Monday, December 3, 2018

John Zubrzycki

John Zubrzycki is a Sydney-based author, journalist and researcher, specializing in South Asia, in particular India.

He is the best-selling author of The Last Nizam: An Indian Prince in the Australian Outback (2006) and The Mysterious Mr Jacob: Diamond Merchant, Magician and Spy (2013). His new book is Empire of Enchantment: The Story of Indian Magic.

Recently I asked Zubrzycki about what he was reading. His reply:
I've just finished Ravi Agrawal's India Connected: How the Smartphone is Transforming the World’s Largest Democracy. What's great about this book is not only its breezy style, but the fact that most people in the world don't realise just how transformative India's digital revolution is. In no time at all India went from being a country where having a landline was the preserve of the privileged few to having 700 million people using cell phones. India leapfrogged the PC and laptop eras and now the vast majority of internet traffic goes through smartphones. Why used old-fashioned voice calls and email when you can communicate via Whatsapp? Why use credit cards when its easier to use mobile wallet apps, as over a hundred million Indians already do? Aggarwal starts off by following Phoolwati, a semi-literate woman from Rajasthan as she rides a blue bicycle from village to village teaching other women ‘the magic of the internet’. Using voice recognition which now comes in most major Indian languages, illiterate women can conjure up images of the Taj Mahal or access information on government services. Aggarwal maintains that the smartphone is what the Model T Ford was to America more than a century ago, calling the device “the embodiment on the new Indian Dream”. But he is careful not to get carried away with such comparisons, ending the book with a timely reminder, namely: “Technology will never fix poverty, inequality and broken infrastructure.” Even for someone who visits India as frequently as I do this book was a real eye-opener.
Visit John Zubrzycki's website.

--Marshal Zeringue