In the recently held elections in the state of Tamil Nadu, we internet companies had a lot to cheer about – major parties in the state promised to give laptops for free to students [Govt could face legal action]. So irrespective of which party would win our industry had to gain, this rarely happens.
The present government in Tamil Nadu “intends” to give 6.8 million laptops to students of government-aided higher secondary schools and colleges. Some of the highlights of the scheme,
- 6.8 million laptops will cost the government Rs 10,200 crore (over $2 billion!)
- During the first year, Rs 912 crore will be budgeted for the purchase of these Rs 14,000 per laptop.
- Teachers are already overloaded with work, they are not sure how they can handle this additional load of computer training.
- Wifi is not available yet in these schools but this problem can be solved.
- Just 7.5 Indians in 100 have access to the Internet (compared to 80 in 100 in the US)
- Govt expects this scheme will help IT grow in Tier-2 and rural areas (I doubt about the rural part).
- Educational material for these laptops is not yet ready.
- Sceptics ask how can one ensure if the laptop is being used rightfully by students?
- One of the teachers says, “We do instruct the students not to listen to songs or use the computer for purposes other than studies”. Not practical.
In recent days the government has talked about the dangerous user-generated content (UGC) on the internet. Govt wants the internet in India to be clean. I do agree that personal derogatory messages, morphed photos must not be allowed. But the government must be open to criticism.
With the TN state government signing on 6.8 million new internet users would the central government want social networking sites to be blocked on these laptops?