Saturday 29 September 2012

Sibal gifts Aakash 2 tablet to Narendra Modi

Two units of the upgraded version of the Aakash tablet have been gifted to Gujarat CM, Narendra Modi by Kapil Sibal, as reported by the Times of India. In one of our earlier reports it had been elaborated upon that the Gujarat CM may well be among the first ones to receive the widely reported tablet, after a certain remark on the tablet did not go down too well with Sibal.

Sibal sent the tablets to Modi with a request to keep education away from politics. Sibal, in his letter to Modi, expressed his disappointment over the latter’s views on the Aakash tablet, "Education is a collaborative venture beyond the pale of politics and we need to work together in the best interests of the children of the country".

Early this month, reports had emerged about Modi taking a dig at India’s low-cost dream tablet - the brainchild of the Communications and IT Minister, Kapil Sibal. It all happened when, as part of its campaigning ahead of the Assembly elections, Congress announced that it would distribute free laptops to students if they were voted to power. Critical of this, Modi took a dig at Congress and said, "Kash [If only] this Aakash tablet could land on earth, then the lie [promise of free laptops] they [Congress] are spreading now would hold some weight". Modi went on to accuse the Centre of 'dragging its feet' in distributing Aakash tablets. Modi asserted that the Centre failed to deliver on its much-hyped commitment.

The Aakash 2 is a significant upgrade over the original Aakash tablet. The initial version of the tablet had a 7-inch resistive touchscreen, which struggled to respond to touch. It ran Android v2.2 on a 366MHz processor, based on an older ARM architecture. The Aakash 2 tablet is likely to be replaced by a successor, which will have a dual-core Cortex - A9 processor by the end of this year.

Just this week it had been reported that Datawind has started supplying units of Aakash 2 to IIT Bombay. In a statement, the company revealed that an October launch of the tablet is likely. Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli told PTI, “Supplies are on to IIT Bombay. In the next few weeks, it should be launched. I do not have the exact date, but HRD Minister [Kapil Sibal] has said he wants to launch on the anniversary date which is October 5”. However, Tuli added that the launch would depend on Sibal’s schedule. While refusing to disclose any further, Tuli added that the supplies to IIT Bombay had begun a month and a half ago.  

In June this year, Sibal had announced that 100,000 units of the Aakash 2 tablet would be provided to engineering colleges, deliveries for which were expected to begin last month. Sibal said, "That was the dream and I, as minister for Human Resource Development, asked myself the question can I provide a tablet to the students throughout the country that costs a reasonable amount so that all children can afford it and yet is able to deliver through the best technology, the vast information available on the net to them sitting wherever they are. We have realised a dream that was germinated a few years ago. We have been able to tell the world that through our frugal innovation system we can conquer the world and that's exactly what we need to do for India as a country".

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