OLPC and India: My Observations


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My observations about the OLPC project in India. These opinions and observations formed as I traveled across India with two OLPC XO laptops and a whole bunch of enthusiasm.

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  • You may also want to add:
    OLPC India has no financial support from OLPC organization
    Its been run on the strength of one person's financial capabilities.
    Negroponte's Media Lab Asia stories have been a major impediment to OLPC adoption in India
    Several state governments advised OLPC India to create demonstration sites but they could not do it
    Indian industrialists use corporate philanthropy only for more business through ingratiating the political and bureaucratic bosses
    Most industrial houses donate towards activities that have more than 100% tax exemption, education not one of them
    Education is a money making activity, everyone makes money in it
    Bureaucracy and politics are so corrupt- every social project is sanctioned when they get their 15%.
    If OLPC cannot pay that 15%, it can be centuries before they can make any headway
    OLPC organization is not serious about supporting India
    They know that countries can make a major decision only when there is a local proof of concept
    That is how Latin America braved to make the leap
    That is how India could do
    But Give One Get One reportedly sold 200,000 laptops
    Who got the 100,000? Can you find out? Is there a list?
    Negroponte would like a Nobel prize for OLPC but while he created it, he has not spent a penny spreading its diffusion
    From the conversations about his wealth, he could easily send each state 100 laptops in the capital and make a splash with it and help the state chief ministers take the next steps
    He could surely donate 1000 if not 10,000 to OLPC India and leverage that to go to the next stage
    All Indians in America could contribute 1% of their annual income to make OLPC a transformation project for India
    A professor can contribute $10,000 to his own village for OLPC
    There has to be a way to help India's next generation not remain as underprivileged as so far..
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  • Reliance did not contribute anything and its association caused olpc hugely. Digital Bridge Foundation has no funds. All they did was sell the donated olpc and use that for the foundation. Its embarrassing how an Ambani cannot support even 100 children.
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OLPC and India: My Observations

  1. 1. OLPC project and India: My observations Sameer Verma, Ph.D. Associate Professor Information Systems Department San Francisco State University San Francisco, CA 94132 USA   Creative commons license   http://creativecommons.org/
  2. 2. <shameless_plug> This presentation is made with  OpenOffice.Org Impress.  Its your intellectual property. Keep it open.  You have a choice. Vote with your fingers. http://openoffice.org/      </shameless_plug>
  3. 3. About myself    
  4. 4. Disclaimer ● I do not work for OLPC! ● Volunteer, enthusiast, researcher, developer – Interests ● Free and Open Source Software and Content ● Internationalization/Localization ● User Interface Design  ● Networks ● IT Sustainability    
  5. 5. The challenge ● Culturally and politically diverse ● School vs. education ● Plenty of “strawmen” ● Rampant misinformation ● Corruption at all levels ● Remnants of colonialism    
  6. 6. Education or training? ● India's IT industry – Glorified labor (development stage of software  development life cycle) ● Skills­based (Java, .NET, SAP etc) – Little existence of critical thinking or problem solving  in IT projects.  ● Note: Indians are very creative in everyday life. ● DO NOT talk to the “Computer Teacher” – The computer will become extra curricular    
  7. 7. Diversity ● India: 28 states and 7 union territories – The Constitution of India recognizes 22 languages 1. Assamese 9. Konkani   17. Sanskrit 2. Bengali 10. Maithili   18. Santhali 3. Bodo 11. Malayalam   19. Sindhi 4. Dogri 12. Manipuri   20. Tamil 5. Gujarati 13. Marathi   21. Telugu 6. Hindi 14. Nepali   22. Urdu 7. Kannada 15. Oriya 8. Kashmiri 16. Punjabi    
  8. 8. Ethnicity and Religion ● Most do not understand (or do not wish to address)  the distinctions between religion and ethnicity, let  alone the intricacies between languages and scripts.  ● Examples: – Ramayana in Urdu/Nastaliq – Punjabi in Nastaliq  Hinduism accounts for 80% of the population of India. The second largest  religion is Islam, at about thirteen percent of the population.  Other native Indian religions are Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism.  About two percent of Indians adhere to Christianity. Zoroastrianism and  Judaism have an ancient history in India and each has several thousand Indian  adherents.     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_India  Ramayana in Urdu
  9. 9. Khairat pilot ● Began in September 2007 in Khairat village,  District Raigad, Maharashtra, India – http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Khairat_Chronicle  ● One teacher, thirty children, one room school ● Limited electricity ● Limited Internet access (currently broken) ● Quite remote and relatively difficult to approach  from Mumbai or Pune.    
  10. 10.     Khairat School. Note the “OLPC” moniker
  11. 11.     Village homes
  12. 12.     Across from the school
  13. 13.     More Khairat village homes...
  14. 14.     Everyone needs television :­)
  15. 15.     Such makeshift structures are common
  16. 16.     Going to school...
  17. 17.     Charge and work at the same time!
  18. 18.     Posing for the camera...
  19. 19.     This is my XO!
  20. 20.     The blackboard, now largely defunct. Who needs a board when you have a neighborhood!
  21. 21.     Mr. Surve takes my picture as I take his. Look closely and you'll see me on the XO screen!
  22. 22.     My name is “Suraj”
  23. 23.     She drew this in a couple of minutes
  24. 24.   Someone made this drawing, then shared it with another child, who then showed it to me,    passing it off as his work! Clever :­)
  25. 25.     Resident artist!
  26. 26.     The teacher, Mr. Surve's favorite line: “Go to the neighorhood. Join the mesh”
  27. 27.     Celebrating India's Independence day with India's flag in Paint activity
  28. 28.     Learning about center of gravity from traditional tight rope walkers
  29. 29.     Taking pictures on Gandhi's birthday (2nd Oct)
  30. 30.     OLPC XO  ­ Gandhi would have loved it
  31. 31.     Hanging out with the kids...
  32. 32.     Discussing trials and tribulations with the teacher
  33. 33. Khairat Photos http://www.zooomr.com/photos/sameerverma/sets/40064/     
  34. 34. Micro Deployments ● Reliance Communications – Initiated the Khairat pilot – Focus on micro deployments and grassroots – Digital Bridge Foundation, part of the Dhirubhai  Ambani Knowledge Trust ● Other micro deployments – http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_India#Current  – http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_India#Potential     
  35. 35. OLPC India ● Mr. Satish Jha, President OLPC India ● http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satish_Jha  ● http://laptop.org/en/utility/people/satish­jha.html  ● Sales and marketing office in New Delhi – Logistics and sales are significant challenges – Making some headway ● Focus on large numbers (50k?) ● Donation leads to position on advisory board – http://lists.laptop.org/pipermail/india/2008­September/000656.html     
  36. 36. OLPC Advocacy in India ● Lack of understanding about OLPC. – Most common comment: “Its a cheap laptop” ● Media misinformation (surprise, surprise!) ● Need for local translations ● Local content, short stories, imagery, cultural  and ethnic icons – Indian national anthem in Browse, TamTamJam  Kabirdas dohas, children's short stories, etc.    
  37. 37. OLPC Advocacy in India ● Piggyback on the Indian education system – Colleges and Universities – IITs, State Universities, Colleges – Class projects+OLPC = Google SoC model. ● Linux User Groups – No need to preach to the choir! – 33 Linux User Groups ● http://www.linux.org/groups/india/     
  38. 38. IT BHU ● Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu  University – http://www.itbhu.ac.in/  ● Presentation to faculty and students in  Computer Engineering department ● Faculty were excited. May help with advocacy. ● Students with FOSS background were excited.  Others weren't sure about what the can do   ● Pair up with student chapter of ACM, IEEE etc?  
  39. 39. Bhagmalpur project http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Bhagmalpur   ● Location: ● Village: Bhagmalpur ● District: Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh ● Railway Station: Shahganj ● Bus Stop: Banuwadeeh ● School:  ● Classes: 1 to 8 class ● Children: 1087 ● Teachers: 11 ● Internet: none     ● Computers: none
  40. 40. Electricity and Internet Access ● Unreliable grid – Some times it works... – ...mostly it doesn't ● Limited electricity – Scheduled breaks – Battery inverters ● Internet access is expensive – Offline Moodle and Wikislice will be very important – Offline content will be critical to the project's    success (currently an undersold point).  
  41. 41. Under a tree model   Mesh “under a tree” model.   See slide 7 at http://wiki.laptop.org/images/a/a3/Country_Technical_Support.pdf 
  42. 42. Bhagmalpur photos Bhagmalpur School http://www.zooomr.com/photos/sameerverma/sets/40063/  Bhagmalpur Village http://www.zooomr.com/photos/sameerverma/sets/40075/     
  43. 43. Allahabad ● Harishchandra Research Institute – Part of the Department of Atomic Energy, India – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harish­Chandra_Research_Institute  ● All Linux shop! ● Resident expertise ● Interested in the project    
  44. 44. Hyderabad ● IEEE Computer Society – http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r10/hyderabad/index.php?page=cschapter  ● International Institute of Information Technology – http://www.iiit.net/  ● Hyderabad Linux User Group – http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/ilughyd/  ● Get a SIG going?    
  45. 45. Hyderabad photos http://www.zooomr.com/photos/sameerverma/sets/40740/     
  46. 46. Looking Forward ● Tremendous potential ● Trojan horse approach – E­book reader + camera, followed by Internet  access ● Who will foot the bill? – India is not a poor country – Its a resource distribution problem. – Corporate Social Responsibility    
  47. 47. No “ifs”, only “when” This project must succeed    
  48. 48. Contact    
  49. 49. Bonus! G1G1 cards     Get yours at http://opensource.sfsu.edu/node/578 
  50. 50. Bonus! G1G1 cards     Get yours at http://opensource.sfsu.edu/node/578