India develops US$10 laptop
Ambitious Indian project of developing a laptop to be sold at US$10 has been achieved. The cheap laptop has been developed as part of the new "National Mission in Education through ICT" and intended to target higher education applications. The Indian government is also working on developing a very low-cost and low-power-consuming access device.
Research on the new low-cost laptop is being carried out at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai.
The specifications of the $10 laptop in not known. The Indian government is planning to use information and communications technology (ICT) to strengthen its current programs for distance learning by making them accessible online.
The $10 laptop project, first reported in TOI three years ago, has come as an answer to the $100 laptop of MIT's Nicholas Negroponte that he was trying to hardsell to India. The $10 laptop has come out of the drawing board stage due to work put in by students of Vellore Institute of Technology, scientists in Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, IIT-Madras and involvement of PSUs like Semiconductor Complex. “At this stage, the price is working out to be $20 but with mass production it is bound to come down,” R P Agarwal, secretary, higher education said.
Apart from questioning the technology of $100 laptops, the main reason for HRD ministry's resistance to Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project was the high and the hidden cost that worked out to be $200.
The mission launch would also see demonstration of e-classroom, virtual laboratory and a better 'Sakshat' portal that was launched more than two years ago. Sources also said that the ministry has entered into an agreement with four publishers — Macmillan, Tata McGraw Hill, Prentice-Hall and Vikas Publishing — to upload their textbooks on 'Sakshat'. Five per cent of these books can be accessed free.
The mission, with an 11th plan outlay of Rs 4,612 crore, is aimed at making a serious intervention in enhancing the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education. The mission has two major components. One, content generation through its portal 'Sakshat', and two, building connectivity along with providing access devices for institutions and learners.