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India unveils Rs 1500 computing device

Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday unveiled a $35 access-cum-computing device that could revolutionise education.

delhi Updated: Jul 23, 2010 02:18 IST
HT Correspondent

Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday unveiled a $35 access-cum-computing device that could revolutionise education.

The device allows users to perform tasks that meet most requirements of students — writing and storing text, browsing the internet and viewing videos, for instance.

"This represents an invitation to innovation. Other groups including private companies in India and abroad should now try and make a product even cheaper," Sibal said.

Effectively, the device unveiled on Thursday — made by a team from the IITs and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore — would set a US $35 cap on the price, HRD ministry sources argued. Manufacturers would now be invited to produce the device at rates cheaper than the prototype.

The HRD minister also set a 2011 deadline for the device to hit the markets. "The sun will shine on Indian students in 2011," he said, adding that once the device hits the market, universities and colleges would be encouraged to purchase the product for their students. But the promise of a low-cost computing device to revolutionise the experience of studying is not new and in the past has failed the price test when finally manufactured.

On February 3, 2009, then HRD minister Arjun Singh had launched a similar low-cost gadget in Tirupati which the ministry had claimed at the launch would cost between US $ 10-20. Then higher education secretary Rameshwar Pal Agrawal and joint secretary N.K. Sinha had told reporters they planned the device at a cost of between Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000. Like Sibal, they set a deadline too — six months.

The HRD ministry said that though the Tirupati device had not been dumped, its cost rose to US $ 47 by the time it was to be manufactured. Sibal too had launched a similar device costing US $ 250 in 2005 when he was science and technology minister.