India Launches Aakash, World’s Cheapest Tablet: $35

On Wednesday, Indian officials announced the launch of the Aakash, a government-backed tablet that will cost students only $35, writes Adam Clark Estes at the Atlantic Wire.

The WiFi-enable touchscreen device is the size of a paperback book, can handle video conferencing, 4GB of storage and has a three-hour battery life and two USB ports.

Officials hope the computer will give digital access to students in small towns and villages across India, which lags behind its rivals in connectivity, writes the BBC. The government is giving away the first 100,000 free to students.

“This is not just for us. This is for all of you who are disempowered,” Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said. “This is for all those who live on the fringes of society.”

The developers at Datawind say it can make about 100,000 units a month at the moment, not nearly enough to meet India’s hope of getting its 220 million children online, writes Katy Daigle for the Associated Press.

Sha Zukang, the United Nation’s Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs told the crowd at last year’s Internet Governance Forum:

“Through both simple and sophisticated techniques, the internet can help eradicate poverty, educate people, sustain the environment and create healthier populations.”

The new tablets are all made in India, and Sibal, for one, wants India’s effort to inspire the rest of the developing world.

“Today we demonstrate to the world that we will not falter in our resolve to secure our future for our children,” he said. “Let me not limit the achievements of this great enterprise to only our children … This is for all of you who are disempowered.”

The Aakash is just the latest attempt to speed the process of development through internet access, writes Clark. The One Laptop Per Child program has been turning donations from the first-world into computers for the third-world since 2005.