December 24, 2009

Wind Farming

Filed under: Tamil Nadu — loggers @ 8:08 pm

In an earlier post, we had mentioned the power shortage that some states face, and the need to switch to alternative forms of energy. Tamil Nadu has been one of the pioneering states in the use of wind energy and this form currently constitutes ~10% of power generated. While in Kanyakumari, we could feel the intensity of wind blowing from all directions: both the south-westerly and north-easterly winds (at different times of the year) hit the region unabated. It only made sense that the country’s largest wind farms should be located here.


Starting from a distance of 15km north of Kanyakumari lies probably the largest density of windmills anywhere in India. Manufacturers, shapes and sizes vary from one windmill to another, but the objective is common – to harness the wind speeds and convert it into energy. European manufacturers such as Vestas and Gamesa along with the Indian supplier Suzlon have a sizeable presence here, providing 750kw, 1.25MW and 1.65MW capacities. Subsidies by the Tamil Nadu government provided a little over a decade ago saw a spurt in growth due to the financial incentives given at that time, which included capital subsidies, income tax exemptions etc.

A view of the wind farm

Wind power constitutes the largest component of renewable energy capacity (70%) in India. The installed capacity is currently a fraction of the cumulative energy demands of the country (~6%[1]) and the potential remains substantial. The MNRE recently announced incentives for wind power generation and sale-back to the grid, on a national scale. Other states need to follow Tamil Nadu’s lead, in conducting research studies on the potential for wind power generation and providing incentives to promote the growth of this industry.

Inside a windmill

[1] Utilization is even lower, at 1.6%

December 16, 2009

Reliance Netconnect (Chennai)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Tamil Nadu,Technology — loggers @ 1:25 pm

100% coverage on the Nungambakkam High Road.

December 11, 2009

Reliance Netconnect (Rameswaram)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Tamil Nadu,Technology — loggers @ 7:25 pm

99% coverage at the railway station.

December 7, 2009


Filed under: Tamil Nadu,Tidbits — loggers @ 11:00 pm

Every so often we have come across stories that do not fall into any category or theme we are following, but still deserve to be mentioned due to their peculiarity in nature. Once such experience was during my stay in Coimbatore, which was due to host the largest dog show in south India. Dog-owners from all over the country come to show off their wares[1], with judges flown in from countries as far as Australia and New Zealand to adjudicate. The canine equivalent of a “Man Hunt” or “Miss India”, this show holds immense importance not only for reasons of pride for their owners, but also due to the prize money involved and subsequent market price in the event of success.

Parallels can be drawn to the rationale behind owning horses – apart from the personal attachment individuals have, they can be significant sources of income if looked after, trained to be fast and strong to win big derbies. Ego games between breeders have seen dogs being imported from countries such as Spain and the UK, specifically for dog shows and then sold on the market if they do well. This is an expensive passion, with maintenance costs considered to be as much as, if not more, than those associated with having an additional child.

There is even a sophisticated market for trading dogs, if your morals permit you to do so. For example, the pup that has been appearing in the Vodafone ads recently, has seen its market price shoot up from Rs. 1,500 to Rs.30,000-Rs.40,000. Talk about return on investment during a recession.


[1] An individual in Pune is known to own close to 550 dogs. Another in Karnataka supposedly hires A/C buses and bodyguards for his dogs

Technology In Education

Filed under: Education,Tamil Nadu,Technology — loggers @ 10:50 pm

Building a strong knowledge economy is a very important aspect of a developing nation. Hence, visiting educational institutions has been an important and frequent agenda of our travels. We have been attempting to understand some characteristics of the education (predominantly school) system across various states and identify shortfalls/possible lessons, if any. From Assam to Mizoram to UP, we have interacted with educators at institutions from a variety of backgrounds. The southern states have historically led the way in reducing illiteracy and providing quality schooling, and we embarked to try and find out why.

The use of technology in education is part of an explicit effort by the government to encourage schools to introduce such teaching methods. Educomp, one of the leading educational service providers in the country, identified this potential early and has experienced exponential growth as a result of schools increasing adopting these technologies. Adwaith Secondary School in Coimbatore is one such school that has taken this step, and reaped the rewards. Even though the equipment and maintenance costs are relatively expensive, the principal unequivocally pushed for its use in some of her classrooms. This was mainly due to the agreement of the management (trustees) of the school, who were willing to provide additional funding for this purpose. This was done without increasing student fees significantly since the students were mostly from lower to middle income families.

The setup itself consists of a central server that needs to be housed within the school premises, which is then connected to individual operating systems in each of the equipped classrooms. Each classroom has its own CPU, mouse, keyboard and LCD TV, with the help of which teachers can conduct lessons. The digitization of content and conversion into presentation material is done by Educomp, by sending them the relevant course material prior to the start of the academic year.

Equipment in the classroom

Initiatives such as these can go a long way in improving the quality of education at our schools. It is important to note here that this should be utilized as a compliment to teachers and not a substitute where students can simply learn from the material presented visually. To this end, teachers should also be adequately trained in these new technologies in order to make the delivery even more efficient.

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