PU students to get free laptops in Karnataka

No details in governor's announcement

PU students to get free laptops in Karnataka

The Karnataka government on Wednesday announced that it would provide free laptops and electronic notepads to pre-university (PU) students across the State.

The announcement was made by Governor H R Bhardwaj while addressing a joint session of the Legislature in Vidhana Soudha on Wednesday.

Karnataka seems to be following in the footsteps of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which have been distributing free laptops to PU students.

The UP government reportedly spent Rs 830 crore on purchasing 4.4 lakh laptops. The State Bharatiya Janata Party, in its Assembly election manifesto, had promised to distribute free laptops and tablets to PU and graduate students if it came to power. There are about 10.5 lakh I and II PUC students in the State. 

Except a one-line announcement, the governor’s speech did not offer much details about the government’s plan. The announcement has, however, left the primary and secondary education department, headed by Minister of State Kimmane Ratnakar, in a state of panic. The department has to allocate huge funds for the purchases despite a weak budgetary allocation.

Perceived as a populist scheme, with Lok Sabha elections round the corner, the idea to distribute free laptops was not recommended by the education department. Secretariat sources said the department was more concerned about meeting basic infrastructure facilities in government schools and colleges.

Soon after Bhardwaj’s announcement, education department officials held an emergency meeting to discuss possible avenues to make provision for funds to realise the executive decision. An officer even said the department was unable to understand the decision. The governor said, “My government has decided to provide laptops and electronic notepads to PUC students.”

The department was not sure whether students of all streams would be given free gadgets. It is said even Ratnakar had no answer to many questions raised by the officials, as he was not kept in the loop by the chief minister.

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