Saturday, May 25, 2019

Nadia Murad : The Last Girl - her fight against ISIS ..

Listen to the Nobel Prize acceptance speech by Nadia Murad, 26, winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. She explains how a religious minority of Yazidis in North Iraq was enslaved by the terrorists from ISIS, the menfolk brutally murdered and the womenfolk sexually enslaved as *sabayas*, sex slaves to the ISIS fighters.. She lost six brothers, mother, many nephews and nieces to this mindless genocide, not to mention the dignity of the thousands of women like her to ISIS. πŸ˜ͺπŸ˜ͺ

Her aim in life is to bring ISIS to justice in Iraq and Syria, to look straight at her many molestor's eyes and ensure they pay for their misdeeds.  An ongoing struggle . Wishing her all success in her endeavours. πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

Her biography The Last Girl is a glowing tribute to her spirit to continue life in spite of all hardships, personal losses , sexual molestation and negative events in her life inflicted by ISIS.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Using Network Intelligence to educating the next generation of leaders ..

Formal education is interesting .. Classroom based, teacher led, localised, subject focused and exam tested ..

When one moves from basic education to higher, specialised, knowledge based executive education, the scene is very different. In this world of massive networking and availability of online courses, YouTube, TED videos, Coursera, EdX, NPTEL etc .. and information portals, should education or the learning process be confined exclusively to acquiring degrees through the formalised system based more on classroom teaching, assignments, exams, viva etc .. ?

Prof Das NarayanDas, co-author from HBS speaking at IIMB
It need not be so, says modern research. The author happened to attend the Future of Learning Conference at IIM Bangalore (click here..) this January 2019. Prof. Das Narayandas, Associate Dean from from Harvard Business school, co-author, who was a speaker at the conference was mentioning about his next paper, (Educating the next generation of leaders, click here for the HBR article..) which stressed on what the future of executive education and life-long learning is going to look like ..

The secret is on tapping from the intelligence of the network, realising the "network intelligence". 

Quoting an example from the personal experience of this blog's author would be best. The author was suffering from occasional bouts of slipped disc for the past past 12 years having unsuccessfully tried allopathy, yoga, Ayurveda, physical exercises etc, to no avail. It was when he was asked by a famous hospital in Bangalore to go for a spine surgery that he  got serious about it and spoke to his sister (a senior executive with a large govt Ins. Co, click here) in Mumbai. She had already seen how risky and ineffective spine surgery was through the many insurance claims that came to her.

She advised him to just take rest. The senior doctor too was kind enough to recommend a curated set of physiotherapy exercises. For the past four years, the author has been doing these exercises and has not had a recurrence of low back ache. It was the intelligence and experience of 30 years of the professional from his network that made the difference. No textbook based knowledge and experience could supplant the intelligence received from the network of experienced people.

Network intelligence is also what the author resorts to while writing articles. Usually he starts with a small post. When the post is read by friends and strangers, the adverse and favourable remarks from them gets him to edit the blog a second time. Negative comments have always helped him to come up with superior and effective writings. It was the network intelligence that helped him to do great writings for the benefit of society and the student community - Open Source Knowledge.
Open Source Knowledge - Knowledge should be open and easily accessible for anybody and everybody irrespective of their financial, educational, regional, cultural and social status.
It is the Open Source knowledge that one taps into through the network. In short, the future of continuing education and executive learning for individuals is by widening his/her network and tapping into it occasionally. With the modern advances in social media and the Internet, it is very much possible. Learning does not stop at any age and is going to be a life long experience. And the maximum knowledge one gets not from formal sources like textbooks or classrooms, but by tapping from his/her extensive wide network, in short leveraging on the network intelligence.


World’s greatest festival of democracy concludes tomorrow..

When the world's largest democracy celebrates the month-long festival of democracy, with the largest and most expensive elections ever in the history of mankind, the whole world looks on with awe and wonder .. The festival is concluding tomorrow with great expectations, pomp and splendour..

If the fate of the country is economic progress, development, agricultural prosperity, industrial growth, jobs and social welfare for the next five years,  India will be blessed with a Congress and like-minded party coalition. 

Pic courtesy Timesgroup ..
On the other hand if the fate of the country for the next five years is insecurity, majoritarian communalism, war mongering, despair, crony capitalism and economic mismanagement, we will be blessed with a RSS / BJP led government.. 

Did we exercise our franchise sensibly ? Is it the fight of nationalists against the anti-nationalists and divisive forces ?? πŸ™πŸ™

Provided that the anti-national forces have not corrupted the system, we can expect the longings and aspirations of the 900 million electorate and the collective wisdom of the people to dominate over the divisive agenda of the communal forces.  

During the month long election process, the entire 1.32 billion population of the country got into a festive mood, from sanyasis to teachers, to govt servants to farmers and industry workers, all were energised into the process. Thanks to the spurt of communication media like TV and the Internet social media, the people had a great time listening to leaders, analysing policies, agendas etc before making a decision to decide whom to give their vote to.

Right from family politics to the damage over demonetisation, massive unemployment, farmer suicides, spurt in energy sector, Swach Bharat, Balakot encounter, GST and regional issues, the election has aroused (and polarised ??) the population as never before.

With an 8000 year old civilization to back, the Indian people will not allow divisive politics to divide the country or polarise the population, lest the sacrifices by the founding fathers of this great nation over 200 years fighting the  Portuguese, Dutch, French and British colonial forces and socially repulsive religious customs and traditions, are brought to naught and lost for ever !

God bless India !! πŸ™

George ..

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Understanding the dynamics of Internal Carbon Pricing

Every human activity has got a Carbon footprint. Organising a lunch feast may have a lower carbon footprint than running a chemical plant in the city subsurbs.  As part of the Paris Climate convention 2015, internal Carbon Pricing has been accepted as a pricing mechanism by organisations to plan to cover the costs of pollution of environment.This helps organisations to bring in environmental discipline in organisations to help reduce their carbon footprint to achieve the global target of containing the temperature rise to within 1.5 deg C by 2099.

What is Internal Carbon Pricing ?

Internal Carbon Pricing is the price an organisation pays for the carbon gases it releases into the atmosphere as a result of it's business operations and value chains. Across the world already 1389 corporations have already started this practice of pricing their Carbon emissions. In india, 27 companies are developing plans to implement Internal Carbon Pricing (ICP). (click here..)

Why do companies go for Internal Carbon Pricing ?

In future organisations are forecasting a situation where the companies will be taxed according to the pollution it creates on the environment. At that time to prevent being taken aback at the extra costs that have crept into their manufacturing costs, companies are in the process of incorporating those costs into their pricing mechanisms. It also helps the organisations or corporates to be more environmentally aware of the damage the organisation does on the environment helping them take preventive actions.

How can it be applied ?

It can be applied as
  • Shadow price refers to future Carbon emissions while Internal carbon tax is charged for present Carbon emissions. Shadow price helps to understand the importance of green initiatives or technologies and its impact on the environment and is used as a management tool to support decision making. 
  • Internal carbon tax collected on carbon emissions is used to fund carbon reduction projects with long-term payback periods. Arvind Textiles applies shadow pricing on its electricity usage thus controlling electricity usage while Dalmia Bharat Cements used internal carbon tax to generate funds through the internal tax structure to invest in low carbon technologies.
  • Internal cap and trade is used by corporates and conglomerates among their sister companies in which some of them may be low Carbon spewing companies while others may be heavy carbon spewers. As long as the Carbon emissions are within the upper cap limit, it is of no concern as sister companies can trade between themselves with or without financial obligations etc. Tata Sons can use this to fix a total internal upper cap on Carbon release and allow companies within the group to trade between each other so that the total carbon emissions are never exceeded.
  • Implicit carbon price is set by companies after they implement the carbon reduction project and from the total costs and Carbon generated till then, fix an interim cost for each tonne of carbon generated on future emissions.  (click here for more details)

How is it going to help companies ?

It will help the companies to measure exactly their carbon impact and strategise on measures to reduce it. 


Friday, May 17, 2019

Challenges and promises of EV technology in the country ..

Basic elements of an electric vehicle.
India is presently going through an electric vehicle revolution. The present government has done good things to the electric vehicle industry in the country. Of the 175 GW renewable energy capacity target for the country by 2022 (raised from 100 GW) , 100 GW is proposed to be renewable energy through solar means.

Most of by now are well versed with the electric vehicle (EV) terminology and technology. It runs on Lithium-ion batteries which provide the power for the vehicle. These are the ones with the highest energy capacity per unit weight (specific capacity or specific energy) in the industry of approximately 70-250 Wh/kg. An EV has barely 20 moving parts compared to 2000 for a car running on spark ignition (petrol driven) or internal combustion engine (IC, diesel driven) engine. The earlier complex mechanisms and drives in spark ignition engines is missing in the new electric vehicles.

Here is an Autocar doc (click here..) which is a good Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in the EV technology .. A must read for all EV enthusiasts ..

Why is it that EV technology and electric vehicles around the country and the world has not progressed fast ? Here we are listing some of the important issues and challenges faced by the electric vehicle industry in India.

1. Costly batteries, accounting for almost 50% of the cost of EVs. The high costs of Lithium and Cobalt oxide as the anode in these batteries (click here for the Cobalt mining in Africa Congo Republic) are responsible for the high costs as these Lithium-ion batteries are imported from China in most cases. The Suzuki-Toshiba-Denzo battery plant coming up in Gujarat can bring the costs to affordable levels in the future.

Globally Li-ion batteries which cost $600/KWh in 2012, cost $250/KWh in 2017 and is likely to cost $100 in 2024, on increase in demand due to economies of scale. Just like the cost of photovoltaic panels have come crashing down due to surge in demand from China and arouns the world, a boss in demand for EV will surely bring down the high costs of batteries and hence the cost of EVs.

Automobiles transition to Lithium based electric cells
2. Range anxiety - when we enter an EV, the first thought which comes to our mind is whether we will be able to complete the journey, ie. how far will the electric charge in the batteries last. The average range across the world for EVs is about 250 kms or 150 miles.

The best TESLA vehicles can go upto 500 km in one charge. BMW has already experimented with cars with ranges of upto 850 kms. Better energy storage technologies, lighter batteries and more frequent charging points spread across the urban and rural landscape can help address the range anxiety question to a greater degree among EV owners.

3. Breaks in availability of electricity in rural areas / inconsistency in availability - power cuts are characteristic of Indian rural towns and could be a major demotivator for rural folks taking to this technology.

4. Power surge often in the electric line can damage batteries while charging - these surges can damage the sensitive charging circuits in the charging systems and batteries resulting in costly repairs and replacements.

5. High costs of EVs, in the range of INR 10-12 lakhs - though there are fewer parts in an EV compared to a petrol engine driven car, the high battery costs jack up the vehicle costs. The Energy Efficient Services Ltd (EESL) triggered demand for EV across the country by floating a tender for 10,000 EVs , which was won by Tata Motors be supplied by 2030. On a similar cost, Mahindra has also been given a similar contract for a limited number of vehicles, 2000 nos.

Major Indian manufacturer, Mahindra (former Reva), e2o is withdrawn
6. Low economies of scale, entering a vicious circle of costs and demand. Like the chicken and egg story, when costs are high, there are less customers, since there are less customers, the costs remain high .. It is to break this jinx that EESL has provided the demand for the EV manufacturers in the country for about 10,000 cars to be used by the Government to be supplied by 2030 or even 2025.

7. Higher tax : The present 12% tax should be reduced for the time being to bring in more customers. Norway gives besides tax deduction, toll waivers, registration fee waivers, free parking for EV etc,,

8. No firm and stable government policy on EVs, though the government has said that all government vehicles will be EV driven by 2030. Will the new government have the same commitment to promote EV as the previous governments ? Will the tax structure change ?

9. Less dealer interest - automobile dealers get their maximum returns on investment through maintenance activities at the workshop. In electric cars, since maintenance is less, the revenue stream from maintenance activities is reduced. This is a de-motivator for dealers to selling EVs. They are not very enthusiastic to set up charging stations and maintenance stations for EVs across the country with the same rigour as for SI engines.

10. Poor service network and long service delays : Due to low penetration of EV in the population, the service network is also very sparsely located across the country. The same chicken and egg story repeats here too. Unless thereare more EVs on the road, the service stations do not get vehicles for maintenance and they are unable to meet their expenses.  My friend talks of the extreme delay of almost a week when he used to give his electric car in Mysore for repairs, the reason being the maintenance guy does not stock enough spare parts and orders it when needed, which takes time to deliver.

11. The absence of a reliable EV charging network across the country at a very reasonable cost.  The present high expenses / costs for setting up a charging network of Rs 2 lakhs should be reduced to Rs 1 lakh so that more charging stations can come up.

12. Polluting potential of existing energy plants : EV fuel cells store electricity which has been generated by either coal based plants, or by hydel, wind, solar, nuclear route etc. Coal based power generating plants continue to pollute the environment. Nuclear plants have still to prove their risk potential given the long lasting environmental damage nuclear plants could do to the environment as the examples in Chernobyl and Fukushima of late testify.

Solar powered car developed by Indian Space co. (ISRO) 2017
13. With research into solar charging improving across the world, from the present low rates of 18-20% energy conversion rate of solar energy to useful electric energy (lab results point to even 45%), if the conversion rates improve to 25-30%, the charging times could be fast and smaller batteries will come to the market with low weights. The demand for EV will then rise in the country.

ISRO has developed a car which runs entirely on solar energy and they have used highly efficient, space grade solar panels for the car. They are working over-time to help release this technology to commercial EV industry as a spin-off of the country's space research activities.

14. Battery swapping or battery charging option - an automobile battery if it is to be swapped will result in  at least 10-15 battery packs to be swapped every time or every twenty four hours, depending on the demand. This is impractical in the present setup across the country. Over time, we hope battery swapping will be more common place as batteries get smaller, more portable and efficient.

15. Lithium ion batteries work on a Lithium Cobalt oxide electrode. Globally 70% and more of Cobalt comes solely from Congo in Africa, the only major global producer. Congo already is in the grip of a bloody civil war over the metal Cobalt, accelerating the situation further, limiting the availability of Cobalt globally. Unless technological research is able to bring another metal electrode as a more efficient metal to substitute for Cobalt, Cobalt and Lithium ion batteries are going to a great challenge for the world, putting a great stress on the Cobalt supply chain from Africa to China and to the rest of the world.

16. Sourcing and Disposing / refurbishing end-of-life batteries - The sourcing of batteries given the scarcity of Cobalt-Lithium oxide from Africa and the resultant refurbishing and disposal of used batteries can be a major challenge for the modern world as waste processing is becoming expensive and waste disposal is getting more and more challenging for the modern day factory employees.

The Promises of EV :
  • The greatest contribution of EV is going to be the reduction of pollution and smoke in the cities. Better and cleaner air to breathe translates to healthier individuals and less drain on the healthcare system of the country.
  • Reduced dependence on oil (solar energy generation) - reducing our BOP crisis. Foreign exchange can gainfully be used for import of medicines and technology that can be used for the development of the country.
  • As EVs are more suited for autonomous cars, we can expect in future with EVs on the roads, more orderly traffic, fast movement of traffic and less pollution and congestion.
  • The shift in the geopolitics of oil from western countries and South East Asia and Africa will help transform many of the poorer areas of Africa to pursue oil based growth and development.
  • Shift of global economic power from the oil rich Arab states to the west
Click here for an Economist video which states that the future of transportation is electric vehicles ..

Heavy Commercial electric vehicles : EVs have penetrated not only the personal transportation market, but the commercial vehicles market too. Click here for a link on Electric trucks market in the world. As per a March '18 HBR article, FedEx and UPS have a couple of thousands of hybrids or EVs already on the roads, while Ford has 150 Ford hybrids on the road, which is a good sign.

Benefits :
  • Mileage : An ordinary 18 wheeler would give about 6 mpg, while an average 10 wheeler truck gives a mileage of app 10 miles per gallon (mpg). Operating an EV truck is equivalent to getting 52 mpg. Combined with the benefits of lower operating costs, this is going for the kill
  • High starting torque : Higher starting torque helps these vehicles to move from 0-30 mph in as short time as possible making the deliveries fast and reliable. 
  • Ability to add digital controls to the electric propulsion yields more precision in driving.
  • Smart routing - where routes and cargo are combined or split leads to smart routing and this has added $ 400 million profits to UPS in recent years. A km not run through smart routing is the greenest km ..
  • No sound and no pollution adds great brand nenefits to the operator and showcases the company's commitment to sustainability
It is hoped in the coming years, these challenges will be overcome by the government and a proactive policy encouraging widespread use of EV (click here for benefits of EV technology) will be adopted across the country.

George ..

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Bangalore Composting - managing wet waste ..

Karnataka Compost Development Corporation plant
The other day I was very excited to visit a wet waste composting unit of Brihut Bangaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) near HSR Layout Bangalore with my old colleague Prof. Raju Gundala. This neatly kept wet waste processing plant has a processing capacity of about 500 MT per day even though there is capacity utilisation of only a fifth, ie. 100 MT per day.

The wet waste from homes is collected on a daily basis by BBMP and is processed at this plant and converted to compost which is totally organic and can be added to plants as fertilizers. The organic fertilisers are beneficial to the plants as well as to the farmer and others handling it. It is being sold to the farmers at the rate of Rs 200-300 per Tonne. If it is to be supplied to farmers at their site, the costs are Rs 800 per tonne.

The plant is one of the largest in Bangalore. Very neatly kept. Felt really proud to see this plant and the committed employees. It is one of the seven plants run by the Karnataka Compost Development Corporation in Bengaluru with a total capacity of handling about 2500 T wet waste daily. Bangalore produces almost 4300 T garbage daily, of which a cool 70% is wet waste.

One of the biggest problems faced by urban dwellers and urban governing agencies like BBMP is how to treat household and commercial garbage.  About 70% of our garbage is wet waste, organic which can be composted and used as manure etc. Was really happy to see that BBMP was taking the lead in carrying out this very important civic activity.

Great work .. One of the compost pits inside the campus .
It is this organic wet waste which if left untreated, on the bacterial activity of decomposing causes over growth of harmful bacteria, viruses, releasing a bad stench and odour, often causing great health hazards to the population living near these dumping areas. In the premises we could get very little odour and it appeared very neat and tidy.

The proactive Karnataka government is about to bring in a legislation that wet waste will have to be processed at home by the public for first time ever in the country. This single step will  daily take out about 3000 metric tonnes of wet waste, roughly 70%, of the 4200 tonnes of garbage produced daily in Bangalore (third populous city in the country after Delhi and Mumbai). 

This otherwise would have gone to landfills in the city, subsequently leeching down to the water table causing irreversible damage to ground water resources .. A bold move if legislated !!πŸ‘   Click here for the link ..

Imagine the great business opportunity this opens to the unemployed and semi-skilled people of this country. Rag pickers are the first point of contact for this garbage and if this garbage processing can be made a commercially viable and profitable activity with enough avenues to earn enough income, through classification, segregation and safe reprocessing and disposal, this can definitely contribute to nation building.

Of the 377 million urban residents of the country living in about 7935 cities and towns in the country generate about 62 million tonnes of municipal solid wastes annually, of which only about 43 million tonnes is collected back, about 12 million tonnes (20 percent) are processed and the rest 31 million tonnes (50 percent) is dumped in landfills, causing great environmental problems, health issues and future ground water contamination threats due to leeching from the surface land. (click here for link for more details).

Large blocks of recovered metal at a Japanese waste plant

On closely looking at the data, we find presently in India, only 20% of waste is treated, 50% is dumped in landfills and 30% is lost forever !! Effectively speaking we can convert 80% of this 63 million tonnes, about 50 million tonnes annually into wealth for the country. This opportunity is presently lost for our country.

If we can just concentrate on being able to effectively treat this 50% of waste collected by the municipal authorities, but not processed effectively and dumped in landfills, it can solve a great portion of our unemployment problems.

The promise waste disposal and treatment can also give to the people of the country a healthy and hygienic living environment free of diseases and other natural threats. The potential is great and can contribute in great ways in increasing the employment potential across the country. Public-private participation in these ventures as has been done in Bengaluru, is the solution as government agencies alone can do very less in issues affecting the population.

Turning garbage into gold, the Americas ..
We need to learn from other countries how they have managed to handle their waste and trash. Foe example, how Tokyo manages its garbage most effectively (click here for a report)  and America (click here ..)
There is a gold mine in the wastes in India, 63 million Tonnes generated annually, only 12 million treated rest forgotten conveniently by the civic authorities, the government and the people.. What a CRIME !!

George .. (image courtesy Japan Times)

Monday, May 13, 2019

Japanese technology for Traffic decongestion on Bangalore roads .

Anything related to Bangalore traffic decongestion is news . We all know traffic takes away 50% of our commute time.

The Queue Length Measurement (QMS) sensors measure vehicular density at distances of 50, 100 and 150m from each heavy traffic junction. Based on this data traffic management is carried out across the city at the 29 points where these sensors are located. It is expected to reduce traffic congestion by 30%.. 
Silk Board traffic in the morning, courtesy  NIE
The method works on identifying high traffic density junctions in real time spatially across the city at any point of time.

The traffic is regulated by giving green signals simultaneously at subsequent two forward junctions on the road, for example on Hosur Road Silk Board junction, the forward junctions of Bommanahalli and Hosa Road junctions are simultaneously given green signals.

The advantage this offers is that it enables free traffic flow on this stretch. This is the technology intervention by which this Japanese traffic decongestion technology has helped other countries decongest traffic by as much as 30% .. 

Click here for the link ..

When we did a role play in the class trying to understand the Silk Board traffic congestion problem ....

A 2015 Brainstorming study by Alliance University students to decongest Silk Board junction ..


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Electric car technology-FAQ

Interesting EV FAQ .. For any student and a new comer to the technology of Electric vehicle, this FAQ adds lot of value. Thanks to Autocar magazine..

How do electric cars work  ? Click here ..

Click here for the FAQ from Autocar .

1. How do electric cars work ?
Parts of an electric car ,, courtesy US Dept of Energy

2. What are the different components of an EV? 

3. How do you compare the different EVs ? 

4. What are the important parameters to look out for ? 

5. Why are EVs costly now ? 

6. Will costs come down ?

7. Why is range important ? 

8. How are EVs classified ? 

9. What are the different charging standards ?

10. Does efficiency differ with other petrol engine cars ?

11. Do we use green energy for EV ?

12. Can solar charging be used for EV and many more .. 

Simple  explanation of the technology and components of how future mobility will be like .. 

Click here for the FAQ ,,


Friday, May 10, 2019

World population map - relationship between area and population ..

World population map - each colour signifies geographical area covering quarter of the world's population, 1.9 billion people .. πŸ‘

This picture tells us the strain on the urban and rural traffic, living conditions, rich-poor divide, competition for jobs and resources etc..

In this world map, there are more people in this circle than outside of it !! 😳😳 Most densely populated regions of our world 😊

South and South East Asia constitute the most densely populated areas of the world.We need not take this as a threat to the world.If you look at this circle, you find for the next two centuries, the world will be dominated by countries in this circle. For example China and India would dominate global politics and economy for the next two centuries.

The next picture is about population density. Mumbai has the highest population density among the cities of the world, ie about 71,000 people per square mile or 28,160 people per sq km. (data -

If the whole world were to live like an ordinary Mumbaikar, we would just need a country the size of Germany (360,000 sqkm) at about 18,000 people per sq km.

The basic premise of giving the above three charts is to sensitise the people of the world on the relationship between population, area and standard of living. What has been the reason ahy popuilation has boomed in these countries of the world from South and SE Asia. Probably it was favourable living conditions, like land, water, rain, lack of climate extremes like cold, earthquakes, natural calamities etc.. availability of resources, rich cultural heritage of sharing resources more equitable across the sections of the population,

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Riders for health, social entrepreneurship..

Riders for Health reach in Africa ..
When bike riding fans Andrea and Barry Coleman met in Africa and decided to help the Central Africa states how to tide over the transportation logistics problem, nobody thought it would become a craze and benefit millions of people and save millions of lives.. 

Riders for health - is the story how an NGO on wheels helped five Central African countries tide over problems of poor logistics and transportation to improve the healthcare delivery ecosystem in Africa and bring in transformative change of communities ..

These problems are too narrow in scope to warrant legislative activism nor are they too profitable to attract private capital. But the right intervention at the right time across the right parameters can bring about lasting societal transformation and change. That is the essence of social entrepreneurship.

Click here for a video on the organisation ..

The NGO helps Ministries of Health and other health related organisations to manage their fleet of vehicles (click here) in good running condition and also provide extra fleet in the fight for AIDS prevention etc to these countries..

Reading through the article in Harvard Business Review (click here..) which highlighted this NGO and its activities, I was immediately moved by the impact of such social entrepreneurship. Knowing that it was the poor maintenance activities of the vehicle fleet that grounded these vehicles and prevented healthcare from reaching the poor and needy people across the central parts of Africa, Andrea and Barry Coleman offered to maintain a fleet of motorcycles for these governments who will carry out the last mile logistics of carrying patients, medicines, injections etc to the hospitals and to homes.

Andrea and Barry Coleman, co-founders ..
It has now grown to a fleet of motorcycles and vehicles that is helping solve the transportation problems affecting the health infrastructure of Africa.

This simple idea has now translated to become one of the greatest innovative interventions that helped improve the last mile delivery effectiveness of healthcare operations in Central

The whole crux is on providing a reliable transportation fleet to help the health organisation network in Africa aiming to reach more than 25 million people across Africa.  - to make the last mile the most important in health care delivery..

Wish more such socially beneficial entrepreneurial ideas come up in the world to help save and benefit humanity in many ways.

Australia culling 2 million Feral cats by 2020 ..

Feral cat, harmless to humans but ...
The Felis Catus (cat) we breed at our homes is a small mammal that has been harmless to humans and domesticated. Historical records show of this animal having been domesticated around 7500 BC in Cyprus and later spread to other parts of the world to Egypt, Greece and so on.

The main reason why this mammal found favour with the people was its ability to keep away the rodents that attacked the scarce food reserves in these places.

Australia has 6 million of these feral cats.  Feral cats are domesticated cats that have been abandoned and hence have become suspicious of humans and keep away in the wild.

These cats look very innocent, but they have been in the Australian landscape since the 17 century when Europeans brought these non-native cat species to a foreign land.

A feral cat consuming an innocent bird ..
What has been the problem with these 60 lakh harmless cats that roam around Australian landscape in the wild ? It is said by Australian Conservancy, ever since these cats have come to Australia, it has resulted in the extinction of almost 130 species of birds and reptiles from Australian landmass.

Every year they kill almost 316 million birds and 596 million reptiles across the country. As per this New York Times report, feral cats have established their presence over 99.8 percent of Australian landmass with over 100 cats per square kilometre area. The NY Times report states that in US free roaming cats kill between 1.3 to 4 billion birds and 6.3 to 22.3 billion mammals every year.

The bait used to kill these cats is burger airdropped in the wild Australian landmass, containing Kangaroo or chicken meat laced with a poison named 1080. It can also kill other non-native species like foxes.

These cats finish off rodents in a flick ..
The proliferation of these cats arises out of the fact that the food chain ends with the cats. They roam around freely like humans do on planet earth. These cats can only be poached on using poison or should be promoted as a national stew on the breakfast tables of Australians.

The problem is with how these cats oversee the extinction of hundreds of native species of birds and reptiles in Australia that have evolved over millions of years in the isolated landmass of Australia secluded from other land masses.

Even if 2 million of these wild feral cats are killed by poisoning, there are still the other 4 million cats around, posing a major threat to the native Australian birds and reptiles. In the long run will Australian government with just 30 million people around have to take a decision if and when these cats outnumber humans.

Only God knows what will happen next ?

Monday, April 29, 2019

Integrating ridesharing apps with public and mass transit systems

Imagine a situation in Bangalore where you tell Ola that on a particular day you would like to visit the city of Mumbai, go to so and so offices from this time to this time and travel to this hotel for staying overnight, vacate the hotel, completing some morning assignments and catching the afternoon flight to Bangalore.

If Ola could arrange your travel itinerary with a combo of private, public transport and Mass Transit systems at a particular cost, it would definitely make travel and transport a pleasant experience. 

The ride sharing services like Ola, Über by planning working on the backbone of Indian Railways, Mass Rapid Transit Systems (MRTS) like Metros, City bus systems etc and effectively integrating with it, backward integrating and forward integrating, definitely, would transform the personal transportation landscape around country and the world πŸ‘πŸ‘ It is already more than $1 trillion industry (conservative estimates) around the world.. (click here for a CNN report on global mobility integration)

The electric mobility system being planned by Ola in a big way in the country is based on this report of their electrical mobility experiment in Nagpur. (click here for the pdf report)

Saturday, April 27, 2019

SELCO Foundation SDG7 For SDG8 Conference at IIM Bangalore ..

The SELCO Foundation SDG7 for SDG8 Conference at IIM Bangalore (click here for the conf) happened yesterday 26 April 2019 and continues on 27th too.

Prof. G Raghuram, Director, IIMB, giving the
inaugural talk.
SDG stands for Sustainable Development Goals 2015 formulated by United Nations in 2015 as part of the Paris Treaty on Climate Change to stall the global climate change and temperature increase to less than 2 deg Celsius by the turn of the century 2099 AD. (click here for the theme video for the conf..)

It was a great act by IIM Bangalore to host this Conference of global impact and on a very vital and important topic in their premises,. thanks to the intervention and support by the IIM Bangalore Director, Prof. Raghuram.
The Alliance Uty participants at the conf ..

We could, besides listening to the Chairman of Selco Foundation, the 2011 Magsaysay Award winner, Harish Hande himself, (click here for a write up on Harish) an IIT KGP alumnus, see all the indigenous innovative product and service applications that were up on display at IIM Bangalore stalls, which had come from different parts of the country. All these societal livelihood enhancement interventions have happened thanks to intervention by Selco Foundation, led by Harish Hande.

The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals 2015
for the world to help curb climate change ..
One thing striking was Harish's leadership style. a true leader, he leads from behind. It was really gratifying to find how his team members from around the country at different Foundation centres were leading the charge in bringing a change by linking sustainable energy to poverty eradication and lifestyle changes in the country, while Harish was behind them, giving full support and encouragement.

Another statement, which Harish has been repeating at different fora across the country is how fortunate we are to be educated, to be living and studying off the subsidy collected from the poor of the country.

He was very concerned about the fallacy of  how the English speaking people of the country were assuming themselves to be more intelligent than the vernacular language speaking people and were snatching opportunities meant for them. Let us  ask our conscience, are we snatching from and denying the intelligent vernacular language speaking people of this country the opportunities to excel in life ?

In one of his talks he was mentioning how at an IT company, as part of CSR, employees were registering to teach the students from the village schools while in return he asked them how they would feel if the village school children could in return teach them some life lessons !! Never underestimate the rural people, there are many Einsteins and Edisons down there, waiting for the right opportunities to be unearthed.

Listen to Harish speak (click here)  at the Tata Centre for Technology and Design at IIT Bombay in 2018. Also his 2013 talk at an INK conference.. click here 

Dr Harish Hande, BTech (IIT KGP), MS, PhD, UMass.
2011 Magsaysay Award winner, 2018 Skoll Award winner
The IIMB conference sponsored by Selco Foundation was all about linking sustainable energy applications to poverty alleviation and lifestyle improvement models for the rural people of the country. There were many demonstrations arranged where people from rural areas came with their innovative solar energy based projects which helped improve lifestyles. for example cotton fibre collection to solar energy operated cotton loom to stitching ..., the entire cotton fibre-cloth-dress value chain ..

We could get great value out of the conference and we are planning to invite Dr. Harish to the University in the month of July 2019.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Marketing (going for the overkill) and UN Sustainable Development Goals 2015 ..

Is there any relationship, adverse or beneficial, between Marketing and over-consumption  ??

What is the function of Marketing ? Marketing is more about developing and managing the demand for an innovative product or service which earlier did not exist in the market. Innovation brings a new product or service and marketing tries to reach it out to the world of customers, find the right customers for the right products or services at the right cost performance mix .

According to Prof. Theodore Levitt of HBS, Marketing invariably views the entire business process as consisting of a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse and satisfy customer needs. ie. Marketing has more to do with creating a demand for a product and getting customers to pay for it, than actually selling a product to the customer.

It s a pity, how many of these UN SDG goals are supported by
the Marketing function in an organisation ?
More often than not, we find this process of creating demand for a product or service, which is what Marketing is actually worried about, overshoots itself. It identifies a non-existing need, and develops the product and supply chain mechanism to help meet that need for a cost. This process of trying to satisfy a non-existing need by exploiting the resources of the physical world is in itself, against the environment. This non-existing need, created by Marketing, is in itself the start of an unsustainable lifestyle, as it exploits physical resources which otherwise would have remained in the physical world for future generations to consume.

How far can we resort to Marketing in the physical world ? or what constitutes environmentally sustainable marketing and what constitutes environmentally unsustainable marketing ? Where do we draw the line ?

Referring to the above Sustainable Development Goals formulated by the United Nations Forum for Climate Change as per the Paris Accord of 2015 - 2030 to limit the increase of global temperatures across the world to within 2 deg C, and to limit to 1.5 deg by 2099 AD, is Marketing acting against this need of the global community to limit consumption and splurge ?

Marketing plays an important role in establishing relationships between customers and the organizations offering to the market. The marketing function is also tasked with branding of the organization, participation in publicity activities, advertising and customer interaction through feedback collection. Timothy Mahea

Marketing is acceptable when it limits its actions to creating customer awareness. But what will happen if Marketing goes for the overkill, finding a  product or service that can harm the environment or otherwise, creating non-existential demand for that product / service and then going for the sale. It is not sustainable Marketing. And we need to stop such dangerous marketing practices for the better future of the world.

Marketing within existing and future customer demand is fine, but not making customers create artificial needs for the customer and make him spend and waste more where actually he does not have a genuine need.


Electric bicycles from Yulu on Bangalore roads ..

Cycles parked at Sony World, Koramangala,
Bangalore ..
Yesterday morning, 25 April 2019, while I came to the Silk Board bus stop to catch the college bus, I was surprised to see about 20 small cycles lined up in front of the Saphire shop area.

On close examination I understood this was Yulu Miracle, the electric bicycles from Yulu which was released in Bangalore and simultaneously in Bhubaneshwar and a couple of other cities in India.

It was quite interesting to know the following points

1. No helmet needed
2. No license needed.
3. The maximum speed at which one can move on this e-bicycle in 25 kmph.
4. A charge lasts for almost 75 kms.
5. The e-cycle can be found at important points in Bangalore and can be kept back at these places.
6. They charge no fee if you are taking the bike to your home and parking it for the night between 6 pm to 8 am.
7. Rs 10/- as rental for the bike and Rs 10/ - for the first 10 minutes and so on.

Read the article in Yourstory giving all details ..

How can this solve Bangalore's traffic problem? The Yourstory link points to a survey conducted some months by an agency that the average distance of any bicycle ride in Bangalore is about 2 kms and car ride is 5 kms. If we can travel this 5 km distance on this ecycle, that much space on the road for a four wheeler can be saved, the traffic reduces, easing the traffic flow and speeding it up and then so much less of fuel too.

This evening I am definitely taking it for a ride on Koramangala roads.

There are some questions for which we address here. For example,
1. Can this innovative application bring cleaner air and less time consuming commutation for Bangaloreans ?
2. Is Bangalore outstripping other cities in the country to have the first e-cycles on road ?
3. Are there only limited spots to collect and deposit these e-cycles in Bangalore city ?
4. Can this be taken to spots on the city outskirts, within 75 kms or only within some limits within the city ?
5. If a day's ride is more than 75 kms, how can it be managed ?


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Carbon fibre Loom and components.

Just like cotton fibres and cotton loom defined and kickstarted Industrial revolution in late 18th century, Carbon fibres and Carbon fibre looms (upto 300 kg/hr) like the above pic (Bertha at Uty of Bristol, UK) are defining modern carbon fibre composites manufacture.

Carbon fibre composites (all modern lightweight F1 racing cars are made from carbon fibre braided composites) are 10 times stronger than steel and 5 times lighter than steel !! 

We can expect very soon large scale and mass precision manufacturing to be taken over by automated carbon fibre looms ..

Courtesy Economist, UK, April 2019.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Earth Day .. April 22, 2019 ..

 Why is Earth Day celebrated ? When did it start ?

"Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which day events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and celebrated in more than 193 countries each year."

The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.

History of the Earth Day (click here..)

How to observe Earth Day .. (click here..)

Do something ..  (click here..)

Simple things to do  (click here ..)

Come lets create awareness and help mother nature ..

The Earth Day was celebrated in Alliance University on 22 April 2019. The event started with a presentation by Prof. George Easaw on the need  to preserve species which is the motto for the current year. The interesting part was the discussion which went alongside the presentation.

The meeting was attended by almost 10 faculty from the streams of Economics, HR and Operations and a couple of students. The main points discussed during the meeting focused on the following points :

1. Caring for nature and preserving species is part of our culture. Prof. Aswathi was trying to recollect that preserving the environment and the species is not something new, but has been there in our society from time immemorial. (click here for Prof. Aswathi's blog on Mother Eath Day.)

With active discussions, the learning and
understanding was great.
Let me introduce a concept in Kerala homes may be for millennia, Sarppakaavu. I remember when we used to go to our friends' home in Kerala, in the older tharavads, there used to be an area called the Sarppakavu, (snake's place). Only recently I came to know that this place was the result of human's attempt and desire to help preserve the different species in their native living environments. Mainly snakes, birds, squirrels, rats etc used to reside there, but it was our effort to preserve an environment for reptiles and animals to live peacefully, a conscious effort to preserve the species of flora and fauna.

2. Technology can help further this preservation of species. Prof. Sajan and Prof. Sukanya, proponents of technology in our group were fervently arguing that sustainability is not a viable option in the long run. With improvements of science and technology, the speed at which we exploit natural resources will change. Many new innovative applications will come that may change our consumption and demand patterns. Can we sustain this exploitation of natural resources for ever ??

The faculty members were of the opinion that technology if properly implemented, could through the use of Blockchains, AI etc help to optimise the usage, increase efficiency and trace the sources of these energy.

They also were of the opinion that sustainability and environmental conservation should not to be a nationally focused activity, instead it should be globally coordinated by a strong international body with powers to enforce rules and bans. Planet Earth belongs to everyone and a disturbance in one area brings cumulative repercussions around the world.

3. The impact of SDG goals were discussed by our Economic Professor, who was explaining how environmental sustainability can be ensured by sound economic principles.

A view of the audience and discussion members .
Overall the discussion was high class. The meeting which started at 11.30 AM went to 1.30 Pm (2 hours ) before it was called off as the room was needed for other meetings for the day. We met in LHE 101.

The points noted and implemented by students when they implemented No Impact week (click here) in Alliance University during the first week of April 2019 was also discussed. No Impact Week impacts SDG 11, 12 and 13.

SDG11 - focuses on building sustainable cities and communities by controlling Carbon emissions and helping preserve a heathy lifestyle with physical exercises and responsible consumption 
SDG12 - focuses on cultivating responsible consumption and production patterns among the population so that resources are equally used by the people across areas and also left back for future generations to use 
SDG13 - focuses on the impact of our irresponsible actions leading to higher environmental pollution because of higher Carbon footprints of our actions. Identifying those actions is a firm step to preserve the environment in the long run.

The No Impact Week was a great success as the students were made aware that reducing our Carbon footprints or impact on the environment is within our reach and we can make conscious and concrete decisions to reduce the Carbon footprints to help save the environment.

George ..

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Why do Indian elections entice the world ?

Why are elections in the world's largest democracy of India closely watched by the whole world ? Why does it take 39 days to complete this exercise in 9 phases involving 10 million officials in a million polling booths to cover 900 million eligible voters for 543 seats ? 

Having 4 times as much voters in the second largest democracy US with 225 million and an average voter turnout of 66%, India is the greatest crucible ever in the history of mankind where personal freedoms of citizens often intersect with partisan interests of left, middle and right wing political thinking (extremes too). 

This helps take the world's oldest civilisation ahead in the path to greatness and unparalleled glory πŸ‘πŸ‘

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Curating an Alliance Talk ..

What makes any talk captivating ??

Three points come to our mind

a. The ability of the speaker to talk well

b. The content of the talk

c. The preparations and setup

While thinking about the first point, we come across the following points :

  • Can we get a speaker to improve his talking style ? 
  • Can a speaker be trained to speak well ? 
  • Does he have a soul for talking on the topic ? 
  • Has he any practical experience or deep exposure to the topic of his talk ?
  • Can he speak fairly well in the English language ?
  • Does he have any inhibitions in speaking well ?
  • Does he require training to speak well ?
While thinking about the content of the talk, the following points come to our mind.

  • Is the topic of interest to the audience ?
  • Does the topic have common appeal ?
  • Can an ordinary member of the audience relate himself with the topic ?
  • Is the topic very scientific ?
  • Is the topic related to a problem which the people encounter in their daily lives ?
  • Can an understanding of the problem help make the society live better ?
While thinking about organising the talk, the following points need to be taken into consideration

  • Is the room properly echo insulated ?
  • Does the room have proper lighting and focusing systems ?
  • Does the room have good audio system ?
  • Is there seating for at least 200 people in the room ?
  • Is the dais properly visible to the audience ?
  • Does the room have a good recording facility ?

This process can take anywhere from 2 - 6 months. The time spent for curating your first talk series is time well spent.

Ideas is the most important, then comes speakers and thirdly the facilities. Start and end with a bang ..

So go ahead with your first talk (click here for a copy of this article..)


Monday, April 15, 2019

Stratolaunch flies nine years after conception ..

Stratolaunch , the space vehicle launch startup by late Paul Allen of Microsoft, was launched successfully yesterday 13 April 2019 on its maiden flight yesterday in Mojave desert California.

The two fuselage, 110m wide, 6 engines 544 T aircraft will be used to launch spacecraft at altitudes of 9000m to space.

Will the launch of this massive plane change the commercial flying business of the world ? Or will it only be a challenge to the NASA, ESA, ISROs of the world ?

In special arrangement with SpaceX of Elon Musk, it remains to be seen what all innovative applications the stratolaunch will subject itself to in the coming years.

Click here for the BBC link ..

scenes from the first flight ..
Will other launchers also crowd the world aviation market like Virgin Atlantic or NASA itself ?

Does this launch mark the beginning of the great space age for humanity on earth ? Will it be the start of the great space explorations by humans as the launch costs will be greatly be reduced in the coming years.

Flying at altitudes of 10 km, will it be most cost effective, safe, secure, highly reliable launch pad for launching low earth orbit and high earth orbit satellite in the future ?


Remembering Jalianwala Bagh's cold blooded murder ..

The gory Baisakhi day of 1919 ..  Courtesy News18
General Dyre, the young British Brigadier General posted in Amritsar, Punjab committed a grave act that would be remembered for generations on the evening of April 13, 1919. The soldiers led by Gen Dyre surrounded a crowd of 1600 people gathered and in 10 minutes committed one of the most brutal and heinous crimes ever on the people of India.

It was a very audacious and bold move in British eyes but a very agonising, excruciating and heart wrenching moment for Indians. In a matter of 10 minutes from 17.37 hrs to 17.47 hours,  on 13 April 1919, 1600 bullets were fired on the people who had gathered at Jalianwala Bagh. 376 innocent villagers who had gathered to celebrate Baisakhi and to protest against the British high handedness, were brought down in cold blood, fell dead, with about 1100 injured, many of them grievously.

A British newspaper even went to the extent of complimenting Gen Dyre and organised a fund collection drive for him and collected 26,000 British Pounds for him as a reward for the atrocities on the Indians. 

The British envoy who visited the site yesterday expressed deep remorse at the act committed a hundred years ago, by a loyal British subject employing Indian policemen on the people of India. 

The memorial erected at the site during the 50s .. Forever a dark blot on
British imperialism .
Great Empires come and great Empires go, they get mired in their own inconsistencies and sinful, remorseful acts. The burden is carried over for generations and centuries, even after the complete annihilation of the empire or its divided and fallen subjects. The great Romans fell like a pack of cards, Alexander of Greece went down defeated, bruised and obliterated, the Egyptians were annihilated and extirpated, the people from the Mesopotamia basin were removed and erased out of human history. Only civilizations that preached peace, harmony and love have survived and thrived.

An apology is but the civilised way to say sorry, that it will never be repeated, never again in human history of planet Earth. More dastardly events were to come after this massacre in the killing fields of Auschwitz during the second world war, Khmer Rouge killing fields at Pnom Penh Cambodia in the mid-seventies and Rwanda in Africa in the mid-nineties and more .. It is a great humbling lesson now for the British government and their learned but uncivilised subjects.

Click here for a video of the event attended by British officials on 13 April 2019 in Jalianwala Bagh .. India's great leader Shashi Tharoor speaking in the Indian Parliament, two months back .. (click here) asking an apology from the British... And apology did Britain do for one of the darkest blots on British imperialism ..

To the honoured people who lost their lives - your death was not in vain, we gratefully remember your sacrifice and contribution to our freedom movement . Rest in peace !!


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