India today unveiled a Rs.1,500 (around $30) laptop designed specifically for students.
"If more companies decide to manufacture a similar device, prices will come down automatically," Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said after unveiling the low cost-access-cum computing device in the capital.
The device would be made available to students in 2011.
When the ministry floated the concept of a low cost laptop some years ago, officials said it would cost Rs.500 ($10). It will now cost about three times the initial projections.
The ministry expects the prices to drop to Rs.1,000 ($20) and reach Rs.500($10) as innovations are introduced.
The device, no bigger than a conventional laptop, is a single unit system with a touch screen and a built in key board along with a 2 GB RAM memory, wi-fi connectivity, USB port and powered by a 2-watt system to suit poor power supply areas.
“This is real and tangible and we will take it forward. Sun will rise for the Indian students in 2011,” he said.
The ministry also invited private players to produce similar low cost computers.
“When we started the project, the response from the private sector was lukewarm. Now many are willing to join the innovation,” Sibal said.
The ministry started its efforts by holding discussions on this concept with a group of experts at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras and IIT Bombay, a ministry official said.
The low cost laptops will be distributed in institutions by the HRD ministry. The final price will depend on the transportation cost.
“We will give some subsidy on the device. As far as transport is concerned, if the transport cost in less, the government can bear that as well,” Sibal added.