ICTD in the Popular Press: Media Discourse Around Aakash, the “World’s Cheapest Tablet”

Preeti Mudliar, Joyojeet Pal

Abstract


The quest for a low-cost computer has been among the primary motivations of innovation and practice in the ICTD world. We discuss developments using the case of the low-cost Indian tablet, Aakash, publicized as the world’s cheapest tablet, and situate these within a history of India’s quest for development through technology in the last two decades. We analyzed 212 articles on Aakash and found four dominant themes in the popular media: the cult of a technocratic leadership, the discourse of indigenous technology, the re-creation of the Silicon Valley dream, and the face of the marginal user. We argue that Aakash has gone from being a technology artifact to a device representative of Indian aspirations on several levels: as a forward-thinking state, as an ingenious entrepreneurial class, and as an energetic population whose success would primarily depend on access to technology.

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