UP set to distribute free laptops to 1.5 million school-leavers

UP set to distribute free laptops to 1.5 million school-leavers

They'll cost the Utttar Pradesh government a whopping Rs.2,800 crore and their distribution is set to begin, but each of the 1.5 million recipients of the free laptops being given to school-leavers will have no doubt where they came from - what with tamper-proof images of ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and son and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on their covers.

The laptops were promised by the SP during last year's assembly election campaign and in keeping with that, the images of the two Yadavs will be accompanied by the words "Poore hote vaade" (Fulfilling the promises) and the logo of the state government. Not only that, each time the system is booted out pops a screensaver with images of the two Yadavs.
While  the secondary education board has begun work on the modalities of distributing the laptops to all Class 12 pass-outs, highly placed sources told IANS that distribution would begin at the end of this month. Sources say that in  the first phase 10,000 laptops would be distributed in Lucknow and  Mainpuri, Mulayam Singh Yadav's parliamentary constituency.

Officials of the secondary education department from these two  districts underwent a day-long training module at Gomtinagar earlier this week when they were explained in detail the modalities of distribution, technicalities and other processes by the Uttar Pradesh  Electronics Corporation.

A senior official said that a  prototype of the laptop was approved by Akhilesh Yadav  last week.

The first lot of laptops, in black and graphite grey, Hewlett  Packard (HP) officials said, are being imported from its manufacturing  unit in China and would then be customised at its unit in  Pantnagar, Uttarakhand.

"We are ready to meet the timelines set by the  UP government and would like to deliver the whole lot of 1.5 million laptops  ordered within the time given," Ajay Sehghal, the country  sales manager (Printers and Personal Systems) of HP, told IANS.

"The guidelines of the tender specifically say the selected bidder should permanently burn the logo of UP government and other  information provided by the government," in the Bios and firmware. With 2-GB memory, expandable up to 4 GB, a 500 GB SATA hard disc  drive, a 14-inch display  screen, Urdu, Hindi and English language software, dual speakers, essential anti-virus, bluetooth  and a webcam, each laptop will cost the state government Rs 19,058 including taxes and duty.

The government will also give government logo-inscribed backpacks  for the laptops. HP has been asked to use "polyster fabric, branded  zippers, sliders, a three compartment bag for text books, an adapter and a utility  pocket". The laptops will also  have traceability identification through customised bar codes.

An education software pack has also been loaded into in the laptops, said Pravin Kumar, manager of the Uttar Pradesh  Electronics Corporation. The laptops would also have free open source Ubuntu and Linux other  than Windows 7 Home Basic, he added.

After the distribution in the  state capital and Mainpuri, the secondary education department is  preparing a list of districts where the scheme would be launched in  phases. Secondary Education Secretary Parth Sarthi Sen Sharma has already  written to all district magistrates informing them of the modalities of  the laptop distribution. A web portal to monitor the process has also  been created.

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