Here’s a bad piece of news for those awaiting the availability of the Aakash 2 tablets – a cloud of uncertainty looms over the chances of the second supply deadline being met, according to reports.
Canada-based vendor Datawind, which was supposed to supply 1 lakh units of the Aakash tablet by March 31,2013, in reality just managed a measly 20,000 units till a week ago, as per HRD officials. The three month-extension in the supply deadline came about after the initial deadline of December 31 was not met. Reportedly, at present the ministry is to receive a report from a committee headed by Rajendra Pawar that examines the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT). This shall be done before they decide on the future prospects of the Aakash 2
Concerned about the delay, the HRD ministry wrote to IIT Bombay that is the executing body to make sure that Datawind supplies 1 lakh units of the Aakash tablet by March 31. IIT-B has to see that Datawind adheres to the terms and conditions “in letter and spirit”, failure of which would invite action against them.
Supply of 1 lakh units expected by March 31, 2013
Quoting Pallam Raju, Union Human Resource Development Minister, the report added, "Aakash is a tablet which will enable you to access the content. But there are others who have come up...students will pick up whatever serves the purpose better and affordable. We will continue to work on the product as long as development of the product is concerned."
Aakash 2 was launched amidst much pomp and fanfare in November last year. The Permanent Mission of India to United Nations, New York, hosted a special event to unveil and launch the Aakash 2 at the United Nations. H.E. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, was the Chief Guest at the Special Event that was attended by over 500 invitees, including 65 Ambassadors/PRs, media delegates, NGOs and select members of the Indian community.
The tablet created quite a stir in December, when it was reported that students will not receive the initial 1 lakh units of the Aakash 2. Instead, the initial lot will be used for testing and empowering teachers.
In a written statement to the Lok Sabha, the Union Human Resource Development Minister had stated that there is currently no proposal to offer the initial units of the Aakash-2 to students. “Presently, there is no proposal in this regard... In the first phase one lakh tablets are for the purpose of testing and teacher empowerment. They would not be distributed to students in the first phase,” he said. He was asked whether the government planned to offer Aakash 2 tablets to students, especially those from poor backgrounds and rural areas for free.
As for the tablet’s specs, Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind, the manufacturer of the Aakash 2, stated that some parts of the tablet were obtained from across the world. The touchscreen, for instance, was manufactured in Canada, motherboards and kitting were manufactured in China and the final assembly and programming was done in India.