India: boosting computer literacy in Tamil Nadu

Free laptops to schoolkids, a policy to enhance a state's rapidly growing tech industry.

Although Tamil Nadu has a per capita GDP of US$1,360, the state ranks 12th amongst the twenty-eight states and seven territories of India. It wants to foster greater awareness of technology so has decided to hand out free laptops to all children in government-funded schools and colleges over a five-year period, a first in India.

Tamil Nadu's capital Chennai lags Bangalore, the silicon valley of India. Strides have already been made in Tamil Nadu as the state now ranks second in tech terms. It's the second exporter of software, and is the location of the biggest hub of India's largest software business, TCS. It boasts the world's largest development centre employing 25,000 people. And has created a hugely successful IT corridor at Ambattur in Chennai.

However it isn't the first place in the world to encourage tech-savviness amongst its young, as that accolade goes to the tiny South Pacific island nation of Niue. After Niue became the world's first Wi-Fi nation in 2003, every kid was handed a free One Laptop Per Child notebook in 2008.

The Tamil Nadu project is monumental by comparison. But it's one of India's most literate states, with over 80% being able to read and write. One statistic in the state government's favour is the low fertility rate (at 1.8 per woman) which would have resulted in a declining school roll.

Other countries with tech aspirations will surely follow Tamil Nadu's lead, for nations don't get rich by being complacent. And it won't be long before Tamil Nadu is generating its own Bill Gates, Larry Page, Steve Jobs or Sergey Brin. Always assuming the state's venture capital industry is ballsy, risk-aggressive and large enough. To that end, the state has already created an active Infotech Fund, and last month the Tamil Nadu government anounced it will partner private industries and foreign investors to establish a venture capital fund for its Entrepreneurship Development Institute.

Check out all commentaries here.

No comments:

Post a Comment