If you are like me who is unwilling to buy a GPRS phone (though IISc will pay for it) or spend money to check email, then you can get email alerts from gmail to your phone as SMS. One service that I have used for a long time is way2sms.com. You can register your mobile at way2sms.com and forward your gmail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In June 2010, Microsoft hotmail opened up free SMS services for its email services. Though I have had a hotmail account for a long time, I switched to gmail in Sep 2004 because I love the conversation view of gmail. Therefore, I now forward my gmail (with filters) to hotmail and I can get sms of important emails. What are the filters that I set? Only emails from editors, my students, "good" colleagues and important administrators. Please look here for extensive details on how to set up the forwarding and filters.