Neola D’Souza, 22, did not send messages to her friends and relatives on Diwali even though the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) relaxed its ‘100 SMSes’ a day regulation for the occasion.
“While on other days, there are message schemes to make texting cheaper, on Diwali, each message costs at least Re1. This means that either there is a restriction, and when there isn’t, it is too expensive to send mass messages, both of which are inconvenient options.”
D’souza, a masters student at Nirmala Niketan College, Marine Lines, added that TRAI’s 100 short message service (SMS) cap proves cumbersome for her and her classmates.
“We are a class of 60, so it becomes difficult to coordinate and get messages around. You get only a certain number of characters per SMS and if you have to send two messages, then it is impossible to do so.”
Like D’souza, many city students believe that the ‘100 SMSes a day’ regulation is “restrictive and unnecessary”. “SMS is the most efficient, convenient and easy form of communication available today, especially for the younger crowd. Students need to be in constant touch with each other,” said Anuradha Hardikar, 20, a student of St. Xavier’s College, Dhobi Talao. “Even though I did not cross 100 SMSes every day, there were days when I did. But I would like to have the option.”
According to students, other than daily communication, messages often need to be sent in bulk to reply to birthday wishes and co-ordinate group assignments. Other than this, mass messages are useful to reach out to the large number of volunteers who work on festivals and in other college organisations.
Schools too are finding the limitation a bother as they had developed new systems of communicating with parents, instead of wasting paper through circulars.
“We used to send bulk messages to more than 3,000 parents informing them about meetings and activities in school. But now we have had to go back to circulars as we cannot send bulk messages,” said Kiran Bajaj, principal of Greenlawns School at Bhulabhai Desai
The only respite from the restriction comes through the availability of instant messaging applications such as Blackberry Messenger or Whatsapp. “In terms of sending out messages the regulation doesn’t affect me at all as I'm using services such as Whatsapp,” said Priyanka Butani, 21, a GLC student. For Butani, the ban also saves her the hassle of having to delete unwanted messages. “Earlier I was asked to buy a sauna belt or holiday in Sri lanka every few hours. Now that has stopped, and I couldn’t be happier,” she added.