India unveils $35 solar laptop

The Indian government is planning to provide thousands of students with solar-powered laptops costing just $35.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development is reportedly claiming the computers are a response to the USA’s “$100 dollar laptop” project aimed at bringing cheap, robust computer to the developing world.

Kapil Sibal, human resource development minister, said: “This is part of the national initiative to take forward inclusive education. “The solutions for tomorrow will emerge from India.”

The US laptops ended up costing well over the billed $100 – $199 despite efforts to drive down costs.

The Asian machines have been designed by the Institute of Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science, as part of a push provide better education and help the country meet its potential growth in high-tech industries.

The Indian authorities are negotiating with manufacturers of the solar power systems and hope to bring the total cost of components down to $20 or even $10 in the future, according to reports.

The device is reported to have functionality somewhere between a normal laptop and a palm-held tablet.

As with the “$100 laptop” the devices will use the Linux operating system and have no hard disks, relying instead on memory cards akin to mobile phones and cameras.

Historically, India’s education system has been plagued by under-investment and levels of literacy are well below those of comparable emerging economies such as China especially in rural areas.

The Indian government has said it aims to provide internet access in all of the countries colleges, even in the most isolated areas, and is likely to subsidise any students’ private purchase of the solar laptops.

David Gibbs

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