Yesterday, right on cue, on the occasion of India's Presidency of the UN Security Council, the Permanent Mission of India to United Nations, New York hosted a special event to unveil and launch the Aakash 2 at the United Nations. 

Secretary General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, was the Chief Guest at the Special Event, which was attended by a packed audience of 500 plus invitees, including 65 Ambassadors/PRs, media delegates, NGOs and select members of the Indian community. 

Aakash 2 at UN: UN Secy Gen H.E. Ban Ki-moon unveils the tablet

At the unveiling

In his remarks, Secretary General H.E. Mr. Ban Ki- moon congratulated India on its Presidency of the Security Council during an 'extremely challenging month' and emphasised that India was a critical player on security issues. Terming India as a 'superpower on the information superhighway', he appreciated the launch of technologies such as the Aakash 2, which helped bridge the digital divide. Calling them 'great enablers' with potential to transform people's lives, he encouraged partners around the world to work with the United Nations to help young people reach for the sky and meet their dreams.

An official statement shared further that in his welcome address, Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations in New York, noted that the device represented the development innovation which had the potential to fundamentally alter the development discourse. 

He emphasised that the innovation seeks to empower and give access to quality education for all. He called for the need promote research and innovation in national institutions and create an eco-system of excellence right from the elementary level upto the institutions of high-end research and innovation. He emphasised that by partnering with key initiatives such as these, the UN development system would be able to 'force multiply' to achieve the MDGs of universal education and global partnership.

CEO of Datawind and referred to as the architect of the device, Mr. Suneet Singh Tuli, who flew in from Canada for the launch at the UN, also made a presentation and outlined that the purpose of the device was not to create an 'iPad killer' but to create a device for the most needy sections of society at costs that they could easily afford. Terming it a product of 'frugal innovation', Mr Tuli outlined that the device incorporated that best of innovative hardware design with a unique business model, and reflected Government of India's commitment to eliminating illiteracy by equipping all 220 million students in India over the next 5 years with low cost computers and internet.

The official statement added further that an interactive and interesting Q & A Session followed the presentations, in which several member states termed the device as 'revolutionary' especially from the perspective of requirements of developing countries and the need to replicate such technological innovations within the multilateral development agenda of the UN, which places increasing emphasis on public private partnerships.

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