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Aakash 2 specifications by June-end: Sibal

Mumbai: The specifications for revised version of the world`s cheapest tablet PC – Aakash 2 will be finalised by month-end, Union Telecom and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has said.

"During the course of this month, we will finalise the specifications and technology for the Aakash project and move forward with its manufacturing," Sibal said at an event over the weekend here.

The tablet will be a platform on which public services will be electronically delivered, he said.

"I am absolutely certain that in the next five to seven years, we will be able to provide this tablet to every school and college student. It will also be available for the individuals who wish to acquire it," he said.

"The tablet will be available at as cheap as USD 35 (Rs 1,960) or even less," he said. Stating that information is the most powerful tool, Sibal said there is a need for higher investments in IT, telecom and electronic manufacturing sectors.

"We need to invest in these sectors which are emerging as backbones of our economic growth. Over next two-and-a-half years, we aim to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats across the country through optical fibre and the last mile connectivity through wireless broadband," he said.

As many as 604 universities and 35,000 colleges will be brought under the national knowledge network in the next six months, he said.

At present, out of the 604 universities, 400 are already in the network, while of the 35,000 colleges only 14,000 are networked and data sharing has started among them at the primary level, he said. .

"The government has set a speed of 100 megabytes per second for such connectivity, where students can access every lecture recorded in a particular college from anywhere. This will ensure all courses and their curricula will be available for students and colleges in the network," Sibal added.

Despite a raft of negative news flowing in from all across the macro front, Sibal said the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) will continue.

"There is no way FDI flow into the country is going to stop, nor will FIIs rush off from here because there is nowhere else that so much potential is available. It is inevitable that foreign capital will inflow to take advantage of the economic opportunities and develop human resources not only for the domestic market but also for global markets," Sibal said.

Though GDP has seen a decline in the last year, the HRD minister said the country will grow at a reasonable pace.

"Till 2009, we witnessed a GDP growth of 8 percent. I don`t imagine it to reach the same levels by 2014, but it will be around 6-7 percent. It (growth at 6-7 percent) is not the best thing to happen but we are growing at a reasonable pace," he added.

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