TC-I Tidbits

  • Energy and the Environment: Tata Power promises an environmentally conscious power plant in Cuttack and also pledges to pay above market rates for acquiring the land. The national government launches its ‘Green India’ campaign that will plant trees over 6 million hectares of degraded forests over the next 10 years.
  • Women and Media: Women at the National Conference of the Network of Women of Media (NWMI) come together to call attention to the potential of journalism to move beyond simply the known, traditional outlets.
  • Affordable Autos: In an attempt to compete with the Tata Nano, a joint partnership including Nissan, is looking to build their own 1 lakh car
  • PPP: The state of Maharashtra has hired the International Finance Corporation as a consultant in advising them in implementing public-private partnerships.
  • Sustainable Banking and Improvements The Financial Times has nominated ICICI, BlueOrchard, ABN Ambro and YES Bank for their Sustainable Banking Awards. Also, RBI will be sprucing up its banking in Lakshadweep to make it more accessible to various communities.

Video: Tata Nano

Here is a video of someone describing the new Tata Nano (from Kamla Bhatt):


Whatever you can do I can do cheaper …

Capitalizing on the attention given to the Tata Nano, a group of 5 students has built a functioning car that is priced at only Rs. 11,000, or 1/10th the price of a Nano. Using otherwise unusable scrap material, the car’s materials are excellent examples of resourcefulness and ingenuity.

“The rear window of the car has been sourced from a Fiat 1965 model. A Kinetic scooter’s and TVS Scooty’s tyres make up the wheels of the car. The petrol tank is an unusable old geyser from a neighbour’s home, which has been connected to a gutter pipe and stuck with strong adhesive. The tank has a 3-4 litre capacity. A 125cc Honda engine ripped off from a Kinetic scooter is the vehicle’s engine. In fact, other than a hydraulic brake, every other component of the car is scrap material.”

Avashya and both have the story.

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.

Consumption times a billion

The previous post on the emergence of new technologies focused on the poor has sparked debate or ruminations at the very least over the effects such increases in macro-consumption would have on India and the world. Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution raises valid concerns regarding the potential widespread adoption of the Tata Nano and its subsequent effect on carbon emissions:

It was reading about the new $2500 car, from India, that got me worried.  Let’s say the new technology is more carbon-friendly than what we do now, but still generates some carbon.  (That sounds reasonable, no?)  The new energy technology is really cheap, so lots more people — most of all in China and India and Africa — enter carbon-using sectors of the economy.  Even if the new technology is three times as carbon-efficient, if the world as a whole uses three times more energy, carbon emissions do not go down.  The basic problem is the combination of low costs and many people standing on the verge of the carbon-using sector of the economy.

We must always be aware of the holistic effects that new technologies may have on the people, the environment and the economy, and while this author is by no means disparaging the amazing innovative feat made by Tata it only seems responsible to highlight such reservations as well.

Cutting Edge Tech for All

Why should the BoP not gain access to the newest technologies? A recent shift by major private sector players has shown that the old guard’s view that the poor do not need the latest and greatest technological innovation is no longer valid — as they too require what is on the cutting edge.

Neerja Raman from Digital Provide: From Good to Gold explains:

One month after announcing the world’s cheapest car — the $2,500 Tata Nano — India has unveiled the telecommunications equivalent: the $20 “people’s phone.” Developed by Spice, the Indian telecoms group that is listed in Bombay and worth $2 billion, is angled at the very lowest end of the market …

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Hello Indimoto

In an effort to address rising pollution levels, traffic congestion and overall convenience, 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.