Free laptop scheme in Tamil Nadu: Boon or a bane

DQW Bureau
27 Jun 2011


If you randomly talk to any teenager

in Tamil Nadu, he/she will be in an eager expectation for a free

laptop from the newly sworn in CM. As affectionately called by her

party cadre as amma (mother), the Tamil Nadu CM, J Jayalalithaa is

all set to play a responsible mother for school and college students.

If mixers and grinders are for women and 20 kg rice for ration card

holders, it is a brand new laptop for the student community. In her

recent visit to New Delhi after winning the elections, Jayalalithaa

had asked prime minister Manmohan Singh for a special grant of Rs

10,200 crore which would help the state government in providing

nearly 6.8 million laptops. The state government-owned Electronics

Corporation of Tamil Nadu, recently floated a tender inviting

manufacturers to issue 9.12 lakh laptops in the first phase for

students studying in government/ government-aided schools and

colleges. The scheme is named 'Thamizhaga Arasu Madikkanini

Thittam—2011' (Tamil Nadu Government Free Laptop Scheme—2011).

According to the tender document, the first batch of supply of

laptops along with a bag is expected to commence from September 1,

2011. W h i l e t a k i n g t h e perspective from the local channel

partners in Tamil Nadu, The DQ Week got mixed responses from the

partners. Expressing his thoughts on the scheme A Muthuswamy,

president, href="">Confed-ITA

told The DQWeek, “This scheme is a milestone

in the IT revolution. However, as dealers, we want to take part in

this visionary project as we have service centers even in remote

villages. So, if given an opportunity, we will do our best.” H

Ratna Kumar, executive director, CCS Infotech, Chennai said, “In

the current scenario, a laptop has become inevitable irrespective of

the industry and from where the enduser belongs. There are always

some people who are crazy about buying the latest model.” “This

scheme will defi nitely help in increasing sales of accessories as

well. As per the tender, if the bidder is a foreign company, it

should appoint an authorized Indian representative which, in turn,

will be an opportunity for us,” added Kumar. PN Prasad, advisor, C

o n f e d - I T A , w h I l e welcoming the scheme, said that it is a

very good opportunity for school going students. “Till date, in

many schools, two students share one computer. It will definitely

help the students to get global exposure,” said Prasad. When asked

about the impact of the scheme on business, he said, “Defi nitely

there is an impact which I can witness through the reduction in the

prices of laptops and the association members are discussing on new

strategies.” Not only Chennai, the scheme has impacted the whole of

Tamil Nadu.

S Karthikeyan, MD, Bloom

Electronics, Coimbatore said, “It is tough to tell anything now. We

have to wait and watch after the implementation.” However, when

quizzed about the mindset of customers, he termed it as 'fluid'.

“Asthere were widespread allegations on the previous government's

free color television scheme, people do not want to take any decision

as of now,” said another retailer on the condition of anonymity.

Even though the scheme has received a great reception on the dark

side, as the laptops are going to roll in the hands of the teens,

there are possibilities of misuse. Going by the technical specifi

cations in the tender document, a laptop should have an inbuilt

camera of 1.3 mega pixel or above which is unnecessary for school

students who were not allowed using mobile phones inside the school

premises. So, the government should ensure that the laptops should be

customized to be used exclusively for education but not for unwanted

activities. Other issues, like selling the laptops in the local

market for pocket money and falling prey to the addiction to social

networking sites in the non-school hours and cybercrime may also


So, the laptops should be allowed to

be used only inside the school premises with the supervision of

skilled trainers. By following this methodology, a bright future for

students is ensured and other malpractices will also be curbed.

Whatsoever, if this scheme is implemented successfully, Tamil Nadu

will be yet another role model in the IT sector adding another

feather to its cap.