India showcases low-cost laptop to bridge digital divide
A novel version of the laptops, built by Indian science and technology institutes and to be priced between Rs.500-1,000 (approx. $10-20), was showcased in Tirupati town.
The low-cost device, developed jointly by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Chennai, and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, for the human resource development (HRD) ministry, is aimed at bridging the digital divide and making access to computer literacy affordable to the masses.
Demonstrating the laptop in presence of HRD Minister Arjun Singh and experts in the Venkateshwara University campus, Education Joint Secretary S.K. Sinha said the low-power consuming gadget would hit the market in the next six months.
“The device, which is smaller than the normal laptop in size and weight, still needs fine-tuning. With 2GB memory and wireless internet connection, the laptop will be priced between Rs.500-1,000 to make it affordable to everyone,” Sinha said.
To popularize and make extensive use of the laptop, the ministry plans to distribute the device in hundreds to higher secondary schools and colleges across the country on a pilot basis under the national mission on education through information and communication technology.
“We intend to provide high-speed internet access to schools and colleges to download e-books, e-journals and relevant educative material through the state-run Sakshat portal,” Sinha said.
“The goal of the national mission is to increase enrollment in higher education by five percent by 2014. The government will subsidise 25 percent of broadband connectivity costs for private and public colleges,” Singh announced.
The mission is part of the ministry's initiatives to help the common man in his quest for education. The central government has earmarked Rs.46.12 billion (Rs.4,612 crore) for the mission in the 11th Five-Year Plan.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and state HRD Minister D. Purandeshwari were also present on the occasion.