Should tablets be used in India?

As discussed in class and in other blog posts, the OLPC project has many problems preventing the computers to be successful as an education project. The Firstpost article, “Aakash vs OLPC: How fair is Jha’s anti-tablet grouse?” discusses how the president and the CEO of the OLPC project in India, Satish Jha, openly criticized Aakash, a similar project aimed at increasing education through giving children tablets, months before OLPC introduced its own tablet.

Jha claimed that the Aakash is a “product of deluded dreamers who are out of touch with the realities of technology product development” and will not be able to replace what computers are able to do. He also stated that it has “little to do with education”, as the tablet can only work off of a wifi network. However, Jha wants to introduce the OLPC to Indian students, which seems very hypocritical.

This situation demonstrates that there is not communication between the global leaders of OLPC and the regional leaders, another factor preventing success.  OLPC needs to stop using a top-down approach and seek advice from regional technology development practitioners. If Jha believes that a tablet is not a realistic technology for Indian students, then he should not be using the resources to promote the technology and should remain distributing laptops. There are many problems that need to be addressed with the OLPC program, and one of the key aspects that needs to improve is communication.


4 responses to “Should tablets be used in India?

  • ahauser1205

    This article highlights the reasons underlying many development projects’ failures. As already noted, communication is one of the most important elements in the successful carrying out of any project. Frequently, several different organizations are working individually to solve the same problem. By working cooperatively and coordinating their effort, funds could be used much more effectively and the goal would be reached much more efficiently. Unfortunately, until NGOs and other organizations can figure out a realistic and beneficial way to work together, the ultimate goals will not be achieved and those in need will not be helped.

  • rbain1

    India definitely has the resources and infrastructure, as well as the labor force, available to implement this kind of technology. But communication is key. The reason why many initiatives aren’t being carried out usefully is because there are so many smaller programs working on individual programs to promote the same thing. Without working together there isn’t enough money or man power to implement these programs, at least not in a well-managed way that is producing results. It’s also important to to work with the governments or other high-status social positions which which have the most influence and resources in the country in order to promote and implement programs. They have the power to make or break initiatives. Without them on the right side, it’s hard to predict that a program will succeed.

  • The Price Point Debate « ICT4D @ Tulane

    […] definitively answered that question with the creation of the Aakash tablet which was mentioned in this post. While  both Intel and OPLC  overshot their price estimates, Aakash is offering their tablet at […]

  • acarbone

    You beat me to this! There is so much to say, good and bad about the OLPC and Aakash ideas. The though process behind and the organization and the ideas behind their technology are both so different, yet they are tackling very similar problems.

    However, I don’t know that either organization is exactly on the right path.

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