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Aakash 2 to hit markets soon

New Delhi: Packed with more features and enhanced speed, an upgraded version of low cost computing device Aakash is ready for release, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal today said. "Unlike other tablet devices, Aakash can also be used to create computer programs, in Python, C, C++ and Scilab," he said, adding it can be further used for accessing e-governance services.

UK-based Datawind, which had submitted about 100 tablets to IIT-Bombay for testing, said the government has approved the specifications for the upgraded version and it will be launched soon in the market. "The government has approved the specifications," Datawind CEO Sunit Singh Tuli told PTI. HRD Ministry sources said the launch of the upgraded version could be around the first week of July.

Asked about the production for Aakash 2, Tuli said it will start a few days before the launch of the device in the market. Tuli added that a good number of devices will be produced before the official launch. Datawind had hit headlines last October when it unveiled Aakash, to be supplied to the HRD Ministry at Rs 2,276 a piece. The government, in turn, had to give about one lakh of these tablets to the students at subsidised price Rs 1,100-1,200 each. However, IIT-Rajasthan, the nodal agency for the Aakash project, had rejected the tablet for not meeting performance criteria and the project had to be shifted to IIT Bombay. Ever since its launch last year, the project has been running behind schedule.

Inaugurating a teacher training programme conducted by IIT-Bombay under `talk to a teacher` project of the National Mission on Education through ICT, Sibal suggested IIT-Bombay Director Devang Khakhar to present Aakash devices to heads of a few institutions associated with the training programme. A representative of IIT Bombay symbolically presented an Aakash tablet to the minister. Sibal thanked IIT-Bombay for doing a "wonderful" job in incorporating useful software to Aakash.

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