Dus Ka Dum

So what if the $10 laptop is worth $30? So what if it is actually $100 and the concerned Indian official did not read one “zero” as it was mistyped —after all what’s a few zeroes between friends, especially when the zero represents representatives of the Indian government. So what if the laptop is not a laptop at all but a hyped up storage device,a glorified pen drive? And finally so what that Ramar Pillai could not make gasoline from water?

Still hum hain be-misaal. Iske upar naheen bolne ka.

The “not-really” $10 laptop,  cited as the latest example of massive government bumbling, its technological ineptness and its desire for quick publicity, has become an object of world-wide ridicule.

Of course this whole brouhaha is nothing but a casteist conspiracy that bases itself on the elitist assumption that just because something does not look or behave like a laptop, it cannot be called a “laptop”.

After all, the HRD ministry and its supporters in the intelligentsia have argued, most convincingly I would say over the past few years, that merit is an elitist construct used as a mechanism to discriminate against the weaker sections.

Following the same logic, I believe that “definitions” of what constitutes a mobile computing device (namely the mandatory presence of an input and an output device) are random concepts of “merit” that have been foisted on popular consciousness by the technical elites in order to deprive the ‘socially weaker’ members of the fraternity (devices like the dus rupaiyaa wonder or a power adapter) a place at the table, the right to be called a “laptop”.

And it’s high time someone brought in some “technical justice”.

If the government has dropped the ball in any sphere, I would say that they did not properly market and package the remarkable engineering marvel. Releasing the mobile device in front of Tirupati temple sent the right message that servicing the laptop is an act left upto God.  So far so good. For a machine that is targeted towards students, it serves its primary purpose well. That is it is a device that can store “those” special pictures and videos that is the spice of life, the primary reason why we always wanted our first computer.

But then the mistake was made.  In what would have silenced the dissenting voices in one shot, the government should have simply marketed the gizmo as a storage device with the spirit of a laptop, while at the same time reminding people that:

A lizard without a tail is still a lizard.

A man without a brain is still a politician.

And a laptop without a keyboard and a display unit, that actually needs to be connected to a computer in order to work,  is also a laptop.

57 thoughts on “Dus Ka Dum

  1. Politicians will remain politicians….. these people are rotten to say the least… Am I the first one… what is this ipod funda by the way.

  2. Why are we Indians always belittling our achievements. It is good invention. With time and more efforts, we shall make it better. Now India has reached the moon. Surely you do not say that it is also fake.
    Be proud to be an Indian. You must be knowing that more than 30% of Microsoft profesionals and more than 20% of NASA staff are Indians.

  3. @shuvadeep

    For a change why not accept $10 laptop instead….He he he

  4. Its a shame! What were they trying to do?
    Why were the specifications of the laptop were never disclosed is now clear.
    If they would have done that, it would have been similar to Akshay Kumar forbidding the crowds from watching Chandni Chowk to China. 🙂

  5. Yes, I just read about the story in my morning papers. It is such a shame. Just like many of the scientific claims the $10 ‘laptop’ turned out to be a farce.

    I remember many years back when Russia denied cryogenic rocket building technology to India bucking under US pressure, the then ISRO boss APJ Abdul Kalam defiantly claimed that India would be able to develop its own cryogenic technology and build its own engine within two years. I have not heard about it ever since. This is just one example that crossed my mind now. There are millions of others, you wouldn’t have to look too hard.

    Indian politicians, scientists, institutions etc should learn how to control their words before making a claim that they might not be able to deliver. It is such a shame that the whole world was looking up to the $10 laptop from India. Now, the guys of VIT and their backers have become a laughing stock. I hope in these hard times, the VIT passouts find a good job because the prejudice (of many kinds) would precede them.

  6. And in one shot, the Indian IT industry wonder has lost whatever little credibility it had left in the world.

    Just read the comments on slashdot to take in a measure of the ridicule India is going through:


  7. @ Laborer

    I got a couple of pen drives already 🙂

  8. The $100 OLPC is also $200…

  9. Again the Government PR has managed to stump the country’s image worldwide. Even Pakistan’s erudite propagandists and Arundhati Roy could not have accomplished this feat better of inviting unalloyed disdain from a demographic normally ignored in the bigger scheme of worldly things. Leave aside the ministers who have more pressing matters to look into like threats to Indian culture, what were the bureaucrats (many of whom spend 2-3 years preparing and getting into IAS/IFS) and scientists thinking when the news started to spread quite a few days before the official inauguration ? Were they hoping for some miracle to metamorphosize the the pen drive to a laptop or for the 10th avatar to come to their rescue ?
    Granted performance appraisals are not exactly the deciding factor in advancing one’s career aspirations in the government institutions but what about an iota of shame or sommonsense ? And the lesser said about the Indian media the better who intoxicated by the prospect of yet another gooey-happy Indian success story conveniently forgets that any technical piece of news needs to be backed up by substantial detailsand specs.
    I hope it’s an Indian conspiracy to conquer the world but through self-deprecating humour.

  10. GB – Iske Upar nahin bolne ka… cracked me up… I’ll go back to the post when I can stop laughing. I wanna enjoy every crazy line of yours with the same intensity

  11. GB – too good I mean, awesome. Are you on humourous steroids???

  12. At least you did’t call this post “Dus bahance” or “Dus Kapital” 🙂

    Thanks for writing about this. I hope the rest of the world don’t think Nano is a similar con job.

    Extra extra read all about it: The world’s cheapest car is a rickshaw!!!

  13. GB how dare you speak against $10(0) computing device? By decree of Lord Arjun Singh separate reserved category has been created and $10(0) computing device is now deemed to be a “laptop”, exactly in the same manner that people scoring about 70% in the last CAT have been deemed equal to the 99% percentile wallahs (refer to IIM call lists for detail)! Yeh democracy hai bhai..sabka hak baanta hain, jo marzi ho woh banne ka…

    btw interesting to note PM’s docs names during the last bypass…none are the ones who had “equality thrust upon them”…wonder why?????????

  14. Why not blame the jingoistic media who does not do any homework before reporting.

  15. can’t see the comment I made a while earlier!!?? don’t suppose it was offensive to be removed??

  16. Guys stop pitying ourselves. Why are we Indians always belittling our achievements. It is good invention. With time and more efforts, we shall make it better. Now India has reached the moon. Surely you do not say that it is also fake.
    Be proud to be an Indian. You must be knowing that more than 30% of Microsoft profesionals and more than 20% of NASA staff and 20% of Doctors in US are Indians. Indians are winning Oscar. Obama’s many staff are Indian.

  17. @ Laborer: Harping on the same point does not make it more valid. And why do you need to depend on the statistics of Indians in the US to prove your point? If you were truly proud of being an Indian, you would say that ‘x’ number of Indians are Doctors and not ‘x’ number of doctors in the US are Indians!! And why is being on Obama’s staff list an achievement?!

  18. GB,

    No..No.. You misunderstand our great officials. I think by “$10 laptop”, they actually meant a “$10 lapdance”. A $10 stripper sitting on top of your lap is a “laptop” girl.

    So, for your next birthday, I’m gonna gift you a $10 laptop. Don’t forget to plug in your hardware.

    Apun deta hai toh leney ka. Iske upar naheen bolne ka.

  19. @Laborer: Can you cite a source for your 30% in MSFT and 20% in NASA numbers. It looks like you pulled those numbers out of some place dark and smelly.

    Even if you substitute the word “Indian” with “Indian-American”, I don’t think you have any basis for your numbers.

    This pride in our failure as a country, where our citizens need to go to other countries and give up their identity and citizenship to excel in a field of their choice is not really something to be hollering about you know …

    This exact lack of meritocracy in India is what we are talking about here.

  20. @Laborer: And responding to Obama’s staff composition, while it has to be seen how many are actually Indian citizens, the presence of members of Indian origin in his staff speaks more about the blind meritocracy promoted in the US than of India.

    It would have been a talking point if you said x% of Manmohan Singh’s staff was composed of Kenyans or even of people from Arunachal Pradesh, just because we saw that those were the best people. This lack of blindness and the ignorance of merit in India is exactly what we are talking about here.

  21. Releasing the mobile device in front of Tirupati temple sent the right message that servicing the laptop is an act left upto God.

    heh heh!

  22. What exactly did they do at the unveiling? I am pretty sure it was not like arjun ‘Steve jobs’ singh said “Oh, one more thing”, at the end of the tirupati darshan. I think the media didn’t even get to see the real thing in live All they got was some pictures projected and even that didn’t deter them from going all weak knee.. With crap like this, even if someone from india comes up with a niche product, they won’t be taken seriously outside. Whatever happened to skeptical journalism?

  23. @Beau Peep,
    may be you don’t want to look?

    Development is a reinventing the wheel process. Every country has to go through its “$10 laptop” moments.

  24. Laborer, AMouse – the “desi quotient” story was another instant where Indian politicians & media covered themselves with glory. read in sequence:


  25. looks like the “laborer” could use a certificate from this source -http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=72108 and be a part of Microsoft or NASA as well.

  26. Would you guys still be criticising it if it was developed in North India by North Indian people instead of in South India, by talented South Indian people and unveiled in New Delhi rather than in Tirupati ????

  27. @ Kishore
    Excellent point, Kishore. Love your thinking.
    Yes, I would.
    Obviously, because I come from East India.

  28. I bet the CCCP* would be able to accomplish this without even batting an eyelid. Why, given some time and some encouragement, they could even come up with a $5 laptop!

    Oh, by the way…*CCCP = Cheapo Chinese Chip Producers!

  29. @BengalVoice: Lap…dance…top… hilarious!
    @GB: A politician without a brain would still be a politician… ha ha.. but why the lizard above?

  30. O come on now

    the great bong is being too harsh on the laptop thing

    People fail when they try …. right….may be the $100 laptop will be a hit from the lessons of this one

  31. 1 politician (man without brain, that is) to another: anything that can be physically or remotely connected to a computer or can do something that a computer can and can be kept on your lap is a laptop! hence we have just come up with a $10 laptop.
    next you will have pen drive, err laptop for $1, what say?
    as usual ROTFL at greatbong writing style.

  32. and how are they planning to sell this cheap laptop…i wish using door to door salesmen

  33. @ Anonymous:

    Thanks for the link. You may choose to give me the benefit of doubt because this ISRO press release was mostly ignored by the media, and is too recent. Besides, what the scientists and the government claimed decades back is still in developmental stage. The cryogenic engine was supposed to have been developed by the late 90s or latest by early this decade.

    Still, it warmed up my heart to read the press release. I am feeling much better now.

    I completely agree that every country has to go through its ‘$10 laptop’ moments, but don’t you think it happens too frequently in India?

  34. I wonder what is better political issue?
    Raising Ram Mandir slogan, which will never be made?
    Or disrupting the liberalization and freedom of Indian citizens on the name of reservations on caste, creed, religion, sex etc…

    Both sort of issues causes a divide and rule effect and can (do) cause riots, yet raising Ram Temple issue leaves liberalization of market free for a little extent.

    I guess such worthless issues like ram temple are better for worthless elections to choose ruthless and brainless rulers for Indians rather than the more dangerous issues based on division of Individuals on gross discrimination (reservation) over caste, creed, religion and sex. Anyways, i wonder if there is any probability for freedom of Indians in this state ruled India.

  35. Nice blog, bhaisaab. Prothom page-e otaki apnar chhobi?

  36. Yes that is me. A heavier me than I am now. But yes still me

  37. Completely off topic, but maybe you could use this pic of Prabhuji in your banner

  38. This Laptop is for the guys at IIT who have specially got in through the OBC Quota…

  39. When will this stupid politicians come to know about Technical feasibility and economical viability?

    What about the school which have ‘Phantom’ teachers? What about the mid-day-mean scheme frauds? Why dont they try to address these questions first. I believe most of our schools could do without Laptops…[that doesnt mean they shouldnt have access to them] but there are more fundamental promblems in the system demanding immediate attention…..

  40. EMC3 Miyan,

    Who are you to make such derogatory references to OBCs?

    Atleast the OBCs don’t fly planes in buildings.

  41. Hi,
    whats the point in criticizing something so bluntly?

    I also dont buy the story of $10 laptop, but then there is always positive side to everything. Instead of brining people down, try to bring them up na.
    Laptop without a display is not a big deal, I am sure going ahead, we are going to have TVs which can take inputs from computing devices, and even keyboards and mouse prices are crashing down.

    So it is a good beginning, or if not, do some more in depth analysis.

    Would have loved your blog had you analyzed and give some constructive suggestions.

  42. @Bengal Voice (self proclaimed)

    EMC3 has the same right to talk about OBC as you, me or anyone else in this WHOLE WIDE WORLD. Get this thing in your head.

    Dude, what’s your problem?? Why do you have to pour vitriol on every post?? Boss you need help, go and see a doctor (I would recommend consulting some good psychiatrist).

  43. @ Jedi Master
    Since your voice, will be worthless pretty soon.
    Recommend anyone else to BV, but your own psychiatrist. He seems to have messed u up more than he cured you.

    Advice to your therapist-
    Star Wars wannabes, who talks about social issues = cuckoo

  44. @ Shonakhali Strykah
    All I tried to do was defend the right of EMC3 of expressing his opinion. Kindly note the fury with which BV shot down EMC3’s harmless comment. The last time I checked, inspite of best efforts of your brethren, right to freedom (which includes freedom of speech and expression) is still considered a fundamental right in India. I don’t think that right-wingers get this simple concept.
    BV tried to deny EMC3 this simple right and that’s why I stepped in. By ranting and supporting BV all you have achieved is that you have confirmed that you too are an ardent follower of the sick right-wing ideology. If anyone is in serious need of psychiatric help, it’s you and your gang of thugs.

  45. Oops!!

    The previous comment was by me.

  46. @ Jedi Master
    Who told you, either Bengalvoice or me are “right wing”?
    Nice job labelling dude.

    Caring for poor, socially underpreviledged Hindu makes us ” sick rightwingers” ?

    Bengalvoice talks abou the millions of destittute Hindus suffering because of Islamic exclusivism. Look around, you will find a lot of them in your firnedly neighborhood.

    Dude!! your like stinks more than my doodie under Bowbazaar bridge.

  47. @sonakhali strikah

    You wrote: Who told you, either Bengalvoice or me are “right wing”?
    //EMC3 Miyan,
    Who are you to make such derogatory references to OBCs?
    Atleast the OBCs don’t fly planes in buildings.//

    My response: If the above statement of BV and your ribald defense of BV doesn’t show a deep rooted hatred for Muslims then I wonder what does??

    You also wrote: Caring for poor, socially underpreviledged Hindu makes us ” sick rightwingers” ?

    My response: Please go through my comment before ranting, I don’t give a damn about what you or BV cares about. If you have a “thing” for upliftment of Hindus, Muslims, Christens, Dalits, OBCs, Jains, or for any other community then be it, I simple don’t care. All I did was defend EMC3’s right of expression. I still don’t think that you get this simple point.

    You also wrote: Bengalvoice talks abou the millions of destittute Hindus suffering because of Islamic exclusivism. Look around, you will find a lot of them in your firnedly neighborhood.
    Dude!! your like stinks more than my doodie under Bowbazaar bridge.

    My response: Ya sure, please look around and kindly go through Sachar committee report and Gujarat High Court’s finding on Godhra train burning and subsequent Gujarat riots while you are at it.

    So dude its people like you and your sick ideology that stinks and makes me want to puke whenever I encounter one of your kind.

  48. @gb

    I dnt know why but one of my comments is stuck in moderation. Let me if you find anything offensive in it and I will rephrase it.

  49. Thats it. Any other political comments on this post will be removed. Kindly try to stick to the topic ie. $10 laptops.

  50. [edited]

    GB: Is the comment above not visible to you?

  51. @ gb
    I posted bfore your comment came.
    No more here as u say.

  52. Unfortunately this is not a laughing matter but the ineptness of our government has stopped to such a level that we can not do anything but laugh.

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