India Says No Thanks To The $100 Laptop

from the priorities dept

One of the most common retorts to the often-tried idea of creating ultracheap laptops for the world’s poor is that they have more pressing needs than the ability to surf the internet. The Indian government apparently believes this, as it has decided not to participate in Nicolas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child initiative, which wanted to sell $100 PCs to governments around the world for them to distribute. According to India’s education secretary, the need for more teachers and classrooms outstrips the need for students to have laptops. This is the sort of ideological stumbling block that programs like Negroponte’s will have to overcome if they’re to ever succeed, but they also reflect the rather poor job these projects have done at clearly elucidating their benefits. It’s unclear yet what the fallout of India’s decision will be, as it was hoped to be a major customer of OLPC, which won’t begin manufacturing until it’s received orders and payment for five million to ten million machines, but in better news, Nigeria has said it will order a million. It looks like in the short term, though, at least some of the countries projects like OLPC are supposed to help are having a hard time justifying their costs to their benefits.

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Comments on “India Says No Thanks To The $100 Laptop”

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sickboy76 (user link) says:

of coarse nigeria will be buying plenty. they have more money than they know what to do with. at least twice a month a different person from the central bank of nigeria contacts me trying to just “give” me 25 million dollars that sits unclaimed in an account from a recently deceased professor, or sometimes it is more and sometimes it is an heiress or something. the point is that all of these multi-millionaires keep dying over there and not leaving their money to anyone. i mean they want me to claim it. so they have plenty of money to throw around. that is india’s problem. millionaires over there probably keep leaving their money to someone when they die. tell you what. next time nigeria offers me 20 million, i will take it. then i will send it to india so that they can finally afford some $100 laptops, on nigeria.

joe says:

I think the fundamental problem with initiatives like OLPC they not address the needs of the people. $100 US is a lot of money for a lot of household in a poor country. And the GDP of those countries are no where in the same ball park as the US. I would say why not have MIT create an inititative for building a media that is cutsomerized to the local situation, cost effective, and creative enough to be educational. Plus besides thinking just the technical issues such as power supply.. I think OLPC should consider things like deplorement.. Who’s going to teach those kids to use the laptops.. and any software written to be useful. I am sure the laptop is the first step.. but other steps needed to be implement simultaneosly. Let’s do a full-Azz job!

DeadlyOats says:

Pessimists, Unite! - NOT!

I mean really. What kind of nonsense is that? Just for providing cheap laptops with a quality OS installed, that’s gonna make them cyber criminals?

What about a more expensive laptop with bloated Windows, will that make them honest cyber citizens instead?

Get real! That’s just a load of bunk! 99% of these kids are gonna learn how to communicate and express their ideas, and become more successful than their parents were. That’s the idea behind this endevor.

Jeremy Rice says:

SPAM insults

As you have seen in most spam news the people sending them are always kids…hey wait I don’t remember that in the news reports…but that is the only planned beneficiary of these computers. Your assumptions about OLPC resulting in crimes and spam just shows an attitude of disgust for people you have never met. Besides I never wade through spam anymore…have you heard of free programs and ISPs and web based email that blocks or redirects spam with out you lifting a finger?…it works well so you might want to try it to stop all the 9 years olds in Africa from robbing you blind…because I hear they are smarter than you.

Are Kay says:


a comment on how to power them was made, read up on them a little, they do not use a plug in the wall, they use human power to run. an incredible idea, and the other thing about the programs that are not created yet, at 9 years old, they can already start making their own. Linux is good like that. because they have their little games and from their the child can recreate, and then branch off…

I hope it all works out.

Pissed off says:

Get Real, Empty heads

You idiots fail to think that maybe some of those emails you get are from people in the U.S. Maybe a neigbor next door! You have your heads so far up your @asses…no wonder the whole world hates you. You think you’re so smart! Idots! Just like your Senator said it….the Internet is a bunch of tubes…your president and his “Nucular” troubles.

Yet you have the nerve to talk down on less fortunate people in poor countries

Lay Person says:

Re: Get Real, Empty heads

#17 (Pissed Off) YOU’RE AN IDIOT!

Go home to wherever you reside. The only idiot is you. The bloggers you are responding to know exactly what they are talking about!

For all you smart people Nigeria and India are known as thee premier hiding places of this sort of spam that the previous bloggers jokingly reffered to.

the_big_johnson says:

cheap OLPC

why not give the ones India didn’t want and offer it up to the po’ folks right her in the US? $100 is plenty affordable for lots of folks on the welfare. I’m sure there’s plenty of families who could benefit and with the ubiquity of the one thing called ELECTRICITY that we have here in America, the kids would actually be able to use it without having to crank it every few minutes.

Anonymous Bum (user link) says:

Spelling bee!

Nice use of the word elucidating. It was clearly used properly.

As for the $100 laptop for the poor kids. Why? Who is going to train them? Who is going to service a $100 laptop? Hopefully not the Dell Support team located in Mumbai.

The fact that India doesn’t want to buy a bunch of disposable computers makes me think even higher of the officials there. They have better things to do.

STJ (profile) says:

Go India!!!

India believes teachers are more important then computers? I bet they also have the backwords idea that TV’s can’t babysit kids.

India has the right idea, get more and better teachers, which will make smarter kids, who then can afford computers better then $100. If you look at how much we outsource to them not only in terms of call centers, but also medical stuff, they are doing much better then we do here in america.

Ummm says:

Re: Go India!!!

I agree with the “better teachers…smarter kids ” theory, but your point on outsourcing is not entirely correct. Although the US education system is not the greatest in the world, lets not underestimate the all-mighty dollar. Most of the work being outsourced to India is purely for the fact that it’s cheaper. The work is not necessarily better, they simply do the work for less. I also imagine the tax benefits for the companies outsoucing there are better as well. Soon India will be feeling the same woes we have felt, as companies turn towards China for an even cheaper alternative.

Lay Person says:

Here we go again!

Greetings fellow bloggers!

O.K. a poor kid gets a laptop. I know alot of prople with laptops. They ARE educated with B.S. degrees and whatnot. Even they don’t know how to use a laptop how are poor kids with no education supposed to use it.

Is tech support included? If so, how can they call with no phone? Well maybe it comes with a “Laptops for Poor Kids” manual of sorts. If the kid is uneducated how can he read it? Even if he got hte laptop to a browser, how can he read anything if uneducated.

Seems to me they need $100.00 schools and not laptops.

Are the people pushinmg these laptops even thinking?

Sandy says:

bring out the

Man, there are a lot of sandy vaginas on this thread… cool off! Lets get the sand out!

It’s a great idea, but not all of the world is ready for it. Some cultures don’t value a computer as much as modern society does because they don’t have the level of integration of computers and the internet with their daily life that we see in more modern society.

I’m not worried about a spammer out there with a really crappy $100 laptop. I’m worried about some bum in Colorado (no offense to Coloradites) sitting around and sending 10 million spam messages out in one day from his much more expensive group of servers.

MEoip says:

This IS a good idea. A poor but brilliant kid who cannot use a computer won’t make it very far in academic life. In some countries (Afghanistan) before you can go to school you have to be able to supply (for yourself) a pencil and sometimes paper. Few if anyone of these pencil students could do well at all in a college, you have to be able to type and use computers in college now.

OLPC solves both problems, if kids and schools have this set up they won’t need to find pencils before they can go to school, education will be accessible to all kids. This will help them when the make it to college since they will be able to type the required reports.

admin (user link) says:

laptops - waste of money and time

Please show reputable studies (not funded by any IT group) which show a measurable increase in students abilities thanks to use of laptops (or any other computer) in a classroom or other educational environment.

The sad truth is that all these supposedly ‘necessary’ things – laptops, electronic black/white boards, etc – are not improving test scores or reasoning ability.

Anything relevant to a childs education is already in print before it is on the net (except perhaps tomorrows newspaper). Computers and the like are just a crutch and another education ‘advance’ that people are too scared to call their school boards on for fear of being labeled a neanderthal and wanting to ‘hurt the kids’.

Let Johnny learn how to surf the net at home or the library.

LogicalFalacies says:

Get Real, Empty heads

What makes you think the comments about spam are from Americans? What? There’s no actual justification for your outburst? Oh, that’s right, you have your head so far up your ass that logical conclusions can’t pass from one hemisphere of your brain to the other due to being lodged in such a constricted area.

Now on to the article. I find it fascinating with all the other problems around the world, people are focusing on laptops for the kids… maybe they can melt down the gold on the mobo and processor and get some food as no one’s going to want to trade anything for a computer you need to crank for a minutes to get 10 minutes of use… let’s see… I used a computer about 14 hours a day on average… that’s 840 minutes… 84 minutes of cranking… damn, these kids’ll have some strong arms at the least…

Anonymous Coward says:

Strong arms

This isn’t about the computer it’s about having a tool which opens up education to more students, if you have nothing to write with you cannot go to school so you cannot get a job that requires writing. If you cannot type you are limited on college choices. This is about given children the opportunity to have an opportunity to have an education.

How long will it take a kid to rig together some system that cranks this for him? I can see it now a water wheel crank or a wind crank, maybe I can join the fun and start a wind turned crank that localities can buy and kids can gather around to have their laptops cranked by the wind. Wind turns the blades which turn cables which turn your crank and power you up.

Tom says:

$100 Laptops --- isn't this just Marketing?

Putting Laptops in the hands of folks who need improved basic living conditions is like handing them a pair of Levis and Pepsi.

It’s not what they need now. Or possibly ever. How about give them $100 USD? In places where a buck a day feeds families, I think would have a more positive impact than distracting youth from learning basic skills within their culture or for their survival.

Or perhaps this $100 Laptop will simply wire their thoughts into the booming market of the cyber world where they can be enticed by products they will never have a chance to own when a basic credit card is as attainable as a car or a horse for that matter. Oh wait, there is always time to learn credit card fraud (I figured it out at age 12). Gee, be poor and own nothing, or steal from the white devil.

Laptops are not a wholistic approach, and is not a solution. Nifty, yes, but wont put food in mouths.

Tom a.k.a white devil

LogicalConclusions says:

laptops - waste of money and time

admin, frankly it’s not about their use IN the classroom that people need to concern themselves with… it’s the fact that when a child teaches themself to write programs they strengthen their mathematical skills a hundred fold… nothing helps someone’s logical skills better than figuring out how to code. Also, it helps people explore their aristic sides with musical composition and production capabilities as well as graphics programs…

asymptote says:

global mesh network run by children

It will happen, sooner or later, the sooner the better. Even poor kids are bright, they’ll figure out the possibilities. There is education potential, yes, but communication is most important from the kids’ perspective. These laptops don’t need Internet, they have mesh network ability. They don’t need the power grid, they can run on human power. They will work anywhere. Maybe the kids, who will inherit the world from us, will get together and figure out how to prevent us from ruining it for them. Power to the people!

fromPoor2Rich (user link) says:

Funny Blogs(lol)

Wow, we got some emotional comments on this post.

I would have to agree on basic principle. If I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from, the chances of me exploring opportunties would be dim.

As much as we hate to admit it, as people when our appetites rather food, basic needs, or attention grow to an outstanding level. We tend to not have a balanced perspective of right and wrong or even a progressive nature for that matter. We only know that our needs are not met and will not be anytime soon.

So we explore what some would call hustles rather theft, robbery, soliciting drugs, or yes ofcourse fraud to supply the current need.

To put it all in short. If my basic needs have not been met for a time, I’m not exploring my opportunities.

You cannot tell me you’re for my advancement while seeing my hunger and doing nothing about it.

They need efficient schools, teachers, and food before you can implement that level of technology because the sad truth is that until those needs are met they can be concidered a primitive nation no offence.

Anonymous Coward says:

What, No Gates/Buffett Money?

This is the old teach-them-how-to-fish vs. give-them-a-fish argument. I’m sure this is a well-conceived effort (cmon, people – you don’t think that the team of MIT engineers considered some of these issues?). Too bad it’s unlikely to get funding from the venerable and increasingly well-endowed Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Tommy J. says:

Poor state of the US education system

That story reflects the poor state of the US education

That’s why US schools are falling so far behind some 3rd world countries on education.

The US school system is promoting laptops and other commercial products, while countries like India are focusing on… actually teaching something!

So many countries around the world don’t provide laptops to their students and their basic school education is far superior to that of the US. Laptop is not the solution.

Rather than trying to sell its products and dictate education methods to other countries, the US should get inspired by the European, Indian, Japanese and Chinese education systems.

Vikkid says:

of course India doesn’t want a $100 laptop. That is around Rs45,000 which is more than the yearly income of most of the families being targeted by this project. Also the main purpose of this project is to allow people without computers to access the internet. Of course how a poor kid in Dharavi without access to clean drinking water supposed to be able to connect to the internet is really beyond me.

Also for all the people bashing #17 read comments like the one right above him – “theyll figure it out. this will skim the true genius elements out of the masses where they can be picked out by their nation and put to work on scams.”

Although this might be sarscasm, it hard to keep a sense of humore when some one is bashing your country. Ask any of the international people you know they will tell you that they al have wanted to yell and scream out exactly what pissed off said.

Goutham says:

Laptops for $100

Poor kids in India need good food and education. Laptops does not solve that. You better teach the kids how to lead a better life and equip them with good education. They will buy the laptop if they want in the future.

If you want to feed the poor for a day, donate a dollar, he will buy some food. If you want to help him for his life, teach him fishing. He will lead a happy life forever.

Rusty Cutt says:

give them cell-phones instead

Someone asked what Bill Gates thinks of this laptop give away. He thinks cell phones are more important than laptops.

Laptops are primarily calulators and secondarily communication devices. Cell phones represent a more transformative technology than laptops. Their networks are more wide spread in developing countries than internet networks. Give kids cell phones and look out. See what they are doing in the US and European teenage population. Laptops are doing squat.

Myriam Abacha says:

Be nice.

Be nice and stop making fun of Nigeria’s 419 problems.

It’s no wonder there is so much poverty in that land.

Every time one of the few rich people die- there is an evil uncle trying to steal the money and they need to ship the money overseas to protect it from their uncle. (giving 10% to whoever will help them).

How would you like it if you had an evil uncle trying to steal your money when you died?

alonge olubunmi says:


nigeria can buy a lot of this laptop for educational advancement Majority of our universities dont have adequate IT infrastructure in the 21st century it is a shame so this could probably bring improvement in our education and technological advacement i have no doubt that Nigerians are brainy just we need some one sensible and honest to rule us.

Justin (user link) says:

Laptops? How about books?

There are alot of countries out there that I would just like to see get the basics. You know, like books. I understand that it would be easy to make E-books for the students once the laptops have been disseminated, but other problems arise.

Who is going to be paying for the huge costs involved with fixing the laptops when they are dropped, have technical difficulties, etc? Where will the students take the computers to have them serviced?

I know that there will be somebody responsible for those sorts of things… but then more problems come to mind. In many third world countries where there is a sort of “village” mentality, the concept of personal property is much more lax. So you know what? You can bet on cousin Jimmy sneaking that laptop out and giving it a spin. How do I know? I experienced it as a youth myself in the Fiji Islands.

So, I understand the need to educate and the benefits that this could potenially have. On the other hand, I think that it is easy to assume the world works like we do over here in the US, and that is surely not the case.

Regardless, best of luck to the project.

$100 per child is alot of money in these countries. I’d be hard pressed to believe that $100 million wouldn’t be beneficial to other aspects of Nigerian society.

stig says:


let me see! is it that this website is to be accessed only by bloody illiterates whom all they can do is point out the scamming powers of an average 9ja boy? it’s not our fault, we are trying to teach you the english and wisdom you can’t afford in schools in your country. Yet, you pay so much for our tutorial classes and still you repeat. Don’t blame me for the tips you give during the period. Thanks so much for your time and please stop hating. Sorry i have to go now; my students are waiting for their classes. Well, you can call me “giiauts”. guess you would be busy trying to figure what it means. Have a nice day.

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