Brushing aside a China tag on its first lot of Aakash 2 tablets which attracted charges that they are not made in India, the government on Wednesday proudly showcased the low-cost tablet - aimed at revolutionising the education sector - at the United Nations.
Never mind that its
critics question both its geography and its history.
The celebrations at the UN in presence of its Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of DataWind, which supplies Aakash 2 tablets to the Indian government, admitted that "for expediency sake" the devices were "kitted" at China.
Tuli was evasive, claiming that parts of the tablet are made in different parts of the world and that Aakash 2 is a story of global innovation led by India.
"Aakash 2" being hailed as India's innovation is a "Made in China" tablet bought off-the-shelf.
These tablets are popularly known as "A 13" in China, documents in HT's possession show.
"Parts of the tablet are made in different parts of the world. I am proud that the motherboard and kitting is done in China," Tuli said at the UN on Wednesday.
Hindustan Times had first reported on November 24 that Aakash 2 tablets were bought "off-the-shelf" from China and were sourced from at least four Chinese manufacturers.
"China and India are neighbours. China is part of the global community. In my mind there is no controversy, all that there is sensationalism," Tuli said.
"The tablets we sell to DataWind are ready to be sold. They are finished, ready-to-use products," Li Junhao, president of Trend Grace, a company based at Shenzhen in China told New York Times in an interview.
Trend Grace is one of several Chinese manufacturers that makes A 13 tablets and sells to DataWind.
Junhao told NYT that DataWind "does only sales."
In a clarification sent by Tuli after HT's expose he contradicted himself. "….the initial devices were assembled and programmed at our facilities in New Delhi and Amritsar," he said. In the same statement he added: "We also have four partner manufacturers across India that will work on the deliveries to the government, but we just couldn't get them started to assemble our new Aakash 2 units in time. They will start to ship early in December."
(With PTI inputs from New York)