The latest dispute between Datawind, the makers of “Aakash” and IIT Rajasthan, a premier educational institution, which was the procurement agency for “Aakash” has come to an end with the Indian government taking matters in its own hands and taking away not only procurement responsibility but also drafting of specifications from IIT and giving it to the department of IT. The procurement responsibility will now be given to public sector undertakings.
The main bone of contention between the manufacturer and the institution was the tablet specification. Both the parties had not been able to agree upon a required set of features for Aakash. While the IIT demanded a shockproof and rainproof tablet, Datawind refused to comply with the “military specifications” prescribed by the IIT saying manufacturing such a rugged tablet would push the cost to $1500 per tablet. The IIT team rejected the first 3000 tablets and also withhold the payment of the 10000 units supplied. Datawind in turn stopped the supply of tablets leading to delay in the availability of the tablet to students.
The new specification for Aakash2, the revised version of the tablet, is likely to include a capacitive touch screen and 1GHz processor. As per the latest update from the human resources development ministry of India, they will require additional 220 million tablets and would engage multiple vendors to manufacture the tablet. Datawind which currently has an order of 100,000 devices is expected the release the upgraded Aakash2 devices soon.
With things turning favourable for Datawind after Indian government’s intervention, the path ahead for Aakash2 now looks smooth.