There is some confusion on the status of the Aakash Tablet project with the Minister of Human Resource Development MM Pallam Raju making contradictory statements over the last week.
– On Friday, a Livemint report suggested that the government is close to shutting down the project, with Raju stating that the overall focus of the project should be on how they enable students to access educational content and allow them to access this content on a device of their preference. The report also mentioned that the Higher education secretary Ashok Thakur was unwilling to comment on whether the government is still going ahead with its earlier plan of procuring five million additional Aakash tablets for distribution to students in the country.
However, he also reportedly noted that there was lot of gap in the supply of these tablets and the ministry had told Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, which is currently looking after the Aakash tablet project, to take requisite action against Datawind if the company fails to supply 100,000 tablets with the March 31, 2013 deadline.
– On Sunday, Raju however contradicted his own statement, stating that the government is planning to launch the next version of Aakash tablet shortly, as indicated by a The Economic Times report. While the minister claimed that the tablet performance had improved with every tablet version, he noted a failure on the tablet production front and said that the ministry is currently looking into the matter.
– An Indian Express Report also suggests that the HRD ministry has set up two different committees to review the Aakash tablet project. These committees were to be headed by IIT Jodhpur Chairman Prof Mehta and NIIT Chairman Rajendra Pawar respectively.
Datawind response: In response to these statements, Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli had provided a breakdown of the delivery status of Aakash 2 tablets to IIT-Bombay. He claimed that they have delivered around 17,100 devices to IIT-Bombay till now, which has been paid for till now and around 29,400 devices are currently in transit to IIT-Bombay through its logistics company, which is expected to be delivered in the next few days.
He also claimed that an additional 23,500 devices has been manufactured and is pending shipment with sub-contract manufacturers. Tuli mentioned that this shipment is expected to be shipped following the payment of the 29,400 tablet shipment. The remaining 30,000 units are apparently being manufactured across various plants in the country and is expected to be shipped in the next couple of weeks. Interestingly, he claimed that the delay in shipments was caused by the verification process of the Indian Customs department.
Aakash Project Developments Till Now
Feb 04, 2009: The $10 Laptop: A Myth
Sep 03, 2010: HCL Wins Contract For 100,000 $35 Tablets For India
Sep 29, 2011: Indian Govt Expected To Launch $35 Tablet On 5th October
October 5, 2011: Indian Govt’s $35 Tablet Finally Launches As Aakash; Costs Rs 2250
November 2, 2011: What They’re Saying About The Aakash Tablet
Feb 3, 2012: Uncertainty Around The Future Of The Aakash Tablet
November 14, 2012: Indian Government Unveils Aakash 2 Tablet; Aakash In Education
November 27, 2012: Aakash 2 Manufactured In China And Not India; Datawind Refutes Allegations