In a blow to India’s supposedly homegrown budget tablet, the Aakash, it has been revealed that the gadget is partially made in China. This applies only to the newer Aakash 2 (pictured above), which launched earlier this month for just $21, and is designed for use in schools.
The tablet’s makers, Datawind, have admitted that much of the new Aakash is made in China and then imported into India by Datawind itself. The Daily Telegraph says today:
[T]he company had imported 10,000 units of the [new] Aakash from four Chinese suppliers between October 26th and November 7th and transported to India ‘duty-free’ under an exemption for government educational materials.
Datawind’s Sunit Singh Tuli denies the full extent of the claim, and explains the manufacturing process to the paper:
For expediency’s sake we had the motherboards and kits manufactured in our Chinese subcontractor’s facilities, and then the units have been ‘kitted’ in China at various manufacturers for expediency, whereas the final assembly and programming has happened in India. This was well discussed and we got approval prior to shipping. The initial devices were assembled and programmed at our facilities in New Delhi and Amritsar.
So, it’s perhaps up to Indian educational institutes and local governments to decide if Aakash 2 makes the grade as a local product for local students. Sunit’s argument is that his company does more of the assembly work than the likes of Apple, whose products are made entirely in Chinese factories. Let us know in the comments if you think the program has been damaged by opting to outsource so much of the work.