Aakash which is presently the world’s cheapest tablet has been allocated a sum of Rs 765 crore in the Indian Union Budget 2012. This amount would trigger the second phase of the project which would most likely expected to begin in April.
The government is planning for the second phase of the Aakash tablet even though the first phase is stuck in a deadlock. Aakash – II is likely to cost around 569 crore to the Indian government for about 50 lakh units of the tablet.
According to many official sources, the money that has been allocated is “sufficient” for the project in the second phase. The allocation of Aakash comes under the National Mission for Education through ICT of Ministry of Human Resource and Development. The project was launched last year as a low-cost tablet project.
According to a senior government official involved in the project, “Most of the money is likely to be utilised for the Aakash project. Some of it will be utilised for developing e-content”.
In total about 50 lakh tablets has to be produced by the government in a phased manner at a price of Rs 2,276. Out of this, around half the price (about Rs1138 per tablet) will be given by the central government and the remaining amount would be given by the state government who are interested in distributing Aakash tablet in their state institutions and colleges.
The fresh investment was necessary as the billion dollar five year fund which was allocated to NME-ICT mission expired on March 31, 2011. The new allocation was also made since IIT Rajasthan was unable to utilize the funds allocated for Aakash Phase I of the project. This happened due to a disagreement with the Vendor.
According to Datawind, the company behind making of Aakash tablets, they have supplied around 10,000 Aakash tablets to IIT Rajasthan for which they have yet to receive money. According to government officials, only around 500 Aakash I tablets have been supplied to the institution. With disputes such as these, it is very tough to get things going.
Not only this, there have been disputes over specifications as well. According to Mr Satish Jha, who is the president of One Laptop Per Child foundation, “Allocation of more money to a project which is not stable is not an established practice in government.”
Meanwhile, Mr Kapil Sibal has already made a promise to launch the second version of the tablet – Aakash II with better features at the same price as that before. With all these confusions, let us see when we will Aakash II in the near future. Just keep your fingers crossed.