Amid complaints with regard to the quality of the low-cost ‘Aakash’ tablet PC, the government on Monday said it is hopeful of bringing out an upgraded version of the device, ‘Aakash-II’, by April this year.
“In order to cater to the huge demand, we need several manufacturers to manufacture Aakash. We are enhancing the specifications on the basis of feedback we have received from the first version of Aakash. So we want to make sure that the upgraded product caters to the need of the customers... We have involved ITI in order to upgrade it... We will be able to bring in Aakash-II by April,” HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said.
Accepting that differences have crept into the relationship between Aakash creator Datawind and the Human Resource Development Ministry, Mr. Sibal said, “We believe in resolving issues rather than highlighting them.”
According to ministry sources, Mr. Sibal is going to meet the IIT-Rajasthan Director, Datawind officials and the Special Secretary to the Human Resources Development Ministry on Tuesday.
Mr. Sibal had launched the world’s cheapest tablet, Aakash, last year with much fanfare. The device costing $35 (about Rs 2,000) was developed as part of the ‘The National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technologies (NME-ICT)’ of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
“When we launched the Aakash first version, we did not know the feedback... We distributed to several students in order to get the feedback. With that feedback, we are now enhancing the specifications,” the minister said.
The government had committed itself to a long-term and full supply of 1 lakh units of the Aakash tablet from Datawind.
“As of now Datawind has delivered around 30,000 tablets and the rest 70,000 will also have the upgraded version of Aakash-II,” he said.
The government did not issue a Letter of Credit to the company after receiving test reports from IIT (Jodhpur) that raised certain issues with regard to the quality of the tablet PC.
The last letter of credit is going to expire in January.