India’s dream of providing a laptop to every student is headed for a crash as the Canada-based Datawind has failed to supply the required number of Aakash tablets — low-cost computing devices. Showcased by India as the world’s cheapest computing device, Aakash-2 was to be supplied to 22 million students and faculty at 50 per cent subsidised cost.
The Human Resource Development Ministry has written to the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, which had placed the order, to ensure that Datawind met the terms and conditions and cleared the supply order by March 31, failing which action would be taken against it. Datawind had supplied just about 25,000 pieces as against the order of 1,00,000 tablets.
Importantly, the Ministry is reviewing the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT), of which Aakash tablet formed an important component. HRD Minister M.M. Pallam Raju admitted that there was a gap in the supply and production. “The challenge is productionising it. That is where the failure has come. If the productionisation had happened on time, students would have accessed it. ”