Sub $100 laptop for every child?


Atanu Dey has written yet another insightful article on developmental issues: Read Formula for Milking the Digital Divide On a similar note, governments of third world countries a majority of whose population do not have access to nutritious food or safe drinking water are committing a criminal offence when they use their meagre resources to purchase exorbitantly costly propreitary software solutions when equivalent free software solutions are available. I used to belong to that category of people who felt Richard Stallman's "Free Software" ideals to be a little bit `fanatical' - but now I am able to view it in a far wider context and feel that they do really make sense. Insatiable greed has become the driving force for many huge corporations all over the world, including software companies. The kind of profits which a company like Microsoft (employing just a few thousand people - and thus directly benefitting only a few thousand people) makes can be built only by cleverly convincing people that software is a `product' just like bread or biscuits. Governments all over the world are perhaps one of the largest consumers of software - imagine a situation where the government of India declares that it is going to make it a "policy" not to use propreitory software - all applications will run on GNU/Linux and will be developed indigenously by small software companies who will contribute their code back to the common pool ... We will never see another `big' company emerging from this setup, but there will be a lot of small players providing decent employment. Who is the loser here - clearly the big software `multinationals'. No longer can company XYZ employ cheap Indian labour to produce software `products' and sell it back to us for a ransom! Which is why these companies will fight tooth and nail to see to it that such a situation never becomes real!

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