While the government is working towards empowering citizens digitally through the Digital India scheme, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has now announced that his state government body is now gifting free laptops to qualified students in colleges.
As per the recent report, the CM is gifting laptops to about 31,000-degree college students belonging to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). It seems like a good move as selected students will be able to do much more. However, as part of the initiative, all the laptops will have two stickers - a state government logo and a picture of Siddaramaiah affixed on the top.
"The Acer laptops were purchased through a tender process for Rs. 45 crore, with each costing Rs. 14,490. It meets the requirement of the students studying in 412 state-run and state-aided colleges and 85 polytechnics across the state," an official told IANS.
As for the offering, the laptops come with Windows 10 version and are configured with an Intel quad processor, 1 terra byte (TB) hard drive, 4 gigabytes (GB) of Random Access Memory (RAM) and a 14-inch screen. This sounds like a good deal for the students.
"All the laptops will be distributed to the SC/ST students in backpacks through their respective colleges across the state under the 'Free Laptop Scheme' by the state higher education department in a fortnight," said the official.
Siddaramaiah, who also holds the finance portfolio, made Rs. 300 crore budgetary provision to purchase the laptops for 1.8 lakh college students of all categories across the state during fiscal 2017-18.
Though a decision to gift free laptops to students in degree and professional courses was taken by the government in July last year, the scheme could not be fully implemented due to procedural delays.
"The remaining 1.5 lakh laptops for students of general and other categories will be distributed soon, as a separate tender has been floated to buy them," added the official.
In a related development, the state cabinet on Tuesday also decided to distribute bicycles to all students of class 8 in state-run and state-aided schools across the state in 2018-19 at an estimated cost of Rs. 185 crore.