The ministry of human resource development (MHRD) has roped in more firms to develop its ambitious $35 tablet for students even as the current developer Datawind is upgrading the first version of Aakash.
?We are enhancing specifications of Aakash to ensure that the first version caters to need of the students. We have roped in ITI and the new Aakash will be available by April. In order to cater to the huge demand, we need several manufacturers to manufacture Aakash,? said HRD minister Kapil Sibal.
Sibal said improvements were being made after taking feedback from students on the features of the device. The student community and experts alike have complained of Aakash?s poor battery life, touchscreen and capacity, among others.
?Second version is ready and cost of the device will remain the same. We are working with more companies to develop the device. As of now Datawind has delivered around 30,000 tablets and the rest 70,000 will also have upgraded version of Aakash-II,? he said. The government had committed itself to supply of 1 lakh units of the tablet from Datawind.
Though Sibal refused to share the point of contention with Datawind on the current tablet, he said: ?We need to resolve issues and not highlight them?. However, the ministry has contractual issues with the company.
The device costing $35 (about R2,000) was developed as part of the ministry?s National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technologies (NME-ICT).
The government did not issue a Letter of Credit to the company after receiving test reports from IIT (Jodhpur) that raised certain issues with regard to the quality of the tablet PC. The last letter of credit is going to expire in January.