THE thought was, and still is, captivating: in 2011, a Indian supervision and dual Indian-born tech entrepreneurs unveiled a $50 inscription computer, to be built in India with Google’s giveaway Android software. The supervision would buy a computers by a millions and give them to a schoolchildren.
Enthusiasts saw a devise as a approach to move complicated touch-screen computing to some of a world’s lowest people while seeding a record production attention in India. Legions of business placed allege orders for a blurb chronicle of a tablet, anxious during a awaiting of owning discernible explanation that India was a personality in “frugal innovation.”
Even a secretary ubiquitous of a United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, lavished regard on a brazen project, called Aakash, a Hindi word for sky. “India is a superpower on a information superhighway,” Mr. Ki-moon pronounced during a rite in Nov during a United Nations domicile in New York.
Stoking expectations was Suneet Singh Tuli, a charismatic C.E.O. of a tiny London-based association that won a bid. “I am formulating a product during a reduce cost than anyone else in a universe with a wish that it impacts people’s lives and we make income out of it,” he pronounced in a new interview.
But over a final few months, it has turn increasingly clear that Mr. Tuli, 44, and his comparison brother, Raja Singh Tuli, 46, are incompetent to broach on many of their desirous promises.
The Tulis acknowledge that their company, DataWind, will not even come tighten to shipping a 100,000 tablets it has betrothed to India’s colleges and universities before a year-end deadline. Most of a 10,000 or so tablets delivered by early Dec were done in China, notwithstanding a company’s early oath to make in India. Financial statements filed with British regulators uncover that a association is deeply in a red.
And a project’s whole grounds — that India can make a inexpensive inscription mechanism that will somehow make adult for failures of a country’s crippled preparation complement — is essentially flawed, according to some experts in preparation and manufacturing.
Leigh L. Linden, an partner highbrow of economics and open affairs during a University of Texas during Austin who has complicated a use of record in schools in India and other building countries, pronounced that, during best, computers merely compare a opening gains from distant reduction dear projects that engage employing additional teachers or training assistants. And in some cases, Professor Linden said, a introduction of computers can indeed reduce students’ exam results.
“Based on a accessible research,” he said, “this would not be a many effective plan for preparation in building countries.”
The idea that India’s diseased production zone can locate adult to China in modernized mechanism hardware also strikes some experts as far-fetched. “China became a production core of a world, and India missed that boat,” pronounced Surjit S. Bhalla, an economist and handling executive of Oxus Investments.
So far, a Indian supervision is station resolutely behind a project.
“All pathbreaking ideas do demeanour too desirous when conceived,” a Ministry of Human Resource Development, that oversees a Aakash project, pronounced in an e-mailed statement. Aakash is “an all-encompassing project,” not only a origination of a inscription computer, a method said. With it, a supervision skeleton to emanate “an whole production ecosystem” in India.
INTERVIEWS with DataWind executives, supervision officials, Chinese manufacturers, business partners and former and stream employees paint a design of a tiny family association that was impressed by a formidable plan that even China’s cutthroat record manufacturers would find severe to govern during a cost approaching by a government.
Leading a debate final month of a company’s tiny touch-screen bureau in downtown Montreal, Raja Tuli, DataWind’s co-chairman and arch record officer, pronounced he had primarily against his brother’s enterprise to bid on a Aakash contract, and he voiced slow regrets.
“We got stranded in it,” he said. “We’re doing a best.”
DataWind’s genuine goal, Mr. Tuli said, is to sell low-cost wireless Internet entrance for tablets in building countries like India. He pronounced DataWind’s exclusive information application technology, that done a entrance in Britain years ago with a device called the PocketSurfer, well delivers Web pages over older, slower cellphone networks.
Pamposh Raina reported from New Delhi and Amritsar, India, Ian Austen from Montreal and Heather Timmons from New Delhi. Mia Li contributed stating from Beijing.