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India's $20 Laptop
Julia Levitt, 2 Feb 09

2219631791_4012b9fe20_small.jpgA New Delhi-backed project has released news of a breakthrough in accessible personal computing: the $20 laptop. According to an article from yesterday's Financial Times:

India’s “Sakshat” laptop is intended to boost distance learning to help India fulfil its overwhelming educational needs. It forms part of a broader plan to improve e-learning at more than 18,000 colleges and 400 universities. However, some analysts are sceptical that a $20 laptop would be commercially sustainable and the project has yet to attract a commercial partner.

A prototype will go on show at a National Mission on Education launch in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, tomorrow. Pioneered in India 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 has 2Gb Ram capacity and wireless connectivity.
R.P. Agrawal, secretary of secondary and higher education, said last week that the cost of the laptop was about $20 a unit, but he expected that to fall. He also said he expected the units to be commercially available in six months.

As reporters and bloggers of all stripes have been loudly announcing, this new project dramatically undercuts the much-hyped XO, a U.S.-produced low-cost laptop. The XO is the flagship product of the One Laptop Per Child project, an innovative attempt to bridge the digital divide which Worldchanging ally Ethan Zuckerman has discussed in detail here and here.

No matter who produces the hardware, bringing IT technology to the developing world is a crucial component of any plan to increase the quality of life for populations in the Global South. If international market competition helps to speed up the process, we're all for it.

Photo credit: flickr/amanky, CC license.

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Comments

hehe.. I am really eager to see this $20 laptop, but I probably won't because it's just more hot air some more from the people who created a lot of hot air about the $2500 which has yet to be sold.


Posted by: koko on 2 Feb 09

"...bringing IT technology to the developing world is a crucial component of any plan to increase the quality of life for populations in the Global South."

I'd really love to know the logic behind this. Not because I necessarily disagree, but does a laptop really solve hunger and housing and pollution issues? It seems a bold statement.


Posted by: kayosweaver on 3 Feb 09

I live in Nigeria, I live in a 3rd world country and I dare say I know what it means to be ignorant.The lack of an opportunity to be educated is a crime against humanity that would be solved by e-learning and I am elated that the hardware for that coming revolution is getting cheaper.I really pray this $20 laptop project blossoms because it might just be the end to global ignorance.P.S Poverty is a product of ignorance.


Posted by: Akinfolarin on 5 Feb 09

I live in Nigeria, I live in a 3rd world country and I dare say I know what it means to be ignorant.The lack of an opportunity to be educated is a crime against humanity that would be solved by e-learning and I am elated that the hardware for that coming revolution is getting cheaper.I really pray this $20 laptop project blossoms because it might just be the end to global ignorance.P.S Poverty is a product of ignorance.


Posted by: Akinfolarin on 5 Feb 09

It's unfortunate that the logic to this is not more obvious to everyone. The eradication of ignorance will have profound impacts on the future, it's the age old "give them a fish or teach them to fish" philosophy. Imagine how different the current reality would be if young people in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan had access to education from just five years ago from a laptop based education system as opposed to the religious zealots that benefit from their ignorance. Instead of breading a generation of new terrorists we would have a generation coming of age that would question authority, understand that their life could be different, and have some of the skills necessary to do something about it.


Posted by: Michael Anderson on 7 Feb 09

Wow!!!!! This a good news to us in the digital divide world. I thing Americ and the other countries should cut-down their budget on arms and use it to send more of such laptops to Africa if they love us.

I am a student taking e-learning ithout a computer, and you can imagine the hustle i go through everyday to do my assignment and even attend class.


Posted by: Edward Yao Ankugah on 10 Feb 09

Alas, it seems that the $20 laptop was not a laptop after all, but just some form of cheap e-learning device. A briefing from the Ministry of Human Resource Development used the term "laptop" accidentally.


Posted by: Alex Singleton on 19 Feb 09

If they do receive a true lap top, all the people can see the true american dream of corporate dominated business, which keeps the wages low and the credit high, and the dream at arms length, for housing that is controlled by a 100 percent interest rate and a health care system that will eventually eat up all the equity you built up in your house. So we live for the simple moments that make us happy. Similar to what they have now. So why bust your chops to have it all taken away by the corporate machine? Less is more. Simple is green. Life is short, so Love!


Posted by: Keith Anderle on 22 Feb 09

The impact knowledge has on evening out the playing field will eventually be seen as the greatest change in modern society. I've been involved with a project (www.projectreddot.org) which is taking something that is a waste stream and re-delpoying laptops to Africa. Don't under estimate what and idea coupled with time and energy can do. 150 laptops may not seem like much but it is a start.


Posted by: John Stepleton on 4 Mar 09

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