Thursday, April 30, 2009

India Gears Up for 250,000 OLPCs

After the $10 laptop debacle, the Indian Government seems to have softened it stand on OLPC's (One Laptop Per Child) which it was not very keen on in the not too distant past.

In fact, the government has signed an agreement with the OLPC Foundation to purchase as many as 250,000 XO laptops from the foundation for distribution across the country. OLPC's first tryst with India happened in 2007 when 20 XO machines were distributed in a Maharashtra village. This was just years after the foundation was set-up in 2005. After the completion of the project in Maharashtra, even though it was a success, the Indian government chose not to continue with the OLPC plan citing "health" reasons. The MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) thought it was unhealthy for children to use laptops for prolonged periods.

Meanwhile, the government went ahead with the $10 laptop project, which sounded preposterous right from the outset. Call it a PR gaffe or a real bad job at publicity, the $10 computing device "Sakshat" was far cry from a laptop and was snubbed by many who thought it was more of a glorified pen-drive and less a laptop. Mind you, we're not taking anything away from Sakshat or the people behind it. The intentions were right, but the presentation and publicity left a lot to be desired. In the end, the country was left red faced because of all this $10 hype.

Now, the OLPC foundation is readying an update to the current machines. These include a RAM boost to 1GB and a storage boost to 4GB. The latest version is expected to land sometime in 2010. At this moment, there is no news on which version of the laptop has the government opted for.

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