Aakash Again in News

Aakash is again in news. Media reports of the two cabinet ministers are interesting and show how this government is working.

Pallam Raju, the new HRD Minister, who is an alumnus of IIT, expressed concerns over the future of Aakash that appeared in media. The next day IT and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, who had launched Aakash as HRD minister, declared the project for the low-cost computing device, Aakash as “alive and kicking”. He had added that the work is on for its third and fourth versions. Pallam Raju again corrects his statement the next day and talked about the continuance of Aakash project.

I felt really bad after going through a blog in Forbes India by Seema Singh: “As Mint reports today, the HRD ministry, whose ridiculously naive idea it was, is close to shutting down this project. Yes, merely a project is what it was, pursued by some for their grubby little self-interests. That the ministry under Pallam Raju has decided to consign it to the bin, a place where it always belonged, it will bring a closure to this murky story. At Forbes India, we gave it a decent burial nearly a year ago. The story, What Went Wrong with Aakash Tablet, details how the idea was “stillborn” and no amount of clinical intervention could revive it.”

Why should some celebrate failure of a project of an India innovated product that could have made difference in educating millions of the poor India with help of a digital gadget? However, some were very positive and talked pretty highly about the project.

A well written article of Vivek Wadhwa, vice-president, research and innovation, Singularity University; fellow at Stanford Law School, and a director, research, Duke University, appeared in the Mint, ‘In Praise of Aakash. “Aakash has lowered the expected base price of tablet technologies from the $400-500 that is common in the West to $35-50. This would not have happened on its own.”

And then appeared another column of Satish Jha, chief mentor, Indian Centre for CSR, and chairman, OLPC India Foundation,- ‘Aakash-Cheapest tablet far from real’ in the same Mint-“If there is any nation that deserves the credit for making the cheapest computer, in more sense than one, that is China”.

I have been following the media for Aakash since its launch. I have a serious grievance about the IITs that were associated with this project, particularly IIT, Rajasthan and now IIT- Bombay. The professor/s associated with Aakash would have written in media to clarify the controversies in media. It would have removed the confusion. Can’t IITs do even this much? Is it not a shame that these institutes of national importance fail to mentor even one project such as Aakash. Why India and Indians are like one narrated in this report?

I would have loved if those connected with such gadgets in the industry would have suggested ways and means to save the project Aakash. Can it happen?

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