The Importance of the Aakash Project
You can generally assume that any consumer product in your home went through some pretty rigorous testing, development, back-to-the-drawing-board moments and everything else we expect of technology design. The scrutiny is even more intense on a product that not only holds promise for the world's overall development, but is so tied into the Indian government's image of itself. At the end of the day, we have to look at the facts.
According to Anupam Gupta of the India Institute of Technology, of the 3 million students at India's 20,000 colleges, probably around 10 percent have their own computers [source: Rabkin]. Ten percent of all college students. Compare that with the "Back to School" sales at American big-box stores and you'll see why this project is so important. Anything that brings Internet capability to a student population like that is worth celebration, because it will change the world. Success on this project means greater success in more marginal areas across the world, which is of course the aim of global initiatives like One Laptop per Child.
Part of the original proposal for the Aakash included a subsidy program that would bring the tablets to the students for free -- in 2012, with the second version coming online, the government has amended this promise to subsidizing half the cost, with colleges picking up all or some of the remainder [source: OneIndia]. Still a pretty good deal, as long as the product is worth it. In 2010, it wasn't. But early reports in the summer of 2012 suggest this might be one of those times beta testing really does mean later success.