Sunday, June 12

Text-Me-Not

I would stop short of calling myself a gadget geek. I do, however, have a deep-rooted belief in Technology's game-changing abilities - at work and otherwise. This, coupled with a proclivity towards things new, often leads me to play early adopter to techie products and concepts. One such acquaintance I made in the late 90s was text messaging. In fact, I evangelized its discreet convenience, referable memory etc, compared to here-and-now voice calls to anyone who cared to listen (in context, it helped that it was free vs steeply priced airtime!); and remain an above average user to this day.

I must add that I did not register in the first wave of DNC, even if sympathetic to the indignation on unwanted calls. My reasons were largely professional. At its root, the credo of open communication (read taking calls from unknown numbers) was an occupational hazard. In reality, it was a goldmine of information - it helped me get bad news (the variety you want to know ASAP) promptly more than once, plus rudimentary competitive intelligence; not to forget insights best derived from listening to the occasional irate customer! All of this strengthened my resolve to stick it out amidst the onslaught of sundry telemarketers.

Unfortunately, it seems to be going from bad to worse. It is almost an incipient reality of modern life that text-messaged advertisements carpet-bomb your Inbox every day. Pesky calls too, after an initial decline, have reared their head again. The vanguard is clearly SMS though, and the biggest violator real estate firms and agents: I am subject to a dozen messages daily, in complete disregard of my tenuous pecuniary state! The bulk of these supposedly fantastic property deals are in assorted parts of Delhi NCR; but interspersed are offers from Jaipur's Tonk Road, plots in Uttarakhand hills, down to faraway Mysore and back-of-beyond. It makes me wonder if only geographic bounds have been transcended or those of sanity too. Or perhaps it is my middle class upbringing that limits me to imagine an investor class that takes large realty investment decisions basis an SMS exchange!

The uninvited texts wear other colours too. In fact had it not been for the glaring segmentation error (maybe they score intention, not ability, explanation for ignoring my financial position) in real estate ads, or those ridiculous friendship helplines, I would have thought a grand design in peddling me travel packages, hairfall cure (ouch) or zero-effort, fat-removal therapy (I even got one for 10 yr US visa in 10 days/10K from some arbit Churchgate agent last week)! Frankly, if only less prolific, it would have been funny.

Think a broader context and the seeming helplessness of the Indian consumer to overcome this mess does add to general scam-season discontent. True to form, an irresolute, blundering UPA-2 has little to tell beyond a revised-twice-yet-missed 31 Mar deadline. With public attention on other more ignominious spectacles, they have actually been able to get away without saying almost anything. In fact, with declared intentions to snoop on all voice-data exchanges in the country (recall the BlackBerry tangle), the Government can hardly argue that policy formulation or erecting filter infrastructure are insurmountable asks. Likewise, alloting a special telemarketing code for landlines, or cracking down on rogue telecom companies that continue to sell bulk SMS deals should not be too tough to execute. Yet, the ongoing specatcle of DoT-TRAI ping-pong on the issue inspires little confidence in their appreciation for the task at hand or seriousness of their commitment to it.

No one, of course, can fault the Government if it avers that implementing a foolproof DNC (or do-call) registry, including critical security pieces, is a complex exercise. I am just not sure why it should remain open-ended and a shifting goalpost (which sounds counter-intuitive in the context of technology). The nation needs a quantifiable plan. Or perhaps Mr Sibal needs to be text-blitzed to know this...

1 comments:

JD said...

Got the link today and possibly my first attempt at blogging .Could relate to each of the posts here. Being a true blue mumbaikar, and with my regular exposure to bollywood/stock markets couldnt resist combining a couple of earlier posts with the lastest post.
While looking at an earlier post the movie which i believe was missed and completely understated + a response to all the posts here is "Wednesday".Could relate to a lot of hard hitting pieces in the movie "especially where the protaganist asks whether he should wait till one of his kin is killed before he takes actions against all the crazy stuff out there.

Lets be frank how many of us actually support any of the movements /causes that are supposed to be for public good.Thanks to the latest rounds of fasts we have even stopped trusting the possible few who are trying to make a difference.

Frankly until we get over the "am fine as long as it doesnt affect me" syndrome, things wont change.
Personally having luckily lived thru Bomb blasts ,Riots ,Floods and the daily battle of commuting to office (getting in and out of a specific train at a specific time -7.52 am fast to be precise) believe we have become completely insensitive to our societal responsibilities.
A very interesting piece i read spoke of the "Resilience" with which Mumbai got back on its feet post the bomb blasts. In my mind its actually the insensitivity which is now getting embedded in each of us.

Reading the articles on child atrocities , reporters getting shot,Senior citizens getting murdered and everything in between makes u wonder if each of us is doing enough to avoid this.

When is the last time you intervened in a non personal dispute to resolve it.

When is the last time you took the "road less travelled" even if it meant it took you longer /was costlier....Former maybe ,latter impossible.

The answer to these questions is the reason why we are going from bad to worse.Each individual can make a difference.Stop taking the easy way out and you will support the cleansing a lot more than by tweeting/blogging about it.( just trying to blend my inaugral piece with the title of the blogspot here)

Frankly of all the earlier posts and being a regular recepient of "Vote for Chela ram" (he promised to abolish the Gurgaon Toll for the society / give my wife a free Salwar stitching )believe that the DNC is the least of my worries.It actually brings succour into my life and helps me vent out my frustration at a poor soul on the other end.Finally its something that i can delete/ignore if reqd.

If this question was posed to Mr Sibal he would be clueless. The policy in question does not pass the "Materialty test"- Not enough material to be made by passing it. Also being the person who needs to help his scam tainted colleagues he definitely has his hands full.

So be it your ride from T3,the DNC , Mr Balakrishnan or the crumbling infra in Gurgaon "ask not what they have done for you, ask if you are morally entitled to ask these questions"