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An idea promised the sky, but India is still waiting


The idea was, and still is, captivating: in 2011, the Indian government and two Indian-born tech entrepreneurs unveiled a $50 tablet computer, to be built in India with Google’s free Android software. The government would buy the computers by the millions and give them to its schoolchildren, the New York Times reports. Enthusiasts saw the plan as a way to bring modern touch-screen computing to some of the world’s poorest people while seeding a technology manufacturing industry in India. Legions of customers placed advance orders for a commercial version of the tablet, thrilled at the prospect of owning tangible proof that India was a leader in “frugal innovation.”  Even the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, lavished praise on the audacious project, called Aakash, the Hindi word for sky. “India is a superpower on the information superhighway,” Mr. Ban said at a ceremony in November at the United Nations headquarters in New York…

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