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Datawind dismisses 'dispute' with the Indian government over Aakash tablet

by Doug Drinkwater

February 23 2012

Datawind says that it has not been informed of any decision to stop working on the Aakash tablet
Datawind says that it has not been informed of any decision to stop working on the Aakash tablet

Following rumors of a possible dispute, and even termination of contract, with the Indian government over the $35 Aakash tablet for Indian students, Datawind, the UK-based manufacturer of the slate, has exclusively told TabTimes that the tender for the tablet remains in place.

Earlier this week, Indian HRD minister Kapil Sipal was reported to have said that the Indian government had lost patience with Datawind, because of supply delays and manufacturing defects, but Datawind has now moved to clarify this situation.

Datawind's VP of operations in the UK, Alia Khan, said that the initial rumor  came about after a local news source mis-quoted Mr Sipal. Regarding the rumors that Datawind would not be associated with the product anymore, or that the firm would not be allowed to participate in the process of the forthcoming tender to the Ministry of HRD for the Aakash tablet, Khan responded; "Datawind would like to state that we've not been informed officially or unofficially by the Ministry of HRD of anything restricting us to participate in the next tender.

"The statement quoting the honorable HRD Minister appears to be false and is a deliberate attempt by some negative elements to stall the ambitious project of Mr Kapil Sibal to eradicate digital divide in education in India. We believe the articles have misquoted the Minister.

"DataWind shares the vision of the Minister, and is committed to providing indigenously manufactured computing & internet devices at the lowest prices in the world, to both the Government and the Commercial markets."

The Indian government contracted Datawind for the Aakash project last year, and is hoping to bring the $35 tablet to as many as ten million students in the country in future. Datawind itself claims that the tablet has already been tested by thousands of Indian students, and says that the governments of Brazil, Thailand, Turkey and Sri Lanka have also expressed an interest in bringing the tablet to their own countries.

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