World’s Largest Solar Park: At Gujarat, India!!

The world’s largest solar power field has been switched on in India’s western state of Gujarat. Accounting for 214 megawatts of photovoltaic solar capacity, it becomes larger than China’s 200 MW Golmud Solar Park, which previously held the record.

The newly-developed solar power park will be a 500-megawatt system using state-of-the-art thin film photovoltaic technology and should be fully completed by the end of 2014. It now has an operational capacity of 214 MW and has already become the largest such single location in the world, spread over 3,000 acres of mainly wasteland. Gujarat environment chief S.K. Nanda says the state is ideal for the solar project because of its sparsely-populated desert in the north.

(Reuters / Amit Dave)

The project has become part of 600 megawatt solar energy addition to India’s power grid, including sections that were already operational.

Upon completion the park will reduce carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere to the tune of 8 million tonnes and save around 900,000 tonnes of coal and natural gas per year.It also gives a serious boost to India’s renewable energy ambitions. The country aims for solar power to account for 3 per cent of national capacity – or 1,000 MW – by 2013.

Overall, it wants renewables to make up 15 per cent of capacity by 2020, from 6 per cent today.The foundation stone for the Gujarat solar power park was laid in December 2010, as part of the state’s Solar Power Policy. The solar energy sector is expected to create about 30,000 new jobs in the state over a period of time.

The Gujarat government has already announced its next move, saying it will shortly come out with a rooftop solar power plant policy.

Workers carry photovoltaic solar panels for installation at the Gujarat solar park under construction in Charanka village in Patan district of the western Indian state of Gujarat (Reuters / Amit Dave)

The state’s chief minister Narendra Modi said it will encourage people to produce their own electricity and earn by selling the surplus power to the state grid.

This would make the people self-reliant in power generation. The authorities hope it would also encourage residents to lease out their rooftops for solar power generation, which would yield additional income for the betterment of their life.

Source: Reuters

Indian Govt relaxes tourist visa rules!!

In a boost to the tourism industry, India has relaxed its tourist visa rules by lifting restrictions imposed on foreign visitors to have a two-month cooling off period between subsequent visits.

However, citizens of Pakistan, China, Iran, Iraq, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sudan and people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin and “stateless persons” will continue to come under the 60-day gap rule.

The restriction was imposed in 2009 after the Mumbai terror attack when it was found that Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David Headley had “grossly misused” his multiple-entry visa with which he made nine trips to India and prepared footage of 26/11 targets for the Pakistan-based terror group.

The Home Ministry, however, made it clear that any applicant for an Indian visa who has any sort of Pakistan lineage, even if it is two generations back, must be referred to Delhi by the Indian missions for prior clearance.

In its November 23 order, the Home Ministry said, “The provision relating to the two-month gap between two visits of a foreign national to India on a tourist visa has been reviewed by the government. It has now been decided to lift the restriction of two-month gap on re-entry of foreign nationals coming to India”.

The move to review the visa restriction was initiated by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in January 2012 after concerns were raised by the Tourism Ministry that the negative perception following the move had affected flow of tourists.

The PMO had asked the ministries of Home and External Affairs to review the restrictions, including the possibility of bringing in more countries under the visa-on-arrival scheme and improving conditions at major airports.

Earlier, the US Embassy and the British High Commission too had approached the MEA and Home Ministry asking them to work out a more flexible system based on “best visa practices”.

The government had been maintaining that in case there is a need for a visa holder to return within two months of departure from India, then the person can approach the nearest Indian embassy or consulate.

Apart from the Headley episode, the security agencies had also found that many foreign nationals – quite a few of them of Indian origin – had been staying in India for years together.

A large number of them, sources claimed, were running shops, conducting business and related activities which could not be termed as tourism.

So, the government had argued that it had no choice but to introduce a two-month cooling off period, which would bar these visa holders from returning to India for at least two months after they have left the country.

latest move is likely to breathe fresh life into the tourism industry and comes just ahead of the peak tourist season. India’s share of international tourist arrivals in 2011 was a mere 0.64 per cent.

According to latest data, foreign tourist arrivals this year till October showed a marginal increase of 6.2 per cent compared to last year. Tourist arrivals till October were 52.19 lakh.

With the lifting of the 60-day restriction, foreign tourists will be encouraged to visit India and use it as a hub while visiting southeast Asian and neighbouring countries.

Unclear spy picture of Ferrari F70/F150 emerges!!

Unclear spy shot from a private event has given us a first glimpse of what the front of the highly anticipated Ferrari F150 will look like.  The spy shot shows us that the new Italian monster has a wide stance, moulded wheel arches, wide grille and a Formula one style ridge on the hood. The headlights are also visible and are likely to be similar to the ones on the 458 Italia.

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We already know that the new car has been developed using the FXX and the Millechili technical concept that was revealed during Ferrari’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

The F150 will be powered by a more developed version of the 731bhp 6.3-litre V12 that currently powers the F12 Berlinetta. An electric motor (this will the Italian automaker’s first hybrid) is expected to produce an additional 100bhp and 200Nm of torque. The centrally mounted engine is also expected to get a dual-clutch gearbox and a low-mounted transmission to improve handling.

The car has got a new carbon-fibre monocoque. Inside, Ferrari has taken the F1 theme further by fitting a custom seat, moulded to the owner’s shape, an ‘all controls on the wheel’ F1 style steering wheel and adjustable pedals.

The F150 will be launched sometime next year and is likely to cost in excess of 800,000 GBP (Rs seven crore before taxes).

While some reports suggest the picture was from China (during the 20 years of Ferrari in China celebrations) others say it is from the Finali Mondiali Ferrari (Ferrari World Finals) 2012 in Valencia. This is an annual event by the Italian automaker to mark the end of a motorsports season.

Source: Facebook

UN endorses India’s Aakash outreach!!

India‘s push to digitally empower millions of its poor students with lowcost , government-subsidized , internet-enabled tablets won UN endorsement on Wednesday despite raging controversy and misgivings on the provenance and pricing of the device.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon personally approved the Indian effort at the UN Headquarters where dozens of envoys from across the world gathered for a peek at the Aakash II device that its makers (British-Canadian-Indian company Datawind) and chief patron (Government of India) say will revolutionize education and commerce.

“I know that in Hindi, ‘Aakash’ means sky,” Ban Kimoon said in brief remarks. “I want to encourage partners around the world to work with theUnited Nations to help young people reach for the sky and meet their dreams.”

India’s ambassador to the UN, Hardip Singh Puri, took the opportunity of India’s rotational chairing of the UN Presidency to project New Delhi‘s digital push, with Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli also in attendance. Both men strenuously contested reports in the Indian media that the Aakash II is primarily a Madein-China device with marginal value addition in India.

”It was a very poor attempt at orchestrating a controversy when you realize that this Aakash II was going to be showcased in New York at the UN,” Puri claimed, maintaining that the Government of India had floated a global tender that did not stipulate the device had to be manufactured in India.

China’s Ambassador to the UN Li Baodong also attended the event and heard Ban Kimoon rave about India being a “superpower on the information superhighway.” “India is a critical player on security issues … but you are also a leader in development and technology ,” Ban said. “There is a reason places like Hyderabad are called Cyberabad.”

In several interviews on the margins of the event, Datawind CEO Tuli contested reports that his company was merely channeling a Chinamanufactured device into India , saying value-addition and indigenization is a gradual process and only initial expediency had led to the import of devices that were largely kitted in China even though the final assembly and programming was done in India.

Tuli made the case that modern manufacturing process involved sourcing components from across the world. In the case of Aakash II, the touch screen, which accounts for a significant cost of the device , would eventually be manufactured in new facilities in India. “In my mind there is no controversy, all that there is is sensationalism,” Tuli said.

That hasn’t stopped critics from panning what they say in misrepresentation about the origin of the device and even the costing. Although the tablet itself received good marks for its functionality at low cost, gearhead reviewers say Chinese companies are cranking out tablets at similar price points. The only value addition comes from India-specific programming on the devices to meet the demands of the Indian market and only the promised 50% government subsidy will drag it down to the $20 price point that has attracted world-wide attention.

98% Indian travellers comment about their interests online!

A whopping 98 per cent of Indian travellers comment about their interests online and Asia- Pacific travellers want more social media and cannot go on holiday without their smartphones and laptops, says a study.

Travellers from Asia-Pacific countries are both most enthusiastic about social media and most attached to their mobile devices in the world, according to Text100’s Digital Index: Travel and Tourism study.

The study, which covered on 4,600 respondents in 13 countries, suggests that Asia-Pacific consumers lead the way in using social media to inspire, purchase and share their travel experiences.

“Widespread Asia-Pacific enthusiasm for social media is definitely not a signal for the travel industry to invest solely in digital,” said Anne Costello, Text100’s Regional Director, APAC.

“Travel and tourism operators need to integrate their traditional and new communications channels, but more importantly they need to focus on delivering content which their customers actually want to receive,” Costello added.

The study also found that 89 per cent of Asia-Pacific travellers use travel apps on their smartphones or tablets while on holiday, primarily for information about local attractions and finding their way around.

This ‘always-on’ tendency, however, means that Asia-Pacific travellers find it harder to switch-off on holiday than any others, 34 per cent use their mobile devices to do work while on holiday, compared to a global average of 22 per cent, the study said.

“As the fastest adopters of digital technology when it comes to travel, Asia-Pacific consumers are experiencing more benefits and challenges alike than the rest of the world.

“As a result, these tech-savvy travellers feel the travel industry needs to do more to keep up with their fast-growing reliance on mobile device and social media as part of the overall travel experience,” it said.

Seventy-two per cent of travellers from Asia-Pacific countries have used social media to inspire at least one element of their recent holidays, compared to only 51 per cent of travellers globally, it said.

Despite this appetite for digital communication, many Asia-Pacific consumers still base travel decisions on more traditional sources of influence. 48 per cent say traditional travel agents still help in planning their holidays, while 57 per cent are influenced by travel TV programmes.

Asia-Pacific countries include India, China, Malaysia, Singapore among others.

Confirmed News: Lenovo’s IdeaPhone P770 to hit the India market in December

After its foray into the smartphone market in India early this month, China-based Lenovo has confirmed to one internet site that it will probably be launching the Lenovo IdeaPhone P770 in India this December. However, Lenovo is silent on the specifications or its cost upon launch.
What caught our attention first on the listing published on Lenovo’s Chinese website was that the IdeaPhone P770 packs a huge 3500mAh battery that the company claims will give you up to 29 hours of talk time. That means the battery on this smartphone is bigger than the 3300mAh battery on the Droid RAZR Maxx HD. What’s more, this smartphone comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box, which when combined with the huge battery, will seal the deal for most folks.

Looks quite good too.

Good Looking Smart Phone! 🙂

It will also sport a 4.5-inch IPS display and run on a dual core 1.2GHz processor. It will have 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal memory and come with an 8GB micro SD card. As is to be expected of smartphones these days, the P770 comes with most of the standard connectivity features including 3G, Wi-Fi, and GPS, while there is a 5-megapixel shooter at the back and a VGA shooter on the front. The device measures 133 x 67 x 11.9mm and weighs just 161 grams.
What’s most interesting about the phone though, is its price, which the site states is ¥1,699 (approx. Rs 15,150). At this price, we think the P770 might well become the smartphone of choice for long-haul travellers and gamers. But like we’ve mentioned, Lenovo is keeping mum about the price, and we can’t really be sure how much the P770 will cost in India.

We can, however, do some guessing. Lenovo recently launched five Android smartphones in India, of which four run on Android 4.0, and one runs on Android 2.3. The high-end Lenovo K860 is priced at Rs 28,499, while the Lenovo S880, which has specs a tiny bit better than that of the P770, costs Rs 18,999. The Lenovo S560 has specs inferior to the P770, but is priced at Rs 14,499. Judging by the specs alone, we can risk a guess that the P770 might cost something between Rs 15,000 – Rs 18,000. However, the big battery and Jelly Bean might just give the company incentive to hike the price.

Let’s take a look at the highlighted specifications of the Lenovo IdeaPhone P770:

  • 4.5-inch IPS touchscreen with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels.
  • 3G, EDGE, Wi-Fi,
  • GPS
  • 5 megapixel rear camera, front-facing VGA camera
  • 4GB of internal memory, expandable up to 32GB via micro SD card