In our life span, we have seen five near-cataclysmic changes that have completely metamorphosed our lives, compared to what they were prior to these events. In a typical “then & now” discourse – the “then” has dramatically transformed at each of these inflexion points, affecting our daily lives in previously unimaginable ways, though, today they seem perfectly mundane and par for the course.
Arrival of the ubiquitous TV ensured that our evenings were never the same again. We no longer needed to wonder how to while away our time after the day’s work. Suddenly our lives began to revolve and be planned around the 9 pm prime time serial. And we saw the unique phenomenon of all roads being deserted at 9 am on Sundays, because the entire populace was watching an epic on TV. The ungainly (in the early days) looking squat boxes altered our lifestyle, and our living room seating arrangements; and permanently demolished the family get-together and conversations at the dining table during dinner time.
Our hands sprout an extension called the Mobile Phone. And that heralded the end of private time, as it ensured that everyone was contactable 24×7. Parents thought they could contact their kids anytime’ and no one was out of reach of the boss at any time. In India, we invented the unique blank fire termed “give me a missed call”.
The Computer revolutionized our data management and analytics. And lotus (originally), now excel had the same deleterious effect on our numerical skills that mobile messaging had on our writing abilities.
The Internet had a disruptive impact on connectivity. Emails announced the death of letters, and Google search changed the way we knew information search, and forever dramatically impacted research and even school homework. “Data” became the buzzword and the lifeblood.
The fifth life changer is not a technological innovation at all. It’s the 1991 economic liberalization that has permanently altered the availability of brands, the amount of disposable income, and thus the spending power of Indians – resulting in the consumerism boom in India that we see now. Seems difficult to comprehend that today’s utensil-cleaning maid earns more now than the entry salary of a IIT-IIM graduate in a reputed MNC, three decades ago.
Rapid changes continue, of course, with digitalization, demonetization, cashless transactions et al.