HRD Ministry no more passionate about Aakash tablet

HRD Ministry no more passionate about Aakash tabletThe Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry is no more passionate about its Aakash tablet that was once much-publicised as India's low-cost solution to bridge the digital divide between haves and have-nots.

HRD Minister Pallam Raju on Friday marked a major shift in the ministry's thinking about the $35 tablet. He said that students should be allowed to choose a device of their choice, and that the focus should be on facilitating students with educational content; instead of an obsession with the hardware.

Speaking on the topic, Raju said, "The overall (issue) is how we enable students. Let the students decide which device is useful. Aakash is only a tablet... there are other such devices as well."

Raju's comments marked a clear reversal in the ministry's position on a policy that was strongly supported by Sibal - former HRD Minister.

The HRD Ministry has reportedly also planned to suspend its proposed tender for buying 5 million Aakash tablets from Canadian manufacturer Datawind. In addition, the ministry has set up two committees to review its Aakash tablet project and also the National Mission on Education through ICT. It will make the final decision depending on these reports.

Datawind has so far supplied just 20,000 Aakash tablets even as a March 31 deadline for delivery of the remaining 80,000 devices is just a few days away. The HRD ministry may also get Datawind blacklisted in case it fails to supply the remaining devices.