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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Daily Report: India Still Waits for Cheap Tablet

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.

But as Pamposh Raina, Ian Austen and Heather Timmons report, it has become increasingly evident that the brothers behind the tablet project are unable to deliver on most of their ambitious promises.

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.”

Stoking expectations was Suneet Singh Tuli, the charismatic C.E.O. of the small London-based company that won the bid. “I am creating a product at a lower price than anyone else in the world with the hope that it impacts people's lives and I make money out of it,” he said in a recent interview.

But the Tulis acknowledge that their company, DataWind, will not even come close to shipping the 100,000 tablets it has promised to India's colleges and universities before its year-end deadline. Most of the 10,000 or so tablets delivered through early December were made in China, despite the company's early pledge to manufacture in India. Financial statements filed with British regulators show that the company is deeply in the red.

And the project's entire premise - that India can make a cheap tablet computer that will somehow make up for failures of the country's crippled education system - is fundamentally flawed, according to some experts in education and manufacturing.

India\'s New Anti-Rape Legislation Could Be Named for Victim of Brutal Attack

A video report from India's IBN Live featuring an interview with the father of a woman who died last week after a gang rape.

The father of a 23-year-old Indian woman who died last week after a brutal gang rape has endorsed the idea of naming new anti-rape legislation after his daughter. The victim's name has not been revealed, but in an interview with the Indian news channel IBN Live on Wednesday, her father said:

It would be a step in the right direction and heartening to name the law after my daughter. A law named after an individual, for whom the entire country came together, will obviously be much more effective. T his will also ensure that she will be immortalized forever.

After weeks of public protests, the proposal to honor the woman in the Indian legal code was raised on Tuesday by Shashi Tharoor, a former United Nations official who is now a government minister. Writing on Twitter, Mr. Tharoor suggested that continuing to conceal the victim's name was a disservice to her memory.

As IBN Live reported, Mr. Tharoor's proposal was welcomed by some in India, and rejected by others, including members of his own party who criticized the minister for floating the idea in public.

A video report from India's IBN Live on a proposal to name tougher anti-rape legislation after a woman who died last week after a gang rape.

Rashid Alvi, a spokesman for the governing Congress Party, raised a technical objection too. He told The Press Trust of India, “there is no such practice in our country where laws of Indian Penal Code are named after individuals, unlike in the U.S.” The practice of commemorating crime victims in legislation is common in the United States. The Amber Alert system, for instance, which is used to notify the public about abducted children, was named for Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old who was kidnapped and murdered in Texas in 1996.

In his d efense of the proposal on Twitter, Mr. Tharoor noted that concealing the dead woman's name had already helped false rumors about her identity spread online and could make it easier for the episode to be forgotten. He argued, too, that it was inappropriate for the woman to be remembered not by her name but by the Twitter hashtag “Delhi Rape Girl.”

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