It’s not the Technology, but the Economy behind the much touted “Aakash – The Tablet PC” which is worrying me a bit. Every potential product has a great probability to go for a toss if not implemented well. With OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project, we have already witnessed a classic example of Innovation & Creativity being put to the stake at various occasions in India. Similar is my concern with this particular product which the Government has been boasting as their Technological Milestone recently. There are still few points to ponder before one goes drooling over this as too-good-to-be-true offering. The reality check.
The Dirty Game of Numbers – 60$ or Rs. 2400 ?
My greatest gripe with any of the companies is the way they advertise the figures & prices to make it sound low or big while keeping it elusive. Internet companies for instance would cunningly display the speed offered in KbPS or MbPS with the fact that capital “B” will bring down the rated speed by the factor of 8 (b=bit, B=Byte & 1Byte=8bits). Capitalist’s Mathematics has bugged us down since ages. And marketing monkeys or the media behind news exploits the same trick just here. It’s nothing as if my patriotism has been hurt by this Rupees vs Dollar tag, but indigenous project bearing the foreign currency gets past my comprehension.
The word “Desi” that has been trumpeted when released doesn’t goes well with “Firangi” label …
Given the fact that it has not been primarily projected as a Global Product, and I understand their frustration to make it sound as cheap as possible, but we Indians would still appreciate Rs 2400 over 60$ without falling for this marketing stunt. After all, None of us want to have a price figure which is calculative. So playing with Units and Currency to iterate the value (conversion from Rupees to Dollar to make it appear more cheap), that too in the indigenous scenario is an unwelcome feat.
Why the Subsidy 50% ?
Why I am so worried if they are getting a cheap deal ? Well, again getting back to India’s glorious past of Public-Private partnership with Subsidy word in the scene, I’m again convinced that by this time we will at least hear a scam which has some fancy name – Tablet Ghotala or Aakash Scam. Priced at Rs 1200 for students, great and generous as it may sound, is yet another example of inefficient planning & economy. If Rs 2400 is already the cheapest price that has been declared, then what’s is the use of extra 50% subsidy which will eventually be incurred to taxpayers only.
Instead, why not to cross-subsidize other educational products & items while minting money from a product which is already cheap …
Instead, why not to cross-subsidize other educational products & items while minting money from a product which is already cheap. Those who can afford laptops, mobiles, premier school fees, tuition fees, costly stationeries etc don’t even need such unnecessary subsidies. And on the other hand, those under-privileged students who couldn’t buy it for Rs. 2400 wouldn’t afford Rs. 1100 piece either. And such mindless subsidies is yet another catalyst of corruption. I’m afraid if fake sales on papers will be used by distribution channels to pocket the huge sum.
Tablet – Will it Really Revolutionize the Way Children Are Taught ?
The answer is both yes and no. Yes because if deployed correctly, this can come to be a great aid for studies. Digital Learning in conjunction with conventional methodology can do wonders.
The moment a child gets a gadget in his hand, the first thing that comes to the mind is Games, Internet & Entertainment …
Now the spoiler, the moment a child gets a gadget in his hand, the first thing that comes to the mind is Games, Internet & Entertainment. I’m also worried of their early exposure to Facebook & Twitter which is one of the greatest technological boon and bane at the same time. I personally doubt the efficacy of such devices as a complete learning aid in sharp contrast with Books & Pencil. Information at fingertips is welcome, but getting used to it also takes away the capability to digging into it diligently and memorize effectively. Information overload (resources available over the internet) is something which can come as a major distraction to younger minds.
And Where Are the Basic Infrastructures ?
Even if I nullify all above points, and considering idealism as the case (we and our Utopian fantasy – huh), still there are certain hurdles which needs to be addressed first – Power & Connectivity. Few people at higher seats needs to understand and realize that every gadget needs an electricity to run.
I pity on such parliamentarian pimps who thinks that a 2100 mAh battery runs till the eternity …
The end users who will comprise of several poor children still lives in the dark and will not take a daily trip to ministerial residence to get their gadgets charged. I pity on such Parliamentarian Pimps who believes that a 2100 mAh battery runs till the eternity. Now Internet, which is still considered to be premier commodity in India, I wonder how and where the students will be retrieving the contents from. I’m even not sure if MHRD ever stumbled upon this gory fact which is the concern of – “we the people of India”.
Cheapest Tablet PC – Oh Really ?
Yes it is, not the price – But the claim. Tablet PC, as per my lean understanding is a consumer durable which has an inherent setback attached to it – RECURRING COSTS. Buying a car doesn’t mean you will zoom past with no extra money spent afterwards. After all, the sales person at showroom didn’t pledge for “petrol for lifetime”. Similarly, would Govt ensure the free Internet (if connected out of miracle), free servicing, free resources and all other goodies that it supposedly packs to alleviate the poor’s plight of running cost behind it.
Made in India – Anyone ?
Rather than enriching the cash register of a Canadian Company (Ubislate from Datawind), I’d have been merrier if Govt could have launched & funded a challenge or project to make a similar device within the given budget. It may have induced a great encouragement to Indian talent pool whose potential are yet to be widely acknowledged.
Prolonged Imported Innovations has made us technically handicap …
DST, which would otherwise fund useless R&D activities should have bothered to check it with IITs and other Tech establishments to make this possible – I bet my life on it that this could have been very productive. If they were still skeptical about Indian techies, then Adam Tablet may have enlightened them a bit which flaunts of indigenous inputs. Isn’t this a big question on our own ability to get into Hardware and prove ourselves competent enough ? A sad truth – Prolonged Imported Innovations has made us technically handicap.
It will be too early to say anything about the fate of this device which has been released with much fanfare. But I’m certainly upset with the way things are going in here on the name of laggard improvisation & lame innovation. I’m though looking forward to get my hands getting dirty over it and write a technical review as IT Hardware.
Update : Aakash Tablet Project has now become a flopshow !