India to Introduce US$20 Laptop
Feb. 2 – In order to boost affordable education in rural areas, India will launch a US$20 laptop tomorrow. The low priced laptop is pioneered by scientists at the Vellore Institute of Technology, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras and at the state-controlled Semiconductor Complex.
The laptop which will undercut Asustek’s US$200 scaled down EeePC as it boasts a 2Gb Ram capacity, wireless connectivity, fixed Ethernet, expandable memory and consumes just 2 watts of power.
If commercially sustainable, the US$20 laptop would be a boon to the Indian government which needs to educate more than 550 million children under the age of 25 in remote areas. The government has been working on several e-learning software’s and has already built networks in many rural areas, the advent of an affordable computer would complete the governments plan of providing quality education to towns and villages.
The education ministry has entered into an agreement with four publishers — Macmillan, Tata McGraw Hill, Prentice-Hall and Vikas Publishing — to upload their textbooks onto the Laptop. Five per cent of these books can be accessed free.
The mission would seek to extend computer infrastructure and connectivity to over 18,000 colleges in the country, including each department of nearly 400 universities and institutions of national importance. The mission would focus on appropriate e-learning procedures, providing facility of performing experiments through virtual laboratories, online testing and certification, online availability of teachers to guide and mentor learners, and utilization of EduSat and DTH, the Economic Times reported.
Several similar projects introduced in the past have faded out due to a lack of funds, insufficient electricity to power the computer, lack of computer savvy people in the rural areas or harsh environmental conditions.
Two years ago, Nicholas Negroponte, the computer scientist and former director of MIT’s Media Lab offered the Indian government the Children’s Machine a US$100 laptop under the One Laptop Per Child initiative. The Indian government however turned down the offer promising young Indian’s it would manufacture a better computer for less. This laptop is that promise delivered by the Indian government.
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