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Datawind out of Aakash project

C-DAC, Indian Telephone Industries to work on improved version of the tablet

BS Reporters  |  Bangalore/New Delhi 

Datawind, the Canadian company that was involved in the production of the world’s cheapest tablet Aakash will no longer be associated with the project, Telecom and HRD minister Kapil Sibal said on Monday.

The government has roped in the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and state-owned telecom equipment manufacturer Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) to further the development of the tablet computer. The minister said improved version of the tablet would be fully indigenous and would be launched soon at the same price.

"There have been some problems with Datawind, I must confess. Therefore, I have got into the act. IT ministry has got C-DAC and ITI into the act and I am going to ensure that this product is fully indigenous and truly an Indian product," he said.

A spokesperson of Datawind said the company “does not have any communication from the HRD ministry about this development.” To a query by Business Standard, ITI CMD K L Dhingra said the company was yet to get any official communication from the ministry. He, however, said ITI was quite capable of handling a project of this scale.

Originally developed by the Indian Institute of Technology-Rajasthan, Aakash tablet is available to students at Rs 1,100 after the government subsidy. So far, the manufacturing company Datawind has delivered 10,000 tablets to the Government of India. The project, however, ran into rough weather with allegations that it was using outdated with inadequate specifications. Besides, questions were also raised about the handling of tenders for the project by an educational institute like IIT-Rajasthan.

The Union HRD minister said the next version of the tablet Aakash-II would be launched sometime in the ongoing year. "Well, 2012... Aakash-II should be launched. There have been some hiccups in the way. Remember when you do a project of this nature and when your dream is as big as this, things are never that smooth."

Welcoming competition from market for development of the tablet, Sibal said the ultimate objective was to give a quality product to the children.

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First Published: Tue, February 21 2012. 00:02 IST