By Twesh Mishra:
There seems to be a ray of hope for those who were impressed by Samajwadi party’s election manifesto. The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav while initiating on the promise to provide free laptops and tablets to students formed a committee to oversee the purchase and distribution of laptops.
The committee, headed by Uttar Pradesh’s first Muslim Chief secretary Javed Usmani would be negotiating with IT majors for fulfilling the promises made by the SP poll manifesto. The committee would also be consisting 9 principal secretaries, including those of Information, Finance, IT, Planning, and Higher Education besides secretary (Secondary Education).
For the 28.14 lakh Class X and 18.19 lakh Class XII students, the state is inviting proposals for the supply of some 47 lakh tablets and laptops. The committee would be negotiating the prices to sustain the crumbling exchequer since the Samajwadi Party’s claim is likely to bear a price tag of Rs 4,555 crore. If official sources are to be believed, the government has already explored the possibility of obtaining laptops and tablets with HCL. The IT major’s Chairman, Mr Shiv Nadar and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav have already held initial discussions in this regard.
Even though the IT giant has expressed its willingness to facilitate the supply of the required number of laptops and tablets, the government is willing to explore other options available. Secretary Secondary Education and a member of the committee formulated to oversee the laptop and tablet distribution, Partha Sarthi Sen Sharma clarified, “The chief minister has made it amply clear that we need to go for competitive bidding and to get the best and cheapest and we are working in that direction.” He also assured that the work underway is in earnest and right direction.
The state government is believed to be working on a time-bound schedule and the gadgets might begin to roll out sometime around September. “It is a massive exercise, right from procurement, stocking to distribution and it will definitely take some time,” an official said. If sources are to be believed, the Chief Minister is personally monitoring this project.
The Uttar Pradesh government has the mammoth task of maintaining the 8.08% GDP growth rate attained in 2010-2011 and reducing the debt burden of Rs 2.21 lakh crore. Mr Yadav’s promises have been instrumental in making him the youngest chief minister of state but won’t assure him of being able to live up to them.
Twesh Mishra is the Political Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.