Archive for the ‘ India ’ Category

India Shining – Construction projects abroad

Gulf news featured an article recently about how Reliance has won a project in the USA for working out GAS processing of a huge Gas deposit along with Atlas Energy. India’s Reliance Industries will join hands with Atlas Energy and pick up a 40 per cent stake in Atlas’s operations in the Marcellus Shale. This natural gas project could hold enough natural gas to satisfy US demand for a decade. The project spans parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York.

Reliance, controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, has been working hard to expand its presence outside India, break into new markets and broaden its various businesses including refining, oil and gas exploration and petrochemicals. I started discussing the same with my friends here, and together we realized that it seems to be like a small trend that is growing.

India has been known for a long time for its software exports as well as agricultural produce, the technology sector including hardware design with the Notion Ink and the Pi also seem to be racing ahead. But a lesser known sector of construction, EPC Contractors (i.e. Engineering, Procurement and Construction) is slowly but surely making its presence felt around the world. Snooping around the internet I found wuite some good examples of companies from India making a mark abroad in EPC.

Starting with Dubai, Dubai’s construction market is mostly comprised of South African companies, but the Electrical engineering world is dominated completely by ETA, a company based in Dubai but owned and operated by a huge Indian work force. Larsen & Tubro are making their presence felt, so is Voltas. Punj Lloyd, Tata Projects and Reliance are now taking major strides in taking over the Dubai Construction scene. The middle east is checkered with projects from the above companies. Moving along, the Indian companies are getting into markets like Europe and Africa at large. Reliance’s entry into US is a good sign.

Having such world class Indian Companies working the ambitions of Indian Architect and developers is making the developments in India world class as well. What still eludes me is why Indian Infrastructure is still so bad ?????

Oorja power, an Indians Invention taking on Bloom Box

Bloom Box is the brain child of an Indian, Mr. K R Sridhar who used to work at NASA and found that Fuel Cells using the right potent fuel for its input can be used to run entire house holds. Now Another Indian Mr. Sanjiv Malhotra is now looking to challenge the invention with another invention of his own which uses Methanol as the input fuel to generate clean electricity for the homes. Yes you read it right, two people from the sub continent in USA are working on technologies that can change the face of the earth.

With stationary fuel cells hot again, Oorja Protonics is jumping into the market. In a few months, the company, which specializes in methanol fuel cells, will release a fuel cell capable of generating 5 kilowatts of power, enough to run a home or small business or to provide backup power to cell towers. It’s somewhat small in size, as well. Check out the video: the 5-kilowatt fuel cell fits on top of a gurney. It is about the same size as a 500-watt device Oorja produced a few years back, then the market for this technology did not really exist. “This will sit on large forklifts. You could use it for auxiliary power for trucks, RVs or marine applications, or for off-grid power for homes or farms,” said CEO Sanjiv Malhotra. “This opens up a plethora of other markets.” For larger applications, the fuel cells can be chain-ganged together. Connect twenty of them and they would be capable of generating 100 kilowatts of power — as much energy as the recently unfurled Bloom Energy Server. Check out the video below.

Methanol is one of the mostly commonly produced chemicals in the world, costs about $1 to $2 a gallon and doesn’t have to be transported under pressure so it’s easy to ship. Many car manufacturing plants already have large tanks on site to store methanol because it’s the same chemical as windshield washer fluid. Methanol would be delivered to plants that don’t have large tanks in large plastic drums. Methanol also has environmental advantages over lead acid batteries. Oorja claims a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions even if the methanol for its fuel cells were produced from coal liquification or natural gas. But methanol can also be made using non-food biowaste, which would virtually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

Malhotra founded Oorja, which means energy in Sanskrit, in 2005. The Fremont-based company employs about 35 and Aug. 25 announced a 60-unit sale to a Nissan factory in Smyrna, Tenn. Nissan has tested Oorja’s products for the last 18 months. Malhotra studied fuel cells in graduate school two decades ago, first at the University of Iowa and then at the University of California, Berkeley. “Back then, nobody had heard of fuel cells,” he said. “I remember looking for a job after I finished my Masters and people were sending me to gas stations.” After completing a Ph.D., Malhotra worked at H Power, where he landed an $81 million sale for H Power’s propane fuel cells. The company went public in 2000, raising $100 million and selling in 2002. After tiring of early retirement, Malhotra founded Oorja.

India leading the way in Telecom “Greening” process

Its rare to see developing nations showing the way to developed nations about new technologies and new methodologies. India on the other hand, has been making the transition very smoothly to a developing Nation to a slow developed nation in its own rights. And this time around the Government is making strides as well, which means it is not the Sleeping tiger stage but the waking stage.. lol. On a much more serious note, after taking on a huge responsibility to produce 20GW of renewable energy by 2020, India’s energy ministry seems to be making progress. Firstly the National Solar Mission announced that they will work on the world’s largest solar power plant through a joint venture between Airvoice Group, an Indian mobile phone and commodity export firm, and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam, a a joint venture between the governments of India and the district of Himachal Pradesh. They expect that over $50 billion will be invested over the next 10 years to make the project a reality.

If the news above does not make you go wow, feast your eyes on the second bit. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of the Indian government is likely to come out with a mandate that would require telecom operators to transform their cellphone towers from being powered by diesel generators to solar panels. This may not seem like such a big deal until you think about the numbers – India has approximately 500 million mobile phone subscribers (more than the population of any country except China) and still continues to be one of the two fastest growing telecom markets. That means that even more cellphone towers are going to be set up in the near future. India has more than 250,000 cellphone towers which consume 3-5 kilowatts power depending on the number of operators using the tower. These towers consume about 2 billion litres of diesel every year.  According to Cleantechnica, the switch over to solar power translates to a reduction of 5 million tons of CO2 emissions as well as a savings of $1.4 billion!

More and more initiatives like trying to make the government buildings green, and aiming higher so that the self proclaimed milestone can be reached; can be seen in recent newspaper articles. Its great to see the sleeping tiger slowly awakening. However, considering the vastness of the country and the plagues of apathy and irresponsibility, its going to have to wake up quicker and move swiftly.

Via CleanTechnica

Where is Innovation required in India – i.e Where is the money ?

This is a question that has been asked before and a lot of people and companies are striving to get the answer to this. India is a big country with varying socio economic sectors, each with a different requirement than the other. However the numbers is each sector would dictate what sector is the best sector for the maximum market reach or most profit.  Here are my views on where is the real market for an aspiring service or company in India.

First things first, to categorize India into sectors is very difficult. There are many factors and many conditions that dictate what the consumers need and where is the best place to work. But, largely based on the socio economic front there can be 5 distinct sectors in India.

  1. The Very Rich
  2. The Consuming Class
  3. The Climbers
  4. The Aspirants
  5. The Survivors

The first and second sectors are the ones that expect the products and services the same as that of the developed countries. For the most part, the rest of the sectors are only aspiring to achieve any sort of service that can be there. This is the real market for an aspiring new company. The majority of enterprises in the Climbers or aspirant sectors have ten or fewer employees, and are the main contributors of employment for the poor. Hence micro-entrepreneurs form the backbone of economies in these regions, and their development is crucial for socioeconomic improvement in a country like India.

The climbers / Aspirants and Survivors form the largest sector of the country. In India these sectors represent the sleeping tiger, which is the part of the country which has the most potential but still have to deal with infrastructural requirements that plague the country. There are great markets that can be worked on considering the sharp downfall of the government to provide these services to people:

POWER : For instance, for many it still is a daily struggle to get enough electricity to go about their daily lives. Those living in rural areas or in urban slums simply don’t have electricity. This could be addressed by integrating new battery technology, solar recharging, low-power technologies, or via devices that automatically utilize other ways of charging or saving power that are still being explored.

LITERACY : The UN estimates that nearly 20% of the world population is illiterate – with the vastmajority residing in developing nations. Before even basic information services like SMS can be used, more effort needs to be made into creating new user interfaces for those who can’t read, and more effort into finding the best ways of teaching literacy with mobile devices.

COMMUNITY : Rapid technological change in the world is going to inevitably create friction, as well as great opportunities. Finding ways to integrate technologies into traditional social structures in a positive way could play a huge role in community enhancement. Micro payments, encouragement for Entrepreneurship, Venture Capitalism are all venues where we could approach the community issues.
There have been certain products that have come around in the past few months to cater to these sectors. Good examples to these have been Mitti Cool, the Refrigerator aimed at the villages without electricity and made entirely of clay, and other innovations. You can check more of these inventions at http://www.jugaadu.com/.

Though it is tempting to simply assume that eventually growing economies will need many of the same things that developed nations already have, innovation and new services to help the poor and uneducated can’t stop because some parts of these sectors have crossed into what can be called “lower middle class.” For the vast majority, there are still many problems with accessing just the most basic requirements of human beings. The opportunities to improve the lives of millions of people with new services aimed at growing economies are incredible. As time goes by and new technologies become cheaper and accessible by more people, the possibilities for even greater services that truly improve the quality of life are enormous.

10 Websites that changed the Internet (India Edition)

Ever wonder what made the Internet the monster it is, starting only within the CERN research facility to now reaching nearly ever home with a computer ? Well it was the services and the websites that were there online. The more people saw value and entertainment, the more they got involved and more the internet grew. Influenced from the article here, I wanted to make a list of my 10 websites that actually made a difference to the Internet.

1. Geocities.com

Like a few million people around the planet, this was one of the sites that helped amateur web enthusiasts like me to enable my first attempt at making an online presence. I saw a lot of web pages, self learnt HTML from the pages and got to a stage where I wanted to really make a mark online. Unfortunately engineering in Instrumentation and Technology did not make it any easy to keep in touch with the internet. But it sure told a lot of us that making and keeping a website was not very very hard, and its a skill that can be learnt with a bit of patience and a liking for web design. However, amateurs like me are responsible for most of those ugly websites that started during the days of Geocities and exist even until this day. The internet bid farewell to this beauty last year. Geocities will be missed but the job is now taken on by a few websites out there like Google Sites, Tumblr etc

2. Wikipedia.org

With an intent to enable the entire world free access to knowledge, this was one of the real success stories of the Internet. I think the donation doors have time and again raised enough money to ensure that such a great resource as wikipedia stays alive and more importantly free. Giving a major competition to closed loop education and knowledge resources like the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, this is one world class product and project that definately changed the internet. Did you know that you can download a copy of the latest backup version of wikipedia ? Check it out at this location for yourself. http://download.wikimedia.org/

3. Hotmail.com

India’s first big mark on the online world came from a relatively unknown guy then named Sabeer Bhatia, and what he did was not only did he give a face to email but also a big mark for startups that get bought up. Starting Hotmail with some investment from a venture capitalist this Indian American Entrepreneur sold Hotmail for about $400 Million to Microsoft. Hotmail generated the interest in people to actually go online and create the account for an Email Address. Later the major chunk of the emails was taken up by USA.net which converted to a paid service at which point people moved to Yahoo Mail or Gmail. This was the state in India at least.

4. Rediff.com / Indiatimes.com

Between the international players, India had some shining stars for web portals. Rediff.com and Indiatimes.com are two sites that are running successfully even today. Both the sites integrated the online news / mail / sports / entertainment sections so well that it seemed that a lot of people had accounts with Rediff or Indiatimes at one time. After the popularity of Gmail this is shifted a little bit. However quite a few friends of mine still use their Rediff account as their primary communication medium. Interestingly, these sites were the first news sites in India, additionally they added the other craze of India cricket with live scores etc. Other similar sites at that time were sify.com and Indya.com.

5.  Amazon.com / eBay.com

The entire eCommerce bubble I would say was fuelled by these websites. Amazon and Ebay showed how to legitimately make money and substantial amounts of it. They provided customers a lot of support for people who were looking for collectibles, home appliances etc. Interestingly they grew so big that there were individuals who survived by searching eBay and providing people who were looking for stuff from stamps and coins to electronics and real estate; all for a small premium. They provided people a platform to buy and sell things and make money with garage sales and second hand goods and make money without having to build their own website.

6. Youtube.com

You tube provided the missing piece to the expanding internet, Video. Vanity is one of the most famous things that gets people do unbelievable interesting or goofy things. You tube gave people an outlet to get their 15 minutes of fame. Be it by making their dog sing a song or perform bizarre stunts. However, it now is one of the most visited website on the planet. Providing millions of hours of entertainment to people with a lot of time on their hands and looking for entertainment. From movies to the present IPL, India is all over the You Tube.

7. Blogger.com


Blogger is an awesome platform that provides amateurs like me a platform to post their views about anything under the sun. Although I am not using Blogger anymore and have moved on to WordPress.com, it is still one of the first services with Live Journal that enticed users to blog and made the buzz on the blog-o-sphere. Blogger is not only easy to use but also allows users to monetize their blog by posting Google Ads on it. It is one of the services that encourages users to write and make money at the same time.

8. Facebook.com


There is no introduction required for facebook.com. Nearly everyone is hooked on to this magical website. Although there were earlier sites that encouraged people to network socially like orkut.com, hi5.com, friendster.com, facebook is the one that we can see taking over the internet. In fact it just surpassed Google as the most visited website within the U.S. Facebook not only revolutionized social networking, but also sharing photos, websites, videos, messaging, walling and the ever famous pokes.

9. Twitter.com


It is not something that can be comprehended in the world of blogging, websites etc, a website that restricts you to 140 characters is now taking the internet to the next phase of its evolution. The Mobile. Before twitter, Mobile internet was completely restricted to emails through exchange and messages and some websites that were wap friendly. But twitter along with good mobile hardware has just changed how people use the internet on their phones. This definately is worth the mention.

10. Google.com

The Search Giant that indexed the Internet and provided information to all people for free to be able to get around the vast and ever growing Internet. AdSense provided them with enough revenue for them to be able to provide a lot of services from the Google stables for free. Gmail, Google Earth, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Sketchup, Google Picasa and many other services that we have come to love have all been born out of the revenue of AdSense. Google is one of the most loved and most visited single website on the world and they definately changed the Internet for good.

On a more personal note, the very first website that I had visited was unbelivable http://www.bharat-rakshak.com which is not as popular as one wold think, considering that they are almost like an unofficial website of the entire Indian Armed forces, the Army, Nave and the Air force. I was then looking for information related to getting to the NDA and this was one of the best resource, The internet was at a cyber cafe off Brigade Road in Bangalore and they were charging about Rs 140/- per hour, the internet connection was dial up and the one hour that my friend and I used the Internet we just browsed about 8 pages of that website.

IPL 3 : Cricket in between Advertisements

[tweetmeme] India, the country where cricket is a religion and Sachin Tendulkar is sort of a God. I guess there have been better introductions for it, but through the IPL India is going to be known mostly as a cricket crazy nation. We are all fans of the game, me well I am not a fanatic although am an avid follower when the hectic schedules allow for them. And even for me the new edition of the IPL seems more commercialized than just a cricketing platform. The worst thing however is that my love for the game will not allow me not to watch this shamble.

The popularity of IPL in India is not really deniable, however the cow can be milked only so much. Looking at some of the figures for the money pocketed from the games so far, it seem that the organisers are going all out to monetize the game as much as possible. In IPL season one, each franchisee got Rs 25 crore from IPL as its share of the central pool. Last season that was risen to Rs 67.50 crore each. The BCCI profit also jumped to Rs 477 crore from Rs 350 in the season two compared to season one.

The portion of TV revenues to be distributed among the teams is due to fall to 70 percent this year from 80 percent. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the owner of the IPL, will keep the rest and in 2011, it will be 60 percent. So this means a lot of money for the BCCI already overflowing locker. This apart, franchises get an average earn about 16 crore through gate receipts, in-stadia advertising, merchandise sales, and media tie-ups. There is a lot to gain for any millionaire who set sights on the IPL. No wonder the following amounts were paid for the auctions for the second edition of the IPL

  • 111.9 million by industrialist Mukesh Ambani for Mumbai Indians.
  • 111.6 million by liquor and airline tycoon Vijay Mallya for Bangalore Royal Challengers.
  • 107 million by newspaper group Deccan Chronicle for the Hyderabad-based Deccan Chargers.
  • 91 million by BCCI secretary and businessman N. Srinivasan for Chennai Super Kings.
  • 84 million by business group GMR Holdings to buy Delhi Daredevils.
  • 76 million by Bollywood star Preity Zinta and her friends for Kings XI Punjab.
  • 75 million by Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan for Kolkata Knight Riders.
  • 67 million by Emerging Media group, partly owned by Lachlan Murdoch, for Rajasthan Royals.

Only recently, Manchester City owners have expressed in buying an IPL franchise. I won’t be surprised if the Bollywood actors who own franchises sell them to foreign investors in the years to come. Lalit Modi has already signed deals with YouTube to stream all IPL games for free in every country except the US.You can access it at http://www.youtube.com/ipl.  There have also been some icons created through the IPL advertising, The zoozoo’s are an example that everyone will relate to.

However, In a bid to get more of a advertising window, the format of the game is constantly changing, from strategic time outs changed from one to 3 shorter ones, and in stadia advertising being shown on the televised version, to more lables on the players’ clothing, the changes are just raking in more money. The players look like advertising boards, everything is sponsored to the hilt and the numbers of breaks in the game frustrating. Already I have heard my friends complain about the over advertised edition of the game, and a lot of them moving onto online text only versions that highlight only on the cricket and not all the other distractions.

IPL expects about 150 million viewers a day for the coming 2010 season. Thus, laying the stones for making IPL the biggest sporting league in the world, or rather the biggest advertising extravaganza. Might even turn out to be an Indian version of the Superbowl in the US.

India and Green .. Bangalore

[tweetmeme] Recently I stumbled upon a map created by Green2Tech which highlights the best Green Tech startups, and incidentally the only company worthwhile mentioning on the entire eastern hemisphere is a startup in Bangalore, India. Again, India, whoo hoo. More information about the company and its relevance after the map below :

Reva, the Indian electric car company, with its namesake vehicle, was the startup from Bangalore that was mentioned in the list. I am as intrigued as you are about this. If you haven’t heard of Reva, you’re about to. The Bangalore-based company’s cars are getting popular in congested urban areas (like Delhi and London), and are gaining traction in island destinations (like Cyprus), where vehicles with shorter ranges and low environmental impact are particularly attractive.

With the governments of Italy, Japan and the UK offering strong incentives for buyers of EVs (the US is catching up, and Reva is testing that market as we speak), Reva is looking to the future. It’s researching lithium-ion and lithium polymer batteries to extend range and increase performance. And its cost is relatively low — $9,000 for a range up to 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) per battery charge, according to the New York Times.

Reva got its start in 1994 as a joint venture between the Maini Group India and California-based AEV LLC, and after an extensive R&D period, its first commercial vehicle went to market in India in 2001. More recently, Draper Fisher Jurveston invested in the fledgling brand, and led a $20 million round of financing for the company in 2006. It’s about time the Indian electric car company, which has one of the best-selling electric vehicles in the world, opted for a few higher-end, better-performance options.

….Reva is launching a lithium-ion-battery-powered electric vehicle for the European market, along with a fast-charging station that can charge the lithium-ion battery 90 percent in one hour. According to a press release, Reva’s lithium-ion electric vehicle will be available for pre-order starting this coming February, with deliveries starting in May in Norway, the UK, France, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Belgium and Ireland.

Another feather in the cap of Bangalore, will be better known the real “green” garden city of India.