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Indian Government takes over the upgrade of low cost tablets for schools

Indian Communications Minister, Kapil Sibal, said that an upgraded version of the tablet PC Aakash, supplied primarily to students at less than Rs.2,450 ($49) a piece, would not be hiked.

The minister, who also holds the education portfolio, said two state-owned technology companies had been roped in to manufacture the upgraded version. He admitted there were problems with Datawind, the original developer of the tablet. “There have been some problem with Datawind I must confess. Therefore, I have got into the act. IT Ministry has got C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) and ITI (Indian Telephone Industries) into the act and I am going to ensure that this product is fully indigenous and truly an Indian product”, said Sibal.

Datawind has come under criticism for missing delivery deadlines and its failure to provide a proper customer service platform. The government was also unhappy after various faults were detected in the tablet and officials had indicated that the government may not extend the contract for manufacture of more tablets to Datawind.

The minister also welcomed competition from private players for producing ultra low-cost tablets. “I think it is a great thing if there is competition. Ultimately my objective is to get a quality product in the hands of the children”, said Kapil Sibal.