It has taken several years to develop, faced a lot of skepticism and received help from taxpayers given the state’s actual cost of around $50.
But the Aakash offers the promise of computing to millions of people in rural India who seem to be living more in the 19th century than the 21st.
“Today we reach to the sky and demonstrate what is possible,” said Kapil Sibal, India’s information technology and human resources development minister. “Let me send a message, not just to our children but the children of the world: This is for all those who are marginalized.”
The 13-ounce touch-screen device can handle basic computing, including email, social networking, Web surfing, online banking, instant messaging and multimedia. The stripped-down system uses Google’s Android 2.2 operating system and comes with headphones, WiFi access, two USB slots, 256 megabytes of internal memory and a 7-inch screen. It’s not considered on the same level as the more advanced tablets available.