Pune finds better way to build better roads

A recent post on Avashya commended the Pune Municipal corporation for fully embracing the benefits of technology to reach out to its constituents. The city has recently overhauled its website and has provided the community with much needed services and features. One feature in particular, aims to facilitate the “better roads” initiative.

Any web user can go and register complaints using Google maps. If you have a road dug up, potholes or any other road related complaints just find your area on the map and register the complaint.

This is a very cool way to use a Google map mashup to help one’s constituents.

Conference: The Great Indian Developer Ecosystem, May 19-23

From Avashya:

India has a rich content pool of software programming talent. To recognize young India’s software prowess the corporate India keeps on organizing events. The Great Indian Developer Ecosystem is one such event, to be held in May 2008. The summit will Summit Features Co-located Conferences on Bleeding-edge .NET, Rich Web, and Daring Java. Organized by Saltmarch Media, the summit will have speakers and sessions by eminent members of the Indian IT industry.

Details can be located here.

Grievance site for NRIs

From Avashya:

Tasveer-e Hind Foundation has launched Tasveer-e-Hind.com that aims to address grievances of the small and medium income NRIs (non-resident Indians) and forward their problems to the government through the internet.

Point of Discussion: Will rural India embrace social networks?

An interesting post on Watblog.com, which came to my attention via Avashya, asks the question: How Will Rural India Deal With Social Networking? It is a very intriguing question to ruminate about as more and more technologies aim to connect the rural populations with the remainder of the country. The article takes a very systematic approach to this and breaks the issue down along six criteria, which are pasted after the jump:

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Microfinance 2.0

Here is an interesting article from Spiegel Online (thanks Avashya for letting us know about it) on an entrepreneur’s efforts to utilize the power of private equity to scale up microfinance institutions more quickly and to provide them with the capital necessary for significant expansion. One issue that comes to mind, as is discussed further in this post, is the ability for such funds to autonomously control the direction of a microfinance fund away from their original core competencies.

In 2001 a pair of Europeans, Jean-Philippe de Schrevel and Cédric Lombard, discovered they shared a mutual conviction that the best way to cure poverty is through the capital markets. So they began lending money to microfinance institutions through a Geneva vehicle called BlueOrchard. Belgian de Schrevel, a former McKinsey & Co. consultant, got his MBA at Wharton, while Lombard hails from one of the families behind Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch, among Switzerland’s oldest private banks.

Despite the success of the $710 million in capital managed through multiple microfinance funds, de Schrevel wanted more control and say in their investment vehicles.

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Bullocks protest introduction of affordable tractor into Indian agriculture

SAS Motors recently announced the introduction of the Angad 240D, a tractor that the company claims will be cheaper for farmers to operate and maintain than a pair of bullocks.

From Avashya:

According to research, a farmer in India spends Rs. 3000/- to 4000/- per month on maintaining a pair of bullocks. This is an incremental expense which must be borne during their life span which is about 5 years. Angad, built on ‘appropriate technology’ platform, is a revolutionary tractor; it is more economical to use Angad tractor than a pair of bullocks. The cost of maintenance of Angad is much lower than the cost of upkeep of a pair of bullocks. Besides its amazingly low price, Angad tractor is 25% more fuel efficient than any other tractor in the Indian market and inexpensive to maintain. Farmers can generate an additional stable income stream by owning an Angad tractor and using it to provide additional haulage (transportation) and rental services after deducting fuel costs, maintenance costs and even the monthly EMI from the revenues.

The tractor, which has the power of 22 horsepower, has other models as well.

Angad Orchard , a tractor with adjustable width and length for operating different applications in an orchard; Angad Dhan, a tractor specially designed for paddy cultivation and Angad 350 Di , a full functional high powered 35 HP tractor to take on the established players in the market.

Assuming the cost metrics espoused by SAS are true, the effect of such mechanization could be as significant to agriculture as the Tata Nano may have with regard to individual autonomy.

GSK to start new women’s health website in India

From Avashya:

Indianwomenshealth.com is a website launched by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). The website, targeted at the Indian women provides useful information on various issues pertaining to the women’s health. The website is a part of a media campaign that GSK launched for Women’s Horlicks.

CSR for Coca-Cola: $10 million to be allocated

From Avashya

The Indian arm of the world’s largest soft drinks company Coca-Cola India is all set to come up with an India specific arm for its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities this year, starting with a corpus of $10 million.

Hello Indimoto

In an effort to address rising pollution levels, traffic congestion and overall convenience, Indimoto.com is a carpooling matching site that allows for commuters to find other people in their area to share rides with. With the recent unveiling of the Tata Nano, this website may become a necessary evil stemming from insane traffic congestion.

Avashya posted the press release for the company here.

More than anything, the recent surge in this website’s popularity highlights a larger concern — the overall lack of well run, efficient public transportation that caters to the increasingly common urban commuter that needs to be able to easily travel to and from an urban center for employment.

Another glaring shortcoming on the part of the Indian government appears to be any means to encourage such cooperative behavior.

There is as yet no Government support for organised carpooling in India unlike developed countries like USA, Canada, Australia etc which have various incentives to promote ridesharing such as dedicated lanes for HOV (High Occupancy Vehicles), reserved parking lots and lower toll charges etc.