College students across India will get an enhanced version of Aakash tablet without the government having to pay a penny extra.
The Aakash 2 tablet will three times faster than Aakash 1 and will have 50% more battery life. The latest version will have to pass a new quality protocol prepared on basis of inputs received from around 600 students of IITs and engineering colleges.
“All issues have been resolved. We will receive 70,000 improved Aakash tablets from Datawind (the company supplying the tablets) by January-end,” said HRD minister Kapil Sibal, after reports of the ministry planning to put its pact with Datawind on hold.
Ministry officials said Datawind may not get order in future as it had violated the contract condition of providing the tablets first to the government before selling it in open market.
The HRD ministry had asked Datawind of Montreal-based Suneet S Tuli to supply one lakh Aakash tablets for around $50 each. In the initial lot, 600 tablets were given to students for testing.
IIT, Rajasthan, which had prepared the Aakash prototype cited several deficiencies in the tablet including short battery life, processor unable to handle multiple operations at a time and poor picture quality.
Datawind has already supplied 30,000 tablets by the time the report by the IIT came. The ministry held back the order and asked the firm to fix the deficiencies. Ministry sources said the company was initially reluctant to upgrade the tablet without increasing the cost. However, it agreed when ministry threatened to cancel the order.
Tuli was not available for comments. A company spokesperson said the remaining 70,000 tablets would be supplied as per the pact. “Not only Aakash from Datawind but all future tablets will have minimum Aakash 2 specifications,” said NK Sinha, additional secretary, HRD ministry.