India’s Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactor to Go “Critical” in 2015

 India’s 500 MWe  Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalapakkam in Tamil Nadu missed its September 2014 deadline for first criticality, and will be commissioned in 2015 reported Jitendra Singh, minister of state for space and atomic energy.

Erection of all major components of the reactor has been completed. Commissioning of auxiliary systems such as the safety service water systems, emergency service water systems, ventilation, electrical and gas systems have been completed. The next stage in commissioning is preheating and filling of sodium into the secondary and primary systems. The project achieved an overall physical progress of 98% at the end of June 2014.

“Being the first of its kind reactor being built completely indigenously in our country, some delays on account of the requirement of rigorous testing and qualification of all major equipment and sub-systems are anticipated,” said Singh.

The PFBR is a sodium-cooled pool-type fast reactor. It is the first unit of the second stage of India’s original three-stage program of nuclear development. The first step was natural uranium-fueled  Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors and the third step envisages thorium-based advanced heavy water reactors. India has one of the world’s largest reserves of thorium and is keen to exploit the mineral for clean energy production.

November 18, 2014   No Comments

Capitalizing on the Indian Online Market

“500 million people will be coming online over the next three to four years on inexpensive smartphones,” said Vivek Wadhwa, an Indian-American academic and entrepreneur. “This will create an Internet revolution that will make our (American) dot-com boom seem lame.” These soon-to-be connected consumers are also young — making them an ideal e-commerce target.

By 2050, India is expected to be the most populated country with the largest economy, according to Pew. Half of its 1.25 billion residents are currently under the age of 25 — and by 2020, India is set to become the world’s youngest country with an average age of 29.

Microsoft has tuned into this. This month, the company announced plans to bring free Internet access to India with three data centers throughout the country. CEO Satya Nadella said the company sees a large  opportunity in the Indian market. According to Sharad Sharma, an angel investor based in Bangalore, the majority of India’s startup talent is coming from the country’s multinational R&D centers such as  Google, HP and Cisco. As cloud-based solutions have grown, the need for these IT hubs has slowed. This has many Indian entrepreneurs leaving the corporate world and launching startups. Venture capital funding to Indian startups is up 261% from 2013, totaling $3.86 billion to date, according to PrivCo which trackes private company financial intelligence based from New York.

“Employees are starting to feel stagnation as parent companies slow down,” said Sharma. “Essentially, these employees are going from building global software products for [corporations] to building them for their own startups.”



November 17, 2014   No Comments

Minister of Energy (Power) Sets Lofty Targets

Piyush Goyal is the current Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, and New & Renewable Energy in the Government of India. A graduate of law and accountancy, Goyal was a management consultant and an investment banker before he became a full-time politician. He has participated in Leadership Programs at Yale University (2011), and Princeton University (2013).

Piyush Goyal

Piyush Goyal

At the India Economic Summit held in the first week of November in New Delhi, Goyal declared that  government-owned Coal India Limited (CIL) was looking to double its production of coal to a billion tonnes in the next five years. CIL had a large initial public offering of shares in 2010 and is among India’s most valuable companies by market capitalization. It produces about 80% of India’s coal.

Goyal, who is also minister for New and Renewable Energy, said a “huge investment opportunity” of nearly $250 billion beckons in the energy sector over the next four to five years, including $100 billion in renewables and $50 billion in transmission and distribution. “I see investments also coming into wind (energy) with the re-introduction of the fiscal benefits that were earlier available,” he said.  In the area of solar energy in particular, Indian manufacturers have asked for the scrapping of the inverted duty structure, whereby finished goods are taxed at lower rates than imported raw materials. The government has been looking to resolve this issue since it hampers manufacturers in the solar energy sector, Goyal promised at the Summit.

“This government is sincere in giving electrical power to all Indian citizens,” the minister added. Emphasizing that renewable sources of energy are one of the thrust areas of the government, Goyal said his ministry was eager to expand solar energy production in India to 100 GW by 2019.

Prime Minister Modi, has made a commitment to bring uninterrupted power to all India’s people — a key plank of his government’s program. To achieve that, Goyal said, India needed to rapidly raise the amount of coal it mined for power generation, cut back on electricity lost on transmission lines and through theft, and promote the use of renewable resources such as solar and wind energy. Coal, which generates about three-fifths of the country’s energy, would retain an “essential role” in India’s energy mix, as in the United States.


November 14, 2014   No Comments

Jitendra Singh, Minister of Space and Nuclear Energy

Dr. Jitendra Singh is a man who wears many hats — author, physician, columnist and a politician. Singh joined Narendra Modi’s  Bhartiya Janata Party in 2009 and is a member of the party’s National Executive Committee.

Jitendra Singh

Jitendra Singh, Minister for Space and Atomic Energy

The Modi government has appointed him as the Union Minister of State for Atomic Energy and Space, Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, and Development of the NE Region of India.

As minister of state for atomic energy and space, Singh has formulated the space program through 2020. The plan envisages the development of

  • advanced launch vehicle systems
  • thematic earth observational satellites with improved resolution
  • high-power, high-throughput communication satellites
  • microwave multi-spectral remote sensing satellites
  • weather and climate studies
  • constellation of satellites for regional navigation
  • development of critical technologies for human spaceflight
  • satellites for space science and planetary exploration purposes

He reported that the government was considering setting up a new satellite launching pad, intended to support increased launch frequency, provide active redundancy to existing launch pads and to support launching requirements of advanced launch vehicles. The possible site for this Third Launch Pad has been identified in Sriharikota a barrier island off the coast of the state of Andhra Pradesh on the east coast of India. Singh added that ISRO‘s satellites have improved telecom, long-distance education, and telemedicine in rural and remote areas of the country. He has revised the system of uniform pricing for satellite usage by incorporating a rational classification structure for users. The various categories that form the basis for allocation and pricing of responders are now government, not-for-profit public sector organizations, societal, strategic and commercial. An expert committee has been constituted to carry out detailed analyses of the launch requirements of the Indian Space Research Organization for the next decade, keeping in view that a number of countries have requested India to launch their satellites.









November 14, 2014   No Comments

New Health Minister Enjoys Efficiency Reputation

Jagat Prakash Nadda took over as India’s Union Cabinet Minister for Health and Family Welfare last Sunday.  Known to be quick to smile and hard to provoke, J. P. Nadda has a classic politician’s personality. Twice a minister in earlier BJP-led governments, Nadda has a reputation of being an efficient and dependable  administrator.  Nadda’s ministry controls health-care expenditures by India’s federal government and, through the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization agency, the ministry controls the registration and regulation of medical devices, pharmaceutical products, cosmetics and nutraceuticals in India.

J P Nadda

J. P. Nadda, Minister of Health

Although he was born in eastern India (Bihar), he has been a provincial cabinet minister in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh for three terms, and has handled the Forest, Environment, and the Science and Technology ministries there. He established forest police stations in the state to curb poaching and related crimes. He launched community-driven tree planting drives, set up forest ponds and initiated the massive plantation of deodar (cedar) trees to boost the depleting green cover of the Himachal foothills. The 54-year-old, who used to run personality development and time management workshops for party workers, prefers to work behind the scenes. Nadda is a sports enthusiast and has served as President of the Olympic Association, Handball Association, and the Himachal Archery Association.

November 14, 2014   No Comments