The much-touted Indian Rs500-1000 ($10-$20) laptop, eagerly awaited by the global computer industry, was unveiled yesterday, turned out to be a 2 GB of memory storage device, which sounds more like a pen drive that has to be connected to a laptop or a desk computer in order to access information stored in it.
The storage device, which is 10 inches long and 5 inches wide, was showcased yesterday at Tirupati in the presence of union HRD minister Arjun Singh, education joint secretary S K Sinha in the Venkateshwara University campus.
The so-called laptop, developed by students from Vellore Institute of Technology, scientists in Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and IIT-Madras with the help of companies like Semiconductor Complex, will be on display in Tirupati on 3 February, at the launch of the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology. (See: India to unveil laptop costing Rs500)
The government had said that for the moment, the laptop will cost Rs1,000 ($20) but with mass production the cost will come down to half, but yesterday even this storage device has been priced at around Rs1,400 ($30) when most pen drives containing 2GB of memory cost half of that.
The data containing storage devised can be plugged on to a normal computer to access the information already stored on it and the ministry was at a loss to explain why this storage device was all the time being touted as a laptop.
The idea that this device can be connected to the Internet for educational purposes in the vast hinterland of India, that too at a very low cost, goes to show that the education ministry is either computer illiterate or it is an election gimmick in view of the upcoming elections in May.
This publicity, which caught the attention of the computer world globally was totally uncalled for since India has made long strides in developing the supercomputer on its own and has the fifth fastest supercomputer in the world behind the US, France, China and Russia.