Having rejected Nicholas Negroponte’s offer of $100 laptops for schoolchildren, India HRD ministry’s idea to make laptops at $10 is firmly taking shape with two designs already in and public sector undertaking Semiconductor Complex evincing interest to be a part of the project.
So far, the cost of one laptop, after factoring in labour charges, is coming to $47 but the ministry feels the price will come down dramatically considering the fact that the demand would be for one million laptops. "The cost is encouraging and we are hopeful it would come down to $10. We would also look into the possibility of some Indian company manufacturing the parts," an official said.
The two designs with the ministry are from a final year engineering student of Vellore Institute of Technology and a researcher from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Due to reasons of Intellectual Property Rights, being insisted by the two designers, the ministry is not parting with the design except giving out some of the major details.
The laptop would be made on a single board which would make it easy to find fault and rectify it, say sources.
A meeting of industry and academia is to take place in IISc, Bangalore, later this month to go through the two designs and invite more suggestions. Simultaneously, HRD ministry has been told by Semiconductor Complex, a Chandigarh-based PSU, that it would like to be part of the project. HRD ministry wants the company to get involved in the fabrication of laptops.
Six anchor groups set up by the ministry to be in touch with experts in critical areas and remove bottlenecks have been meeting regularly. Institutions like IITs and IISc have been identified as anchor institutions for the project and have been entrusted with the task of research and development of cheap laptops.
Sources say it would be another two years before the laptops become a reality. "We do not want to rush into it. Many issues remain to be resolved like royalty to the designer after the design is patented. Prototyping would also take time. We would even conduct destructive testing and create a proper maintenance network," said one official.
Ministry sources also say that it has received offers from MNCs, but none of them was adhering to the $10 cost tag.
Via the Times of India