Datawind, the maker of the lowest priced tablet 'Aakash', today said it will request the human resource development ministry to include 'Made in India' clause in the proposed tender for the low-priced device.
"Datawind successfully made the $49.48 tablet Aakash in India despite various pressures. We will make a request to the ministry (MHRD) that they should consider 'Made in India clause' and encourage indigenous production," Datawind CEO Sunit Singh Tuli said.
He said that the most critical components, chips and software are being designed in India and the tablet has been manufactured in India and hence there is not any reason why the tablet should be made outside India.
The government plans to procure large number of low-cost computing device to leverage benefit of broadband connectivity in universities and colleges in a phased manner.
The ministry, in the first phase, had issued tender to procure 1 lakh devices in the name of project 'Aakash' which was won by Datawind.
"The Assam government tender has introduced Made in India clause. I hope they (IIT Rajasthan) will also consider inter clause for this. Unless you start (manufacturing) here how would somebody start making products in India," Tuli said.
IIT Rajasthan, located in Jodhpur, was given responsibility of procuring low-priced tablet through tender process under 'The National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technologies (NME-ICT) of the Ministry of Human Resource Development programme.
The Datawind CEO expressed confidence that his company will outbid competitors in the next tender even if they make tablets outside India.
"It is the money of Indian taxpayers and is to be used for Indian students. It is for the government to decide whether they want to spend it for Indian jobs or they want to spend it on Chinese jobs. Irrespective of the final decision, I guarantee you that it will be won by company that will make product in India," Tuli said.
Tuli said as per the information he has learnt from various conversation, next tender will be issued in other two to three weeks.
When contacted, IIT Rajasthan Director Prem Kalra said that 'Made In India' needs to be clearly defined.
"Made in India has multiple definitions. PCB (circuits) is coming from China and you press components on it in India. Will it be call manufacturing in India? These are the questions which need some clear definition," Kalra said.
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal is also Minister for Communications and IT where draft of new policies on telecom, electronics and IT are in the process of finalisation.
The Proposed National Telecom Policy 2011 and National Policy on Electronics 2011 have laid special emphasis on promoting indigenous manufacturing of electronic items.