The fate of the much touted low-cost computing device Aakash looks uncertain with the government on Friday conceding that there has been a "failure" in its production.
Concerned over the tardy progress, the HRD ministry has written to IIT Bombay (the executing body) to ensure the vendor (Datawind) meets the terms and conditions and the supply order by March 31 in letter and spirit, failing which action could be initiated against it.
The ministry is also awaiting a report from a committee headed by Rajendra Pawar before taking a call about the prospects of the device on which many students had pinned their hope.
"... the other challenge is productionising it. That is where the failure has come. If the productionisation had happened on time, students would have accessed to it. The product exists but we are not able to productionise it as much as required," HRD minister MM Pallam Raju told reporters in New Delhi.
The tablet was promised to be made available to students at a subsidised rate of Rs. 1130. Datawind was asked to supply one lakh pieces initially, which never happened.
Raju, though, maintained that the project has created an environment for similar other devices in the market which a students as well can go for instead of being too "obsessed" with the device.
"Aakash is a tablet which will enable you to access the content. But there are others who have come up...students will pick up whatever serves the purpose better and affordable. We will continue to work on the product as long as development of the product is concerned," he said, when asked if the tablet should be opened to market force which can determine which product can survive in the rather than focussing on it solely.
He hoped in due course, other vendors could also chip developing the device.
Raju said the ultimate aim should be to enable a student to access content at an affordable price through enabling environment and exploiting the 'National Mission on Education using ICT' platform.