The government of India is planning to invest around Rs 8,000 crore in order to distribute over 20 million tablets for free to the senior school students across India before the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, HT reports. For this project, the government will release an open tender soon, and it is expected that tablet vendors like Micromax, HCL Infosystems, Karbonn, Lenovo and Teracom will be amongst the top contenders for the same. Also Read - Government launches Coronavirus tracker app called ‘Aarogya Setu’: Here is how it works
Reportedly, the proposal for the free tablet distribution has already been discussed amongst a set of representatives from the Prime Minister s office, the department of telecommunications and the department of information technology and electronics. However, the process is still in the initial stages and the government is yet to decide on how to take this forward.
The report quotes a government official disclosing that, We expect price of a tablet to be between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000. And considering the number of the tablets projected in this project, the cumulative price for these tablets will cost close to Rs 8,000 crore to the government.
This project could be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). This is a government organization which gets its share of funds from telecom operators who give a share of their annual revenues to the organization in order to make rural areas more technology equipped.
The USOF has about Rs 25,000 crore available with it, which can be utilized for the project. According to the report, an official close to the project has said that, “Even though, USOF is planning some projects, it will have sufficient funds for the project.”
This is not for the first time that the government is planning to distribute gadgets to students, as earlier various state governments have either distributed or planned to distribute tablets or laptops to students. Also, the HRD ministry had been working on the Aakash tablet project that aims to provide $35 Android tablets to the underprivileged and those students belonging to financially weaker section of the society.