I went seeking some new and interesting ICTs on my last full day in Delhi, and my colleague Anushruti kindly therefore took me to Nehru Place in South Delhi. I had never been there before, and it turned out to be a fascinating exploration of Delhi’s digital world; a hive of activity, with hundreds of small tech companies each competing for business, seemingly mainly selling mobile devices or offering laptop and phone repair services.
Nehru Place was built in the early 1980s as a commercial district, focusing primarily on the financial and business sectors. However, as new financial centres have emerged across the city, its traditional role has all but vanished, and it has now been taken over by numerous small ICT businesses; it has often been described as the IT hub of South Asia. It has a very informal atmosphere, with people also selling software (often pirated) and other small digital goods as pavement vendors on the wide streets between the buildings.
It is a very male dominated environment, and I was also fascinated by the gendering of the ICT advertisements on display (there is definitely a research project to be done on this); the dominance of a few corporate names on the hoardings, mainly Chinese, such as Lenovo, Oppo and Vivo, was a further reminder that India does not yet have much indigenous ICT manufacturing. The prices of many of the goods on sale were also surprisingly high (India is definitely not the place to buy Apple laptops!).
As the photographs below show, Nehru Place has a run down feeling to it, but the informality and vibrancy are clearly indicative of a lively digital scene, and it very much reminded me of a digital beehive, with everyone labouring away in their own little cell of the honeycomb that is Nehru Place. Sadly, I couldn’t actually find what I was seeking to purchase, despite being directed from one shop to another in the hope that I would be able to!