Published: Sunday 15 June 2003

an effort to replicate the world-famous Media Lab in India suffered a major setback recently following angry recriminations exchanged between the Indian government and the management of the us-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (mit) -- the organisation behind Media Lab. The agreement with mit had expired recently.

Media Lab Asia, which opened in New Delhi amid much fanfare two years ago, will now function without mit's involvement. Officials of mit say that the decision to end the collaboration came after Arun Shourie, India's information technology minister, claimed that he wanted practical technologies to flow from the laboratory, rather than the futuristic ideas and approaches for which the mit lab has won its reputation over the years.

Nicholas Negroponte, chairperson of the Media Lab's governing board, asserts that mit pulled out of the project because Shourie wanted to run it like other programmes in India. He added that Shourie does not believe in rural development through information technology, and that he is even less interested in basic innovation. Shourie says the lab failed "because researchers of Indian Institute of Technology were unable to quantify the contribution from mit." He adds that the project was failing to attract private funds, and that the government did not want to pay us $5 million over 10 years to use the name 'Media Lab'.

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