Datawind defends China-made tag

Last Updated: Sun, Nov 25, 2012 05:15 hrs

DataWind, maker of the the Government of India-sponsored low-cost Aakash computer tablets, has said the company manufactured the motherboard and kits of the first 10,000 units of Aakash-2 using the facilities of subcontractors in China Rs for expediency'.

In response to a newspaper article on Saturday saying Aakash-2 was completely manufactured in China, the Canadian company mandated to supply these tablets said the report was "inaccurate" and "misleading". It said the company had taken the approval of authorities prior to the shipping of these accessories from China, while the final assembly and programming of those devices were done in India.

"For the first 10k units for IIT (Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, was to test these), and for expediency 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," said Suneet Singh Tuli, chief executve officer, in a statement.

The article appeared in Hindustan Times, based on documents reviewed by the newspaper. It said DataWind might have procured Aakash-2 devices off-the-shelf from manufacturers in China for $42 (Rs 2,263) a unit, exactly at the price the company sold these to the Indian government.

DataWind said the circuit boards for Aakash-1 and Aakash-2 were built in Hyderabad. Besides, the Capacitive Touch Screen, the most expensive element in Aakash-2, was being manufactured at its Montreal facility and shown to visiting representatives of IIT. The software and mechanical parts were being developed.

"We also have four partner manufacturers across India that will work on the deliveries to the government. We just couldn't get them started to assemble our new Aakash-2 units in time but they will start to ship early in December," the statement said.

DataWind said the company is setting up its second touchscreen facility in India, presently going through pilot runs.

"We have been strong proponents of developing a manufacturing base in India, and our actions continue to reflect this," the statement added.

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