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How the $100-laptop dream can transform India

August 7, 2008

Imagine a world in which every school-going child owns a laptop, no matter how poor his or her family is. In India alone, this would mean well over 300 million units. Sounds like a pipedream, right?

Not to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the One Laptop Per Child foundation, who is currently in India to discuss this proposition, along with one of his associates, David Cavallo, co-head of the MIT Media Lab's Future of Learning group.

And if the third time is truly the charm, Negroponte should find greater luck this time around. He's already been snubbed twice by the Indian government. In 2001, he came to promote his MIT Media Lab, but was rejected by the then information technology minister Arun Shourie.

Then, in 2006, he approached the Centre with his One Laptop Per Child scheme, only to again be denied by the ministry of education.

But this time, Negroponte is refusing to be a 'hard sell.' Instead, he says: "It's up to India to decide if India wants to participate."

Text: Matthew Schneeberger

Image: Students offer prayers prior to the start of lessons on their One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) laptops at Vasti Vidhalaya- a Marathi medium school at Khairat, in Karjat district some 75 km north of India's financial capital of Mumbai. | Photograph: Pal Pillai/AFP/Getty Images

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