After missing several launch schedules, our HRD Minister Kapil Sibbal is still optimsitic that an upgraded version of Aakash, the low cost tablet billed as the cheapest computer in the world for students and the teaching community, is set to be launched “very soon”, as reported by news agency- PTI. According to him, The improved version is fitted with a faster processor and enhanced battery life among other features.
“It (the idea of low cost computer) was rejected throughout the world and it was said that India would not be able to make it. Our HRD ministry was committed to the Aakash project and ultimately we came out with the first version of the Aakash which costs Rs. 2,276. Now, Aakash-2 has been rolled out with battery life of three hours, 800MHz processor, providing internet access everywhere and it has a capacitive screen. The process to distribute this device has begun and it would be formally launched very soon,” Sibal said in Hyderabad.
Mr. Sibal sounds over optimistic but he has overlooked the fact that despite proliferation of various low-cost devices which have been introduced for the last few months, none of the suppliers has been able to keep its prices so low. The worthwhile and dependable tablets going by the repuatation of its suppliers like HCL Infosystems Ltd., Micromax etc, are available in the price range of Rs. 5000 to 10,000, and this cost seems justified. Whereas the price struture of Aakash appears to be un realistic and we have strong doubts that this will prove to be dud device. Mr. Sibbal should have considered to award part of the contract of tablet to well-reputed company like HCL or any other Indian company, and then he would have been in a better position to judge who can execute this project in a professional manner.
Instead of ordering this untested device in huge quantity, which has seen various hiccups, the ideal strategy should have been to procure around 10,000 tablets and given to students for field testing for 3 to 4 months and if successful, only then pending orders should have been released. But when you are not paying from your own pocket and spending public money, then what is the need to take precautions? Who cares and What you will do is the attitude of our politicians and in this scenario, we are definitely heading for another financial catastrophe. Only eigth wonder can save this ambitious project of HRD ministry.