Facebook Rolls Out Express Wi-Fi in India

Facebook announced the commercial launch of Express Wi-Fi, its second attempt to bring millions of Indians online at an “affordable” fee. The service is currently available in the four Indian states of Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Meghalaya, where the company has 700 hotspots through other internet providers. It has also partnered with Airtel, (currently India’s largest telecom operator), to launch an additional 20,000 hotspots. Customers can sign up for daily, weekly, or monthly plans that cost about $0.15 a day.

“Express Wi-Fi is designed to complement mobile data offerings by providing a low-cost, high bandwidth alternative for getting online and access apps, download and stream content,” says Munish Seth, regional head for connectivity solutions in the APAC region.

Facebook Logo

Mashable reports that India is the fastest growing market for Facebook. As of last month, Facebook’s marquee platform had 184 million monthly active users in the country, 50 percent of which return to the site every day. The company’s instant messaging and voice calling app WhatsApp also has over 200 million monthly active users in India. 

May 13, 2017   No Comments

MIT Grads Provide Biodegradable Sanitary Pads to Rural India

A startup, Saathi (meaning ‘companion’ in Hindi), founded by three graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a graduate from Nirma University in India, is hoping to improve access and waste disposal of sanitary pads for women in rural India.

275,000,000 women in India cannot access pads because they are too expensive (also scarcely available, and difficult to discard). “Only 16 percent of women have access to sanitary pads in India,” Kristin Kagetsu, co-founder and CEO of the company told NBC News during an interview at the company’s production facility, located outside Ahmedabad, in India’s western state of Gujarat.

The sanitary napkins are eco-friendly: they are made from locally-sourced banana fiber, which is highly absorbent and biodegradable; it doesn’t have to be burned when disposed, thus helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Banana Fibers

Fibers from the banana tree

Saathi is one of the finalists in the Health and Wearable Technologies category at SXSW, Austin, Texas. It is looking  funding this project, and according to its website, $12,737 have been raised toward a target of $20,000.

April 19, 2017   No Comments

Emma Watson Wears Indian Bodice

In Beauty and the Beast, Disney‘s film set in France, Britain’s Emma Watson, starring as Belle, wears a beautiful, delicately hand embroidered bodice created by India’s artisans. “They used a technique called ‘Aari work’ which is a very fine chain stitch traditional to the Kutch area of Gujarat,” said assistant costume designer Sinead O’Sullivan. She went on to mention that the style of embroidery “lent itself very nicely to eighteenth century French floral design.”

Aari Embroidery from Kutch

CNN reports that Anaita Shroff Adajania, fashion director for Vogue India and a stylist in the Indian film industry said, “It’s not just the film industry that’s turning to India. Some of the biggest names in fashion get their work done in the country.”

Former First Lady Michelle Obama wore the creations of Mumbai-born designer Naeem Khan on two occasions while Bibhu Mohapatra from India’s eastern state of Orissa has created outfits for Lupita Nyong’o, Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow.

March 28, 2017   No Comments

14-Year-Old from India Builds Drone to Zap Landmines

The Mirror reports that 14-year-old Harshwardhan Zala from the western state of Gujarat in India has struck a $730,000 deal with the Indian Government for his invention of an anti-landmine drone which can help to detect and defuse hidden bombs in fields.

The drone is equipped with an infrared sensor, an RGB sensor, a thermal meter, a 21 megapixel camera with a mechanical shutter which can take high quality images. It can hover for about 2 feet above the ground and can send waves over a 9 square yards of surface at a time. The waves detect landmines and can send out their exact location to an army base. The drone also carries a tiny explosive weighing 0.1 pounds  that can easily detonate the landmine. The invention is said to be better than anything the army currently uses.

Harshwardhan Zala

 

Zala has set up his own company, Aerobotics, through which he intends to invent more such gadgets in the future. Dr. Narottam Sahu, head of the Gujarat Council on Science and Technology said, “An MoU has been signed with him and in the coming days the Gujarat government will work with him on this project.”

January 19, 2017   1 Comment

Gujarat, India Offers Incentives for Defense Equipment Manufacture

The western state of Gujarat in India, has released an investor-friendly Aerospace and Defense Policy 2016 that offers 10-year incentives in relation to land allotment, stamp duty, registration charges and electricity duty, to attract defense and aerospace manufacturers reports Defense World.

Terms of this policy are:

  • The state will now provide government land at 50% of jantri, or basic land rates, for setting up units during the five-year tenure of the policy
  • Land owned by the state and the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation will be given first preference for land allotment
  •  A 100% rebate on stamp duty and registration charges levied on land purchased
  • Electricity duty waiver for a period of five years since the commencement of production
  • a facility for testing and trials will also be made available
  • tax relief up to 90% of fixed capital investment, which could go up to 100% depending on the financial constraints faced by any player

defense aircraft

The policy also provides for cash and interest subsidies for aerospace and defense sector players wanting to establish their units in the state: the government will offer a cash subsidy up to $367,000 ( Rs 2.50 crore) for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise units.

 

December 31, 2016   No Comments