India built the world’s largest solar plant in just eight months

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India may still be using fossil fuels for much of its power needs, but the country is quickly turning to renewable power sources. 

If you visited Kamuthi, in Tamil Nadu, one year ago, you would find delight and peace in its temples and greenery. But today, everyone is talking about its brand new power plant.

Kamuthi, located 90 kilometers outside Madurai, is now home to the world’s largest solar power plant at a single location. Spanning a 10-square-kilometer area, the plant has the capacity of 648MW, enough to power about 150,000 homes.  Read more…

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India’s Paytm announces toll-free mobile number to serve offline users

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India’s Paytm app, which recently reported more transactions on its platform than all plastic cards combined in the country, has found a way to further bolster its reachability. 

The ecommerce player announced Wednesday a toll-free interactive voice response (IVR) number that users with any kind of phone — be it a feature phone — can dial in to make use of Paytm’s digital wallet service. The toll-free number for the IVR service is 1800-1800-1234.

When a user dials in the number, they are asked to create a security code (Paytm PIN), which once set allows them to enter the registered mobile number of the person to whom they wish to send money.  Read more…

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India’s Ola expands its no-surge pricing carpooling service Ola Share Pass to new cities

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India’s Uber rival, Ola, is making it affordable for even more people in the country to use its cabs. 

The country’s largest ride-hailing service today said it’s expanding Ola Share Pass to four new cities — Delhi-NCR, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Pune. With today’s announcement, Ola Share Pass is now available in seven of the 15 cities where car pooling Ola Share program is available. Ola’s rival Uber currently doesn’t have any similar offering. 

Ola Share Pass, first unveiled in October, is a deviation from other cab services on the platform. Through Ola Share Pass, the cab aggregator is letting people pay for as many as 40 rides at once. What’s in it for commuters? No surge pricing on any of those rides.  Read more…

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Google, Microsoft, Facebook receive notice from Indian court over illegal activities

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Silicon Valley giants have found themselves in legal hot water in India.  

India’s top court has expressed concern over illegal activities and cyber abuse that occur on Facebook as well as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo search engines. 

The Supreme Court has sent notice to the companies asking why they aren’t preventing users from behaviors including circulating rape videos and posting other private content without the subjects’ consent. The companies have until Jan. 9 to respond. 

The matter was brought to the court by Prajwala, a Hyderabad-based NGO, which requested the service providers remove offensive materials immediately after the content was brought to their attention.  Read more…

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Hyperloop Technologies in talks with government for trial runs in India

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Hyperloop Transportation Technologies may have found a new place to perform trial runs: India. 

Top executive at the American research company says they are eager to come to India and begin trials for their high-speed transportation technology in the country. The company, which works on the concept envisioned by billionaire Elon Musk, is currently seeking a nod from the Indian government.

“The proposal is on Mr. [Nitin] Gadkari’s (Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India) table. We are ready,” Bibop G Gresta, chairman and Chief Bibop Officer, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc (HTT), told FactorDaily, adding he recently had talks with Prime Minister Modi and Gadkari.  Read more…

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Indians mourn as iconic actress turned politician Jayalalithaa dies

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The death of iconic politician Jayalalithaa Jayaram late last night has left millions of her supporters struggling to hold tears. 

Such was the adoration that Jayalalithaa, more popularly referred as Amma, or mother, instilled that saw her elected as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu five times. 

Jayalalithaa died at 11.30 p.m. late Monday after she failed to recover from cardiac arrest. She was recovering from a monthlong illness in the hospital and the status of her health development was kept confidential until the very end. She was 68 years old.

“Jayalalithaa ji’s connect with citizens, concern for welfare of the poor, the women and marginalised will always be a source of inspiration,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted after learning the news.  Read more…

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wins reader’s poll for TIME’s ‘Person of the Year’

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When it comes to popularity, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems way ahead of the U.S. President Barack Obama and even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

Modi topped the online reader’s poll for TIME’s “Person of the Year,” garnering 18 percent of the votes, the magazine revealed Monday. The magazine will announce its editorial choice for “Person of the Year” on Dec. 7. 

In comparison, Obama, Donald Trump, and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange each received 7 percent of the votes, followed by Hillary Clinton, who managed 4 percent of the votes, and Zuckerberg, with 2 percent of approval from the people. Read more…

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Google Allo gets Hindi language support

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Google just opened its AI-driven app Allo to hundreds of millions of new users.  

Google said Monday Allo is getting support for Hindi, one of India’s widest spoken languages. The assistant, which a user can trigger using the keyword “@google”, now understands as well as responds in Hindi language. 

The company first demoed the feature at its Google for India event in September, with company’s executives emphasising their continued efforts to tailor their services for the Indian market. 

“We are enthused by this and today’s launch enables us to extend these features to the next millions of users in a language of their choice,” Amit Fulay, Group Product Manager, Google said in a press statement.  Read more…

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Amazon brings Launchpad to India

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For its latest trick in India, Amazon aims to help startups in the country sell, market, and deliver their products and gain more visibility.

Amazon announced Monday it is bringing its global startup program Launchpad to India. The India Launchpad portal is live with products from over 400 startups, of whom 25 are India-based. 

The company has also partnered with Nasscom, Government of Maharashtra, Indian Angels network and several bodies and venture capitalists to help startups on policy and financial sides. 

Through Launchpad, first unveiled in 2015 and now available in seven regions, Amazon partners with startups and sells their products on its giant ecommerce platform. Additionally, Amazon also helps startups market and promote their products.  Read more…

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Pissed off wedding guests hold up flight when their friends can’t get on

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An Indian airline learned the hard way not to piss off a gaggle of stressed out wedding guests. 

A domestic flight in India had to delay its departure by 90 minutes Friday morning after a “technical glitch” resulted in overbooking passengers, blocking some of the roughly 80 wedding goers from getting on the flight. Guests who had boarded the plane and refused to leave their fellow revelers behind caused an unruly scene that forced law enforcement to respond.  

Jet Airways flight 9W7 083 (S2 4621) scheduled to leave Mumbai at 6 a.m. local time to Bhopal ran into an unexpected issue: More passengers than the plane could accommodate showed up at the airport, the company told Mashable India in a statement.  Read more…

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