Gujarat CM Narendra Modi may well be among the first to lay his hands on the upgraded version of the Aakash tablet, even as scores around the country await its launch. If latest reports are to be believed, on September 22, Union Minister Kapil Sibal will be presenting the Aakash-2 tablet to Modi on a public platform in the state. The premise, however, is not a smooth one. 

Yesterday, as part of its campaigning ahead of the Assembly elections, Congress announced that it would distribute free laptops to students if they were voted to power. Critical of this, Modi took a dig at Congress and said, “Kash (If only) this Aakash tablet could land on earth, then the lie (promise of free laptops by state Congress) they (Congress) are spreading now would hold some weight.” Modi went on to accuse the Centre of 'dragging its feet' on the Aakash tablet distribution. Modi asserted that the Centre failed to deliver on its much-hyped commitment.

Kapil wants to pre-screen the internet

Sibal to present Aakash-2 to Modi on September 22

Modi's comments did not go down too well with Sibal and the latter was quoted as saying, “I am surprised at Narendrabhai's statement. This is such a venture that all over the world, it is being talked about but not so in Gujarat because we think about children 24×7. But in Modi's Gujarat what happened to the future of the children. He is maintaining silence since 2002…Modi may be rich in politics but is poor at heart. In the next five to seven years, each child will have the Aakash tablet.”

It is on this premise that Sibal decided to present the Aakash-2 to Modi on a public platform. Clearly, Sibal sees this as the way to prod Modi to take back his statement on the Aakash-2 tablet. 

That Sibal will deliver on that is something only time will tell. Meanwhile, the launch date of the Aakash-2 tablet is yet to be known. The delays, criticism, controversies have been constant, hindering India in helping it realise its dream of low-cost computing. A lot rests of what the government plans to deliver, courtesy the Aakash-2. On paper, nothing should go wrong for the tablet. Talks about Android v4.0 (ICS) being included in Aakash 2 started in April, when Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind stated in an email that the Aakash 2 tablet will have 2GB flash storage, an 800MHz processor and 256MB RAM, which should be enough to handle ICS. 

The Aakash 2 is a significant upgrade over the original Aakash tablet. The initial version of the tablet had a 7-inch resistive touchscreen, which struggled to respond to touch. It ran Android v2.2 on a 366MHz processor, based on an older ARM architecture. The Aakash 2 tablet is likely to be replaced by a successor, which will have a dual-core Cortex – A9 processor by the end of this year. 

Only recently, there were also reports quoting Keith Liu, Business Development Director for Mobile Internet Digital Home division at Lenovo across Asia Pacific & Latin America regions as saying it is difficult to have a tablet offering a great user experience at a price as that proposed for India’s dream tablet, i.e., Rs 2,276 ($41). 

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