Urbanization is a subjective concept and has a different meaning in every individual’s mind; but what remains common is the idea that urbanization defines a change in the way people think, live, and interact.
All those of you who have studied Sociology must be well aware of how urbanization is changing the rural landscape, as the latter expands to merge into urban areas. What is more interesting is the ‘city lifestyle’ which is redefining the way rural folks live.
I’d like to look at the business side first – with SEZs (Special Economic Zones) being set up across the remote regions in the country, the rural population has not only been blessed with employment opportunities, but also higher wages and a better standard of living. A majority of the people who migrate from rural to urban areas do so for the job opportunities that cities have to offer. But with BPOs and manufacturing units setting up shop next door, the rural youth don’t seem to be complaining. In fact, the BPOs have started a new trend in rural India, one which prevailed in the metros, and then trickled down to the tier II and III cities – earning enough money not only to support family needs, but also to engage oneself in small indulgences. The income earned is also giving many the opportunity to study further with the money they save up.
The rural business story also has another side, where some of the biggest retail and FMCG brands have opened their chains in rural and remote areas, because as urban markets reach their peak, and begin to stabilize, rural India is on a high. As technology penetrates into the semi-urban and non-urban regions, and TV sets, PCs and mobile phones enter rural homes, there is an increase in the way that individuals and families are emulating the lifestyle of city people.
From a consumer’s perspective, people in rural India have enough reasons to smile; after all, they are the next billion users of every product and service that companies across sectors have to offer. The economic slowdown has accelerated this development, as even the biggest corporate houses are eyeing the domestic market. In all this, the telecom industry is one of the few that has already touched lives in rural India, mainly because it was one of the first sectors to realize the potential that the untapped rural market held.
Rural urbanization can not only ease the pressure of surplus labour in rural areas and change the way India lives, but it also curbs the flow of rural laborers into big cities and helps stimulate national economic development.
So, where is your next business venture headed?
Mobile phone subscriptions increased 100 fold between 1990 and 2002. Despite this massive increase, the largest uncovered territories on the 1990 map remained the largest on the 2002 map.
Why? Simply because focus has been on expanding coverage in urban, high-density areas. And because the appropriate infrastructure has been lacking.
Growth has continued exponentially since 2002, but billions are still unconnected for the same reasons. This is exactly what Microtelecom will change.
Have a look at the map: Cellular Subscribers 2002 »
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