Aakash manufacturer dismisses controversy over Chinese parts
Nov 29 2012 , United Nations
The Aakash 2 tablet, hailed as an example of Indian innovation, was unveiled at the UN headquarters by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday on the occasion of India's Presidency of the Security Council.
The USD 40 tablet ran into controversy after reports surfaced that parts of the device, like the motherboard, were manufactured in China and only the final assembly and programming was done in India.
The made-in-China controversy caught up with Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli as he presented the tablet to the UN chief and spoke in detail about the potential of Aakash to significantly alter the Indian education landscape.
"Over the last 72 hours I have dealt with this controversy that the Aakash tablet is not 100 per cent made in India. Why is that a controversy," Tuli said in response to questions about certain components of the tablet sourced globally.
He said certain parts of the Aakash 2 tablet were secured globally, including the touchscreen which was manufactured in Canada, motherboards and kitting from China and the final assembly and programming in India.
"Parts of the tablet are made in different parts of the world. I am proud that the motherboard and kitting is done in China. I am proud that we are setting up six manufacturing facilities in India with six different partners," Tuli said.
The India-born chief of Datawind said the controversy exists because he was the only proponent who had proposed that the tablet be made locally.
"Because I have been a big proponent of local manufacturing, that is why this controversy exists. China and India are neighbours. China is part of the global community. In my mind there is no controversy, all that there is is sensationalism," Tuli said.
Tuli termed the Aakash tablet as a story not just of Indian innovation, but "a story of global innovation led by India, an idea that the Indian government decided to aggressively implement.
Datawind had said that for the first 10,000 units for IIT, and for the sake of "expediency", the motherboards and kits were manufactured in its Chinese subcontractor's facilities.
The units were 'kitted' in China at various manufacturers while the final assembly and programming happened in India.
Tuli said "too much is being made" about the sourcing of parts from China.