[Updated] HCL bringing 100,000 $35 tablets in partnership with MHRD


Update: We have learned from reliable sources in MHRD that there has been no such agreement taken place between HCLTech and MHRD. HCLtech has declined any comments on this. Also, IIT Rajasthan has been given the mandate to take the initiative forward and carry out extensive field tests across the country. The articles appearing in mainstream media quoting HCLtech’s agreement are non-factual.

Now this is a Big News – The $35 tablet computer announced by MHRD last month seems to have got a big manufacturer for itself. According to the report which has come out in mint today, hundred thousand such low cost tablets will be shipped by HCL tech to students as early as second half of next year.

Just the other day, I was looking at Techcrunch.tv which was analyzing the reality about $35 tablet – the techcrunch reporter literally used the word “pipe dream” even after seeing the demo video of the low cost device. Not only him, but people all over the world are quite skeptical – Most of them believe that envisaging and creating it in an IIT lab is different then actually mass producing at that cost.


But now, with company like HCL coming into fray and announcing its partnership with MHRD to mass produce the low-cost tablet, the skeptics will have to rethink about the reality of this device. It is very much here….

Now coming back to the news – the report says:

At a meeting of the national mission on education through information and communication technology, or NMEICT, the human resource development (HRD) ministry said IIT-Rajasthan will carry out “intensive laboratory and field tests across the country” using the devices. The meeting allocated `30 crore for the project, and decided to procure the $35 computers before 10 January. The computers, unveiled on 23 July, will be made available to university-level students from the second half of next year.

I am sure seeing HCLtech in fray, other vendors will be keen to partner with MHRD in this now very prestigious project.

Your take ?

  1. Ankit Saraswat says

    Arun and Saurabh,

    Its really fun and interesting to read your comments but I would like to tell you guys that IIT RAJASTHAN DOES EXISTS!
    and for your information I am a 3rd year B.Tech MECHANICAL Engineering Student of IIT RAJASTHAN.

    and I am currently working on that “35 device”

    do keep posting about MHRD people, It was really fun to know about them.

  2. David says

    35$ tablet is awesome, except that its been done by HCL Infosystems, not HCL Technologies. See this link

    Make corrections, someone!

  3. Neetzin says

    Yes.. this article was in Mint smtime bak…..But how can u miss that its nt HCL tech, but HCL Infosystems which is involved in this.. chk out this link

  4. Saurabh says

    Mint does not get it. Its editor is a highly opinionated person of questionable competence and is a rabid anti-OLPC campaigner. No wonder they cannot get anything right about technology.

    HCL is simply laying the infrastructure for the universities that may be up for testing the new device.

    MHRD’s new device has a BOM of $47 and in open market is already available for about $100 in Taiwan and China and it was imported from there and showcased as India’s own by the Minister.

    There is nothing Indian about the device except that the Minister for HRD is hell bent on having photo opportunities and impressing his leadesr in the party so that he can be there in the race to the top job.

    But the MHRD, the minister, also has a track record of backing the failed project of Mobilis that gave India a black eye in Brazil. India won the contract to supply 150,000 laptops to Brazil and then could not and was black-listed by the Govt of Brazil who had to find another vendor to meet their Presidential promise.

    Mobilis fonder Vinay Deshpande is also one of the founders of the failed Simputer. Wonder how these guys manage to hoodwink the Government from project to project?

    So guys. There is nothing called $35 any more than a subsidized piece that could well have been priced at Zero.

    There is nothing Indian about it as its produced by Taiwan and available openly in the Taiwanese and the Chinese market.

    But its a limited purpose device. Its not a funeral purpose computer.

    There is joint secretary in the Govt of India’s MHRD by the name of N K Sinha who has been trying to get a Nobel Prize for misleading and embarrassing the Government. He must be very persuasive as Ministers after Ministers have fallen for him as he is a little tongue tied and has trouble speaking and people have to see and believe a lot in the little that he says. Good strategy to please your bosses!

    He is the architect of the $10 laptop that was showcased on Jan 31, 2009 at a temple. It did need the Lord’s blessings but the almighty felt that they had not pleased him enough and did not oblige. And the conversations about the $10 laptop died and was never resurrected.

    As the Minister of MHRD, Kapil Sibal said, there is nothing more important than an idea and this laptop is an Indian laptop because MHRD thought of making it a $35 laptop, a limited device, no matter what it costs.

    So, please enjoy India’s wonderful ways to finally claim that they created the world, on the back of teh Chinese manufacturing prowess, the old fashioned way- the Ludhiana and Ulhasnagar way: where they imitated the knockoffs and gave it the name made by USA (Ulhasnagar Sales Agency). Now the Govt of India has fallen for it what is characteristically Indian. Did not Gandhi say: there go my people; I am their leader; I must go and join them?

    So the Ulhasnagar traders showed the way a while ago. MHRD has just gone and joined them.

    And by the way, there is nothing called IIT, Rajasthan. There is no faculty. No campus. No student ever enrolled there. So how does it create a laptop?

    Never mind! The Minister of State of IT for India comes from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. He needs an IIT and that may happen in future. But why not take the credit before its due?

    Just like the future laptop that will be for the university students who won’t need them anyway!

    Vande Mataram!

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says


      That was one passionate run-down from you on $35 device. I have spoken to people in MHRD, and from what they say, it is a reality as much as we run it down.

      Yes, I am also skeptical with the IIT Rajasthan part, but thats what they have put out…so not sure about it..

  5. Trilok Chander says

    Amazingly Fantabulous.
    Hope the Indian E-Literacy is increased through this product

  6. Nikhil Nigade says

    Way to go!! I too, in the very beginning, felt like this was never going to be mass-produced but when I actually saw the demo of this product, I was proved wrong. It made me think again and assured me, this could actually happen. $35 is a price also suitable for the mid-class farmers, and let’s think about e-education for farmers through it. ( Many other possibilities. I’m just stating one).

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