I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
Social Innovation: India Aiding Students to Reach for the Sky Via Affordable Technology
In the week that the world lost Steve Jobs, the man who changed our relationship with computers, India launched the world's cheapest social innovation computer, one priced at $35 (£30). By comparison, the cheapest Apple iPad tablet costs £399 in the UK and $499 in the U.S., while Amazon has recently announced its Kindle Fire will sell for $199 in the U.S. The Indian government will be distributing this low-cost tablet to its schools and universities at a 50 percent subsidy. The tablet is made by Datawind, a British company which has named its device Aakash, which means "sky" in Hindi.
Datawind will make about 100,000 units a month, though that will not be enough to meet India's target of getting its 220 million children online. The first tranche in this social innovation pilot programme will, if successful, be expanded to 1M units. Mr Kapil Sibal, India's human resources development minister, called the announcement a message to all children of the world, saying, "This is not just for us. This is for all of you who are disempowered. This is for all those who live on the fringes of society. To every child in India, I carry this message. Aim for the sky and beyond. There is nothing holding you back."
The launch, attended by hundreds of students, some selected to help train others across the country to use the tablets, followed five years of efforts to design a computer that could bridge the country's vast digital divide. This inexpensive piece of social innovation technology will give people the opportunity to access information via the Internet, which could help farmers improve yields, strengthen business startups to reach clients and enable students to qualify for university.
The Aakash has an 18 cm. (7 in.) colour screen, uses a version of Google's Android operating system (though not Google's services such as Maps), and has word processing, web browsing and video conferencing. It's hoped that one day in the not-so-distant future that this will become a solar-powered version; that will be a crucial social innovation feature as millions of India's people still have no access to electricity.
India has a more youthful population than the U.S., Europe and China; in fact more than half of the country's population is under the age of 25, and one million people a month are expected to join the labour force over the next decade. The fear is that if these young people aren't trained well enough to participate in the country's glittering new economy, they pose a potential threat to India's economic stability. Therefore, the very affordable price of the Aakash gives the opportunity to all students in India to own a computing device and become computer literate.
Photo Credit: (archer10) Dennis