License brand Aakash? Ha. Ha. Ha. [Short Take]

aakash_soldout_thumb.pngThis is easily the funniest thing I’ve heard all morning: The Government is planning to license “brand Aakash.” So this is the government’s plan to resurrect the Aakash tablet, which was declared dead a few months ago.

According to a new report, government agencies or private companies meeting “certain criteria” and specifications would be able to use the brand.

The report says that an inter-ministerial panel has finalised a set of specifications for tablets and is in the process of laying down a procedure to license the brand name Aakash. What a waste of time and energy.

The Business Standard quotes Rajat Moona, the Director General of Center for Development of Advanced Computing

“The entire Aakash project was a government of India initiative but several companies are driving mileage out of its publicity by selling anything in the name of Aakash.”

Aakash is a brand that has taken a beating like no other. As we’d written earlier, the Aakash project has had stumbling blocks right from the very start.

The project began when Kapil Sibal, then Union Minister for Human Resource Development, announced his grand vision for the future of education in India: A $35 Tablet. Despite proven failure of previous such attempts, the Government went ahead with the so called plan.

Soon, it would appear, that the plan was to announce the project, put together some specifications and float a massive tender to get these devices manufactured by a private player. Fair enough.

Six months in, only 10,000 units were shipped where as nearly 4 million orders were claimed. Technical snags irritated early buyers. And negative press followed. The government tried to save the project by laying out new specifications and calling it Aakash 2.

So what’s the new plan? The same as the old one. Decide on specifications, float tender, outsource.

Again, the manufacturer, DataWind, had trouble meeting deadlines. Customer complaints were in plenty.

Finally, when President Pranab Mukherjee launched the second generation Aakash, we anticipated that things would get better. But that wasn’t the case. In other words, shit hit the Reports soon pointed out that DataWind was simply importing Chinese equipment and selling it to the Indian government at a mark up. Although DataWind did everything it could to refute the claim, the damage was done.

Brand Aakash, was battered. And government now wants to license it.

*And radio plays : ‘hum honge kaamyaab  ek mein hai vishwas aakash’

Recommended Read: Dear Mr Tuli, we’d be grateful if you could start shipping: An open letter to Datawind CEO

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