Saturday, March 24, 2012
Ministry of Human Resource and Development India
The world's cheapest tablet project has been fund allocated about Rs 765 crore in Budget year 2012-2013, which is likely to trigger the second phase of the project expected to begin in April 2012, even as the first phase is stuck in a Aakash deadlock. The allocation for Aakash has been made under the National Mission for Education through ICT of Ministry of Human Resource and Development India. The mission had launched the low Price tablet project, last year. According to official sources, the money allocated is 'sufficient' for the second phase of the Aakash tablet project. Aakash-II is likely to cost the government about 569 crore for about 50 lakh tablets last year. "Most of the money is likely to be utilised for the Aakash tablet project. Some of it will be utilised for developing e-content," said a senior indian government official involved in the project. The government plans to procure about 50 lakh Aakash tablets, in a phased manner, at 2,276 each. Half of the Price (about 1138 per tablet) will be subsidized by the central government of India. The rest will be borne by the state governments, who want to distribute Aakash tablets in state colleges and higher technical education training institutions.
The billion dollar- five-year fund allocated to NME-ICT mission expired on March 31 2012, which led to a fresh allocation by Finance Minister MrPranab Mukherjee in the Union Budget 2012-2013. The new allocation comes even as IIT Rajasthan was unable to utilise about 25 crore allocated for phase I of the Aakash tablet project, due to a disagreement with its vendor. According to a government official heading the Aakash tablet project, only about 500 Aakash-I tablets have been procured so far. However, according to Datawind officials, they have supplied about 10,000 tablets to IIT Rajasthan, for which they are yet to receive money. Disagreement over specifications of the Aakash tablet has added to the deadlock. "Allocation of more money to a project which is not stable is not an established practice in government of india," said MrSatish Jha, President of One Laptop Per Child foundation, which has a competing product in the Indian market. Meanwhile, the government has washed its hands off the deadlock, citing it as a commercial dispute between two parties. Nonetheless, Minister for Human Resource and Development Mr.Kapil Sibal said in Lok Sabha earlier this month, that Datawind will supply about 100,000 improved Aakash tablets. Sibal also plans to launch a tender in April 2012 for Aakash-II, which are expected to come with a better processor and capacitive touchscreen, but @ the same price.
Source: The Economic Times