Drawing on the data collected in 2010 under the “Media Mapping of Jamia Neighbourhood” initiative of CCMG, Susan Koshy traces the patterns of change and continuity in the media consumption in the neighbourhood of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Students of CCMG surveyed the Jamia Neighbourhood in 2010 to study the consumption pattern of the four sectors (STD/PCO, cyber cafés, printing and Photostat) in the locality. “Media Mapping of Jamia Neighborhood” , the CCMG research initiative of which this study was a part, has the following objectives:
- To observe the pattern of consumption of the four sectors with respect to the social stratification of an area in terms of owners and consumers
- To observe how the technology has been accepted by the people in the area
- To study the change that has taken place in the past few years
The research sample and methodology
The method of research chosen was the Structured but Open-ended Interview coupled with participant observation. This method allowed a more flexible mode of interview which could be modified according to the needs. The media consumption of the area was studied on the basis of the kind of economics of the four sectors in the locality.
For the purpose of the study, the neighborhood had been divided into four settlements: Bharat Nagar, Tikona Park, Sarai Julena, Okhla Vihar and Taimoor Nagar. Apart from the local residents, the primary consumers of the four technologies here are : migrant workers, paramedics working in the nearby hospitals and students of the Jamia Millia University and schools nearby.
If one looks at the cumulative consumption patterns of all the 4 media technologies, Jamia students constituted the maximum number of consumers in SaraiJulena (45%) and Jamia Nagar (45%) while locals constituted the maximum number of consumers in Bharat Nagar (80%), Taimoor Nagar (50%) and OkhlaVihar (75%).
Some outlets that were visited during survey
Among the four media sectors, STD/PCOs are the most common in all the four settlements. This can be due to two reasons:
- It is the oldest among all the four, and
- It requires the least amount of investment.
It is also one of the many products that a shop offers. For example, a general provision store may also decide to start a phone booth. Besides their consumption patterns, residents of Bharat Nagar (largely migrant workers) and Taimoor Nagar, cannot afford a phone of their own or the recurrent charges that would be involved.
Tikona Park has the highest number of photocopying shops. It can be best explained by the fact that due to the proximity Tikona Park enjoys to the Jamia University, students frequently flock to these shops to exploit the technology to make copies of essential readings, otherwise beyond their means.
Sarai Julena also has almost the equal number of photocopying shops. They cater to the needs of the Jamia students, the nearby hospitals and service sector outlets located in the vicinity.
|Locality||Consumer profile||Highest number of Units||Highest number of Connections for Telephone Booths|
|Sarai Julena||Jamia Students, Locals, Paramedics||Telephone booths (38%)||Public|
|Tikona Park||Jamia Students, School students, Locals||Photostat shops (41.6%)||Private|
|Taimoor Nagar||Locals and College students||Telephone booths (68%)||Private|
|Bharat Nagar||Locals and College students||Telephone booths (64%)||Private|
|Okhla Vihar||Jamia Students, locals||Photostat shops (40%) and Telephone booths (40%)||Private|
Arrival of the Private Service Providers
The two media technologies under study, STD/PCOs and cyber cafes are communication technologies. So the study also tried to understand the kind of their interconnections which are most popular in the area.
It was found that phone booths in Tikona Park and Sarai Julena were comparatively older shops which chose to retain their MTNL connection while also taking a private company connection. On the other hand, booths in Bharat Nagar and Taimoor Nagar were opened much later when there was already a preference for private connections with their better schemes and cheaper call rates. So all the shops have private connections amongst which the Airtel and Idea were found to be the most common. In most cases, the shops have retained their MTNL connection as the bill provides an address proof which is required for many official purposes.
In the case of cyber cafes all the shops were found to prefer private companies. The shops which earlier had MTNL also shifted to private service providers due to better services. In addition, wireless services were preferred over wired ones as it reduced the disruptions in service owing to factors like lines getting cut and the like. It can be seen from the chart that Reliance being the oldest player in the market has the largest share in the market.
Changes over a period of time
- The boom in mobile telephony has spelt doom for the phone booths as people prefer owning mobile phones which have become much cheaper with extremely competitive call rates.
- In the case of photocopying, the number of units has increased with extremely competitive rates (as low as Rs.0.40 per page).
- The business of cyber café and printing continued to thrive as computers with internet was still an expensive affair. However there has been a drastic dip in the rates whereby initially, cafes charged as high as Rs.40 an hour which has come down to Rs.10 or 5 an hour.
The communication technologies studied were brought under scrutiny of the government due to security reasons. In the case of cyber cafes, it was always required for the owners to maintain a record of the user’s identity though the rule wasn’t particularly followed. However, following the many terrorist attacks in the country where cafes were used frequently for communication, it has been made mandatory by the police for the users to produce their identity card, a record of which is maintained by the cyber café owners. This rule is followed strictly in the Jamia neighborhood.
A few shops had started using new softwares like Clinck Cyber Café Manager that helps in better management and accounting. It also comes with features which helps the café in sharing customers’ data as required by the law enforcement agencies. The software has an all India single login feature: customers have to register only once in any cyber café having the software and with Clinck Cyber Café Manager ids, if they visit any other café in any part of India that has the same software, they don’t need to produce identity documents and, of course, they are not required to register again. It was a new concept in the country and was fast gaining popularity.
In the case of STD/PCOs it was found that police asked the phone booth owners to maintain a record of the callers and the numbers they call to, especially around the time of Independence Day and Republic Day. Also the process of acquiring new connections has become stricter and the service provider does keep a tab on the subscribers.
As the data was collected in 2010, the ground reality may have changed since then, especially with a much higher penetration of mobile telephones.
Susan Koshy is a researcher with Ideosync, Faridabad. She is an alumnus of CCMG, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and can be contacted at email@example.com.