July 30, 2021 4:40:38 am
Around 72,000 undergraduate students in Gujarat will start getting NAMO e-tablets next month under a state government scheme that was delayed by a year due to the government insisting on made-in-India devices other than the earlier decided Chinese ones.
The scheme was announced by the state government in 2017-18 to provide tablets to students who clear Class 12 exams and pursue degree or diploma courses in Gujarat, at a price of Rs 1,000 each against the claimed market price of Rs 7,000- Rs 8,000.
Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama told The Indian Express, “The delay was because we insisted on ‘Make-In-India’. But we are committed to provide tablets to these 72,000 students, followed by new admissions for the academic session 2021-22.” The authorities are planning to hand over a few tablets to these students on August 1 as part of the celebration to mark the completion of five years of Rupani government.
Students who have registered and paid the token amount of Rs 1,000 at the beginning of the academic session 2020-21 are still waiting for the tablets. Amid political pressure and opposition allegations, the Gujarat education department aims to clear this backlog before the new session begins even as registrations are yet to be opened for students for the academic session 2021-22.
“With the implementation of Make-in-India and anti-China clauses, the previous tender awarded to a company that was supplying Chinese tablets (Lenovo) had to be cancelled. Tenders were issued three-four times again but failed to generate a good response under ‘Make-in-India’. Then Covid outbreak happened, resulting in further delay,” a senior official in the education department said on condition of anonymity.
Chudasama said, “Since we have cleared the file and tender awarded to an Indian company, the process of distribution will start soon both for the pending students and as well as new admissions.” The tenders have now been awarded to Lava International, an Indian company.
Senior education officials said that the ground work has been completed for the distribution of tablets that will begin in August. The backlog is expected to be cleared by September, they said.
In the first year, the state government in its financial budget had made an allocation of over Rs 150 crore for the scheme. Two companies — Acer and Lenovo, were shortlisted through the tendering process. However, only Lenovo was supplying tablets to the state government till last year with an increased budget of roughly Rs 200 crore. More than three lakh students are to be given the tablets at a token price of Rs 1,000 each year.
As per sources, the tablets being provided to students are upgraded with improved specifications, including a screen size of 8 inches instead of 7 inches and increased micro-processing with enhanced RAM. The market value for a tablet this specification is claimed to be anywhere between Rs 12,000 and Rs 14,000.
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