Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A commentary on Indo-China relations and Dhola-Sadiya bridge ..

Will India's Dhola-Sadiya bridge fuel peace or confrontation between India and China ?

India's 9.15 km longest Dhola-Sadiya bridge acros the Lohit river, a tributary of the mighty Bhramaputra river, from Dhola in Assam to Sadiya in Arunachal Pradesh, was inaugurated by the Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during the last week of January 2017. The bridge building has caused some displeasure in China. 

Even though construction started in 2010 it took 7 long years to complete after spending more than two thousand crores of rupees, though the initial estimate was about one third that amount. Besides poor project management skills exhibited on the bridge construction, it is also poised to ruffle a few feathers in the political tussle between India and China.   

Looking from the Indian standpoint, the issue is different as when looking from the Chinese viewpoint. Arunachal Pradesh has been a disputed territory between India and China for the past seventy years ever since the British left India. We call Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India, the Chinese call it Eastern Tibet, and that is where the dispute still exists.

China does not show any consideration or respect to global opinion while expanding its territorial claims in the South China sea. Despite global protests, China unilaterally bulldozed all protests and built airstrips on the Spratley Islands and in slowly arming it with fighter planes and naval ships. 

Nobody has any objection to China improving its physical infrastructure within its borders neighbouring India. But this has caused natural discomfort on the Indian side, whether this is going to be a repeat of the 1962 incident when despite pretensions of comraderie and friendship, slogans of Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai between Indian and China, it invaded parts of India and annexed it to its side.
China with a known history of looking only at personal interests over its neighbours, thus is a great threat to global peace and harmony. Throughout history if we look carefully, except for the past 300 years China has never had made a larger contribution than India to humanity in terms of culture, economic growth and the like.

China on the other hand behind India in economic and cultural growth, even in terms of education, had a growth of its economy from 1700 AD to 1820, when it became larger than India and then started fading out. 

Under the single party Communist rule, China has had great progress economically making it the largest and most powerful economy of the world. But is it long lived ? Can the interests and aspirations of its citizens for freedom of speech and action be subjugated for long ? It is not long time before its citizens would rebel against the state and try to reaffirm their personal freedom and liberties.

The other view point in this episode, is one whether US is playing behind the scenes to keep India and China apart, they do not have an economic or military alliance that can challenge US hegemony over the world. 

If there is a repeat dispute between India and China over Arunachal Pradesh in the near future, the world can take it for granted that US will keep off the dispute and let the two super powers of the world fight it out between themselves. India and China being aware of this ditching efforts by US, is playing safe. India's foreign policy strategy has been despite US high handed behaviour across the world. 

The next two years for the world and especially for India would be very crucial in that there would be a reassessment of global power equations

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Terrestrial transportation - How fast are todays trains ?

In the mass public terrestrial transport systems of the world, we find three technologies are dominating.

The first, TGV from France runs on electric drives dominated by Alstom from France, Magnetic levitation (Maglev) technology pioneered by the Germans, powering the Transrapid Monorail in Germany and Shanghai airport metro. The third is the futuristic Hyperloop from Elon Musk which they claim is fastest at app 1000 kmph.

Shanghai Maglev
Lets get to know a brief about these three technologies.

The French Train a' Grand Vitesse (TGV) is no doubt, the fastest in the world presently having clocked 574.8 kmph in a 2007 run (click here for video).

The German Maglev trains working on Maglev technology (click here for a primer on maglev technology) runs the fastest Maglev from city of Shanghai to Pudong Airport , 17 miles which it covers in 7 minutes (click here for the video..)

Hyperloop technology from Elon Musk can beat all this (still in design stage and futuristic) .. (click here for the technology video). My blog on Hyperloop detailing the business aspects and technology, (click here for the blogpost). Instead of spending mpney on R&D developing their own proprietary technology, Hyperloop technologies conducts global competition inviting technological innovations using hyperloop, thereby limiting the time to develop and implement innovative, fast, energy efficient solutions that could take care of global transportation problems in the future.

Do we see the next futuristic technology with the advent of fuel cells, Lithium ion batteries, solar energy proliferation in the coming years ??

India is slowly getting on the fast train track, but with conventional electric locomotives on advanced tracks set up on the Mumbai Goa Konkan rail route. India's fastest train Tejas now runs at 200 kmph between CST Mumbai and Karmali Goa. 


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

An IAF Officer's passion for agriculture ..

S. Parameshwaran was my  classmate at the College of Engineering, Trivandrum during Mechanical Engineering under-graduation days. He also hails from near my hometown of Chennithala, in Alleppey district of Kerala, a small state in the southern tip of India, from a place called Mannar. 

Parameshwaran, fit as a fiddle, went on to join the Indian Air Force after engineering and retired from IAF as a Wing commander way back in early 2010 after 26 years of meritorious service. After seeing his only daughter getting married off and going with her husband and a short stint in Bangalore, resettling back in Mannaar was very boring for Parameshwaran and his wife. But he hit upon this brilliant idea of going back to nature and taking up agriculture.

In his 2 acre land in Mannaar he started cultivating vegetables as a hobby initially around 2015. Even though the first year was a great loss, he did not give up. Continuing from the second year he has been able to break it even. Even though he gets a good pension from the IAF, the simple pleasure of being able to reduce the carbon footprint and giving back to the society and nature through a green way of living, causing very less destruction to the surroundings and the habitat, has given much more satisfaction to Parameshwaran than the earnings he makes from agriculture.

Parameshwaran leads a very systematic disciplined life, getting up daily at 4.30 AM and working in his field till 7.30 AM. After breakfast and rest, he is back in action this time taking and selling the farm produce in the local farm department store in Chennithala. The high quality education and experience Parameshwaran has gathered over two and a half decades in the Indian Air Force has got him looking at improving the productivity of the farming operation with reduced inputs, maximizing the outputs with practically nil application of chemical fertilizers.

Interacting and taking help from agricultural experts Paramu has been able to make use of the high-tech drip irrigation concepts to conserve water during summer season. His interactions with the farming department officials have given him an idea of what crops to cultivate, in what quantities and when.

In short Parameshwaran through his life is giving a great example of how agriculture can be pursued to give back meaning to our life and existence on this planet. How we can live with low carbon footprints and give back to nature even maybe in very small measure, but a definite quantity, be it either in reduced carbon footprints, or giving a chance to the bees, the butterflies and the birds to live on this planet for a few years more.

In our excessive quest for showing off our materialistic gains and wealth, we ignore mother nature and the gifts she has bestowed on us. Let us try to give back to mother nature in whatever small way it is possible for us.

Hats off to Parameshwaran for taking the bold, courageous and generous step of being one with nature and giving back to nature. He has already completed a TV show for a US TV channel, to be aired soon and is a favourite spot for field visits for the future responsible citizens of our country, kids from schools near and far. The motivation he has created among his old classmates is also high, that some of them are planning to intern with him, including myself, and learn the simple joys of agriculture and giving back to society in more deeper and meaningful ways.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kochi Metro, another living example of Sridharan magic ....

We have heard of E Sridharan IES, doing wonders starting with the Pamban bridge, Calcutta Metro, Konkan Railway and the world class Delhi Metro.
Metro stalwarts in the country ..

After retiring from Govt of India at the very respectable age of 79, Sridharan was approached by the Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy to lead the Kochi Metro. Sreedharan has been associated with the Kochi Metro authorities and Govt of Kerala representatives besides the political representatives for the past four years. Sridharan and Elias George MD of Kochi Metro have done wonders to get the cheapest, most modern and fastest Metro execution in India.

Of the initially planned 25.65 km stretch from Aluva in the North of Kochi city to Petta in the South as part of the first phase, 10 kms stretching from Aluva to Palarivattom will start running in the next three weeks. The trial runs have been successfully completed. Anytime the commercial running for the public can start after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi finds time to come to Kochi for the inauguration in the next two weeks. Meanwhile all other work of sprucing up the stations etc is going on in full swing.

Technical Features :  
Construction Methodology: Elevated viaduct carried over pre-stressed concrete ‘U/I’ shaped girders with pile / open foundations
Rolling Stock: 2.9 m wide modern rolling stock with stainless steel body, standard gauge axle load of 15 tonnes
Voltage: 750 V DC
Power Supply Source: 110Kv AC
Power Collection: Third Rail Bottom Collection
System: Light Metro System
Type of Signalling: Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) with ATO & ATP
Telecommunication: Integrated system with Fibre Optic cables, SCADA, Train radio, PA system etc                        (data from Railway technology.com
The estimated completion cost of the Metro First Phase (also called Komet or K-3C) from Aluva to Pettah covering 22 stations would cost about INR 5200 crores (app $900 million). Work is also started to extend the northern station from Aluva to the Kochi International airport in Nedumbassery to effect a convenient metro link from the airport right upto Pettah.

Route map of Kochi metro
Alstom of France with its factory at Sri City Andhra Pradesh has been given the $107 million contract to supply most modern 3 bogie, 65 m long and 2.9 metre wide, 25 metropolis train sets to Kochi metro.

The Delhi Metro now runs for 213 kms covering 160 stations from the intial 7 kms stretch for which work started on 24 December 2002, serves almost 26.6 lakh passengers daily and has since inception carried almost 1.24 billion passengers.

The Kochi metro on completion of the first phase will run for 25.6 kms. In future, we can imagine the development this Mass Rapid Transit System can bring to Kochi and help in its expansion to global standards, even surpassing other Indian and global cities. Having the reputation for the cheapest and most advanced metro project stations in the country, we hope the Kochi Metro will climb greater heights and repute over the years.

Sridharan with former CM of Kerala Oommen Chandy at Aluva, 2015 pic.
Like the Kochi International airport 5 kms away from Aluva in Nedumbassery, is the first and only insolated (fully solar energy powered) international airport in the world, we hope the Kochi Metro will carve a name for itself in terms of technical specifications, energy efficiency and effectiveness, comfort to people and customer friendliness in the country and the world in the coming days.

There is a great lesson in this to learn for the Government of Karnataka executing  Bangalore Namma Metro.

The basic lessons from the Kochi Metro are the following :
1. Get the required funding and a very experienced consultant to oversee the Project 
2. Plan for the most modern technology and design for the metro, network with all stakeholders 
3. Get a Project Management team strong in engineering expertise and project management skills 
4. Effect a smooth and fast implementation on sound Project Management skills 
5. Keep all levels politicians away during the project execution stage, to avoid favouritism and allegations of corruption 
6. Be straightforward and frank in all dealings with all stake holders 
7. Always work with the bigger picture of planned city development, passenger safety, low costs and comfort in mind.
8. Have great communication  with all stakehoiders and between employees at all stages right from planing to final handing over and running. 
A global wonder, a 2 km bridge reconstructed in just 45 days..
Presently Sridharan is also appointed to the United Nations Organisation, overlooking Mass Rapid Transit Systems in Asia, Africa and Latin America. He has been invited to serve in the United Nations High Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport for a period of three years from 2015. (HLAG-ST).  Sridharan accepted this 3 year assignment to serve the United Nations at the ripe age of 82 years. !!

The country now awaits the Central Govt to start procedures to confer its highest National Civilian Honour of "Bharat Ratna" on E Sridharan !! He is already a Kohinoor to Indians. Bharat Ratna is not going !

In 1964, after a major cyclone hit the 2 km long, (1914 constructed), Pamban bridge, connecting Indian mainland in Southern tip to Rameshwaram, washing it off, Sridharan inspite of the Army wanting to get it reconstructed in a very short time of 6 months, *got it back and running in just 45 days time* .. 🙏🙏. Sridharan is very proud of this and often quotes this as one of his best achievements ever !!, when he was just 31 years of age and a bachelor !!


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Indian boy designs world's smallest satellite ..

Looks like our youngsters are getting ready to rewrite rules of society and science .. They are focused, with a definite purpose and are getting to aim at the stars. The great solace is they are not looking for government to handhold them and train them in the sloppy government way of doing things slowly. They are raring to go and reach the stars. Here I am introducing a young, I mean 18 year old boy from Pallapatti town in Tamil Nadu, India.

Dr Kalam could not be any happier than this ..
18 year old Rifath Sharook from Pallapatti village in Tamil Nadu, India has designed the world's smallest satellite ever, a 64 cu. cm (4 cm side), weighing 64 gram, made of Carbon fibre material and 3D-printed for a sub-orbital life of just 12 minutes after being launched aboard  NASA rocket from Wallop's island on June 21, 2017.

Dr. Abdul Kalam could not have been given any greater tribute than this !! His efforts of simplifying and popularising science and technology in every nook and corner of the country irrespective of age, caste and religion could not have found a greater reward than through the Kalamsat - a tribute from an 18 year old boy from rural India ..

No Nobel Prize or other global recognition would have been more fitting for Dr Kalam, the rural India's scientific saviour, the person who brought the whole of India to the forefront in Science and Technology and inspired them to do world-beating feats than this greatest feat ....

We have never heard of a Kennedysat or Breshnevsat, but here comes a Kalamsat !!
It is definitely a great tribute from a village student to one of the greatest and humble Indian scientists ever, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Rifath Sharook may not be a high scoring student in his school, but sent a very strong message to the world that education is just a tool for getting exposed to the basics, rest all is with our mind applying what we have learned !! Dr Kalam's dream is going to be realised very soon !! - Karthi, HCL, Bangalore, 
The perfect tribute to India's greatest scientist
On the one hand, the major countries of the world, with Russia and US leading including India, are trying to launch heavier and heavier satellites and we find a brilliant young boy from India shocking the world with his tiny satellites ...

Read the news item here .. I am sure ISRO and it's 16,000 + scientists and technologists would learn some hard and humbling lessons from this exercise. It is not just high marks and academic brilliance that can help an organisation, but it is the finesse and flair of mind to be able to use these ideas through scientific principles for benefit of mankind and ultimate use to society, that will make the biggest difference..

Let this humbling experience help us to firm up our resolve to use the country's scientific and technological expertise to make a BETTER SUSTAINABLE WORLD, not just a richer, healthier and stronger country (as other advanced countries brazenly, outrageously pursue and unrepentently propagate .. )
It was a NASA competition to send the lightest satellite in the world and this boy won it..  ISRO may now  think of going to villages schools to recruit brains .. real talent is in villages ! 😊🙏

Monday, May 15, 2017

Visit to Mango orchard in Begur Bangalore..

It was a great experience yesterday, 14 May2017, to visit a Mango orchard and buy 23 KGS of very pure organic mangoes (malgoa) which had been plucked and stocked there.. Also got the opportunity to buy 4 jackfruits of the honey variety (thein varikka), the most exotic and tastiest of all jackfruits in the world ..


Saturday, May 13, 2017

The fantastic story of the revival of Kuttamperoor river in Kerala, INDIA ..

Kuttanperoor river, before revival
On the left is the image of the Kuttanperoor river in Alleppey district of Kerala just two years ago. For the past two months 30,000 people of the locality around this river  have worked for the revival of the river and on the right bottom, you can witness what a change societal action has brought forth.

Kuttamperoor is a river flowing through the Budhanur village in Alleppey district of Kerala through Chennithala, Mavelikara, Alleppey district in Kerala, India.. This river had lot of wild growth and was un-navigable. The absense of water also led to the wells in the surrounding areas going dry as the reservoir collecting the water was dry.

Kuttanperoor river after revial, May 2017.
Click here for the video of the revival of the Kuttanperoor river ..

After about 10 years of death of the river miraculously the river has been brought back to life. The people of the area under the leadership of the local MLA G Sudhakaran, took up the initiative involving 700 people who worked for 30,000 labour days cleaned the weeds and wild vegetation around the river and got the 12 kilometre river back to navigable status and to healthy life.

The people taking part in the revival process ..
It is a great and noble effort from the people of Budhanur and it will be remembered in all of history. It could also be a model for the whole country to follow. (My hometown Chennithala in Kerala is also near to this river)

When rivers go dry in different parts of the country, this example shows how as a cooperative effort with the involvement of the people can bring the life line of human life, rivers to life.

The people of Budhanur deserve to be awarded with a great honourable prize and recognition at the national level which will motivate people in the Southern states of India to look after their rivers. It will also help the people around Ganga to think hard on how Ganga could be saved from permanent and irreversible death.

The political leadership from G Sudhakaran needs to be really complimented for the great environmental revival of a river as without political support this project would not have got initiated and would not have succeeded the way it has.

The success of the project brings so much of contentment in the heart of each Malayali and each Indian as this is the harbinger of the good news that all the rivers running though different states can also be likewise revived. This also helps to raise the quality of the life of the people around these rivers to the old pristine and green ways.

This one project brings so much of promise to the country that we can revive all our rivers and bring them back to life and along with these rivers communities and societies too..

Let us all be party to this great initiative in our country. (photo credits to Mathrunbhumi, Indian Express and The Hindu)


Friday, May 05, 2017

How these 13 year olds from Kurumbapetty, Trichy govt school innovated !!

Explaining and giving meat to the idea 
It was a matter of great pride for these four 13 year olds from Kurumbapetthy Govt school, Trichy when they innovated using old 20 litre plastic bottles into urinals to solve a problem they faced daily.

Click here for the thebetterindian newsitem ..

The urinals at their school were ill equipped and did not have effective urine collection mechanisms. The spilled urine resulted in diseases, fever, lost classes, classroom stench and so on. The innovative solution proposed by the students solved their school urinal stench problem. This is also an effective method by which low-cost solutions have been resorted by the affected parties to innovate and come up with superior, long lasting and durable solutions.
The design and brainstorming phase ..

This idea though simple is an example of group innovation, very effective and strong in terms of teaching the basics of how to innovate ..

1. helps to solve the urine stench problem in their school in a very cost effective manner
2. finds effective use of old and damaged 20 litre plastic water bottles which otherwise would have been a headache for safe disposal
3. helps the village and the state to find effective ways to re-use plastic 20 litre bottles,
The final implementation ..
4. prolongs the life cycle of plastic through re-use before final safe disposal

This is a great example of how even small problems for adults, (big problems for children) causing health issues and poor hygienic conditions inside the classroom could be solved very effectively by children.

A step-wise procedure to look at social / societal innovation could be this :
The jubilant and successful team members
1. an open mind to identify problems
2. willingness to solve societal problems
3. enthusiastic mind to come up with multiple alternatives to solve the problem
4. practical mind to choose the best alternative
5. implement the best solution by evaluating the potential outcome in terms of the end results
a. societal benefits
b. low cost alternatives and
6. evaluating the future potential in terms of maintenance costs and life of product 

If we set up a mechanism to unleash the creativity of young minds, the creative and low-cost solutions to common day problems could be great !!

How can an innovative mindset be inculcated among the people of the country to leverage both on creativity of young minds and experience and wisdom of elderly minds to arrive at effective and low-cost solutions to societal problems ?

george.. (pic courtesy www.thebetterindia.com)

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

North Korea, a few weeks more ..

An example of how insanity can
run through families ..
The world is looking forward to find out how many weeks more this country in North East Asia would exist on global maps .. With full support from China, the end may not happen that soon..

China needs and knows very well that a rogue North Korean (NK) will help to keep South Korea (SK) and Japan in check. Without NK, China would cease to be an Asia power. The day China stops patronizing NK, the country would cease to exist. So it is mutually beneficial for China and NK, that NK continues its annoying, abominable, unacceptable and detestable behaviour and suppression of democracy and people's liberties in NK.

Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un,  3 generations
Pic courtesy CNN
The plight of 25 million people in NK is very pitiable !! If a war erupts, how many of them would be alive, just because of an insane person, for no fault of the common people.

The North Korea example of dictatorship is a good case study of how delusional and unsound mind of autocratic leaders can lead to great suffering, hardship, misery and mental stress of the people.

China deciding to recall its citizens in NK gives some pointers of what's in store for the next two weeks or is it just China's ploy to make the world believe that it is very serious about controlling its rogue and perverse partner ..

A country with GDP of just $60 billion at PPP and 0.03 percent (.0003) of global GDP, is trying to bully, domineer and browbeat an economy 350x its size !

Is NK too eager to get wiped out and erased from global maps  ?

The NK atomic sites being situated closer to the  Chinese borders is a great threat for China too, as in case of an attack by US or NATO on North Korea, not only will NK be affected, all nearby regions, even crossing the border into China will also get affected .. China would be the last country interested to find its territory getting subjected to dangerous radiation ..


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 ..