The credit crunch computer is set to arrive tomorrow in India when officials unveil the 500 rupee (£7.25) laptop reports Randeep Ramesh in New Delhi in TheGuardian.co.uk. In an attempt to bridge the “digital divide” in the country between rich and poor, the government will show off the prototype, low-cost laptop as the centrepiece of an ambitious e-learning programme to link 18,000 colleges and 400 universities across the country.
India has a reputation for creating ultra-cheap technologies, a trend sparked last year by the Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car at Rs100,000 (£1,450).
The computer, known as Sakshat, which translates as “before your eyes”, will be launched as part of a new Rs46bn “national mission for education”. This envisages a network of laptops from which students can access lectures, coursework and specialist help from anywhere in India, triggering a revolution in education. A number of publishers have reportedly agreed to upload portions of their textbooks on to the system.
Prabhakar Rao, vice-chancellor of the university in Andhra Pradesh from where the Sakshat will be launched, said that India was “looking to get the hardware and software cheaper. In a developing country, costs have to be kept low so that the maximum number of students will benefit. That means cheap computers and cheap broadband access, so that students get access to ebooks and ejournals.”