Atanu Dey On India's Development

God-realization Through Technology

On the launch of the Simputer, a sort of Palm clone meant for the poor, PicoPeta chairman Prof. Vinay said: “Amida allows people to share information, stay connected and bond emotionally. It does these by breaking the fear of technology.”

Damn, now I know what was preventing me from bonding emotionally with people — my fear of technology. Now that Simputer is here, I will get over my fear of technology and bam! I will be bonding emotionally with people. Now I will finally get a life!

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My point is rather pedestrian. One should try to be somewhat realistic about the scope and nature of a technical product. Inflated rhetoric about how it can lead to god-realization and enlightenment is foolish. It is useful to remind ourselves that technology directly solves technical problems. A handheld computer’s utility is limited to storing, retrieving, managing, and communicating data. It will not solve an interpersonal relationship problem no matter how user-friendly an interface it has. If electronic gizmos could have solved ‘bonding’ issues, then the US would have been one of the most friendly societies on earth and not need the battalions of shrinks it has. If having a Palm-pilot clone is all that is preventing people from bonding, then we have all our problems licked.

Whether one likes it or not, solutions have to be consistent with the nature of the problem. Interpersonal problems cannot be addressed by technical solutions anymore than transportation problems can be addressed by cardiac surgery.

  • Venkat Ramanan

    HI,
    The product simputer is being targeted NOT at a corporate individual (who would be little moved by emotions and feelingful words like bonding) but the target audience of Simputer is the one-billion odd Indian Community which has a higher inclination to bonding, emotions and feelings (That’s what is the general perception) so, i dont see any mistake in the Professor’s Marketing strategy, which makes me think, he has understood the masses more than what you or me have, at least from a marketing perspective.

  • http://www.worldisgreen.com Suhit Anantula

    Venkat:

    I differ on your position here.

    At the cost of Rs. 10,000 how many of the our fellow one billion Indians can afford it.

    You can leave the 500 million people for the sheer lack of money. The next 300 million still feel they will get a better use by buying a TV for Rs.10,000 than by buying a handheld.

    The next 199 million may want to go for a computer rather than a PDA.

    The remaining 1 million potential customers who may buy a PDA will opt for a PALM than a simputer.

    Fact: India has a market for only 3 million computers every year.

    Forget all this:

    The point is simple. The people the professor is targetting cannot afford this. Secondly what they need is some income generating technologies than emotional bonding ones. They already have suitable methods for that.

    Tell me how can this PDA solve the problems of the poor?

    Suhit

  • http://www.prashantmullick.com Prashant Mullick

    I completely agree with Suhit. I totally fail to see how a 240$ piece of electronics can alleviate the problems of the poor or even bridge the ‘Digital Divide’.

    No matter if it is able to be used in the local language, at its present cost who in the target audience can afford it?

    Though here’s what I see happening. The folks at SImputer will land up marketing this product in the big cities and target it as a flashy alternative to the Palm of PocketPC. Trying to get the ‘yuppy’ city youngsters to buy this is the only way the makers will alnd up making any justification of the investment into this.

    Let’s wait and watch where this product gets sold most! :-)