OLPC gaining momentum in India?!


To describe India’s relationship with OLPC as “rocky” would almost be an understatement. Back in 2006 for example the Indian Ministry of Education was very critical of the project and called it "pedagogically suspect". Later that year some Indian organizations came together and announced their work on a “$10 laptop”.

XO in India
XOs also popular in India

Then suddenly in autumn of 2007 the first information about a small pilot-site in Khairat became available which was soon followed by quite an extensive report from the school which appeared on the OLPC wiki.

Now in July there’s been a number of new developments which all indicate that OLPC is gaining some significant momentum in India. First in mid-July it was announced that XOs bundled with CDMA modems are expected to hit retail stores later in the year. Additionally OLPC India’s page on wiki.laptop.org now mentions an additional 5 deployments going on at the moment.

The biggest sign of things to come was included in the latest community-news update which includes an invitation to the OLPC India Day which will take place in Mumbai on August 4.

Mr. Nicholas Negroponte founder and chairman of the One Laptop Per Child non-profit assosociation will be in India to share with us his vision for the world with the XO laptop and formally launch the National level initiative in India. (emphasis mine)

The following day OLPC’s Chief Learning Architect David Cavallo will hold a day-long Learning Workshop which is aimed at

Teachers, trainers and content creators, persons nominated from current projects and planned deployments.

Now I don’t know about you but to me this sounds like a traditional Big Bang for a larger-scale implementation project. With more than 350 million people under the age of 14 living in India the target audience is potentially very large indeed. (Just for comparison’s sake: Uruguay’s population in that age group is about 800,000 while Peru’s is about 8,5 million.) Even if India were only able to achieve One Laptop per every 100th child this would still mean a 3,5 million units deployment.

It remains to be seen what happens over the coming weeks and months but the sheer number potentially involved in an OLPC deployment in India is just mind-boggling and we’ll definitely keep a close eye on what’s going on there.

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And according to a recent posting on Slashdot, the "$10 laptop" has mutated into a "$100 laptop". (Probably there was a typo or a mis-translation in the original announcement.)

I think that they first looked at the project with a certain amount of skepticism, if not disdain.

They probably thought "if they can do it for $100, we should be able to do it for $10".

Then after a few years of research and trials (in parallel) they surely came to realize that the $100 price tag was already quite low for what is delivered, hence they could be back in the project.

This doesn't sounds like an unheard or unseen behavior with regards to 'disrupting' technologies.

Isn't OLPC dead? I have a G1G1 that was updated to in May. I used it for a week, but it is still slow and only semi-functional.

I thought that the 2.0 dual-touchscreen unit exposed the OLPC project for what it was -- a hype machine. The re-hype attempt was the nail in the coffin.

It is over, but perhaps we can find a durable replacement in the netbooks.

Nathan Dbb, considering the fact that to the best of my knowledge close to 400,000 XOs have been delivered I would be very hard-pressed to call OLPC dead. Plus when I was at OLPC-HQ in Cambridge, MA earlier in the week I didn't really get the impression that OLPC was dying it. To me it seems as though the project is actually kicking and screaming in quite a healthy way these days!

@Nathan : If you don't use your XO, please donate it.
We have 35 XO now in Saint-Anthony School in U.P. India and we will welcome yours. No need to send it to India directly, we have an address in the USA.
Saint-Anthony School is a social project and we received the support of OLPC India to be able to acquire part of our 35 XO (some were donated from G1G1). Things are moving in India.
mvalentin AT oeuvredespains.org

isn't it kind of ironic that a country which was bashing the project just a year ago is probably our biggest supporter now?

well we need them just as much as they need us. they have a potentially huge (human) resource when it comes to basically all things that are technology or technology related (since that is what they are trying to become...the creators of everything from biotech to tech support). But in order to do that they still need books, and learning tools.

if india really decides to team up with olpc (which it is looking like they will) then we will have a much easier time showing the world (aka other countries) how useful a product like this is. not to mention that after selling a whole bunch of em, we might finally start to bring the price down.

hahah...also...just realized something. In any television add the basic underlying premise is something like "buy this product and you'll look like these models". wellllllll...won't olpc basically be doing the same thing with india? buy this product for all of your children and you'll become this thriving country with a gdp of 8%?

not saying thats entirely wrong...heck...thats basically the end point of the XO. i'm just saying India is something of an ideal model in which many other countries want to be like but what the olpc can't be a complete and total answer to.


This should be the location of OLPC India Day's video-stream were things should get started at 2 p.m. IST.

Unfortunely I will miss it as I'll be at work. In case anyone watches it, please let us know what was discussed!

Any detailed report on this event?
Does anybody has link for same? Please put the same.

Bhagwandas, I've seen some reports but unfortunately real-life has been keeping me too busy to read through them and post something on it. Though I hope to do so over the next day or two.

Instead of bashing some project to help kids in India, maybe they could do something themselves. Golly, they have a billion people, nuclear weapons, and very modern cities- well for the right groups of people.... I would think about who you are helping there. The "untouchables", such as the D'alit are a group about the size of the US population that are treated as sub-human, an integral of Hinduism. There are plenty of countries with fewer resources than India.... many would likely welcome help with education, however imperfect, rather than fight it.

Indian government is still dominated by 'high castes".That's the reason the OLPCs are being rejected.They want the majority "low caste " people here to remain uneducated.

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