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.
Ms. 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 C.N. Annadurai’s birth anniversary.
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 told PTI.
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 procurement.
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 $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.
Ms. 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.