In what seems to be a moment of hubris, the Indian Human Resource Development Ministry, the Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science met last week to devise a roadmap for a direct challenge to the One Laptop Per Child program - an Rs 450 ($10) laptop.
That's right, $10. Or $128 dollars less than the One Laptop Per Child's 2B1 Children's Machine continuously revised price point of
$100 $138 dollar per laptop. Regardless, the OLPC 2B1 is still the leading realistic low-cost option for at least it has a working prototype screen, developer boards, and software.
This announcement from India has none, and even less information about the features of such a cheap computer than Negroponte's string power generators. Outside The Times of India editorial endorsement this seems mainly to be a bureaucratic follow-up on a promise made by Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, to develop a cheaper but equally advanced computer for India's students.
One official who attended the meeting said: " No one had any doubt about the feasibility of the project. Everyone is enthusiastic and wants a quick rollout. But we have given ourselves three years before the first $10 laptop comes out."That would be three years of thinking and pontificating, while in three years, the OLPC laptop will be a real option with a price projected to be between the fabled $100 dollars per laptop and a price point promise of $50 in 2010.
By then, maybe the Indian government will have forgotten the OLPC rejection backstory and deemed the laptops pedagogically correct.