Saturday, January 28, 2017

Thattukada, the innovative roadside fastfood eatery, at Calicut - a case study

This evening in Calicut, Kerala, India  when I came out of my hotel for a very light dinner of fruits, never did I ever think that it would be such a sumptuous and tasty dinner of hot dosas (or steaming fermented rice flour cake cooked, heated on pan, 3 nos.), sambhar, chutney and a single omelette, all for just Rs. 30/-. (45 cents) at this thattukada, the healthy, hot serving, low cost fast food setup, reliving experience of my younger college days in KDpuram, TVM. 

I was very keen on reliving that experience !
Prepared with modern gadgets like LPG gas stove, automobile battery powered LED lights (2 nos) for lighting, hygienic neat plates lined inside with butter paper, neat washing place with piped water and hot water to gulp the food down, the setup near Vasan eye care hospital near Thali temple Calicut was a good quality service setup. It was run by a front office manager, waiter, cashier, cleaner and public relations expert (all-in-one) of 30 years and his back office manager, chief (and only) cook, tasting expert, employee and friend of 30 years (2 employees in total)..

 The cooking setup which was on a trailer-mode four tyred steel bodied structure  had an open top, which was the mobile and open kitchen. All vessels were properly covered. The customers who on being convinced of the quality and hygiene of the service setup, placed the order to the manager-cum-waiter. The menu card was not available nor on display. 

The customers were served standing, had to finish the eating standing, pay up and could socialise with the 2 employees and be around for not more than 5 minutes. At the time I was being served, two other customers were also in service with very low waiting time. There was no queueing at this fast food setup.

The dosa batter, chutney and sambhar was prepared at the residence by these employees during daytime. The eatery or thattukada is open from 8-12 mignight daily at the same place. Since the setup was mobile, infrastructure expenses and rent were nil, keeping expenses at rock-bottom low levels. This helped to serve customers at very low costs and highly hygienic levels. 

The entire mobile  setup is packed and towed away manually to a nearby compound for the rest of the day till 8 pm. Some of these enterprising people also work as vegetable and fruit vendors during day time.

A good example of low cost innovation and value for money with high customer satisfaction ..


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Prof. Clayton Christensen on Disruptive Innovation ..

Continuing his research on disruptive innovation..
Prof Clayton Christensen from Harvard Business School talking about how steel mills disrupted the business of integrated steel mills across the world, how Toyota disrupted the automobile market in US, a good example. How Personal computer disrupted the world wide computing market and made a big difference to the world ..

Listen to the talk as part of the Clarendon lectures at Said Business School, Oxford Uty 10 June 2013. 

What Prof. Clayton did not mention was how Indian space research is disrupting the established space research organisations of the world. When Russia and US were busy planning to fly to moon and fly space shuttles, India entered the market at the lower end with weather sounding balloons, weather sounding rockets etc. 

India is disrupting the space technology and research process by slowly going up the ladder and now is a challenger to NASA, with its own space shuttle protoypes, space telescopes, navigational satellites and satellites launching capabilities of different tonnage payload  for the rest of the world at the cheapest rates in the world, not forgetting the ailing Russian, ESA and Chinese space missions. In the beginning of Feb 2017, India will be launching 80 satellites for NASA at costs less than 50 % of what others would charge for such launches, cheaper than the private player Space X from Elon Musk. 

India cannot be complacent with its successes in space technology, but should try to offer high value missions to its customers from around the world in other fields too.

Disruptive innovation is the watchword which India and china needs to look around fo rand keep disrupting.  Innovation is the firm and sure way both these countries can dominate the world.

george ..

Comparison of commercial aspects and generation efficiency of world's largest solar power plants

Aerial view of the 25 sq km Longyangxia solar farm ..
It was great news to hear that the Longyangxia solar power plant using 4 million (40 lakhs) solar panels generating 850 MW spread over 25 sq km in the Gobi desert in western China is now the world's largest solar power plant of the world overtaking the Kamuthi, TN India solar power plant of Adani generating 648 MW, deploying 25 lakh solar panels spread over 10 sq km area. (click here for Kamuthi details)

Cost wise Longyangxia generates each MW of solar energy at $1.047 million while Kamuthi generates at $1.08 million per MW, a 3% advantage for China over the global leader India, all this while. Comparing this with the $2500 million spent for the 570 MW Topaz solar power plant in California US, at a cost of $4.2 million per MW energy generated, it is already a foregone conclusion where the west is headed to.

Land use efficiency wise Kamuthi in South India having its solar farm spread over 10.1 sq km land area is about 100% more efficient than Longyangxia in the Gobi desert spread over 25 sq km of land area.

In terms of generation efficiency the Kamuthi plant generates 25.92 MW per lakh panels while Longyangxia plant generates 21.25 MW per lakh panels deployed, which is a 22 % higher efficiency for Kamuthi over Longyandxia plant.

Sheep  grazing on the solar farm land ..
In the generation efficiency, which is more a function of the general plant design of how the panels face the sun and the insolation capacity of the incoming solar rays, Longyangxia is at 36 deg North latitude while Kamuthi in Tamil Nadu is at 9 deg North latitude.  This explains for the superior generation efficiency at Kamuthi.

When the 2000 MW Pavanguda plant neaar Tumkur in Karnataka, S India comes into action in the next two years, total cost expected to be $2100 million at a cost efficiency of almost $1.05 million per MW of energy generated, equal to that of China.

Photo courtesy of Lanyyangxia plant to Guardian newspapers of UK .. Click here for the Guardian news item ..

The solar power energy generation competition between China and India has started in all earnest, leaving aside the expensive power generators in the west. The coming years we can expect to see lot of new solar and wind power plants coming up in the Middle East and Africa strategically placed near to the equator and able to genetrate with very high efficiencies.

Wind power generation is about 250%  of solar power generation across the globe presently. With the industrial giants India and China waking up, the picture is going to change for the better.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The world's greatest entrepreneur Jack Ma's vision for 2017

Jack Ma was interviewed at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland during Jan 2017.

This article describes his vision for the world in 2017 and beyond. Excerpts from his interview.

We dont make money catching whales, we make money catching shrimps

I want to enjoy life. I dont want to die in the office, I want to die on the beaches..

Countries around the world should deploy the 2 H strategy, happiness and health for all.

Jack Ma's 30 -30 -30 principle for the world -
  • the  next 30 years is for implementation of technology developed by the technology giants like Amazon, Ebay, Google, Facebook etc. in the past 20 years
  • Look at the employees less than 30 years of age, the internet generation - the promise of the future and
  • look for companies with less than 30 employees in strength, the companies that are going to give traction to global growth
On World Trade Organisation (WTO) : WTO is an organisation only for the large companies of the world, the promise of the future is going to be smaller companies that can grow big and effective. Adopt EWTP (Electronic World Trading Platform) that can improve globalisation and be more inclusive.

Pic courtesy IBTimes
The wealth and prosperity US and Europe has gained over the past 40 years of industrialisation has been frittered away by waging 30 wars that has spent about $40 trillion across the world, which otherwise could have been deployed for building global industrialisation and transportation infrastructure. The west has missed the growth and development bus by waging these useless wars.See how China has leveraged on this great opportunity an is marching ahead ..

On Globalisation :
  • Past 100 years, Kings and emperors have engaged in globalisation
  • Past 30 years, 60,000  big companies have engaged in globalisation
  • The next 30 years will see 6 million businesses engage in globalisation.
The economic crisis of 2008 was a big blow for the western world when $19 trillion of value was wiped out and 32 million jobs lost globally.

Use Technology to make businesses inclusive

The biggest supply chain and logistics challenge ever faced by humanity was during the Singles Day on 11 November, 2016 which brought in sales of $17 biillion and saw 600 million packages reaching their destinations across China in 3 days (72 hours flat)

Listen to Jack Ma's Jan '17 interview at World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland


Monday, January 23, 2017

Innovation creativity exercises..

Nobel Laurete Dr Roger Sperry's (Calif. Inst of Tech.) Split Brain theory 
Yesterday in the MBA classes on Operations Strategy, while taking the topic of Innovation, we were playing an innovation game on creativity.

The class exercise is on a product. The brainstorming creativity exercises can be applied equally well to processes and services too.

The topic given to the students to motivate them to think creatively was " Additional features one would like on his/her mobile phone to make it more feature rich "

There were some really creative and high quality suggestions which came up in the class. 

Some of them are being listed here.

1. Technological

a. 3D virtualisation of the called party
b. use of mobile as a virtual laptop
c. inbuilt card swipe
d. Industrial process controller
e. mobile working on solar energy
f. using mobile as universal remote

2. Financial use

a. using mobile to provide financial intelligence

3. Security

a. voice recognition of criminals
home security
b. QR code home security

4. Features

a. virtual book
b. mobile GPS health monitor
c. GPS health bracelet
d. anti-theft cloud storage
e. make up kit
f. satellite phone
g. drone mobiles
h. mobiles that never go out of power
i. IOT interface to control industrial and domestic processes
j. 3D gaming with sensors
k. retina scanning security
l. automobile monitoring with google apps

Copyright 2017 Alliance University, Bangalore.

The initial creativity exercise is a very important step in promoting innovation in organisations. By means of brainstorming, after generating the ideas,(keeping only the right creative hemisphere of the brain working), top three or four ideas are selected which are feasible and tractable (keeping the left rational hemisphere of the brain working ). Teams are assigned acording to skills to oursue these three four creative ideas with a particular time period for design and execution and with limited funds.  

In a lean exercise, ideas are generated but funds are not provided for improvement, that is how innovation is different from lean thinking and continuous improvement.

An extension of the creativity exercise is done in a slightly different way.

Product : An item of common use is shown to the students and each of them is asked to list out five to ten additional uses of that product other than the one for which the product is being presently used. This thinking exercise motivates the participant to relate applications from different fields to the product in question.

Service : In the case of a service setup like a hospital, the participant is asked to list out five to ten new applications of the service which benefit the user in the long run with high utility, but which does not involve heavy expenditure and promotes good health in the long run.

Once the participant is made aware of the great innovation potential of creative thinking and the benefits it can bring to the participant and the society in general, the learning is permanent. The participant will employ this strategy throughout his lifetime as and when opportunities arise.


Copyright Alliance University, Bangalore 2017

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Applying Porter's Generic Strategies Model and Mintzberg;s Emergent Strategy model to the space technology market..

In this article, an attempt is made to explain the salient points of Porter's generic strategies model and Mintzberg's emergent strategies model. I am also making an attempt to understand how the dominant space technology players of US and India have grown over the past seventy years and to what extent and scope these strategies have been adopted by both these space leaders.

As per Micheal Eugene Porter's Generic Strategies Model, the 3 generic strategies organisations adopt to gain competitive advantage over their competitors are
I. Cost leadership (no-frills) 
2. Differentiation (creating uniquely desirable products and services) and 
3. Focus (offering a specialised service in a niche market)
Different organisations adopt these three strategies in varying degrees combinedly or stand alone to gain advantage ober their competitors.

I. Cost Leadership strategy refers to increasing profits by 
1. reduced costs of capital, resources, services,
2. having efficient logistics and warehousing where selection of the transportation medium and warehousing done keeping costs in mind
3. low cost base of manpower, materials, facilities, rents etc..
These strategies are available to all the competitors and so it does not differentiate the organisations. However by engaging in excellence programmes like 5S, 5 Whys, Kaizen etc, organisations can get ahead of their competitors.

II. Differentiation Strategy

Differentiation basically refers to how one can make products and services different and more attractive to customers than the competitors by changing or modifying product / process features, functionality, durability, after sales support etc..

It involves
1. having good research and development facilities and innovation base
2. ability and a network to deliver high quality products / services
3. effective sales and marketing team to create awareness of the new products and services with the organisation

An organisation by planning to be agile (able to adapt quickly and easily) with new product and service development processes can offer a differentiation strategy

III. Focus Strategy

This strategy involves concentrating on niche markets and offering products and services of low cost and high quality only to that market.

These niche markets give opportunity for the organisation to study consumer behaviour and adapt their products or service from the valuable customer feedback.

Usually this strategy plan is implemented by first deciding on the focus group, may be a city, a section of the population etc and then trying the cost leadership and differentiation strategy on that focal group.

A Case study on ISRO and NASA

ISRO and NASA have been dominating the space technology market of late, besides the Russians, European Space Agency (the conglomerate that unites all European space efforts), China and to a limited extent Japan. India, besides sharing the reputation of being one among the only four national space agencies (the first four listed above) to undertake successful interplanetary expeditions to Mars, with the unique distinction of being the first in the world to succeed in the very first attempt,  is spreading its wings to fly to Jupiter, the largest of the planets in the solar system in the next few years. 

An effort has been made to study how the above two strategies could be applied to ISRO and NASA who have been trying to hone up their strategies to take space technology leadership of the world.

ISRO has taken the cost leadership approach, (knowing fully well that they at least 15-20 years behind NASA in exploring the deeper confines of the solar system and of outer space) by offering highly reliable missions and launch capabilities at very low costs. As technologies progress, miniaturisation is the norm of the day. Satellites of yesteryears which were weighing tons, are being replaced by smaller satellites weighing anywhere between ten and fifty kgs. India is about to create record for sending a maximum of 103 satellites aboard its PSLV rocket to low earth orbits by the end of January 2017. (click here for more details..)

NASA on the other hand understanding fully well due to high costs inputs, cannot compete with ISRO on cost parameters, have taken on the world by offering innovative and path breaking exploration into the deeper confines of space, rovers on Mars etc with absolutely very low consideration for costs over the knowledge generated.

India has been able to offer leadership and make an impact in the commercial launch services operations area for other countries of the world by sending their satellites to low earth orbits, while US, using the differentiation strategy, has been generating new and exciting knowledge that could be used by future generations to understand and attempt to colonise space in future.

A very significant point that needs to be pointed out is the role of space technology offering telecom satellites and their networks at dirt cheap rates in spearheading the recent extremely disruptive telecommunication revolution happening in India. The competition is so intense that many foreign telecom players, unable to bear the heat are planning to leave the country and move to safer and less competitive environs in their parent countries. Had it not been for the cheap telecom bandwidth provided by these satellites, on the vision of Sam Pitroda and Rajiv Gandhi in the early eighties, such disruptive, cost innovative leadership would not have been possible.

Mintzberg's emergent strategy model states that in the life of a product or service, strategies do emerge as organisations face reality. These set of actions and thoughts were not originally intended or planned but have emerged successful over time and have been accepted as successful strategy for the organisation. 
This implies a set of trial and error methods, performance measurement metrics and effective feedback management and measurement leading to overall organisational performance and development.

Both NASA and ISRO would have wanted total leadership in space technology and not part leadership of the cost leadership model or differentiation model in the space sector respectively, but as technologies emerged and missions succeeded, they have transitioned to these models over time. The increased capability provided by cheaper satellite launches and more telecom satellites in space have seen drop in rates and more space applications like remote sensing, traffic and navigational guidance being the order of the day.

In short, it can be very clearly seen that in the area of space technology, especially in the leadership countries like India and United States, the growth and evolution of space technology has been monumental and all the countries mentioned earlier will continue to come up with innovative applications over time to make this field even more attractive in future. This will spur into action other countries too to explore space and partake in the benefits it can offer mankind.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Writing good articles ..

I have been writing for almost fifteen years many different articles pertaining to science technology, politics, motivation, achievements, social development,  infrastructure development, entrepreneurship, management related and so on. Even now I cannot claim to be good at writing, I just do it. I try to do it better everytime.

One of the most important aims in writing is to be able to communicate effectively with the reader.

Writing well is an art that comes only from practice, practice and practice. So if the first draft of the article looks lousy, do not be discouraged, you are on track. As per some of the quotes I have given here, the drafts are always lousy, it is for you to work on and improve.No great writer has written great articles right from the start, it has been a painful and often humiliating start, which slowly gets better.

The three stages I can recollect before writing an article are these three

1. pre-writing or planning stage

2. writing or execution stage and 

3. post-writing or review stage ..

1. Pre-writing stage : 

a. decide your topic - what are you going to write on. For example when I decided that I am going to write on how to write, it registered in may mind as the topic of writing, "how to write good articles ?"

b. draft your basic ideas - what will be structure of your article, what all points will you be writing and what will you be trying to convey to the audience through the writing

c. do some basic research, collect some points, good quotes etc which you can use to substantiate your points and convey your thoughts better to the audience

2. Writing stage

a. assume reader has the intelligence but does not have the basic knowledge on the subject, so an initial warming up of couple of words is always welcome

b. add figures, pictures for better illustration (if taking from a source, acknowledge it)

c. make the writing simple with short sentences, cutting out tough words (Nehru style)

d. never deviate from your topic during the writing
avoid distractions while writing

e. change the location to get a different feel and grip on writing

3. Post-writing stage

a. read the document after a couple of hours or even after a day to correct spelling mistakes, grammar, sentence framing etc.. Generally rework on the document to make it effective

b. invite feedback from readers and try to incorporate them in the writing in its next version or in a follow up article later on.


One may not be able to follow all these points initially, but over time, it is a good practice. 

Wishing you the best in your writing career which could be very satisfying and could go into your old age, upto 70 or 75 years of age and rewarding too ..


Thursday, January 19, 2017

India's unchallenged cost advantage in high tech projects..

Why is India in the news of late when technological innovations are reported. Around the world, innovations get reported, But there is a subtle difference, Indians do it in style and at the lowest cost, even beating the Chinese. 
Three instances of India's clear edge in cost innovativeness over the rest of the world is being presented here.
One : When Indian Space Research Organisation sent its first expedition to Mars, in a time window of 36 hours, a NASA Mars expedition Maven too left earth orbit, in Nov 2013, both reached Mars after travelling in a solar orbit after 10 months over 650 million kms in Sept 2014. US Maven reached Mars first at a cost of $ 670 million. India's Mangalyaan reached Martian orbit soon afterwards and the total cost incurred was just $ 75 million, about one tenth what the US took. (Click for link here..
With this major achievement, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) overtook NASA as the world's most cost innovative space power. India's accepted global leadership in inter planetary expeditions by being the first in the history of humanity to have landed on a planet at the first attempt and to this remains unchallenged and will remain the undisputed leader for many more centuries to come !
Two : Another instance of cost innovation was when the 9 million annual passenger traffic Kochi International airport in Kerala, India became the first and only international airport in the world to  go completely energy neutral working on solar energy using a 12 MW solar plant covering 2.5 acres in the airport premises in Nedumbassery , about 40 kms outside Ernakulam in Kerala, India. (Click for link here ..) at a meagre budget of just $10 million !! 
India's leadership in low cost, high tech and extremely high risk application areas remains unchallenged even to this day, 18 months after installation in July 2015 by any of the high tech and scientifically less advanced countries from US, Europe or China. 
The 2500 acre, $700 million, 650 MW Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu, India
solar power plant, biggest in the world ..
Three : In Sept 2016, India snatched yet another crown jewel to add to its crown of being the unchallenged leader in low cost high tech solar applications when the Adani group in a record period of 8 months completed the commissioning of the world's largest solar energy plant , the 648 MW Kamuthi solar energy plant in South Tamil Nadu, India spread over 2500 acres (10.1 sq. km) using 25 lakh solar modules at a cost of RS 4550 crores, ie. $ 700 million.  
The earliest record was the 550 MW Topaz Project in San Luis Obispo county in California commissioned in 2015 at a cost of $2500 million, 3.6 times costlier than the Indian project and 100 MW less power generation.. (Click here for more details through my blog on Kamuthi plant
The world's largest solar power plant getting ready at Pavaguda near Tumkur in Karnataka (outskirts of Bangalore) is being set up at a cost of Rs 13,000 crores ($2 billion) by 2020. The irony is that the 2000 MW Pavaguda plant will be about $500 million cheaper than the Topaz project in California and that too generating only about a quarter of solar power as of the Pavaguda plant. Even the global champions of low cost products, China, has been a total failure when it comes to applying low cost innovation to high tech applications.

These three Indian low cost high tech applications from space technology, to high risk international airport insolation application to high capacity solar energy generation power plants, demonstrate India's undisputed low cost and high tech leadership of the world, which will remain unchallenged for many decades to come.

Having taken over the low cost leadership of high tech applications of the world, we are very hopeful India can give proper direction and guidance to other countries of the world as to how they can become global leaders without becoming the largest debtor nation of the world !
The world's largest debtor nation, US is also the world's high cost technology provider / enabler. This is a very sensitive area where US will start trailing India and China very soon, already started, failing miserably in the low cost competition to provide high technology to the world  .. !
Click here for the debt clock, US has a total debt of $19.3 trillion which is galloping forward at a fast pace setting world records and surging ahead ... Whether it is good for US or humanity, nobody knows !


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Should govt have a relook at Delhi air quality ?

Smog over Delhi, 31 Oct 2016, Diwali day - courtesy AP
Every year Deepavali is celebrated in the country in great pomp and splendour. Yearly we find for almost for a week after the festival the air in Delhi becomes unbreathable. We blame the fireworks and crackers for the great pollution caused in the air. We do not have clear statistics yet as to how many people are killed due to air pollution and how many man hours / student hours are lost with missed office and classes.

The Supreme Court has never interfered in the matter, do not know whether anybody has gone to court or not. If the SC takes cognizance of the case and bans the fireworks from Diwali and says other celebrations can continue, will the people be satisfied and will the festival still be called the festival of colours ?

Is traditions the reason why SC is not banning fireworks during Diwali, even though it is a very unhealthy practice ?

Particulate Matter Emissions in Delhi (SAFAR, Min. of Earth Sciences, GoI)

                                   2.5 microns (micro-g/cu.m)     10 microns (micro-g/cu.m)

WHO (24 hr period)           25                                        50
WHO (annual mean)          10                                        20

SAFAR                               60                                       100

Delhi (30 Oct 2016)          624.2                                    836

WHO - World Health Organisations, United Nations body
SAFAR - System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research

Let us create more awareness on these figures (as reported in Livemint) on 18 Jan 2017 ?

Why is it that in come cases SC takes up the case on its own, or when brought up by somebody citing violation and in some cases not at all, unless someone brings it up ? Does it smack of brazenness and an arbitrary approach ?

Did the SC cross its mandate in deciding that animal cruelty is anti-national, but not bursting of crackers during Diwali and polluting the air in Delhi beyond limits set by WHO and our national watchdog agency (SAFAR) by many multiples leading to major health hazards .. ?

The whole approach smacks of arbitrariness and high handedness. Can we close our eyes to some open violations and raise voice against some other ? 

Who will call the shots finally against whom ? Shouldn't we be more vigilant and fair to everybody, asking that irrespective of century old culture and practices,  environment cannot be violated..

Jerry Amaldev on Top of the world !!

I was indeed taken aback and it was a very pleasant surprise to listen to Cornell Uty Fine Arts PG graduate and qualified western genre Indian Malayali music director Jerry Amaldev direct his Indian music troupe singing the 1972 Carpenters' hit "Top of the world" !!

Really a pleasant surprise listening to an Indian song troupe singing a western classic of the early 70s ..

Click here for the song ..

A very difficult piece and an all-time great choral music from the German music composer (composed 275 years ago) George Fredrick Handel, " Hallelujah chorus " from the same group .., click here ..


Overcome evil with good

Overcoming evil with good. There is a great learning we can get from this story.

If we have a bit of patience and use our brains, any conflicting situation can be resolved very peacefully.. 

The dogs often attacked the goats violently ..
A farmer in ancient China had a neighbour who was a hunter, and who owned ferocious and poorly trained hunting dogs. 

They jumped over the fence frequently and chased the farmer's lambs. 

The farmer asked his neighbour to keep his dogs in check, but this fell on deaf ears. 

One day the dogs again jumped the fence, attacked and severely injured several of the lambs. 
The farmer had had enough, and went to town to consult a judge who listened carefully to the story and said: "I could punish the hunter and instruct him to keep his dogs chained or lock them up. But you would lose a friend and gain an enemy. Which would you rather have, friend or foe for a neighbour?" 

The farmer replied that he preferred a friend. 

"Alright, I will offer you a solution that keeps your lambs safe, and which will keep your a neighbour a friend." 

Having heard the judge's solution, the farmer agreed. 

Once at home, the farmer immediately put the judge's suggestions to the test. 

He took three of his best lambs and presented them to his neighbour's three small sons, who were beside themselves with joy and began to play with them. 

To protect his son's newly acquired playthings, the hunter built a strong kennel for his dogs. 

Since then, the dogs never again bothered the farmer's lambs. 

Out of gratitude for the farmer's generosity toward his sons, the hunter often shared the game he had hunted with the farmer. 

The farmer reciprocated by sending the hunter the cheese he had made. 

Within a short time the neighbours became good friends. 

A saying in old China went something like this,

"One can win over and influence people the best with gestures of kindness and compassion." 

A similar Western saying:

"One catches more flies with honey than with vinegar."

The Bible says " Donot be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good " Romans 12: 21.

(From the Internet)

Aren't there many such instances in our life where with we can defeat evil by doing good ??


Monday, January 16, 2017

Hyperloop-one, transforming global transportation ?

The basic problems we encounter in any form of transportation are the following
1. energy expended
2. friction leading to heat buildup
3. wear and tear, leading to failure
4. safety of occupants and the surroundings and
5. harmful emissions
Different modes of transportation handle these problems in varying degrees.

Energy expended reflects directly on the costs of the transportation trip, that also explains why air travel is costlier than all other forms of travel. Conventional methods pf power generation cost more than non-conventional methods, especially in the case of solar energy.

Friction is an inevitable phenomenon on planet earth as long as we encounter air or material impediment either while flying in the air, or rolling or sliding on any surface.

Wear and tear, though a direct outcome of friction, is a function of distance traveled and time. This is also the reason why we need to replace worn out parts after some time.

Safety is directly related to the speed, the control systems, the environment and the reliability of the vehicle

Emissions are related to the technology employed in the vehicle and can be a cause of sustainability concern for the environment in the long run.

All the existing modes of transportation we have ever since man started moving goods and himself around 8000 BC with the paved roads, the wheels, animal based transportation, water transportation, steam engines, internal combustion engines and aeroplanes have had one limitation or the other, but the one great limitation, continues to be the speed and time for traveling, often imposed as a technology constraint.

One of the greatest young techno-preneurs of modern day, Elon Musk, the naturalised US citizen, immigrant from S Africa who made his millions selling paypal, set up the solar energy startup Solar city, electric car startup TESLA, Space exploration technology startup SpaceX, now comes up with his new innovative offering helping in mass rapid transportation of people at a very fast pace over long distances, Hyper Loop.

Propulsion by magnetic accelerators gets the pods moving across two points through two large tubes in near vacuum, reduces friction, heat and wasteful expenditure of energy at speeds about 700 miles per hour (1120 kmph) controlled by accurate electronic guiding systems preventing crashes. Because of these technologies, we find this transportation really fast, reducing transportation time to one fourth to one tenth, accident free, giving a smooth ride and top comfort to passengers. 

These hyper loop pods, mostly driven in automode, reduces the chances of driver errors leading to massive accidents. The only drawbacks however are the great expenses involved in installing large tubes, often running over agricultural lands and residential areas at great heights, building stations and the necessary instrumentation to enable propulsion of the pods and evacuation of the tubes.

The provision of solar panels on top of the tubes, gives great energy savings. The braking energy is recycled to charge the batteries, this is another great  innovation in this case. The low friction due to transportation in vacuum, magnetic levitation methods in the tube powering propulsion and employing solar panels to capture energy to run the signalling systems and other networks makes this system totally zero emission system.

HyperLoop Transportation Technologies {HTT) is approaching the Govt of India for permission to start running of the hyper loop transportation systems in india across five busy sectors, from Delhi to Mumbai, Mumbai to Chennai, Chennai to Bangalore and finally from Bangalore to Trivandrum, the sectors where initial testing and trials of HTT pods will happen in India. Depending on the enthusiasm shown by the GOI in accepting this new technology and popularising it, the future holds much promise for the country, thanks to Elon Musk.

Click here to read how disruptive technologies in automobiles evolved .

Click here to read about Tesla Motors, leaders in sustainable transport ..

Click here to read about the 45 year old Elon Muo sum it up, the greatsk ..

To sum it up, the greatest advantage India can get out of this futuristic transportation system is the least disruption this causes to existing infrastructure and savings in time. If India needs to give leadership to the world by 2040 AD, it is high time we tested and migrated to such futuristic technologies ..

Click here to download the Hyperloop case study prepared for Alliance University students.

George ..

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Michele's farewell speech .. Jan '17

What clarity of thought and power to communicate ?? Click for video ..

This lady, Michelle, a law graduate from Harvard Law School, is much smarter than we thought ! 👍👍 Even beats her husband in  putting forth her thoughts on patriotism, freedom and liberty with great frankness and clarity !

Never in my knowledge and reading have I come across a more capable outspoken, frank and courageous first lady ..

Sure Presidential stuff .. 👌👌 wish to see her back in White House in her own right ! 👍👍

Her speech is not just for the young people of US, but the whole world !

 Click for video ..


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Social entrepreneurship, a holy grail for societal development ?

An entrepreneur has a passion to create more value for society or self, be it in business, for-profit enterprises or non-profit enterprises, in return for a small reward, gain, profit, compensation or reciprocation. While the output or value creation to self or society remains the top priority and of high importance, the returns are second priority and may get delayed or offset in time ..

Social entrepreneurship is secondary to entrepreneurship, but with a definite and more noble purpose. Let us get to understand more definitions of the term social entrepreneurship.
Social entrepreneurship is the use of the techniques by start up companies and other entrepreneurs to develop, fund and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues. This concept may be applied to a variety of organizations with different sizes, aims, and beliefs - Wikipedia (2017)
Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry - Ashoka CEO and Founder, Bill Drayton
Social entrepreneurs drive social innovation and transformation in various fields including education, health, environment and enterprise development. They pursue poverty alleviation goals with entrepreneurial zeal, business methods and the courage to innovate and overcome traditional practices. A social entrepreneur, similar to a business entrepreneur, builds strong and sustainable organizations, which are either set up as not-for-profits or companies - Schwab Foundation
social entrepreneur looks at creating lasting, extended, added value to society and not for self or community, through his or her output which usually impacts humanity, or in limited context a society through social, cultural, economic, environmental, poverty and health dimensions for returns that may not be solely monetary and may also include awards, recognitions, accolades, distinction and scholarship - George Easaw (2016) 
A social entrepreneur is a leader or pragmatic visionary who: (from Schwab Foundation)
  • Achieves large scale, systemic and sustainable social change through a new invention, a different approach, a more rigorous application of known technologies or strategies, or a combination of these.
  • Focuses first and foremost on the social and/or ecological value creation and tries to optimize the financial value creation.
  • Innovates by finding a new product, a new service, or a new approach to a social problem. 
  • Continuously refines and adapts approach in response to feedback. 
  • Combines the characteristics represented by Richard Branson and Mother Teresa.
Click here for a good article on social entrepreneurship and how to influence society with social entrepreneurship.

Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa have been great social entrepreneurs who have given more to society (value) than what they have got back in return (salary) .. Mahatma Gandhi got respect, admiration and finally freedom in all its dimensions for Indians in return for virtually nothing, sacrificing his life. Mother Teresa has also been a similar individual serving the leper community of Kolkata expecting nothing in return. Kailash Satyarthi has dedicated his life and fights for the freedom of bonded labour and children denied a future by highlighting their problems across global forums and fighting for their rights.

Dr Devi Shetty of Narayana Hrudayalaya and Dr V. Govindaswamy of Aravind Eye Hospitals, Madurai have given more value to society (enhanced health, well being and higher productivity individuals) than what they have received from society (returns in terms of cash, awards, recognitions).. Dr Verghese Kurien, Dr. MS Swaminathan, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai have all been great social entrepreneurs who have influenced generations to come through their visionary thoughts and actions ..

Teaching is one profession where one can make a profound and lasting impact on the future of humanity, through the student community, consciously giving more to society (knowledge, in more semantic terms meaning great value to society, lasting generations and uplifting societies and countries), than what one takes out of it ..


Will Chandra reverse Tata's fortunes and get it soaring ??

The largest and most respected Indian
business congolmerate ..
Tata Sons as we all know had a very tumultuous four years since Cyrus Mistry took over the reins. Even though Cyrus's subsequent removal and Ratan Tata taking over temporarily, in the process washing lot of dirty linen in public, did raise much stink, the Tata Sons board has done a lot of homework before committing ng up with an important announcement yesterday. 

The financial performance of Tata Sons took a beating of late with a 67% drop in profits to INR 3013 crores in 2015-16.

Cyrus Mistry, out-going Chmn
Regarding group turnover, from $108 billion Tata Sons turnover in 2014 -15, it fell to $103 billion in 2015-16, by about $5 billion (app about INR 32,000 crores) causing much heartburn in the group. There are many reasons attributed to this decline. As per Economic Times, India's most respected economic daily,  important among them are listed here, 

1. Cyrus' focus was majorly only on profit making cos. in the group namely TCS, Tata Motors, Tata Chemicals and a few others ...

2. In the highly competitive telecom field Tata Sons lost a battle with former partner NTT DoCoMo paying out $1.2 billion as damages
N. Chandrasekharan, incoming Chmn

3. Net debt for the group rose from $23.4 billion in 2015 to $24.5 billion in 2016

4. In FY 16, performance of Tata Sons was lacklustre and not promising, even though it could have made great strides given the positive sentiment for the group in the Indian people's minds. Nine of the 27 listed cos. reported losses and earnings of 7 others dropped. 

5. Only TCS and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) have been consistent top performers, with JLR out performing all expectations ..

6. Tata's 2007 $12.5 billion acquisition of European steel Co. Corus, though looked very promising and far reaching then, it did not fetch good returns over the years as global steel prices fell with Chinese dumping of steel in global markets (extraneous reasons) ..

Cyrus did his best for Tata Sons. He was a great leader, and his strategy was to give more attention to the performing companies. Though it may be difficult to pinpoint Cyrus for the temporary decline in Tata fortunes, the intricate play between market dynamics, pricing and global demand may have acted against Cyrus' strategies. Time will tell whether Cyrus had great intentions for Tata and whether the buoyant market conditions acted against him in the short run.

Chandra, the marathon runner ..
After JJ Irani, Chandrasekhar is the only person from outside the family (and the only non Parsi) taking the reins of Tata Sons on Feb 21, 2017. It also shows the professional commitment of the group allowing professionals more freedom to run the group.

Will Chandrasekharan give able leadership to the group to change the course of Tata Sons and help it cross into the $125 billion league ? ( Tata sons is the only $100 billion plus Indian conglomerate ) ..

Thomas A Edison and his co.
General Electric, 1890 ..
Chandra says that it is while running that he gets great ideas to take his organisation forward. Chandra has taken part in Mumbai (2), New York, Chicago, Berlin and Boston full marathons and has run at least eight half marathons around the world. The 1987 MCA graduate from NIT Trichy, Tamil Nadu, India who would otherwise have become a farmer following the footsteps of his father, instead, like his brothers, chose to enter the corporate world and made a name for himself. At age 42 he became the youngest CEO of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

We only wish good for him. Heading the only $100 billion + conglomerate (the most respected and adored group) in the country, we want Tata Sons to grow still further under Chandrasekhar's leadership .. Chandra has been rewarded by the Tata Board for successfully guiding their biggest entity profitably and successfully. This elevation of Chandra is ample proof of the import of IT and hence TCS in the country's development in the coming years.

Jamshedji Tata, the pioneer of the
Tata family started a textile firm
in 1868 
General Electric was started by Thomas Alva Edison in 1890 as Edison General Electric Co which in 1892 merged with another co. to become the General Electric co. In due course of time the company got professional managers and now in 2017, it's 125 th year of founding, GE is synonymous with innovation and high quality and have spread their wings into all aspects of engineering right upto aircraft turbine manufacture with total turnover of $140  billion in 2015.

The Tata group started by Jamshedji Tata in 1868, who moved away from their family profession of priesthood to business, by establishing a textile company in Mumbai will be celebrating its 150 th anniversary next year under a professional manager and leader with a global focus, ready to take on the world ..


Friday, January 13, 2017

Don't react, respond - Cockroach theory by Sundar Pichai, Head of Google ..


A beautiful speech by Sundar Pichai - an IIT-MIT Alumnus and Global Head Google Chrome:

(The cockroach theory for self development.)

At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady.

She started screaming out of fear.

With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.

Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.

The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but landed on another lady in the group.

Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.

The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.

In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter.

The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt.

When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior?

If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed?

He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos.

It is not the cockroach, but the inability of those people to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach, that disturbed the ladies.

I realized that, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it's my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me.

It's not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.

More than the problem, it's my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.

Lessons learnt from the story:
I understood, I should not react in life. I should always respond.

The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.

Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of.
A beautiful way to understand..... LIFE.

Person who is HAPPY is not because Everything is RIGHT in his Life..

He is HAPPY because his Attitude towards Everything in his Life is Right..!!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why I upgraded to Mint Linux ?

My home laptop was running on 12.04 Ubuntu Linux for almost four years. Some features were not working and then I realised it was time for me to upgrade. In the past two months since I had lots of spare time to fiddle with the PC and internet, I bought a copy of PC Quest mag with a Knoppix Live Linux CD.
A basic Mint Linux desktop ..

Started experimenting with different versions of Linux like Open Suse, Lubuntu, Ubuntu mate, Mint linux etc and have been able to install lot of useful software back on the laptop. Finally have decided on Mint Linux.

The audio players are high quality on all these distros as are the video players. Have also downloaded R, Octave, PSPP and loads of other useful software thru text mode using the install command. Its great to relive the IIT Bombay days here in Bangalore, getting to work on these geeky software and operating systems yet again.

Ubuntu is a very popular version of Linux that came out of South Africa. Click here to read of the passion of the originator Mark Shuttleworth to popularise Ubuntu (in South African language) a quality that includes the esential human virtues; compassion and humanity.

Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning ‘humanity to others’. It also means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Ubuntu operating system brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the world of computers. Click here to know more ..
Dr Richard Stallman, founder, Free  Software Foundation

If we make a mention of Gnu/Linux, we cannot miss the role of Richard Stallman in founding the Free Software Movement and enriching the world by his life, philosophy and passion. 

Thanks to the Linux Users Group in Goa, I could get Dr. Richard Mathew Stallman to IIT Bombay during my PhD days there, with active help from Prof Sivakumar from Computer Science Department who was the Head of IITB  Computer Centre. 
This is a copy of the email circulated to all students and faculty at IIT Bombay on the occasion of the visit of Richard Stallman to IIT Bombay on March 23, 2002. (unfortunately I am unable to get pics of the event arranged in IITB fourteen years back .. )

Professor Richard Stallman, MIT, founder of the Free Software
Foundation and Gnu/Linux movement, will be delivering
a Public Lecture onivakumar who was heading the Computer Centre there at the time 

   Date : Saturday 23 rd March, 2002
   Time : 4 P.M.
   Venue :  Convo Hall, IIT Bombay
   Topic : The Free Software Movement and the GNU/Linux Operating System


Richard Stallman will speak about the purpose, goals, philosophy,
methods, status, and future prospects of the GNU operating system,
which in combination with the kernel Linux is now used by an
estimated 17 to 20 million users world wide.
Here is the website of the Free Software Foundation Dr Stallmann leads..

A year later when Stallman made another visit to India, I also got him to Govt College of Engineering, Goa (Goa Engineering College - GEC) where he spoke to the people of Goa. 

Continuing my passion in this area, I have started working in the area yet again. The concept of live USBs has enamoured me . I am trying to learn more on Linux. I have three USB sticks with linux ISO images to be used as live USB sticks. Of these three two of them are of 8GB capacity having live versions of Knoppix and Ubuntu mate 16.04 LTS and the third 4 GB USB stick with lubuntu ISO image installed on it. Linux Mint is another great package which I have on my laptop..

The beauty of Linux is its ease of use and being lightweight on the existing laptop hardware. Once you start working on Gnu / Linux, there is no way you will revert back to proprietary windows versions !

Some of the areas where I can give some basic advice (not learned..) are as given below
1. how to work on a live USB / CD,
2. what are the best linux distributions for different applications,
3. how to work on live linux  as well as installed OSs,
4. how to work on windows and linux distros on the same laptop
5. how to add to the existing list of linux software either in GUI mode or text mode
6. how to take care of linux machines and upgrade to newer versions
7. HDD partitioning areas I am not that strong now, have to revise some basics

The Metro man - E. Sreedharan ..

THE METRO MAN - E SREEDHARAN- FINALLY HANGS HIS BOOTS (from the Internet, 4 year old message) ..

A legend hangs up his boots On the last day of this month . Finally, Elattuvalapil Sreedharan has been allowed to retire, at the age of 79. A man who built the Calcutta Metro, Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro. But he is best remembered for re-building in just 46 days the Pamban bridge which in 1963 was blown away by a cyclone into the sea. 

Here is a man who is honest to the core, brooked no nonsense and set an example for others. A true leader who walked his talk. He truly deserves the Bharat Ratna. Now he is going to Kerala to fulfill the dreams of Mallus "The Kochin Metro "

India has much gratitude for this great engineer. He is known as the The "metro man of India". He is quite a sensational project manager, who almost always gets the project completed on time or before schedule. He fought all the delays caused by bureaucratic red tape, corruption and lack of funds.

Sreedharan's willpower has moved mountains. He is not just a dreamer but also a builder, but most of all, one who has dedicated his achievements to every Indian. He stands out as a legend in Indian Engineering history. His major projects being the Delhi Metro and the Konkan Railways.

This 75+ year-old Managing Director of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation only desires the progress of his country. He wanted Delhi to have a world-class metro rail project to change the meaning of urban transport in India. And he did it.

The Konkan Railway project came to him in his retirement. It was a challenging task----760 km of rail tracks from Mumbai to Kochi through the rugged hills of the Western Ghats. This project was found as not feasible, by the British engineers in pre-independence era. But for Sreedharan nothing was impossible.

Environmentalists protested, politicians said it cannot be done and the project ran short of money. 

Sreedharan raised public bonds to finance it, taking everyone ahead.

Kiran Bedi explains why Sreedharan is worthy of the title: "He is not in his 40s or 50s, but he is in his 70s, a time when we normally retire. Sreedharan has given the best metro concept for the railway of the country with integrity, vision, with commitment and with remarkable professional skills. There is no other person better than him in this category."

Sreedharan insists he does not have any special skills to get the best out of people. "I always found that people cooperate if you work for a good cause," he says. 

Sreedharan studied in an ordinary school & college and later on took his civil engineering degree from a govt engineering college from JNTU. But he went on to become the boss for hundreds of IIM, IIT graduates! 

People still wonder what really makes him tick at 80 while a young man in his 20's struggles to begin his day at 6 or 7 in the morning. Sreedharan's day starts at 4 am, meditation and Bhagwad Gita. 

He reaches office at 9:30 am and gets straight to work. In the evening, he usually takes a long walk with his wife Radha and allots time to his family of four children. He used to set up reverse clocks to show impending deadlines to his project members during Delhi Metro construction phase. 

The message of the Gita: To act, without desire for the fruits of the action gave him the courage to act.

 A plate placed in his Kerala office read as: 'Whatever to be done, I do. But in reality I do not do anything'.

India says thank you sir. 

Government of India may or may not award him the Bharat Ratna. But for the countless millions that have travelled on the Pamban bridge, Kolkata Metro, Konkan Railways & Delhi Metro and for the knowledgeable public he is already a Bharat Ratna - a real gem of the rarest variety.

Let's all recommend his name to Govt for award of Bharat Ratna. Please share this message. Each one to at least one.
Sridharanji is the first employee of the Govt of India to be retired at the age of 79 years instead of the usual 60 years. He was such a great asset to the country. JNTU Kakinada (formerly Govt College of Engineering Kakinada awarded an honorary doctorate on Sreedharan in 2012).

Three years after retirement he was asked by the Secretary General of the United Nations last year to join as a member of the Secretary General's High Level Advisory Group on sustainable transportation. (click here for the link)

Data Visualisation Presentation..

Dr. Sukanya explaining the finer aspects of Data Visualisation in R Today 19 July 2019, Business school and Engineering school of Alli...

My popular posts over the last month ..