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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1587

India’s showpiece Aakash tablet Chinese made?

From R. Vasudevan—Reporting from New Delhi
New Delhi, 25 November (Asian

Doubts have arisen whether India’s tech-showpiece Aakash 2, the world's cheapest tablet, was actually made in China?

Union Minister Kapil Sibal had tom-tommed the achievement which was meant to help students who cannot afford expensivePCs or Laptops.

Documents reviewed by the Hindustan Times show DataWind founders and NRI brothers Suneet and Raja Singh Tuli may have procured these devices off-the-shelf from manufacturers in China for $42 ( Rs. 2,263 then), exactly the price at which they sold these to the Indian government.

DataWind bought more than 10,000 or more "A 13" made-in-China tablets from at least four manufacturers in Shenzhen and Hong Kong between October 26 and November 7.

These were shipped to India duty-free as they were meant for school students under an HRD ministry programme. Last year, Canada-based DataWind won a bid to supply 100,000 low-cost computing devices to students. Aakash 2, which is meant to be India-made, is part of that agreement.

DataWind had no role either in the design or manufacturing of Aakash 2 tablets, a source said.

Documents with HT show that DataWind bought the tablets from at least four manufacturers, Dasen International Electronics, Shenzhen Shitong Zhaoli Technology, Kalong Technology and Trend Grace Ltd.

DataWind's manufacturing partner in Hyderabad --- VMC Systems---had not built any device over the last couple of months, said a source. Its manufacturing partners and facilities in Delhi and Amritsar, respectively, too, had not produced even a single tablet over the last couple of months, the source said.

“Instead of manufacturing these low-cost tablets themselves… DataWind has simply purchased these 'off-the-shelf' from China and supplied it to the Indian government,” the source told HT.

It now appears that Datawind handed over the China-made tablets to Indian Institute of

Technology (IIT), Bombay for testing. IIT-B's role is limited to testing and installing apps. These, it emerges, were subsequently unveiled as Aakash 2 on November 11.

-Asian Tribune -

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