Story of the ‘Aakash’ Tablet revealed through RTI
Aakash Tablet has been an ambitious project to bring sub Rs. 3000/- tablets to the Indian students. Reply by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed the following:
- The final price of the Aakash Tablet is $49.98 per unit (or nearly Rs 2276 at the exchange rate at the time of the order). The price is inclusive of taxes, levies, freight, insurance, servicing and documentation.
- The Ministry of Human Resource Development had released Rs 47.72 crore to IIT Rajasthan for testing the hardware and software optimization of low cost access devices.
- The Ministry of Human Resource Development has informed that it does not have details of the tender/document/financial bid/payment made by IIT Rajasthan to Datawind.
- IIT Jodhpur, Rajasthan was given the task of procuring and testing the Aakash Tablet.
- Datawind was given the pilot of procuring 1,00,000 pieces.
- The norms for distribution of the Aakash Tablet to students are yet to be finalised.
- The Ministry of Human Resource Development has passed have been passed to IIT Rajasthan the questions regarding warranty, replacement, parts, percentage of procurement that has to take place from India, service and support, ownership of intellectual property of the design of Aakash, ownership of the brand name Aakash, surveillance software on Aakash, preloaded applications, custom-built software and additional tenders.
It has been learnt that Datawind placed an order for 50,000 tablets with Quad Electronics Ltd against which Quad produced only 20,000. Out of these, Datawind took only 10,000 and 2000 tablets were provided to IIT Rajasthan for testing. Because of poor performance, Datawind stopped taking tablets from Quad and according to a suit filed by Quad against Datawind, it has not even been paid for the first 10,000 tablets.