SI Team
Friday, July 30, 2010
With an aim of equipping every Indian student with a laptop, the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry’s effort to bring out $30 laptops has invited lot of criticism. Some of the Indian media channels bring excitement to the whole scenario by calling it as India’s yet another cheapest invention after designing the world’s cheapest passenger car Tata Nano.

On the flipside, the western media is hesitant to call it as a laptop, “It doesn’t appear to be a laptop at all, instead, it seems to be a small (10 inches by 5 inches) ‘storage device’ with a bunch of wires emerging from it,” reports Gizmodo. Whether it is $10, $20 or $30 all of them are doubtful about its success.

Until now, the China-based electronic equipment manufacturer MenQ holds the credit for world’s cheapest laptop EasyPC E790. India is trying to break credit ts by bringing out the $30 laptop with key features like touch screen display, built in keyboard, 2GB RAM, Wi-Fi connectivity, and USB support, and which runs on solar power besides conventional power sources and supports multimedia, Web conferencing, and Linux OS.

In 2009, MenQ launched $80 laptop successfully. But it took one year for India to unveil a prototype of $30 laptop. The availability and distribution is the major concern of the hour. Now Intel India has taken a step forward and plans to partner with the union HRD ministry to commercially roll out the $30 laptop for students. India has witnessed similar projects in the past, but there has been no progress other than the initial hue and cry.

It should be noted that in 2005, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a similar prototype of a $100 laptop, especially for children of developing nations. But, at that time, India rejected the offer, saying it was too expensive, and decided to develop a cheaper alternative of its own. In 2008, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras worked on the development of the low-cost laptop as a part of the OLPC project.

There was certainly a distinct lack of enthusiasm on the part of the government agencies in India towards the idea of OLPC and MIT projects. The $30 laptop initiative should not be a repetition of OLPC & MIT projects.
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