From the start, it sounded too good to be true. A laptop for just 500 rupees (£7).

Officials were adamant. The 10in by 5in hand-held device had been touted as a solution to helping hundreds of thousands of students across India to access the internet. "Once the testing is over, the computers will be made available on a commercial basis," proclaimed the Indian government's Higher Education Secretary, R P Agrawal. "The target is to make it available in six months' time."

In the end it was no such thing. The device unveiled this week was merely a specialised digital storage unit. It would be able to store specially produced educational materials which could then be downloaded and printed from a regular computer.

The much touted £7 laptop it most certainly was not.

No one from Mr Agrawal's ministry was yesterday available for comment, as a disappointed The Times of India called the launch a "damp squib".