The ambitious ultra-low cost tablet, meant to revolutionalize education in a vast country like India, may be very short-lived. The Human Resource Department, once headed by the project’s founder Kapil Sibal has received reports about repeated poor performance & faulty hardware. Accordingly, the HRD, now led by Pallam Raju appears set to not only cancelling the order, but scrapping the entire project all together. It seems the brainchild & dream of IT and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal may not completely see the light of the day.
It’s not that the Aakash Tablet didn’t have the time to get refined. After facing humiliation over the first iteration, Datawind went back to the drawing board & conceptualized Aakash II that was supposed to have better internals, a capacitive screen & a longer lasting battery. Additionally, having faced flak from IIT Rajasthan, who was entrusted with testing the tablet, IIT-Bombay was roped in to do the mentoring, as well as develop applications for it.
The IIT-B took extensive pains to develop not only the specifications, but successfully developed content aggregation & delivery applications too. Subsequently, it even presented a finalized version in a ceremony to Sibal.
Then why is Aakash Project about to get cancelled?
Despite being approved by IIT-B, the manufacturer apparently did not stay true to the ‘indigenous’ agenda & ‘outsourced’ critical components. Though Datawind attempted to downplay the incident, the reliability factor has evidently taken a huge hit. Additionally, Datawind has fallen way short of the delivery schedule. Of the 1 Lakh delivery order, only 17,000 have reached IIT-B, apparently for being outfitted with relevant software. Datawind claims that about 30,000 are on their way. But what irks the most is the apparent emptiness in this threat to cancel the order in its entirety, “The other challenge is productionising it. We are hoping the productionisation happens on time, then, it can be available” confessed Raju.
The Aakash Tablet has been one of the most ambitious tech-related & education focused projects undertaken by the India Government.
Despite being enriched with a huge cash-pile, the same may very well go down in history as the biggest failures. What do you think?
Image Courtesy | livemint