India's ministers get tablet grant

India's lower house of Parliament is giving MPs 50,000 rupees (US$970) to buy tablet devices to save paper and improve their tech literacy, reports note.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor on

India's lower house of the Parliament, also known as Lok Sabha, has decided to grant Members of Parliament (MP) allowances to buy Apple's iPad or Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablet devices in an effort to cut down on the use of paper, reports stated.

Indian news agency The Times of India reported last Friday that the initiative will see each MP receive 50,000 rupees (US$970) to purchase the tablet devices.

Explaining the decision, Lok Sabha Secretary General T.K. Vishwanathan said in the report: "We are encouraging MPs to use iPads. It is easier to retrieve and rearrange information in a digital format [and] this would save a lot of paper."

The report noted that, in the past, information such as e-mail messages, details of House proceedings and daily notices were printed and sent to MPs. So, with the tablet devices, information can be uploaded online and MPs can get updates there. For those who prefer hard copies of the report, they can download and print them via their devices, it added. 

In order to help officials with this initiative, the secretariat had started a familiarization drive for MPs on how to use both devices, and it is planning to make selective areas of the Lok Sabha Wi-Fi-enabled, the report said. 

The initiative is not without criticisms, though. A Reuters blog post on Friday quoted Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's tweet, saying: "Good to hear MPs have got iPads. Now other than all the work they can spend their free time playing 'Angry Birds' in Central Hall."

Another Twitter user, ishan_srivastav, also questioned why the MPs would need the grant and whethere there were no better options to help save paper. He said in his tweet: "Even if we choose not to debate the usefulness of this move..will someone explain why they need 50k?! No better option? MPs iPad fanboys?"

The Indian government had in October announced the launch of a US$45 Android-based media tablet, which targeted the education sector, according to a ZDNet Asia report. 

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