India may have been a late starter in adopting the powerful computer-based education program One Laptop Per Child (popularly known as OLPC), a brainchild of MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte to bridge the technology divide between rich and the poor children in the developing world. But with the formation of an Indian edition -- called OLPC India -- the program, which aims to equip millions of world's school children with cheap laptops, is not only set to make an entry into India but also promises to do it with a bang.
According to Sumit Chowdhury and Bhalchandra Joshi, the two co-founders of OLPC India, this "movement" first introduced in the country as a pilot project in October. The this pilot ran in a tribal school in a village in Khairat, located in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Now the self-described movement is gaining momentum and in the next few months, OLPC India hopes to import at least 20,000 laptops.
"We have received excellent response from at least a dozen state governments in India and we expect that large scale implementation will start from March or April next year, with an initial import of 20,000 to 25,000 laptops. And after that, subsequent imports could far exceed that number" said Joshi.
Backing OLPC India is one of India's largest mobile telecom companies Reliance Communications (RCOM) which has tied up with the global OLPC alliance, the OLPC Foundation, to promote e-learning for children. According to RCOM, along with OLPC Foundation, it has assumed the task of evangelizing the concept in the country by working with government agencies, non-government organization (NGOs), content developers, translators, teaching communities and project managers to create a successful ecosystems, and help proliferation of OLPC in India.
OLPC India will also fund the initial imports of laptops drawing upon multiple funding sources, including RCOM's own contribution, grants from the governments, NGOs and even some willing donors from the corporate sector.