They all start out with a bang. But they can end with a whimper.
The much-touted idea to deliver low-cost technology suffers one problem: It’s usually tailored to meet its founders’ hopes, not its beneficiaries’ needs.
That’s the post-mortem on the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project that started in 2005. Westerners behind the $100 (Rs4,700 today) machine were gung-ho. But in Africa and South America, kids saw it more as a toy. Teachers weren’t trained to use it. The institutions and infrastructure required just weren’t there.
We wonder if the same fate will befall the $35 computer the Union government launched on Thursday. India, intent on this idea, rejected OLPC’s offer last year to build an even cheaper laptop.
This country has flirted with this idea before (take the “Simputer” a decade ago), but it hasn’t taken off. Now, our latest innovation promises, for instance, to bring Wi-Fi connectivity to students. But do our schools and colleges even have Wi-Fi facilities?