Michael Lerner

Friday - Jul 23, 2010

At a projected cost of 1,500 rupees–around $35 US–the laptop prototype unveiled by India’s Human Resources Development Ministry will be the world’s least expensive. It eclipses the $100 laptop developed at MIT for the non-profit organization, One Laptop per Child.

India has been struggling to modernize its educational infrastructure. One way to do that is by by making electronic content available to students. But for many Indians in the nation of over one billion people, even $100 puts a laptop out of reach. With the help of Indian engineering students, just off the drawing board is a prototype for the affordable electronic learning tool that should be available next year. Once it goes into mass production, the cost may fall to $10.

How good can a $10 laptop be, you may wonder? This one uses a Linux operating system, has 2 GB of RAM and WiFi connectivity. Since India faces chronic power outages, the device can run on solar power. With all kinds of free software apps available online, like Microsoft Office and Google Docs, and vast amounts of educational content, what more could Indian students want? Well maybe a speedy broadband connection. The government has plans for a massive broadband roll-out by 2012.