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Mobile phones linked to literacy, prosperity: TISS report

Mumbai: Households owning mobile phones enjoy a higher level of economic prosperity and literacy compared to those which do not, claims a new report released here on Monday.

The ‘Mobile Multiplier Study’ conducted by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and Tata Docomo revealed that while 98 percent of postgraduate households in Maharashtra owned a mobile, the figure dropped steeply to 39.1 percent in homes of non-literates.

Sixty-seven percent of mobile-owning homes enjoyed a higher level of economic prosperity, compared to others, with 90 percent of those in the urban areas, revealing a clear correlation between mobile phone ownership and both economic and wider measures of social wellbeing.

On a national scale, 62 percent of mobile-owning households enjoyed economic prosperity with this figure at 50 percent in the rural areas, claims the study which aggregated India’s largest Census data covering nearly 100,000 responses.

“Mobile telephony displays all characteristics of a genuine public good, its use is associated with economic prosperity or higher consumption, besides higher literacy, life expectancy, educational attainment and overall living standards as captured through Human Development Index, especially in an urban context,” said TISS’s Prof. Bino Paul.

Commenting on literacy, Paul said mobile ownership in households of graduates was 93.2 percent and 98 percent in homes of postgraduates, but fell sharply to 39.1 percent in illiterate households.

Mobile ownership increased by 10 percentage points once a household became just literate, meaning the family head can merely read and write and the probability of owning a mobile was more than 1.5 times compared to an illiterate household.

On the other hand, in rural illiterate households, the proportion of mobile owners was 40 percent, but only 20 percent in urban illiterate households.

There is a significant number of households in India where the millennial generation (a person who became an adult in 2000) is heading the family.

The millennial generation is the most sophisticated user of technology, aware and having access to ‘new money’ and they want to use technology to make the difference in their lives.

In Maharashtra, the proportion of households owning a mobile is 64.8 percent where a millennial heads the family, but this extends to more than 80 percent in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Kerala, but below 50 percent in West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand and the north-eastern states.

The overall mobile phone ownership in the state stands at 83.6 percent in urban households and 52.6 percent in rural households.

In fact, the national average of proportion of households headed by a millennial and owning a mobile is marginally higher than the households where the family head is a senior citizen.

“It is evident that the power of mobiles is leapfrogging with progression of technology and communication… The second wave of mobile revolution in India has already begun, but will reach its full potential only if access can be extended even further and deeper,” said Tata Teleservices Ltd. president (mobility) Elango Thambiah.

(IANS)

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