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Upgraded Aakash 2 tablet will be available at same price

HRD minister Kapil Sibal said that Aakash, the world's cheapest tablet, will be fully indigenous and its improved version is likely to be launched by the government at the same price.

Sibal said Datawind - the manufacturer of the product - will not be associated with it anymore and the government has roped in C-DAC and ITI for further development of the tablet computer.

''There have been some problems with Datawind I must confess. Therefore, I have got into the act. IT ministry has got C-DAC and ITI into the act and I am going to ensure that this product is fully indigenous and truly an Indian product," he said.

On whether the new tablet will be available within the same price range as that of the earlier product, he said, "Yes that's what we hope. It is to be upgraded."

On the possible timeline for launching it, he said, "Well, 2012 should see the sun... Aakash-II should be launched. There have been some hiccups in the way. Remember when you do a project of this nature and when your dream is as big as this, things are never that smooth."

Welcoming competition from market for development of the tablet, he said the objective is to give a quality product to the children. "I think it's a great thing if there is competition. Ultimately my objective is to get a quality product in the hands of the children. I have set the benchmark, it has changed the mindset of the world, I can tell you that," the minister said.

Everybody wants to produce a tablet which is of quality and which is reasonably affordable, he noted. "So if the whole world wants to produce, I don't care who produces, if ultimately it is produced by somebody for children," he added. The Aakash tablet is priced at approximately $49 (Rs 2,414).

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