Saturday, February 27, 2010

earth quake in Chile and Tsunami warning .. .

A tsunami is crossing the Pacific as fast as a jetliner after a devastating earthquake of magnitiude 8.8 on the Richter scale in Chile, threatening Hawai and other Pacific Ocean rim countries, ie. almost 25 % population of the globe ..

The 2006 Tsunami triggered by an earthquake in Aceh, Indonesia was just 7.7 on Richter scale..

Here the distances are at least 10 times more and the magnitude also ten times more..

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Independent of UK surmises it all, Sachin - the Little Master ..

Bal Thackeray, the pain-in-the-neck, useless, old man of Mumbai and his bachaas must have had a terrible night yesterday, seeing Sachin steal the Marathi (or Indian) manoos from them !!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sridhar, Bloom and energy ..

Will this be an end to the power crisis of the world or will it get blown off like any other technology ? The fact that it has been in use at Google and Ebay for the last one year , gives us some hope that this is real technology from an NRI Sridhar, 49 years of age, Uty of Madras Mechanical Engineer ..

Quote from TOI : Sridhar's technology centers round a floppy-disk sized ceramic tile coated with a secret "sauce" (both propriety technologies) that are stacked together into bread-loaf sized boxes which in-turn can be scaled up to the size of a refrigerator. When fossil fuels like natural gas or renewable like bio-gas are fed into this Bloom Box, it combines with oxygen to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity, with no need for power lines from an outside source. Several such boxes are working in Google, eBay and other well-known US firms to much acclaim and minimum problems. 

So what's the big deal, since the Bloom Box still needs fuel – and why not use the fuel directly to product electricity as is traditionally done? Well, simply put, the Bloom Box produces more bang (electricity) for the buck (fuel). The precise numbers haven't been provided, but roughly, the Bloom Box is said to produce double the amount of electricity the same fuel can produce by traditional methods. Plus there is savings in terms of real estate and infrastructure. 

According to eBay CEO John Donohoe, the company uses five Bloom Boxes that run on landfill waste-based bio-gas and generate more power than the company's 3,000 solar panels. A four-unit box, using natural gas, has been powering a Google data center for 18 months. Ball-park calculations indicate that a 30,000-square-foot office building would use four of these boxes, each costing between $ 700,000 to $ 800,000. The unknown factors include how much fuel it uses, wear and tear, and maintenance. " Unquote.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Students present the budget 2010 at T john ..

The students from T John college, T John Business School and T John Inst of Management and Science along with T John Inst of Technology ( VTU) will vie for honours as they present the Union budget on Friday, 26 Feb,  from 2 - 4 PM in the BHM Seminar Hall.

All are welcome to attend and see our FMs in show ...


Nissan Micra, launch date, March 2010, 5L.

Reva NXR, June 2010.

Maoists, a menace or sincere outfit ??

Maoists strike again after their offer for a 72 day truce is placed before the govt.

Are they really sincere about peace or are they buying time to regroup and attack with greater force ..?? Hawe they been cornered ?

Why the Maoists are getting public support ? Does it speak about the efficacy of our social benefits scheme and the low percentage of benefits and spending reaching the poor, tribals and downtrodden in society ..

The govt needs to seriously think why this is happening in the first place.. Why did the Maoist movement fail to take off in Kerala ? The social security system needs to be leak proof and fault proof..

Hard work for the govt in the coming days ..


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Prepare for a life of lower wages and unfulfilled dreams..

C'mon, Americans,your President is exhorting you to work hard. Stop being complacent, the world is overtaking you ..

By hook or crook, retain the leadership of the world (very difficult indeed..).. else get left by the wayside ..  Promise your young people a life of lower wages and unfulfilled dreams, one of misery and anarchy..

Let's all realise the world is indeed round..!


Saturday, February 20, 2010

We are the World, newest 25 ,, Official..

Worth hearing.....

Did Govt play into students' hands on Telengana ??

The students agitation for the Telengana state to be splintered from Andhra Pradesh has become a matter of concern for the centre as well as the people of AP. The Industries, specially IT and organisations in Andhra will suffer great casualties in this struggle. Already companies have started moving out. People of Andhra are scary of what the agitation will turn into in the coming days.

The SC had to revoke a stay ordered by the Andhra HC banning Police forces from entering the Osmania Uty campus. This SC order will enable  the Union Home Secretary to keep a watch on how pro-Telengana politicians led by TRS, are using students ( and possible fear of Naxals who have infiltrated the Osamania Uty campus) as a scapegoat to further their ends.

The Srikrishna Committee which has been constituted to look into the issue of formation of state of Telengana, as there is a difference of opinion even among the political parties on its formation, will take time  till Dec 31, 2010 to submit its report to the Centre. This is enough time for the issue to fizzle out. How can a person like K C Rao fighting for his personal selfish ends hold the nation to ransom ?

Even as I am penning this short article, I see banners across my monitor screen, that students have started immolating themselves at the gates of OU campus at 4 PM on 20 Feb, 2010.

These politicians are a scary lot !!


Why should a Muslim have to wear his nationalism on his sleeve ?

Thoughtful article .. Just because of the likes of a single Mullah Omar, or polygamy being practiced by some in the community, the extreme penal practices by some states, the suicide bombers, or the prosletysing nature of the religion, why should the millions who preferred to stay back in India after partition and go down with it or up with it, have to be treated or feel differently ? 

Why do they have to wear nationalism on their sleeves any time an undesirable event like Pune happens ? Should'nt we look at them differently ? The author tries to make us see reason through this very insightful article..  Food for thought .. The army was never branded as being pro-a-particular-community when a serving army officer's complicity in a terror plot was unearthed. Then why should a finger be pointed against the Muslim community when stray individuals from that community commit some anti-social and anti-religious acts ?

India is a multi-cultural and multi-religious mosaic of traditions which has come down through thousands of years of cross cultural interactions with multiple civilizations, taking the good from all and rejecting the bad. This is our treasure which we cannot submit at the feet of anybody and never will.


Friday, February 12, 2010

What went wrong at Toyota .. ? TIME mag ..

What's wrong with Toyota?

Not much. At least not from an engineering, mechanical or even a quality point of view. You don't reach the top gear in the global auto industry unless you make outstanding cars, which Toyota does - most of the time. Though cars are familiar machines, they are also highly complex ones. To create a modern car, a company has to design, engineer, build, buy and then assemble some 10,000 parts. Sell 7.8 million cars, as Toyota did worldwide in 2009 - a horrible year for the industry - and there are billions of new parts with the potential to go kerflooey. Inevitably, some do.

What makes the recall since November of nearly 9 million Toyotas that are susceptible to uncontrolled acceleration and balky brakes such a shocking story is not so much the company's manufacture of some shoddy cars or even its dreadful crisis management - though those are errors that will cost it more than $2 billion in repairs and lost sales this year. It's something more pernicious: the vapor lock that seems to have seized Toyota's mythologized corporate culture and turned one of the most admired companies in the world into a bunch of flailing gearheads. Not only is Toyota producing more flawed cars than in the past, but an organization known for its unrivaled ability to suss out problems, fix them and turn them into advantages is looking clueless on all counts. (See the 50 worst cars of all time.)

Although the recalls seemed sudden, the evidence has been piling up. Literally. According to a report from Massachusetts-based Safety Research & Strategies (SRS), a consumer-advocacy group, there was a spike in the number of unintended-acceleration incidents in some Toyota vehicles in 2002, about the same time that Toyota introduced its electronic throttle control. The problem was initially blamed on a floor mat or vehicle trim that, if it came loose, could jam the accelerator pedal in an open-throttle position. That was followed by the first of several National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigations, in 2003, and two small recalls in 2005 and 2007. But accidents mounted, and last November the company had to take back nearly 3.8 million U.S. Vehicles - its biggest-ever recall - to address the problem.

Modifying the floor mats, though, didn't fix things. Toyota at first refused to believe that there was a mechanical problem with its pedals, blaming customers for improperly installing the floor mats. But by the time Toyota got around to a second recall, on Jan. 21, this one of 2.3 million vehicles, its reputation was in tatters. (See the top 10 product recalls.)

There was no place left to park the blame. The company backhandedly singled out a U.S. Partsmaker - CTS Corp., of Elkhart, Ind. - as the supplier of defective pedals while exonerating a Japanese company, Denso, that makes the same part. But CTS CEO Vinod M. Khilnani wasn't about to take the fall. He says his company met Toyota's engineering specifications and notes that the recalls tied to unintended acceleration extend to vehicles built as long ago as 2002. "CTS didn't become a Toyota supplier until 2005," he says.

There was more to come. In early February, Toyota managed to back over any remaining political goodwill it had when it voluntarily recalled more than 400,000 Prius and other hybrid cars - this time, to update software in the antilock brake system that could cause a glitch if the car traveled over a bumpy surface. The Lexus is Toyota's top-selling luxury model - bad enough - but the Prius is its darling, a car that demonstrated the company's ability to solve technical issues that kept other automakers from fielding gas-electric hybrids, at the same time clinching Toyota's green cred. Only last month at the Detroit Auto Show, executives described the Prius as the cornerstone of Toyota's future growth. Toyota planned to sell a million hybrids a year globally, most of them in North America.

As Toyota dithered, it lost hold of the wheel. Lawyers and politicians took charge. In Washington, Toyota executives are poised to replace bankers as populist targets before a congressional hearing. "Toyota drivers have gone from being customers of the company to being wards of the government," says Jim Cain, senior vice president of Quell Group, a marketing-communications firm in Detroit, and a former Ford media-relations executive. "It's absolutely the worst possible position to be in." Tort lawyers around the U.S. have filed class actions. SRS says it has identified 2,262 instances of unintended acceleration in Toyotas leading to at least 819 crashes and 26 deaths since 1999.

At Toyota dealerships, meanwhile, customers have had to haul their cars in to have the sticky gas pedals repaired. Loyal Toyota owners now have a reason to flirt with other brands, though switching could cost them: trade-in prices for Toyotas have fallen. And at global headquarters in Toyota City, Japan, corporate officers belatedly grasped the seriousness of the situation and tried to make amends. "I apologize from the bottom of my heart for all the concern that we have given to so many of our customers," a chastened Akio Toyoda, grandson of the corporation's legendary founder, Sakichi Toyoda, told reporters in Nagoya, taking the requisite deep bow of the disgraced.

The Little Company That Could
So what happened? What went awry at the car company whose widely admired Toyota Production System(TPS) had made it the paragon of the art of manufacturing?

Read "At Toyota's Home Base, Townspeople Are Worried."

See pictures of Detroit's decline.

The reputation for quality that Toyota has damaged in just a few months took decades to build. Though Toyota was founded in the 1930s, its climb to global prominence started after World War II as the company became one of the exemplars of Japan's miracle - the creation of a successful, technologically advanced economy out of the ashes of war. In the 1950s, the company experimented with ways to manufacture cars more efficiently. Ironically, Japan's awful postwar poverty acted as a spur. The production techniques of American car companies - with heaps of stored components awaiting assembly, and ample machinery to do it - was just too wasteful and expensive for Japan. Toyota had to learn to do more with less. The result was TPS - or, more generically, lean manufacturing. Inventories were all but eliminated by employing just-in-time delivery techniques, in which suppliers brought components to the assembly line only when needed.

One organizing philosophy behind TPS is popularly ascribed to a concept called kaizen - Japanese for "continuous improvement." In practice, it's the idea of empowering those people closest to a work process so they can participate in designing and improving it, rather than, say, spending every shift merely whacking four bolts to secure the front seat as each car moves down the line. Continuous improvement constantly squeezes excess labor and material out of the manufacturing process: people and parts meet at the optimal moment.Kaizen is also about spreading what you've learned throughout the system. And then repeating it. It's the reason, for instance, that when Toyota assumed full control of the New United Motor Manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif., which it had co-owned with GM, it got way more productivity and quality out of it than GM could with essentially the same workforce and equipment. (See the most exciting cars of 2010.)

Sakichi Toyoda developed another concept, jidoka, or "automation with a human touch." Think of it as built-in stress detection. At Toyota, that means work stops whenever and wherever a problem occurs. (Any employee can pull a cord to shut down the line if there is a problem.) That way, says Steven Spear of MIT, author ofChasing the Rabbit: How Market Leaders Outdistance the Competition and an expert in the dynamics of high-performance companies, "When I see something that's not perfect, I call it out, figure out what it is that I don't know and convert ignorance to knowledge."

That was the idea. But the fact that Toyota has produced so many imperfect cars is evidence that its system developed faults. Management experts like John Paul MacDuffie, a co-director of the International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP) at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, place the blame on the company's headlong growth in the past 10 years. In 2000, Toyota produced 5.2 million cars; last year it had the capacity to make 10 million. Since 2000, when Toyota had 58 production sites, it has added 17. In that time, in other words, Toyota has added the capacity of a company virtually the size of Chrysler in a stated ambition to become the world's No. 1 auto company. (See pictures of Japanese design's greatest hits.)

But rapid expansion puts enormous pressure on any company's ability to transmit know-how and technology, especially over long distances and across national cultures. When Toyota opened its Georgetown, Ky., plant in 1988, hundreds of work-team specialists and other experts were transplanted from Japan for several years to make sure the new plant fully absorbed the Toyota way. That kind of hand-holding may still be possible, but it isn't as easy. How can that be fixed? Says Spear: "The big deal is this question, Does an organization know how to hear and respond to weak signals, which are the problems, or does it have to hear strong signals? You have to listen to weak signals. By the time you get to strong signals, it's too late."

When weak signals started coming out in 2002, Toyota's top management wasn't listening. By then, the heroic stage of Japan Inc. was over; parts of its business culture had become sclerotic. Compared with the nimbleness seen in Silicon Valley, Japan's manufacturers and their systems began to be seen as inflexible, too removed from a changing global economy to adapt. Analysts describe a Toyota management team that had fallen in love with itself and become too insular to properly handle something like the current crisis. "The reaction to [the situation] is a very Japanese thing," says Kenneth Grossberg, a marketing professor at Waseda University's business school in Tokyo. Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University Japan, says Toyota's managers don't understand how sensitive the American public is to auto-safety issues. "Their focus on the customer has been nonexistent," he says. "Toyota is famous for having an arrogant culture. They're so used to dealing with successes that when they have a problem, they're not sure how to respond."

Kingston puts his finger on one failing in modern Japanese corporations like Toyota: those lower in the organization find it difficult to deliver bad news to managers. Nearly every company faces this issue from time to time. "But this is a brand-threatening, life-endangering crisis," he says. Changing the way Toyota works won't be easy, says Grossberg. "Management cannot turn on a dime. They have so much invested in doing things the Toyota way," he says.

How to Lose Influential Friends
The recalls came at time when Toyota was regaining momentum after losing $4.9 billion in its latest fiscal year, as recession-racked consumers parked their money. For much of the past year, hundreds of Toyota employees in the U.S. didn't build cars at all, instead attending classes or doing "maintenance" work on half-built vehicles at idled factories in Texas and Indiana. Toyota kept the workers on in anticipation of better times ahead. Now the company is looking at another year of losses and significant overcapacity in North America.

Read "Toyota's Flawed Focus on Quantity Over Quality."

See the 12 most important cars of all time.

On top of criticism that it has been slow to fix its vehicles, Toyota has wrecked its political cover. Although the company had artfully balanced both U.S. political parties by designing green cars and building them in red states, its goodwill was strained in recent weeks by the decision to close its manufacturing plant in Fremont, just across the bay from Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's home base in San Francisco. The shutdown of the plant in March will wipe out 5,400 jobs and hit hard the more than 1,000 suppliers that work with the factory. "I think they offended the Democratic delegation in California," says Sean McAlinden, executive vice president of research at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. The fact that Toyota had to deny persistent reports it was planning to move its U.S. headquarters out of Southern California didn't help. Then came the airing of a horrifying 911 call from a passenger in a Lexus ES 350 in California with a jammed accelerator. Four people were killed in the ensuing crash. "No politician is going to stand up and defend Toyota after that," says Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends and insights at TrueCar.

The NHTSA, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), did Toyota no favors either. Although there have been some rumblings that the DOT was coming down too hard on the top competitor of the federally controlled General Motors - a.k.a. Government Motors - the agency actually fumbled no fewer than six separate inquiries into possible safety problems with Toyotas since 2003. In each case, the DOT ended the probes with little or no further action. That changed as the tragic evidence mounted. And when Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood blurted out advice to Toyota owners to avoid driving their cars - advice he hastily withdrew - he more or less forced the issue. (See the best cars from the 2009 Detroit Auto Show.)

In Detroit, which has had its own problems with quality, there is no outright rejoicing over Toyota's troubles. But there is a sense of an opening to win some business, and a certain pleasure in seeing the spotlight of criticism focus on a foreign carmaker. "There was always this assumption in the mainstream media that Toyota was better," says a senior GM executive. "Hopefully this will help even things out a little bit. Maybe from now on, Toyota will be treated as just another car company."

That, it certainly isn't. Toyota is still an extraordinary outfit, one likely to set the pace in the automotive industry for years. But it can't do so without addressing its shortfalls. Complexity is the enemy of any manufacturer, and rapid growth increases it. "Toyota faced excessive or overwhelming complexity that even its strong capability could not handle adequately," notes University of Tokyo professor Takahiro Fujimoto, who is affiliated with the Wharton School's IMVP. (Read "Toyota's Recall Will Test Customer Loyalty.")

Toyota's bosses are desperately hoping the worst is behind it. The company has resumed production at five factories in North America after shutting down sales of eight key models to repair the sticky accelerator pedals. Dealers will be able to sell existing inventory once the pedals are repaired, says Jim Lentz, Toyota's top U.S. sales executive. The faulty pedal has been redesigned, and new models coming off the assembly lines are getting new pedal assemblies.

The company has also been trying to repair its relationship with consumers. "We have not lived up to the high standards you have come to expect from us. I am deeply disappointed by that and apologize. As the president of Toyota, I take personal responsibility," Akio Toyoda wrote in the Washington Post.

Lentz, who defended Toyota recently at the Detroit Auto Show, said that while the recall is embarrassing, "it doesn't necessarily mean we've lost our edge on quality." It's way too early, he insists, to tell what kind of impact the multiple recalls will have on Toyota's sales.

It's not too early to say that consumers have not seen the last of massive, worldwide recalls of cars - in part because car companies have adopted the Toyota approach. Ford's new and highly praised strategy is to build "world cars" the way Toyota does, reducing the cost of manufacturing by making sure that more of its models share common parts on a relatively small number of platforms, built at plants around the world. That sounds like the epitome of manufacturing efficiency in our globalized economies. But it also explains why the brakes that caused the Prius' recall are found on Toyota's luxury Lexus 300 too. It's a system that all but guarantees that there are no small problems when a part goes bad, only big ones. In fact, global ones.

There's no sense in reinventing the wheel - going back to an industry in which every car demands a factory full of specific parts. But as the world's most famous automobile company has just demonstrated, if you're in the business of making cars, you'd better make sure your wheel works.

- With reporting by Alex Altman / Washington

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Entrepreneurship Club activities at T John college ..

When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity.You have the choice, you can overcome and be the winner or you can allow it to overcome you and be the loser. The choice is yours and yours alone. Refuse to throw in the towel, go that extra mile that failures' refuse to travel. It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested from failure ..- Mary Kay Ash, founder Mary Kay Cosmetics.

I find out what the world needs, then proceed to invent them - Thomas A Edison.

Do we give the required support to entrepreneurs in our country ? Do we consider at all that they are very deeply pursuing their dreams and in the process helping the nation by creating wealth and job opportunities ? Do we look down on them ?

It is sad that the society is yet to encourage entrepreneurs. Especially bankers, who are meant to help entrepreneurs, instead harrass them and see that their ventures are closed. If the banker's ego is not massaged by these entrepreneurs, the bankers see that the funds flow is blocked and these entrepreneurs are made to fend for themselves, running from pillar to post for funds to resume their business activities.

It is necessary that enough sensitization needs to be carried among the public and financial institutions of the great service these entrepreneurs are doing to the nation. When the state cannot invest enough to provide jobs and livelihood opportunities, these individuals take on themselves that onerous task. The banks need to understand that they are not favouring these individuals who are risking their whole lives and families to pursue their dreams, instead, they are favouring the banks by giving them an opportunity to serve these high risk taking individuals and in the process helping build the nation. It was keeping in mind these thoughts that the activities for the E-week were organised at T John College.

The activities for the Entrepreneurship week at T John College under the dynamic leadership of Prof Monoo John started off this morning at 10 AM, 10 Feb 2010 with Director of Management Prof Patil reading the e-pledge and the students and faculty taking the pledge. It was quite interesting to see many students interested in entrepreneurship. The whole of yesterday, interested students set up stalls showing their entrepreneurial ability abd were competing with each other to get the maximum return on a single day. There were stalls selling Kerala cuisine to Paayasam from Kerala, to North Indian chats, health foods and what not.. The pledge is given below.

As the Principal, I gave a talk on entrepreneurship quoting on innovation as the tool of entrepreneurs. The risk taking ability combined with an understanding for the need for the product and the oft missing component, perseverence is what makes an entrepreneur click.

I am reminded of what Norman Bushnel spoke of the true entrepreneur, " A true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer !! "

These are some events which I never had an opportunity to carry out earlier. Now I am pursuing it to the fullest extent.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Toyota has lessons for the world ..

Toyota, the no. 1 car maker of the world, who gave us the lean manufacturing techniques and is one of the major companies oft quoted in academic and research circles world over, has now some gyan to transfer to the world on the same techniques.

Standardisation is an important aspect of lean manufacturing as it reduces the cost of operations and reduces wastage of inventory, reducing inventory holding costs and obsolescence related costs into the future.

Unlike a non-moving component like a music system, for a moving component like car, there is the possibility of accidents happening, advertently or otherwise. Accidents result in recalls of cars due to faulty parts for substitution ( raising questions of the Toyota Quality System ).  If this standardisation is limited to just one model it would result in recalling less number of cars. The final cost impact on the company and thus on the customer in the long run, in terms of a long life model and its support network, would therefore be limited. GYAAAN ....

For Toyota and the world, it is the greatest lesson to learn from this recall exercise ..

Moral of the story : Limited Standardisation is better in the long run than extensive standardisation .. 

The geographical spread of the distribution network, cost of individual standardised components factored into the future and the range of liability on litigation would finally decide the extent to which standardisation could be implemented !


Shah Rukh Khan in Bangalore, some words of Gyaan ..

" Success cannot give you wisdom, it is failure that is an amazing teacher  !! "

Having gone through many instances of failures and successes in life, this 44 year old down-to-earth actor, will conquer many more peaks and hearts duriing his lifetime ..

Sad the silly regionalist brigade led by Thackerays wants to drive him to Pakistan !! Instead they should be banished from the country for ever for being of nothing more than nuisance-value !


Sunday, February 07, 2010

What is this fuss about Bt Brinjal ? courtesy

Bacillus Thuringiensis Brinjal, popularly known as Bt brinjal, is at the centre of a major controversy in India.

Bt brinjal, a genetically modified strain created by India's number one seeds company Mahyco in collaboration with American multinational Monsanto, claims to improve yields and help the agriculture sector.

However, the debate over the safety of Bt brinjal continues with mixed views from scientists working for the government, farmers and environment activists.

Environment activists says the effect of GM (genetically modified) crops on rats have shown to be fatal for lungs and kidneys. It is dangerous to introduce these experimental foods into the market without proper research, they say.

A study by French scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini says the tests conducted by Mahyco, the company producing Bt brinjal, were simply not valid and raised serious health concerns.

Besides the environment hazards, activists allege that the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has shown a bias towards companies like the Monsanto.

This would be a big threat to India's agriculture with MNCs charging Indian farmers for their seeds. The supply of seeds will be regulated and thus costlier. Indian farmers would have to depend on MNCs for seeds.

Bt cotton has already been declared a farce with crop failures and mass suicides of farmers in India. What will be the fate of Indian agriculture, farmers and consumers if Bt brinjal and other genetically modified crops are introduced? 

The issue over Bt brinjal gets worse with central government ministers contradicting each other.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar reportedly said the committee's decision was final. Meanwhile, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said that "the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee may well be a statutory body but when crucial issues of human safety are concerned, the government has every right. . . to take the final decision."

Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan, said he stood by the committee's findings.

"After consultations with the stakeholders and other government agencies, the final word will come after February 20 after submitting the report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. We assure people of independent and transparent decision over Bt brinjal, it is not going to be taken in a closed room," Jairam Ramesh said.

A Ramadoss, Union health minister during 2004-2009, had also opposed the introduction of GM brinjal in India. 

In October 2009, the Indian biotechnology regulator, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee which is an ad hoc 30-member committee comprising mainly bureaucrats and scientists, gave its approval for introduction of Bt brinjal, the first genetically modified food crop to be allowed in India.

In a GM product, the genetic material is altered to benefit the consumer and producer, as it is pest-resistant and promises to offer a higher yield.

Environmental activists have over the years questioned the bio-safety of these products and pointed out that this is a form 'bio-terror' that should be curbed at all costs.

Brinjal has been in India for over 4,000 years. It accounts for half a million hectares of land in India with an output of 8.4 million tonne.

If the GEAC decision if approved by the government, it would also lead to other GM food crops, like rice, maize, soyabean, etc in the country.

Professor P M Bhargava, GEAC's only independent expert, appointed by the Supreme Court said that a majority of the necessary biosafety tests were skipped before the clearance was given.

Meanwhile, the European Union has followed strict norms and countries in the European Union have banned the genetically modified food crops.

Meanwhile, Mahyco said this will help millions of brinjal farmers who have been suffering from the havoc caused by the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer (BFSB). Bt brinjal will help them tackle this pest in an environment-friendly manner and increase yields and farm income. 

The making of Bt brinjal involves insertion of a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into the DNA or genetic code of the vegetable to produce pesticidal toxins in every cell.

In an interview with Business Standard, Gilles-Eric Seralini had said, "You may not be aware that 99.9 per cent of edible genetically modified organisms are designed to contain toxic pesticides whose effect on the human body and the environment are not known."

"Everything is kept confidential by the biotech companies whose data governments accept without validation. We need many more tests on the environmental and health-safety aspects of GMOs and it should be assessed independently. We want science to be used for the benefit of people, not companies," he added.

"Bt brinjal has been modified to produce an unknown chimeric insecticide toxin. In the toxicity tests on target and non-target insects, this chimeric toxin was not used. Instead, an improper Cry1Ac toxin was used because this control was easier. Also, Bt brinjal is resistant to antibiotics, at least the well-known kanamycin," he explained. 

Bt brinjal has not been properly tested for health or environmental safety. In feeding trials, numerous significant differences were noted compared to the best corresponding non-Bt controls: Bt brinjal appears to contain 15% less kcal/100 gm, has a different alkaloid content, and 16-17 mg/kg Bt insecticide toxin poorly characterized for side effects, and produced by the plant genetically modified for this.

GM-fed rats had diarrhoea, higher water consumption, liver weight decrease as well as relative liver to body weight ratio decrease.

It may cause diseases like swollen face, itching skins, allergies, et cetera.

Moths and butterflies would die and may led to their extinction, if they consume the pollen grains of Bt brinjal. 

There have been countrywide protests against the introduction of genetically modified crops.

Environmentalist Vandana Shiva also pointed out that the so-called safety tests have not tested for transgenic Bt that includes genes for antibiotic resistance and genes for viral promoters.

The tests have been done by the safe microbial Bt. which has been used as an organic pesticide for decades. The tests merely show the safety of the organic spray. They have not looked into the risks that transgenic Bt. creates.

This is 'don't look, don't see, don't find' policy to create deliberate ignorance of risks and use this ignorance as proof of safety.

Shiva has called for a moratorium on commercial GM approvals as she said "Bt brinjal is a test case for the future of our food, our democracy, our science. That is why it should not be introduced in our farms and our kitchens without a proper reassessment, especially in the context of false assumptions made to present Bt. Brinjal as the only alternative available ignoring the proven agro ecological approach to pest control."

Above all, to avoid conflict of interest, developers of GM crops should not be engaged in the biosafety testing, she said.

The All India Kisan Sabha has said that there should be no hasty introduction of Bt brinjal without addressing these concerns. It also demands complete transparency from the GEAC and making public the nature of the trials carried out and the bio-safety of the products.

Without public examination and a debate on the safety of Bt brinjal, this product should not be approved for environmental release.

In Kerala, environmentalists and social activists will observe a one-day fast on January 30 in protest against the Centre's move to introduce Bt brinjal in the country, Kerala Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Rathnakaran said.

He said that the central government should clarify whether the move to introduce the variety was based on any scientific finding or assumption.

The minister said no study had been conducted on the possible adverse effects of Bt brinjal and testing laboratories had not yet been developed.  

Campaigns have also been organised by Greenpeace activists who have demanded long-term tests before Bt brinjal is released into the market.

The Bt toxins produced in Bt brinjal are also present in the other Monsanto products such as Bt cotton and Bt corn, they point out.

They have been linked to organ toxicity and growth impediments when fed to animals.

The governments of West Bengal, Orissa, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar have all indicated their opposition to the Union government's plan to approve Bt Brinjal.

Bt cotton has already proved to be a failure. The costly Bt cotton is said to be ineffective against bollworms. 

What happened with Bt cotton

On March 26, 2002, in spite of inadequate tests of biosafety and viability, Monsanto managed to get clearance for commercial planting of three varieties of genetically engineered Bt cotton from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee under the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

Ironically, this permission was granted in spite of an ongoing Supreme Court case, filed by Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE), challenging the 1998 field trials and stating that there were numerous irregularities and violations of biosafety laws and guidelines in previous year field trials.

Even then the GEAC have cleared Bt cotton for commercial release by Monsanto-Mahyco.

The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, Navdanya, farmers unions and public interests groups in India had warned the government that this irresponsible, rushed clearance would have high cost for farmers in terms of the economic sovereignty and seed sovereignty. What we have had predicted has come true. 

In three major states Bt cotton has been wiped out completely leaving farmers in great economic and livelihood crisis. Not only have new pests and diseases emerged, Bt cotton has failed in preventing even bollworm attacks for which it has been designed.

While Bt cotton is sold as pest resistant seed in India, it has proved to be more vulnerable to pest and diseases than the traditional and conventional varieties.

Madhya Pradesh, the heart of the cotton-growing belt in India, witnessed total failure of genetically engineered Bt cotton.

The farmers of Khargoan district where Bt is a 100 per cent failure are up in arms against Monsanto-Mahyco that supplied these GM seeds and are demanding compensation from the company for the failure of their crop.

The failure of the Bt cotton has devastated the farmers since they have spent five to six times to buy seeds of Bt than the normal seed.

The Tamil Nadu government has banned the sale of Bt cotton seeds after it received complaints of crop failure in Dharmapuri district.  

After the GEAC had given approval to Monsanto to launch its Bt cotton technology between 2002 and 2005, Monsanto charged an exorbitant trait value (royalty) of Rs 1,200 per packet of 450 gm. Bt cotton seeds were being sold at an exorbitant price of Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,000 per packet.

Based on the complaints of the Andhra Pradesh Ryotu Sangham, the Andhra Pradesh government referred the matter to the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC).

The MRTPC indicted Monsanto and passed an interim order stating that the MNC is indeed following restrictive trade practices and this had resulted in some relief for the farmers.

The MNCs, however, retain the monopoly over seeds and there is no regulation on them, according to the All India Kisan Sabha. 

Amid the storm over BT brinjal, Mahyco claims that Bt brinjal is resistant to pests and therefore will need less use of pesticides and insecticides, reducing the cost of production.

A Mahyco statement said, 'Insect-resistant Bt brinjal has been in development for nine years. It has been tested in full compliance with the guidelines and directives of the regulatory authorities to ensure its safety. It is the most rigorously tested vegetable with 25 environmental biosafety studies supervised by independent and government agencies. It has the same nutritional value and is compositionally identical to non Bt brinjal, except for the additional Bt protein which is specific in its action against the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer (BFSB).'

Mahyco collaborates with Monsanto, the world's leading producer of genetically engineered seeds. It sells 90 per cent of the world's genetically engineered seeds.

Five giant corporations -- Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow -- rule the global GM seeds market.


When western countries have banned GM foods because of health probs and unproven side effects, why should Govt of India try to give business to the same western companies and push GM foods among the masses ?

A learned debate needs to be carried out among the people to understand more facts and ills of GM foods.. What happened to Bt coton, should it happen to Bt brinjal too ??

Should we compromise our existing food security in the greed of a momentary surplus and a perennial shortage and dependence on others ?


Saturday, February 06, 2010

The game is changing, Balasaheb !!

The old man and his children are yet to understand the reality ..India is a democracy .. You cannot scare the people with threats from your bed-room.


E-learning at T John College picking up ..

To the best of my knowledge, the only Institute in Karnataka to have embraced technology of e-learning in teaching management subjects is the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, at the website .  

There is one more addition to it now, the T John College, Bangalore which specialises in Management, Computer Science, Bio-Technology and Hotel Management courses, both for UG and PG courses affiliated to the Bangalore University. 

It was really heartening to note that as of the morning of 6 Feb, 2010, there were 277 users at the e-learning site,

The E-learning portal of T John College is just three weeks old and already we have almost 15 subjects hosted with additions, editing of course material happening at a feverish pace, keeping pace with the course coverage.

After a few months we hope to open it up to the public to enable distance learning ..

George Easaw

The roar which turned into a meow !!

The Shiv Sena roar finally ended up as a meow with Rahul Gandhi, Congress Gen Secy., going through his schedule in Mumbai with ease and style in open defiance of the Shiv Sena diktat, in their own territory, as a free Indian.. Rahul Gandhi even skipped his helicopter trips to tease these cats, by taking two trips on the Mumbai local train.

Indians, cutting cross their political leanings now have the freedom to travel anywhere in the country and nobody can through goondagiri issue any more hollow threats .. The entire "hollowgiri" policy of Shiv Sena hoodlums needs to be pursued by the govt machinery to expose and arrest any anti-national aspects.

The trip has exposed the opportunistic BJP and RSS, who after siding with Shiv Sena, their longest ally for all these years, finally ditched them, with an eye on the North Indian vote bank. It was a disaster to watch BJP and Shiv Sena spokesmen on TV last night being torn to shreds in their defense of their exclusivist, majoritarian, anti-minority, regionalist agenda..

Let this incident be a reminder to the communal forces that India as a country cannot be pushed to a corner and will not succumb to their divisive, anti-national agenda. Indians have better things to do and worthwhile goals to pursue, not their backward-looking, cockeyed policies .


Thursday, February 04, 2010

Toyota Prius hybrid now has brake problem too..

Toyota Prius

The Toyota Motor Co. is presently passing through a tough phase of its history. 

Facing losses for the first time in its history last year, Toyota is now having defects in accelerator pedals in some models(Camry), brake problems in some others (Prius), with govts. and politicians openly expressing unfounded fears, (in a bid to boost demand for the sunk or sinking indigenous brands), Toyota will need to sink deep into its reserves of courage, determination and cash, to maintain its top position.

Toyota will now doubt come out clean and neat. thanks to the Toyoda philosophy of perseverance and determination ..


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

How senseless and cowardly can Shiv Sena be ??

How senseless and cowardly can Shiv Sena be ??

Having spent a good part of my life in Mumbai and having come across the high handed goondagiri of Shiv Sena, the hollow threats issued by the senseless leaders from Bal to Raj to Udhav, the world has come to realise that these "bachaas" are digging their own graves ..

The Maharashtra Govt needs to act with a firm hand and silence these loudmouths. The Govt. should never allow anybody to issue such open threats, challenging the freedom of movement, speech and expression of other citizens, holding the society to ransom and allow them at the end to get away scot-free ..

The Govt. is to be blamed for allowing things to precipitate to such an extent over the years. Let Mumbai be cleansed of these virii once and for ever !!


Monday, February 01, 2010

Rahman gets two grammies

2 Oscars and 2 grammies..

You get the best out of me ...

Federer's wife Mirka was crying out loud after his 16 th grand slam title win Melbourne last evening .. The 6'1" Swiss who turned pro in 1998, in 12 years has achieved this great feat !!

The greatest tennis player of all time ??


Recent studies of a nuclear holocaust

Copyright The Sun, UK .. What can happen to the world in case of a nuclear winter. The early study in 2007 was done by NASA which had ...

My popular posts over the last month ..