TN: Free laptop scheme to roll out this week

The ambitious free laptop scheme of the Tamil Nadu govt, under which 68 lakh laptops are to be distributed to students, is set to roll this week.

Chennai: The ambitious free laptop scheme of
the Tamil Nadu government, under which 68 lakh laptops are to
be distributed to government-aided higher secondary school and
college students, is all set to roll this week.

Under the scheme, a poll promise of Tamil Nadu Chief
Minister J Jayalalithaa that will be launched on September 15,
the government will distribute 9.12 lakh laptops this year and
the balance in the next four years.

Jayalalithaa had, in her election manifesto, said that if
her party comes into power, it would distribute free laptops
to government schools and colleges from September 15,
coinciding with former Chief Minister CN Annadurai`s birth

The scheme, the first-of-its-kind in the country, would be
applicable to students of government-aided higher secondary
schools, arts and science colleges, engineering colleges and
polytechnic colleges.

While the whole project will entail a cost of Rs 10,200
crore, the government has allocated Rs 912 crore for the
distribution of the 9.12 lakh laptops in the first year, a
senior government official said.

For distribution, the government has assigned Electronic
Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT) as the nodal agency,
considering its rich experience and performance on large-scale

For procurement of laptops, ELCOT recently issued a global
tender for the 9.12 lakh laptops to be supplied in the first
phase in this financial year.

IT majors Hewlett-Packard and Acer have already supplied
4,000 and 2,000 laptops respectively for the September 15
launch, the official said. For the remaining nine lakh
laptops, the bidding process is still on, he added.

According to the tender, companies participating in the
bidding should have a representative office in India if they
do not have a manufacturing plant. They must have manufactured
over one lakh units per year in the past and sold 50,000
laptops in the past three years.

Successful bidders would need to work closely with the
government departments involved, schools and colleges to
ensure the success of the scheme, the tender document said.

Bidders should have clocked an annual turnover of Rs 700
million or USD 15 million in the past three years.

Soon after the AIADMK government took over, the then Tamil
Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala in his customary address to
the Assembly said the government would implement the scheme
from September 15.

Finance Minister, O Panneerselvam, has said the
government`s intention on distribution of free laptops is to
empower students, particularly from rural areas, to enhance
their skills and ability in consumer usage.

Jayalalithaa had said recently that her government`s major
focus was on quality education. "My government will ensure
that students will not suffer any deprivation -- uniforms,
text books and shoes to geometry boxes and laptop computers,
every possible facility is to be reached to them as tools to
help them realise their full potential," she said.

The message the State wanted to convey was that there would
be no shortage of skilled manpower in Tamil Nadu, she said.


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