Aiming to bridge the digital divide in the country, India
Wednesday launched the world's cheapest tablet computing device
Akash costing Rs.2,250 ($46).
Around one lakh students will be able to have better access to
information through the product developed jointly by the Indian
Institute of Technology (IIT), Rajasthan at Jodhpur, and DataWind
The tablet, christened Akash, will be made available to higher
education students in India at Rs.1,125 ($23 according to days'
exchange rate) per unit with the central government bearing 50
percent of the cost.
The government ultimately wants to bring down the cost of the
device to less than Rs.490 ($10), Human Resource Development
Minister Kapil Sibal said.
"Akash is a milestone in history. It will bring paradigm shift in
education delivery," said Sibal, adding: "The device is not only
for Indian students but for those of the world."
Officials said the low-cost device would allow students in the
rural areas access technology that will define the 21st century.
"People said it can't be done in India and by the Indians. We
accepted the challenge," said DataWind chief executive officer
Suneet Singh Tuli.
IIT Rajasthan director Prem Kalra said the prototype of the
low-cost device was developed by his students.
Akash has a seven-inch Android 2.2 touch screen, Wi-Fi and can be
used as an Ebook reader for access to online streaming course
material and web-based research, he said.
A tablet device from HCL sells for around Rs.11,000 in the Indian
Sibal said the challenge for IT experts was now to generate world
class content also. He appealed to the hardware industry to come
forward and partner the government in manufacturing the low cost
N.K. Sinha, additional secretary in the HRD ministry, said no
device is perfect and field trials will help improve Akash.
Said Priyanka Singh, post-graduate student at the Central
University of Rajasthan, who received a unit from Sibal: "Akash
will help me search latest information related to Economics."