The federal government of India is developing a laptop that will cost £5, for use in higher education, a minister said today in Delhi.
Research on the low-cost laptop is being carried out at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai, said D Purandeswari, Minister of State for Higher Education, at a conference in Delhi.
Ms Purandeswari did not however give the specifications of the £5 laptop, nor is it clear if the rock-bottom price will be achieved with the help of a government subsidy.
The Indian government is planning to use information and communications technology (ICT) to strengthen its current programs for distance learning by making them accessible online, Purandeswari said.
As part of this new "National Mission in Education through ICT", the government is also working on developing a very low-cost and low-power-consuming access device, according to Purandeswari. The government also plans to make available free bandwidth for education purposes to every Indian. It plans to use this bandwidth to build a "knowledge network" between and within institutions of higher learning in the country.
India's internet penetration is currently very low. The country had 4.38 million broadband subscribers at the end of June for a population of over 1.13 billion.
A number of local and multinational companies such as Microsoft and Intel, and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) have been working on technology for education.
India did not sign up for the One Laptop Per Child program after officials in the education ministry decided that giving a computer to every child is "pedagogically suspect", and may actually be detrimental to the growth of the creative and analytical abilities of the child. An Indian telecommunications service provider, Reliance Communications, has however been doing pilots of the OLPC in India since last year.