Smartphones are giving rise to entrepreneurs in the smallest, remotest parts of India and Digital Desh 2.0 is a book that captures this eye-opening journey through a collection of 40 inspiring stories. Take a look
Deepak & Dhanraj, a duo from village Guda Bishnoi, located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, buy and sell antique jeeps and Marwari horses on the popular online marketplace OLX.
Pradeep, a 30 year old Paan shop owner by day and filmmaker by night, hails from Udaipur and is currently using his 88th smartphone. He uses OLX to sell his old phones online.
Sunny Sen from Mandu village in Madhya Pradesh runs a small shop, caved into a wall of a larger store. The man can give you 9 better alternatives to WhatsApp and makes a killing installing apps and songs on his customers’ smartphones.
A portrait of Pradeep, Paan shop owner, owner of 88 phones & OLX seller
These are a few tales from a collection of 40 inspiring stories, emerging from 15 different small towns and villages in India, collected by 5 people who took a 3800 Km long road trip across India, in a span of 18 days. Digital Desh 2.0 is the book that compiles all these stories into one simple, coffee table read, but, the impact of these stories, on a nation that’s at the cusp of digital empowerment, is much larger than one can imagine.
‘Make in India’, ‘Startup India’, ‘Make for India’, combined with the stupendous growth of smartphones and the rise in proliferation of mobile internet in the country, are making for a deadly digital concoction, one that’s sweeping through hundreds of small towns and villages in the country. As per an IAMAI report titled ‘Mobile Internet In India 2016’, The number of mobile internet users in rural areas has more than doubled from 2014 to 2016. Mobile apps are also playing a huge role in engaging these users and providing them with an internet enabled platform to create trade and business opportunities.
According to some interesting insights lent by Digital Desh 2.0, Almost everyone they came across uses a dual-SIM smartphone, with SIM cards from competing service providers, just so they can choose the provider offering best rates and packages at a point in time.
The book also highlights the fact that people spend more on smartphone data than call minutes. This though, does not take away from the fact that a majority of these subjects felt that data prices are high, and are not in sync with smartphones becoming more affordable.
A few more thought provoking insights from the book state lesser known truths about e-commerce buying behaviour in small towns and villages. There still exists a huge trust factor in driving people from such places to shop online. There are also instances where one bad delivery from a website, has resulted in a total boycott of that portal by entire villages. Then there’s also the issue of no last mile e-commerce deliveries to small towns, which forces people to order items to a friend’s address in the nearest city.
These, along with some extremely insightful stories, make for an inspiring read in Digital Desh 2.0, an initiative by Microsoft Ventures backed startup, NowFloats, Google India, IAMAI, iSPIRT, Paytm and AskMe. Such stories not only encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in all of us, but also leave us with a sense of pride and happiness for those who, at one time, were completely disconnected from the wonderful world of the internet.
Image Courtesy: Digital Desh 2.0
Photographer: Ishaan Gupta
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