Flight mode

The benefits of a Digital India will no longer be restricted to those on land alone. In the coming months, even people in mid-air will be able to feel its impact. In January, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had proposed to introduce mobile network connectivity and internet services during flights. 

  • Published 4.06.18
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The benefits of a Digital India will no longer be restricted to those on land alone. In the coming months, even people in mid-air will be able to feel its impact. In January, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had proposed to introduce mobile network connectivity and internet services during flights. And now, with the government having acceded to the proposal, the idea of the aeroplane as one of the last few places where the mobile phone has not entered is true no more. This move signals a great boom in the Indian technological sector and also, propitiously, comes at a time when the spectre of 'missing out' looms large for humanity. At the same time, it also serves as the perfect moment to reflect on how technology has been affecting - upending rather - patterns of social behaviour.

The advent of mobile phones - the smart ones, to be precise - has blurred the division between the private and public spheres. Even in the most public of places, the cellular device creates the illusion of a private, insulated bubble into which one can easily escape. Phones have thus become yet another way to disengage from social reality. More than anything, this spells doom for interpersonal communication: fleeting friendships and small talk. But what is more problematic is that people ensconced in their private cocoons often forget their actual location in space and time. Hollering over the phone - the average person talks three times louder on a cell phone - is decidedly annoying. Adding to the cacophony is the fact that the use of headphones still eludes a large number of people who feel that the latest Bollywood track is more enjoyable when played aloud. This, apart from the amorous ringtones and the clamour for charging spots. Now, given that movement within an aeroplane in flight is restricted, there would be no choice for passengers but to listen to the latest exploits of their fellow travellers for the entire duration of the journey. In a plane full of Indians, however, almost everybody would be listening to their own voices. Indians are in any case a little vague about ideas of privacy; the isolating tendency of cell phones merely adds to their disregard for others' comfort. Technological advancement should be accompanied by an evolution in social codes of behaviour. Passengers should be made aware of 'phone behaviour' aboard a flight, otherwise on board network connectivity will end up causing more chaos than convenience.

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