19 May 2013

Book Review: Smart Phones Dumb People? - Parthajeet Sarma

People are getting dumber while phones are getting smarter. It’s a known fact. A funny saying these days goes such – “It’s important for man to be honest. Even phones are smart these days.” I had blogged about this here. The author, Parthajeet Sarma, looks to address this notion. Or so it seems by the title of the book – Smart Phones Dumb People?

Parthajeet Sarma is a fan of free markets and technology. This is evident from what he writes about. The author has slotted his thoughts into 5 main categories:

  • Technology
  • Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Priorities
  • Corruption

The author’s writing seems inspired by Gurcharan Das and the likes. He presents a holistic view of India and its citizens in each chapter and provides relevant examples to justify his view points. He reminds us of how lucky we are because mobiles phones and vehicles are affordable today viz-a-viz 2 decades ago. He focuses on how technology is being leveraged to make common man’s life easier. Examples include travel portals, e-commerce websites, banking and ATMs (which he predicts may turn mobile soon) and more. He laments over the attitude of students joining IIT (simply to adhere to society’s or their parents’ norms); how Facebook has reduced the amount we interact with real friends. He does this in anecdotal ways – some funny Facebook updates and incidents between his friends and him.
Smart Phones Dumb People?

Parthajeet Sarma believes innovation occurs mostly in the west and not in India. I would beg to differ. Jugaad Innovation points out how innovation is increasingly gaining speed in emerging nations (including India). The western world spends millions of dollars on innovation and invention with precious little gained from it. On the other hand, Indians invest lesser money and achieve results to address issues plaguing their people more effectively. Resource usage is optimized in India and other emerging nations more than in western countries today.

While the author talks about using 21st century tools to address 19th century issues, I wish he would focus more on how smart phones are hampering productivity of man today. He could have touched upon more aspects relevant to the title of the book. While some humans have used technology for the enhancement of society, most of us are distracted by it. E-mails, chats, Social media and more keep us so distracted that we refuse to spend even a few minutes by ourselves. In fact, someone I know wants m-indicator, an app which suggests train and bus timings in Mumbai, to start suggesting which trains we should catch to reach work on time. Our increasing dependence on technology is scary. The book can also do with more concise writing. We Indians are guilty of framing long sentences; trying to put too many points in one sentence. That, however, adversely impacts the attention span of the reader. I’m sure, with time, Parthajeet Sarma will become more adept at writing (or he’ll find a better ghost writer ;) ).

The book is a breezy read; one that can be finished in a few hours. It doesn’t beat around the bush. Instead, it briskly covers a lot of points. ‘Smart Phones Dumb People?’ is a good read for youngsters who would like a bird’s eye view of how India has progressed over the ages. However, voracious readers may find it a little wanting in language. I wish Parthajeet Sarma all the best and hopes he keeps coming out with better books.


  1. This looks like a good book. I ll pick up a copy. Thanks for the review.

  2. What I learned form the book was… That technology is a boon if it is used properly, however lack of proper mindset for utilizing is the main problem. We Indians are good in knowledge gathering. But still we dont use it in right way for society.
    By the way I loved your review. This was the second book I had ever read. The first one was Beaten by Bhagath by S V Divvakar. I would love to read your review on the same. This book is about harsh realities of publishing houses.

    1. Thanks, Harshal!

      You're spot on about what we can learn from this book. I'm waiting for Beaten too... You'll see its review as soon as I read it.

      Cheers :)

  3. A comprehensive review.. covering the pros and cons with suggestions for improvement.
    I personally don't believe that human beings are getting dumber while phones are getting smarter.
    I mean just because technology is advancing and making our lives easier doesn't mean that we are becoming dumber..Dumb people were always there..its just that today even dumb people have access to smart phones
    Its all about evolution. What was normal earlier is not normal now or what is normal now was not normal then. Technology definitely has its pros and cons. There are always 2 sides to every coin and you cannot blame the coin if someone chooses the wrong side. Earlier we used to remember the phone numbers that we used regularly but now no one remembers them. But then can you say people were smarter earlier- they simply didn't have the option back then that we have now.

    1. People in the earlier days exercised their grey matter a lot more than they do today. They had the ability to think up good stuff because they were not distracted; neither were they dependent. Today people are talking on phone even while in gym or jogging... this desire to multitask is reducing our ability to focus...


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