What about all those call centre jobs that went to Asia?

Do you know what the highest tax bracket is? Going from paying 0 taxes to paying any amount above it. Giving up leisure for work? Why? You have to be paid maybe 4 times the minimum wage to get off welfare, otherwise it doesn't make any sense.

Re:Nah, Indian government is really smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40931337)

- you fully missed that point in my comment that addresses this exactly - somebody will be a monopoly phone provider in India, they'll make a killing, the government officials connected to them will make a killing. They will kill the economy of-course.

I did not miss your point at all. I just ignored your point because my point trumps yours. It doesn't matter if the economy is killed. It doesn't matter what the consequences are for minimum wage or free phones or whatever regulation they come up with.

What matters is, as you admitted here, that somebody will make a killing. It's profit. Profit is the only thing that matters. Profit is telling those monopolies and government officials that whatever they're doing is good, and should keep doing.

So as long as the monopolies and politicians still make profit, they'll keep doing what they're doing. The economy can crumble. People can go poor. People can stay unemployed. None of that is affecting their profits. Maybe it will in the future, but until that day comes, they won't stop.

It would be stupid for them to stop. They would be walking away from potential profits. So what they're doing - doing the most profitable thing for them to do - is smart.

Re:Nah, Indian government is really smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40930433)

The goverment will profit because the elected leaders will be able to send texts and robot calls. What India needs isn't phone or internet or anything it doesn't have physically. What it needs is more honest from the top and down. Hell, we could use that too. look at this program to give voter registration forms to people receiving "help form the goverment" [bostonglobe.com] The problem with goverment is that it does what is in the individuals working and in power of the goverment perceived best interest.

Re:Stupid Indian government (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#40930469)

Yeah! How DARE they not allow corporations to walk all over them!

Re:Stupid Indian government (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#40930655)

'corporations walk all over', yeah, nobody will have anybody 'walk over' them, they'll be stuck in perpetual poverty because nobody will hire them and the economy won't ever grow because there will be no people with purchasing power, because people will be living on subsidies, but nobody will be 'walking over them'.

Re:Stupid Indian government (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#40930583)

What you'll find is that the vast majority of phone companies support measures designed to bring in additional phone users that don't cost them money.

The concept here is "Network effect", and every phone company, no matter how small, benefits from being part of a large network where every potential customer knows that buying a phone gives them access to more than a rich minority.

Oh, and most of your argument consists of the slippery slope falacy - which is exactly what it is. Virtually every modern nation requires subsidized phone services be provided for the poor. None, to the best of my knowledge, have resulted in any companies becoming monopolies.

Oh and if it's impossible to start a business in India, why, exactly, are they kicking our asses? How is it that white collar jobs are being outsourced there? Is there a "Secretary of Call Centers and Software Development" position within the government running a giant, nationalized, call center/software development company? India seems to be doing pretty well for a country that spent 200+ years being fucked over by my ancestors.

Re:Stupid Indian government (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#40930631)

India isn't kicking your ass, the laws in India actually prevent competition.

The other part of the world where this is a huge problem is South Africa. They have over 24% unemployment and it's all due to the labour market regulations and the government is coming up with more and more, saying: it's hard to find a job, so we'll make it even harder by telling employers that they now have to provide their temporary employees with the same benefits that their permanent employees get.

So there will be much fewer temps hired. They were using temps specifically because it was so hard to hire people in the first place.

Do you know what makes it hard to hire people? Government regulations, like regulations about what compensation and benefits are supposed to be, all types of legislation that gives employees specific gov't power to sue based on various laws, making it very difficult to fire people.

Do you know what really prevents hiring? Inability to fire.

Re:Stupid Indian government (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#40930997)

India isn't kicking your ass, the laws in India actually prevent competition.

No, they're kicking our asses. Even now. Even in the middle of a fucking depression in the US with people willing to work for peanuts, and corporations making record profits, jobs are being outsourced to India.

That's a fact, and saying they don't because of a theoretical concept that is clearly untrue is a really dumb thing to say. It's an insult not just to people stating the obvious, but also to the numerous people who have lost jobs because of the trend, as well as the hardworking and entrepreneurial Indian people themselves who have made such a success of things.

I appreciate self-described "economists" have a habit of making sweeping statements of fact based on stuff they think should be true in theory, but that's not an excuse. Whether it's "I'm going to assert that jobs aren't being outsourced to India because I don't like the Indian economy" or "People of a certain race are lazy, but that's OK because it's caused by discrimination", if you don't take steps to verify that your assertion is true first, you're going to go down a very silly path. Good economists check the results match their theories, and adjust accordingly. Bad economists ignore reality, and ought to (but fuck me are Austrian and Chicago economists taken too seriously these days) lose credibility as a result.

Re:Stupid Indian government (0)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#40931069)

India is not China, you have no idea what you are talking about. India is having massive problems, it has no competition, it has no economic growth to speak of. Yes, many jobs are done by Indians that otherwise could have been done by Americans or others, but Americans and others have priced themselves out of those jobs, but this specifically does not mean that India is kicking ass of America.

Now, who IS kicking American ass is China. It's China, Hong Kong, Singapore, even Myanmar. Switzerland actually.

Do you know how the liberals like to talk about Scandinavia, because supposedly Scandinavia is socialist? Scandinavian countries don't live on deficit and don't grow their debt. Scandinavian countries have a balanced budget, because 20 years ago they went through massive crises and since then they've been moving away from socialism (too slowly of-course, but they have the right direction).

But again - they have no deficit spending, they aren't living on debt, they are PAYING for what they are using, and that's not your 'socialist' model.

People of a certain race are lazy, but that's OK because it's caused by discrimination

- if any people are lazy, it's only because they are made lazy by the government subsidies, nothing else.

Keynesians aren't economists, they are to economics what astrologist are to astronomy.

Re:Stupid Indian government (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#40931203)

India is not China, you have no idea what you are talking about.

India isn't France either. What the fuck does China have to do with anything?

India is having massive problems, it has no competition, it has no economic growth to speak of.

The Indian economy grew by 6.5% for the 2011-12 fiscal year. [wikipedia.org] It's seen record growth throughout the mid-2000s - at a time when the US economy has had meager growth at its best.

Basically you're living in a fantasy world. You've decided India can't succeed, therefore you refuse to believe it is and even assert, constantly, it isn't, even when it is.

I'd advise you to read the above link, check the sources, and educate yourself, but you won't. You've already decided that your economic model of the world makes anything written on the page unpossible. That's very, very, sad. But if you step back a moment, and start checking whether your models work, and more importantly, try to determine why they fail when they fail and adjust those models accordingly, you might actually do yourself some good and not look like a swivel-eyed ideologue when you post this stuff.

Re:Stupid Indian government (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#40931363)

Indian economy didn't grow just like US economy didn't grow specifically because of inflation that is under-reported and thus is not used to reduce the GDP, which makes the number meaningless. Nobody is coming to India to invest, that's my point.

India can succeed, but it will not succeed as long as it has the type of government that is regulating as heavily as it is doing today. I don't need links, I know what I am talking about from personal experience, not from links.

Re:Stupid Indian government (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934049)

That depends on your definition of "kicking our asses". The US economy is 36 times as productive per capita as Indian economy (US per capita GDP: $48,000, India's: $1,300).

Looking at the growth rate is misleading as you can't compare the growth rate in a developed economy (where the growth comes from marginal improvements in productivity) with a developing ones like India and China where the growth comes from moving population from medieval subsistence work which has no impact on GDP to a modern types of work that do. Both India's and China's economies are hideously inefficient compared to the US but they have a lot of people still to move from completely inefficient to only somewhat efficient work and that is where the growth comes from.

The proper comparison when it comes to GDP growth would be between India and China and China kicks India's ass very badly indeed. The reason, as roman_mir suggests, is the much quicker pace of adapting market capitalism by the Chinese government than by the Indian government.

Re:Stupid Indian government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40936805)

The proper comparison when it comes to GDP growth would be between India and China and China kicks India's ass very badly indeed. The reason, as roman_mir suggests, is the much quicker pace of adapting market capitalism by the Chinese government than by the Indian government.

No, comparing to the US is very appropriate, as roman_mir would gladly do the same, and compare China to the US, and tell us China is kicking US ass and it's all government's fault

Re:Stupid Indian government (1)

Achilles123 (2598891) | about a year and a half ago | (#40932009)

Yeah,because giving corporations a free run has never gone wrong in the past.

Re:Stupid Indian government (0)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#40932191)

Actually when government wasn't meddling with individuals doing business in USA, the country became the largest manufacturer, exporter and thus creditor nation in the world. People were paying for what they needed to buy out of pocket, everybody was becoming more affluent while the dollar was gaining value (so the ever feared deflation).

That was before Fed, IRS, FDIC, FDA, FHA, EPA, CIA, FBI, FAA, FCC, HUD, F&F, dep't of education, energy, commerce, interior, agriculture, small business. It was before SS, Medicare, Medicaid, EI, welfare, SNAP (food stamps), etc.etc.

It was before gov't stole even more money through printing, borrowing, it was before gov't meddled with infrastructure. Infrastructure was built that made Americans more productive, not the type of infrastructure that didn't make sense except from point of view of political power.

It was before the undeclared wars.

What governments should be in order to preserve freedoms and allow people to build vibrant economy is not what socialists want to sell, which is the exact opposite - destruction of individual freedoms, command economy and ever growing government.

Re:Stupid Indian government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40935167)

Actually when government wasn't meddling with individuals doing business in USA, the country became the largest manufacturer, exporter and thus creditor nation in the world. People were paying for what they needed to buy out of pocket, everybody was becoming more affluent while the dollar was gaining value (so the ever feared deflation).

Actually, the USA became the largest manufacturer, exporter, and creditor nation when both state and federal regulations meddled in the affairs of individuals, creating discriminatory regulation against the Chinese immigrants (and probably other people as well, but just the Chinese alone did a lot), helping businesses find cheap labor to do jobs nobody else would have (and the Chinese often do a better job for a cheaper price, which is a double plus)

And this practice is continued to this day, the main difference being the captains of industry ("robber barons" in the past, corporate CEOs in the present) are moving their business operations to the Chinese workers instead of waiting for Chinese workers to come to their operations in the US

It was before gov't stole even more money through printing, borrowing, it was before gov't meddled with infrastructure. Infrastructure was built that made Americans more productive, not the type of infrastructure that didn't make sense except from point of view of political power.

Nah, government was perfectly fine with borrowing money to build infrastructure [wikipedia.org] . They even gave away land for that purpose.

The infrastructure was productive and the borrowed money were paid off, because again - they had a supply of cheap Chinese labor to minimize cost and increase production.

US's rise is nothing new. Almost every successful empire is setup to have two classes: the privileged upper class who do all the cool and fun jobs, maybe don't even have a job and have time for leisure. They represent the greatness of the empire. They speak for the empire. The empire in return does things in their favor.

Then there's the underclass: the slaves, the second class citizens, the non-people. They do the other jobs the upper class wouldn't do themselves: the not-fun, not-cool, ugly, dirty, crappy jobs. Their crappy lives do no mar the empire's greatness. They don't speak for the empire, and we don't speak about them (unless they manage to break out and become part of the upper class, then they're a shining example of how fair the empire is, for they even a slave can rise up)

The belief that "free market capitalism" led to US's rise is highly inaccurate. The US was a rising empire, just like many others that came before it.

Re:Stupid Indian government (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#40932393)

Oh, and by the way, before I get out of here and before somebody posts a nonsense comment about 'robber barons' and freedoms for women and children, etc.

'robber barons' - captains of industry, people who created entire industries, people whose 'crime' was that they were successful at what they were doing while others weren't prevented from doing the same with government regulations. 'robber barons' - people who made America into the rich nation that it became after the Civil war and before 1913.

Children - who were always working. Child labour was as old as the humanity, and no amount of desire, no amount of gov't decree can change it, same as with these mobile phones.

What changed it? Capitalism and free market industrialisation of the economy changed it. The parents of the children became affluent enough, in other words they became productive enough based on the capital that was used to invest in the tools and education by the rich investors, so that these parents didn't have to send their kids to work.

All the government nonsense rules come around only as the actual politics of the question change, when it becomes POPULAR to talk about such things, it becomes a trend, that children didn't have to work anymore, and of-course the few outliers allow the politicians to pretend to solve a non-existing problem and make matters worse.

So if the free market capitalism removed 90% of children from work force, but 10% were still working because their parents didn't yet become productive enough to afford not to send children to work, the politicians then sense blood, step in and prevent these families from having that extra income, which they obviously needed.

Almost no parent wants to send his or her child to work before they are grown enough, and this doesn't have to be dictated to the parents. The liberal agenda is that the parents are stupid and greedy, and their kids have to be 'saved'. Well, as always all agenda backfires, and eventually the government that grows too big on issues like this, destroys the economy and the children WILL be going to work again, because their parents wouldn't be able to afford to put food on the tables, and that's what is happening today.

You are watching it happening right now, and this has nothing to do with 'corporations having a free run', this has to do with destruction of individual liberty that creates the enormous government, which takes away more liberty and creates more government, and this is a vicious cycle, and this destroys the economy, and children WILL be going back to work and the tide that used to lift all boats will go away and the boats will get stuck in the mud.

Re:Stupid Indian government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40936069)

the free market capitalism removed 90% of children from work force

There are a lot of kids in Eastern and Southeastern Asia who would disagree with that notion.
 
 

this has to do with destruction of individual liberty that creates the enormous government, which takes away more liberty and creates more government

Do you just insert this rant in every message you write now, regardless of whether it makes any sense in the context? Granted it has no basis in reality, but you do love to repeat it nonetheless.
 
 

and children WILL be going back to work

That part you have right - at least, it will be right if your lord was elected president and had his ways. Thankfully there are thinking people in this country who will ensure that does not happen.

Edible Case ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40929767)

most practical might be a Granola Case.

jr

Oh momma! (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#40931149)

Oh momma! Thank Vishnu our leaders had the forsight to distribute these phones to curb the hunger of our impoverished. It's a little crunchy, but boil it long enough and it softens up some.

Someday we will all be REQUIRED to have one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40931965)

For our own protection, of course. With GPS, of course. With an NSA back door, of course. And they will be required to be on all the time, of course.

banking (1)

bcrowell (177657) | about a year and a half ago | (#40932375)

In East Africa, there's a money transfer service called M-Pesa [wikipedia.org] that is home-grown and wildly popular. It uses cell phones, and everywhere you go there are green shops and kiosks that allow you to put in or take out cash. A lot of the people using it have never had a bank account before, and may never have one. From this point of view, a cell phone is more of a necessity and not a toy as it is in the U.S.

For telephony, a lot of the third world leapfrogged over land-lines and went straight to cell phones.

Brilliant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40934743)

Briliiant! Hopefully they this and the direct voting technology will trickle down to the less developed world. Like the US

Obama's administration did this last year (1)

acoustix (123925) | about a year and a half ago | (#40934837)

"Last year, a federal program paid out $1.6 billion to cover free cell phones and the monthly bills of 12.5 million wireless accounts. The program, overseen by the FCC and intended to help low-income Americans, is popular for obvious reasons, with participation rising steeply since 2008, when the government paid $772 million for phones and monthly bills.

http://moneyland.time.com/2012/02/08/how-to-get-the-government-to-cover-your-cell-phone-bills/ [time.com]

This is bullshit. We should not be paying for phones, TV, Internet access, etc. All we do is add more and more people to government programs. When was the last time that the US government had a successful program to get people off of government assistance?

We cannot continue down this path. It is not sustainable.

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