Thursday, 22 March 2012

Government allots Rs.765 crore for Aakash 2 in Budget 2012.

The nation's most ambitious mission to deliver quality education to the have-nots in the country, reportedly got a Rs.765 crore boost from the Indian government, after a provision was made for it in the recently announced Union Budget 2012-2013. The Economic Times reports that under the National Mission for Education through ICT of Ministry of Human Resource and Development the government allocated the aforementioned figure, which they say will help set the wheels of the second phase of the tablet running. The report further adds that a fund of Rs.765 crores for the Aakash 2 is sufficient, since the government had estimated that procuring roughly 50 lakh Aakash 2 tablets would require them Rs.569 crores.

Quoting a senior government official involved in the project, the report stated that, "Most of the money is likely to be utilised for the Aakash project. Some of it will be utilised for developing e-content." Aakash 2 enthusiasts would be thrilled to learn that the government plans to procure roughly 50 lakh units of the upgraded version of the low-cost tablet, with each selling for Rs.2,270. Reportedly, half of the cost, i.e. roughly Rs.1,138 per tablet will come as a subsidy from the central government, while the remaining costs will be borne by the state governments. Colleges and other institutions in the state will, reportedly receive the upgraded Aakash 2 tablets. A revelation made in the report throws light on the fact that the newly allocated amount of Rs.765 crores is in addition to the Rs.25 crores, which IIT-Rajasthan did not utilize in their Aakash 1 project.

In fact, there seems to be some level of discrepancy in the number of Aakash 1 tablet units procured, since the government claims to have procured only 500 units of the initial version of the tablet, while Canada-based manufacturers, Datawind claim that they had provided IIT-Rajasthan with about 10,000 units of the Aakash tablet, for which they haven't received the payment.

With some shroud of doubt still looming over the initial version of the Aakash tablet, the government has a mighty task at hand. The Aakash 2, according to successive reports has been confirmed to launch next month, at the same price as its predecessor. The Aakash 2, needless to add, has a lot riding on it. Not only does it have to perform true to that upgraded spec sheet, it will also have seep into the education system in the country.

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