Tomorrow, the government of India will launch a $35 Android tablet, which it aims to distribute to schools and colleges across the country. The tablet is manufactured by DataWind, a UK-based company and will have a 7-inch touchscreen display, 256MB of RAM, two USB drives and a memory card slot. We caught up with Satish Jha, president and CEO of OLPC India Foundation, on the sidelines of TiECon Delhi 2011, for his thoughts about the $35 tablet. One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) started out with a vision to create a $100 laptop for underprivileged children around the world that would be distributed by governments.While the foundation failed to achieve its $100 price, it still got good response from governments in Latin America among others. The UNDP backed project, however, failed to get good response from Indian government. Read on for more… Also Read - Disney Pixar Filter: How to get and use the 3D cartoon face filter on Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok
“We had a very disappointing experience with the central government but encouraging response from state governments like Kerala, Manipur and Himachal Pradesh. It has been deployed in Manipur so far,” says Jha. Manufactured by Quanta, the OLPC costs Rs 15,000 for an order above 10,000 units and Rs 16,500 for between 1,000 to 10,000 units. Also Read - Happy Father's Day 2021: Last-minute gift ideas if you have forgotten to get a present for your dad
Jha is disappointed that the government would prefer to subsidize a cheap tablet that won’t give its users the optimum experience nor serve the target audience the OLPC served. “That tablet is for colleges and urban areas, it doesn’t address any of the questions the OLPC addressed – the underprivileged kids. It has no ambition to give education at all. It is just a cheap device, an access device. It is a consumption device not an educational, creative or production device,” he says.
On the price point, Jha claims they can produce a sub-$100 version of the OLPC. “We can produce an OLPC for less than $100 if we just remove the swivel and a few features. But we don’t do that because a child needs a complete environment to learn, it is a school in a box. The $35 device meets the expectation of somebody who wants to manufacture the device but not the needs of the users,” he complained.
Given the specifications of the tablet and our experience with cheap Android tablets, we are not sure how good it would be. We will find that out tomorrow when the government launches its $35 Android tablet.