India unveils world's cheapest pc at Rs 1,750

A student poses with the ultra-cheap 'Aakash' tablet computer in New Delhi on Wednesday. AP

The government proposes to give the tablet computers to students at half the price.
The 7-inch touch screen access-cum-computing device, popularly known as $35 PC, was launched by the Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, almost five years after the idea was first mooted by the ministry.

Named Aakash, the price of the tablet PC has now gone up the widely quoted $35 price tag. While the manufacturing cost of the device reached $37.98, its price now stands at $49.98 (Rs 2,276) after adding transportation, warranty and other costs. While the device will cost the government Rs 2,276, the HRD ministry will of­fer a 50 per cent subsidy to st­udents.

Initially, the tablet PC will be distributed among post-secondary students from class 9 onwards through their institutions, under the 12th Five Year Plan. The first lot of one lakh tablets for post-secondary students will be made available to states at Rs 1,750 per tablet till the end of this year.

“Our ultimate aim is that in the coming years this tablet sh­ould cost less than $10. Da­tawind has said that if an order of one million units is placed, the cost of the tablet (to the government) would be Rs 1,750 ($35), on which the government will offer a 50 per cent subsidy (while giving it to students),” Sibal said here after unveiling the device.

The government hopes that it will be able to bring down the cost of the device to as low as Rs 500 (about $10) in future. “As we will scale up manufacturing capacity, the prices will fall. My target is to provide ta­blet for $10 to our children in the coming years,” Sibal said. Though the low cost tablet com­puter has been developed specifically for students with the aim of bridging the ‘digital divide’ between the rich and poor, a commercial version of the device is also expected to hit the market in November with a retail tag of Rs 2,999.

At its launch ceremony, the device was distributed among 500 college students to get feedback from them.

The tablet PC has been developed and manufactured by DataWind Ltd, a Canadian company, at a plant in Hyderabad in partnership with IIT-Rajasthan.

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