Jan. 30, 2013 at 4:00 PM ET
Following the death of a young woman brutally raped on a bus in downtown New Delhi, a galvanized India is looking for ways to combat sexual violence and increase the safety of its citizens. The country's technology ministry has proposed a bracelet that alerts police and family members immediately in case of trouble.
Kapil Sibal, India's information technology minister, set forth the idea at a recent briefing about government technology initiatives planned for 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The device would resemble a wristwatch, and a single button press would send text messages to the closest police station and pre-programmed phone numbers such as family members. It would also have a camera built in that would record for half an hour after activation.
The ministry plans to have a prototype built by midyear, which would then be sent to manufacturers for production. Sibal said that there would be $20 version and $50 version, but did not mention the differences between the two.
Skeptics may note that India's last two high-profile "national" devices, an ultra-cheap laptop and tablet, never met expectations. The laptop never appeared, and the tablet was widely derided for its low quality.
Critics cited in the Wall Street Journal story also point out that the problem of sexual violence is endemic in India, and that the police and justice system systematically ignore rape cases and reduce sentences. What good is texting the police, they ask, when police laxity is part of the problem?
The controversy has led to large protests around the country, and officials at all levels of government have acknowledged the need for change.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.