Satish Jha created quite a stir on national television earlier this week, when he was seen aggressively advocating the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project on a show that was meant to discuss India’s Aakash tablet.
Jha was part of a panel discussing Has the Aakash tablet project turned out to be a white elephant?alongside Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO, Datawind, the makers of Aakash tablet, and a couple of prominent Indian tech journalists. Jha, who was introduced on the show as Founder and Chairman of One Laptop Per Child India, was rather vocal in his criticism of Aakash tablet, and was seeing advocating the OLPC project as an alternative.
It is worth recalling that the One Laptop Per Child project was founded by Nicholas Negroponte of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab. The project, backed by a host of Western technology companies, aimed to bring $100 laptops to children around the world, but, not dissimilar to Aakash, it has had its share of technical, manufacturing and competitive challenges.
Thursday, One Laptop Per Child Association, Inc released a statement distancing itself from Jha and his views on the Aakash tablet. OLPC said that Satish Jha had not been affiliated with the organisation since July 2012 and that his views on the Aakash tablet were his own. It also applauded the efforts of Government of India “as it continues to examine new and innovative ways to educate the children of India.”
Satish Jha took to Twitter to explain his side of the story, saying, “I am the founder Chairman of OLPC India, don’t work with the sales department of OLPC that issued the statement. (I) dissociated (myself) with OLPCA as it has little capability to see beyond its boxes! And (OLPCA) owes me money it doesn’t have!”
Update: Jha has released a full statement, saying he was appointed “appointed President & CEO of OLPC India by invitation by Professor Negroponte and as the organization had financial challenges, Mr Jha supported OLPC India Foundation with his personal resource.” Full text of the statement is available here.
Full text of the OLPC statement
In view of certain recent statements, One Laptop Per Child Association, Inc (“OLPC”) would like to clarify that Mr. Satish Jha has not been affiliated with OLPC since August 31, 2012. Mr. Jha does not represent OLPC or any of its affiliated entities and the views expressed by Mr. Jha do not represent the views of OLPC or any of its affiliates.
OLPC has always encouraged projects expanding the learning opportunities of children in the developing world including the Aakash initiative in India. OLPC is dedicated to providing the world’s children with access to an innovative education. OLPC supports all efforts dedicated to this end and it encourages the makers of the Aakash initiative to continue to explore such educational initiatives. Moreover, OLPC applauds the efforts of the Government of India as it continues to examine new and innovative ways to educate the children of India.
OLPC was created to design, manufacture and distribute educational laptop computers to children around the world. Inquiries related to any existing or future OLPC projects should be directed to OLPC, which is based in Miami, Florida.