India Uttar Pradesh state gives away free laptops to students

Akhilesh Yadav distributes free laptops to students in Lucknow on 11 March 2013 Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav handed out the first of the laptops to students in Lucknow

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The government in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has distributed the first of an estimated 1.5 million free laptops to college students.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav handed out the Hewlett-Packard laptops, worth 19,000 rupees ($350; £234) each, to 10,000 students on Monday.

They are part of a giveaway promised by Mr Yadav during elections last year.

The laptops have stickers of the chief minister and his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, leader of the Samajwadi Party.

The scheme is expected to cost the state authorities 30bn rupees ($552m; £370m).

"Laptops and internet have changed everything, whether it is government functioning or field of education. We want that tomorrow the world should not say that we have not done internet-based progressive education," Mr Yadav said at a function in the state capital, Lucknow, on Monday.

"Through internet, the children will enter a new world and get the benefit of progressive education," he said.

Uttar Pradesh is one of India's most backward states with a very high rate of unemployment.

Mr Yadav blamed the high unemployment rate on the wrong policies of the previous government and said that his government was trying to create new opportunities to bring in investment into the state.

At his election rallies last year, Mr Yadav had promised free laptops and tablets for students.

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