September 30, 2010

NOTHING COSTS MORE THAN IT USED TO:

Frugal Innovation: India Plans to Distribute Low-Cost Handheld Computers to Students: The Indian government says its prototype tablet computer will cost only $35, but past attempts at building inexpensive PCs have fallen short (Saswato R. Das September 28, 2010, Scientific American)

The latest example of frugal Indian innovation is a low-cost handheld computer that the government says will cost only 1,500 rupees (about $35). Kapil Sibal, India's minister of human resources development (whose portfolio includes education), unveiled it publicly at the end of July, with government officials subsequently saying it will launch in January. The device has attracted attention—and skepticism—because of its remarkably low price. And some Indian government officials will not be satisfied until the price falls to $10.

Under the Harvard-educated Sibal, who previously headed the Ministry of Science and Technology, the government of India has embarked on a national mission to improve the quality of education in India. It has upgraded the salaries of teachers, quickened the hiring process, and created new centers of engineering education. One of Sibal's goals has been to ensure that more of the 220 million children enrolled in Indian schools go on to college, as he reiterated on a visit to New York City this past week. The low-cost handheld computer is one of his high-profile initiatives.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 30, 2010 12:08 AM
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