The Aakash tablet, hailed as the vanguard of India’s “tablet revolution,” was unveiled at the United Nations. It was to showcase India’s technological prowess but was quickly lamented as a failed “dream,” and as India’s “object lesson” in how not to do technological innovation. The so-called failure of the device became a metonym for the government that backed it, and for the technology establishment of the country.
The low-cost Aakash tablet and its previous iterations in India have gone through several phases of technological changes and ideological experiments. Did the government prioritise familiarity and literacy about personal technological devices over the promise of quality mass education generated by low-cost devices?