February 26, 2021

No move to scrap Aakash project, Pallam Raju says

KOZHIKODE: Human resources development minister Dr MM PallamRaju has said that the government will continue with the Aakash low-cost tablet project.


Responding to queries on reports that the project could be scrapped, Raju said the government was working towards solving the production issues in the project. “It is a fantastic initiative… It was successfully tried out and now they are working on the fourth version. We are continuing with the effort,” he said.

Concerned by repeated production delays by the vendor of the $35 Aakash tablet, the HRD Ministry had recently written to IIT Bombay (the executing body) to ensure that the vendor ( Datawind) meets the terms and conditions and the supply order by March 31 in letter and spirit, failing which action could be initiated against it. This has cast a doubt over the continuation of the project.

The minister, however, said the production of the device had been a failure. “I think where it is a failure is we could not produce the numbers we wanted for whatever reasons. We will definitely look into it. The research work is going on,” he said.

Earlier speaking at a panel discussion at the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode (IIM-K), the minister said the choice of the device, with which the students or faculty access the content, should be left to them. “I feel we should leave it to the users as on which device, whether it is a mobile phone or iPad or Aakash or regular computer, they access the content. But that would not mean that we will discredit anything that we have indigenously designed. We would definitely like it (Aakash) to be picked up but eventually it is up to the user to pick up what he/she wants.”

The minister said the country was short of 7.5 lakh qualified teachers, which posed a major challenge to the efforts in ensuring quality of education. “Unless we are able to create the needed capacity of teachers who have passed the right tests, we will not be able to ensure quality in our education process,” he said.Meghnad Desai, professor – emeritus, London School of Economics, and IIM-K director Prof Debashis Chatterjee also took part in the panel discussion.