Bharat Electronics creates Rs 3,000 tablet for poverty survey

Madhumathi D.S. Bangalore | Updated on March 12, 2018

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Eyeing tender for nuclear power instrumentation this year

Bharat Electronics Ltd has developed a tablet PC that would cost $70-75 (around Rs 3,000) apiece for the Ministry of Rural Development's poverty survey.

Although it is not a prime product for the Defence electronics behemoth, it will supply six lakh pieces this year, most of them expected to be delivered in record time by end-November, BEL's Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Ashwani Kumar Datt, said.

The order for the tablets and the survey of people below the poverty line would fetch Rs 1,000 crore for BEL this year. “What was unique about the first quarter [the just ended April-June period] was that all the orders we got worth Rs 1,000 crore were in the civilian sector. Normally, we cannot imagine a civil order of this size in Q1,” Mr Datt told Business Line.

The tablets account for a quarter of the Ministry's order. “This will mean 15 per cent of our targeted turnover this year. It should boost our civil sector business and this fiscal should see a relatively better [but one-time] civilian contribution than in other years,” he said.

Normally, BEL generates 80 per cent of its revenue from military supplies such as radars, detection and communication devices; its turnover for the year ended March 2011 was Rs 5,500 crore; the 2011-12 guidance is for Rs 6,200 crore.

Android version

The Android 2.2 version with solar-backed battery will allow data to be stored and uploaded in real time to a central server.

The tablet PC, he clarified, “is not something that is significant in value [for BEL], but is prestigious because we could evolve it in such a short period in the end it will help boost the top line and also bottom line.”

Since the order coming in early July, BEL has supplied an initial 2,000 tablets to the North-East. They were made at a small plant that was added to BEL's Mass Manufacturing Facility in Bangalore at a cost of Rs 7 crore. Depending on further demand, it may put up an additional line for Rs 20 crore, apart from tapping capacities at Ghaziabad and Panchkula.

Mr Datt did not rule out taking it to the retail market; “Having done this, we would try to continue having some business out of this,” he said. “It was a very big challenge, of doing something extremely good, designing it in 4.5 months and at a low price. The tablet competes well with anything in the world market. However, [the product] is something where we will always have to worry about customising and keeping the cost,” he said.

Beyond the census, Mr Datt said the HRD Ministry may like to use it to supply to students. In that case “We may have to configure another version.”


Mr Datt said BEL was also eyeing a tender for nuclear power instrumentation this year, estimated at Rs 500-700 crore for supplying control devices for eight N-power plants that are proposed to be built. Admittedly it would compete with fellow PSU, ECIL, and the private sector.

“It will be our first major attempt at getting into nuclear power business and I hope that we are successful. They may divide the order. We are not greatly worried about the size. Even if it is a Rs 100-crore business, you must enter the area at some level and grow,” Mr Datt said.

Published on August 02, 2011

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