India unveils world’s cheapest tablet PC at $35

By : |October 5, 2011 0

NEW DELHI, INDIA: The wait is over. India’s cheapest tablet PC Aakash has arrived. Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for HRD, communications and IT unveiled the Rs 1,750 tablet PC today at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. This tablet PC is a concept of IIT Rajasthan, conceived by Canadian company Datawind.

The low cost access device (LCAD) is all set to empower and accelerate the Centre government’s ambitious; National Mission on Education (NME).

The government gave away 500 tablet PCs to students from various states that include Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Tripura. The government distributed Aakash to the students of the National Institute of Speech and Hearing, Kerala.

The Indian government, however, plans to give 3,300 devices to each state during the first phase. The government is buying it for Rs 2,250 per unit from Datawind but it is given away for Rs 1,750 per unit.

Prem Kalra, Director IIT Rajasthan, informed that they are working closely with the secretaries of technical education in state governments to ensure delivery of these devices.

The government feels that such a low-cost device will not only empower 220 million students in the country but facilitate children across boundaries. With Aakash, the government is focusing on e-content to bridge the digital divide in education sector.

Anshu Vaish, secretary, HRD, said that it was a dream for the HRD ministry which has now become a reality. “The preparation for e-content is under way and it’ll be enriched with graphics, pictures and glossaries,” she said.

Vaish said that Aakash will help secondary and higher education in rural areas and facilitate education. The HRD Ministry is also preparing 1,000 courses for engineering students.

Narendra Kumar Sinha, additional secretary, HRD, said that people were apprehensive when the prototype was first shown in July, 2010. “We are inviting suggestions so that it could be improved upon hardware side. The government will support new ideas and allow funding to such endeavors,” Sinha added.

 D Purandeshwari, Minister of State for HRD, said that the dream has finally realized and with this the country can reach at higher level of social development. “Information communication technology supported education can empower students and the country should look at NME through ICT,” Purandeshwari stressed.

Sibal feels that Aakash will enable children across the country to access information. “This device is not just for the country but for all those in the world who have no access, marginalized and live at fringes of the society,” he said.

Sibal also hinted on the possibility of $10 device. “Aakash will ensure that digital divide will relinquish soon. Our government always has inclusive growth agenda and this launch is a testimony to it,” Sibal added.

The government also feels that industry should work closely with it and play a key role to facilitate ICT in the country. Sibal also said that industry should embark on a journey to create and develop world-class content.

Datawind has specifically designed, developed and manufactured 1 lakh tablet PCs at their newly established Hyderabad facility for HRD. “Datawind has 50 international patents and is focused at low-cost access device,” said Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO, Datawind.

The tender was closed on Feb 15, 2011 and Datawind was the lowest bidder with a large margin. The company sourced components from various countries that include China, Korea and the US for its production. 

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