Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Do we really need to go to war ?

While in College, I used to enjoy taking part in debating at the Trivandrum YMCA, Uni-Y. I was exposed to the term - Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) while at Government College of Engineering, Trivandrum, during some of he debating / elocution competitions. MAD in short can be explained this way, when two nuclear powers are engaged in a war, and if they decide to use their nuclear arsenals, the end is assured destruction for both the countries.

A pic from World War 1...
The issue between India  and Pakistan is complicated now with more information coming mentioning that the damage will not be just with two countries, India and Pakistan, it will affect all countries of the world. The resultant nuclear winter arising out of emissions from the nuclear emissions, could bury our planet in a severe winter for decades or even centuries, wiping out population and vegetation. This TED talk is about radioactive emissions covering the whole world, by Brian Toon (click here for the TED talk ..)

Wars have been fought from immemorial times. It used to be the weapon for a group to asset their superiority over another and to subjugate others. It worked during the times when people were not learned, they could not think about the future implications of the dangerous effects of war on society and so on. Never have wars been good, it has caused untold misery on the people of the world.

In the present days with education and better logical reasoning with the people, material well being, can wars really help humanity or bring untold damage, pain and suffering to humanity ?

Many questions are raised regarding the India Pakistan conflict for which the nation seeks answers.. Are we being manipulated and being used by our less-educated politicians to cover up their mistakes and follies ?
1. How many of us support the war efforts unleashed by PM Modi ? 

2. Could we have avoided this conflict if our intelligence gathering had not failed at Phulwama ? 

3. Who should be held responsible for this incident in the first place and it's escalation?

4. Can war really end the crisis instead of diplomacy ?
5. Are war cries well-intentioned or with malafide intention to escape from the initial blame ?
6. Is there a political rhetoric in the war cries especially when the country is going to Elections ? 

7. Should we ascribe deeper meaning to the war cries coming from politicians ?

8. Are our armed forces happy with having to go to war or are they being used by our selfish politicians  ?
9. Do wars have any role to play in this scientifically and culturally advanced world ?
10. Can wars bring permanent peace ?
Hope we get answers to these questions, sooner the better .. Let us use our brians, not brawns ..

Let better sense prevail with our political leaders who are using the armed forces to further their petty interests. In this age of weapons and super weapons, physical force is not a solution to a war, it can only be used to repulse an enemy attack. it is a necessary evil we have to invest in, we do not intend to use it, it is just a deterrant for the enemy from attacking us.

Only discussions, dialogue and diplomacy can resolve issues . What the dumbo US President Bush  Junior did on Afghanistan and Iraq years back has only added  to their woes, it has not solved the problem at all. US is wishing now they had not attacked the people of those countries and had resorted to dialogues. The extreme cost US has to still pay in terms of the burden of maintaining armies in these countries, having to invest in intelligence gathering at all these places, due to the enmity created with the people are all perennial issues US will carry for generations. How the dumb actions of some presidents has pushed US to international isolation.

We do not want our armed forces to suffer casualties. They are also humans with families and children to look after. They should exist at the forefront only as a deterrant, but not as an offensive force ..


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Decentralised solar energy networks ..

Instead of giving subsidies to African customers to connect to the main energy grid, why not subsidise them to have decentralised solar power networks ? 

Lithium/Cobalt mining, Energy storage technology, Prof Peter Bruce, Oxford ..

Lithium-ion batteries inside our mobile phones..
Moore's Law unfortunately has not been found to be applicable to energy storage as it has done to the number of transistors that could be accommodated on a silicon chip..

The Lithium-Cobalt oxide which forms the anode in Lithium ion batteries that power most of our mobile phones, laptops and electric cars has two main components, Lithium and Cobalt. 80% of Lithium in the world is mined from the salt farms of Bolivia and Chile in South America, while 60% of the Cobalt in the world is mined from the Congo Republic in Central-South Africa.

Lithium-ion batteries inside our laptops
The difficulty in  gaining access to new natural resources of these elements is making researchers think of recovering Lithium and Cobalt from existing used and disposed batteries or find newer materials that can replace the Lithium-Cobalt oxide anode in these batteries. (click here for a skynews video on the cobalt mining industry in Congo, Africa which uses child labour excessively..)

Click here for an absorbing Washington Post article which exposes the high human toll in mining for Cobalt in Congo, Africa to sustain the fast growing mobile phones market in the Asian and  western world.

Cobalt mine in Congo, courtesy Washington Post
The unregulated hand mining where almost 100,000 people are employed to dig for Cobalt hundreds of feet below the surface is dangerous for the community and has resulted in gangs and mafia controlling the growing illegal mining and transport of Cobalt from Congo to the rest of the world.

Going to the technology aspect of this technology, the highly cited Prof Peter Bruce from Dept of Materials, Uty of Oxford is a global expert in battery technology and is talking on the strengths and limitations of Lithium ion batteries. 

Click here for a youtube video where Prof. Peter Bruce talks on the potential and limitations of Lithium ion batteries ..

Hope this talk will be a mind opener for people who are unaware of the challenges of the battery future of the world, opened by the world of miniature electronics led by the mobile phones technology.

If you are reading this article from a laptop (500g of Cobalt) or a mobile phone (10g of Cobalt) or an electric care (10 kgs of Cobalt), probably part of the Cobalt for that battery made it's way from Congo. Let us remember the silent suffering people of Congo who are compromising the quality of their life, longevity and health for our comfort and well-being.


Monday, February 25, 2019

Lecture for Logistics Industry Professionals..

I had the good opportunity to talk to logistics professionals and practitioners from Bangalore on Friday 22 Feb 2019 at Koramangala office of Blowhorn near Forum Mall.

The meeting started at 11.30 AM with about 20 industry professionals in attendance.  I gave the first talk for about an hour. The topic was on the Challenges for the Digitised Supply Chains of the future. (click here for the presentation)

How Industry 4.0 would impact us ..
Quite learned and informed, the young age group professionals  initially got to understand the finer difference between digitised and digital Supply Chains. It was good handling the operations challenges and solutions effected during Industry 1.0, 2.0 and presently what are the challenges in Industry 3.0.  While mechanisation started during Industry 1.0, automatic functioning (with feedforward actions) started during Industry 2.0 and we are now with automated machines (with the complete feedback loop). 

Click here for a Forbes article explaining the technologies and basics of industry 4.0 ..

The foundational technology of TCP/IP brought great economic value to society by reducing he cost of connections. The foundational technology of Blockchain is set to bring great economic value to society by lowering the cost of transactions ( and in the process increasing the integrity of transactions and eliminating the middle men including retail stores, banks, educational institutions). Customers will directly be interacting with the service providers . 

A transaction can be cash, land, material, service and so on ..

We deliberated on what changes Industry 4.0 would bring about which the logistics community of Bangalore should be aware of and how to be prepared to handle the SC disruptions to be brought about by it.

The session went on well. Even though I wanted the logistics professionals to understand the impact the foundational technology of Blockchains would bring about to the industry, due to lack of time, we could just touch the periphery.  Hoping to be able to interact with them in detail on this topic in the future.

We also discussed the "Open Source nature" of great innovations and technologies. Just as TCP/IP was made open source and released for the world, the technology of Blockchains is also in the open source domain and will influence how the world is going to get impacted by Industry 4.0.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Global automobile sales - interesting highlights ..

Global auto sales, '17, Courtesy Economic Times, March '18
Being the largest manufacturing industry of the world from the beginning of the 20th century, from Europe to US and now to Asia/China, automobile industry has seen the greatest transitions of all time..

Automobile industry continues to be the largest manufacturing industry of the world with maximum revenues among all global corporations during the past century. As long as humans have the need to transport goods and travel from point A to point B, there will be a need to travel and the automotive industry, light, medium and heavy will continue to thrive.

The only thing that will change is how these vehicles are powered, from fossil based non-renewable resources, we find it will move to electric or hybrid vehicles running on fuel cells  or solar energy. TESLA will thus be an influencing factor, besides the EV of other automobile brands.

Contemporary global IC engine based automobile sales is thus an indicator of a country's economic growth and development ..

TESLA 2017 release electric car, Model 3,
pic courtesy wikipedia
Sales : China continues its numero-uno position with the  world's largest car sales at  with 29.1 million automobile sales in 2017. (this is 66% bigger than the sales in US at 17.6 million units). China incidentally has 624% more sales than India at 4.02 million units (#4) and 460% more sales than Japan at 5.24 million units (#3).

Growth : The good news for India is that India is the fastest growing automotive market in the world, at 9.5%, followed by Brazil at 9.2% and Italy at 6.8%.

The largest automotive company in the world in 2018 is Volkswagen from Germany which produced 10.834 million cars, followed by Renault-Nissan/Mitsubishi which produced 10.757 million cars and Toyota of Japan which produced 10.594 million cars. (data collected from, click here for link )
Toyota 86 concept car, courtesy Toyota Motor Corp. 

While Chinese and US auto markets have been growing at 3.9% and (-) 1.6% respectively, India and Brazil automarkets are reportedly growing at 9.5% and 9.2% respectively in 2018.

China at 50,000 units has emerged as the largest electric vehicles (EV) market in the world clocking about 50% of the 1 million EV sales across the world in 2018.

Toyota continues to be the largest single brand automobile manufacturer of the world !!


Why did the A380 have to bow out ?

The 4 engined , 2 -storey, 880 capacity A380 at take-off ..
The A380 from Airbus, France was the largest passenger plane, it could carry a maximum of 550 passengers in three different modes or a maximum of 880 people in economy format.

 I have shown many videos of it flying in my class to graduate and undergraduate students at Alliance University and Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship (XIME) in Bangalore right from 2006, the year it was introduced in the global aviation market a s a large plane simultaneously as Boeing 787 got introduced as an economy plane. (Click here for National Geographic video on A380..)

4 nos. of  this Rolls Royce Trent 900 engine
of 360 KN each power each  A380
The majesty of the A380 hovering around an airport to land with its four gigantic engines, Rolls Royce Trent 900, developed in UK in 2004, each capable of achieving a max thrust of 360 KN and costing upto $46 million (incl. support), is indeed a grand sight to see. 

Over the past 13 years of it's introduction in 2013-14, only 234 units have been delivered, even though the break-even point for Airbus was 1200 planes in a 20 year period. Was the Airbus much ahead of its time or was it late in introduction ? The world still does not have an answer. 

Some interesting air travel statistics : 

As per the 67th Travel Report released in 2017 by International Air Travel Association (IATA),  over 4 billion passengers have flown in 2017. Between 2017 and 2036, the global aviation industry is predicted to grow at 4.7 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR).

As per a report by the Air Transport Action Group in 2015, about 1,02,500 flights were being operated daily across the world. It is said that at any point of time there are upto 6000 planes in the air and when US gets ready for work in the morning in rises to 9000-10,000 planes in the air.

The majestic 2 storey 880 capacity 4 engined A380, bowing out of service !! 
Even though the Hartsfield Jackson International airport in Atlanta US with 5 runways has the maximum annual aircraft movements in the world at 8,79,560, the O'Hare international airport in Chicago has the maximum of 8 runways in the world.

Sensing the drying up of demand for A380, Airbus launched the mid-size A350 in 2014 which has been competing with Boeing 787 Dreamliner as the most economical and light weight planes to fly in the world at present.

But, why did the A380 series of jet airplanes had to be dropped out by Airbus ? (click here)

Here I am listing some of the problems as how I foresee the events unfolding leading to the windup of manufacturing of the A380 aircraft by Airbus. 
1. The airlines flying the A380 found it difficult to fill passengers. Almost 50% of the planes were owned by two Gulf carriers, Emirates and Gulf Air.  
2. The 4 Rols Royce engines each with a maximum thrust of 360 KN were great to propel the aircraft, but was an added drain on the airlines as it was also a great fuel guzzler. (although it could fly more than 14 hours and a distance of more than 9000 miles in one single charge) .. 
3. It could profitably operate only between major hubs (to ensure enough p[assengers) and not between major cities and capitals. 
4. The introduction of the more efficient and economical Boeing 787 by the competitor Boeing in 2014 actually put the last nail on the coffin of Airbus A380. 
The 3-storey 1760 capacity 6 engined A390 .. A distant possibility !! 
5. Global air passengers were growing only at a rate of 4 % CAGR from a 4 billion in 2017 expected to reach 8 billion in 2037. ie. the global air passenger market was not ready to receive such large aircrafts as yet. ( maybe in the future, we may need planes of the size of A380 with 4 large 360 KN engines each, but not now)
Even though Airbus is ready with its 3-storey, 1760 passenger capacity plane, A390, (only one prototype made so far), the failure of A380 is enough warning for Airbus to pause, survey the situation before going full steam with the introduction of futuristic planes.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Forbes Most Sustainable Companies of the world 2019

Major Industries are taking to environmental sustainability
The Forbes list of the top 100 most sustainable companies of 2019 released this year (Jan 2019) also like earlier years, does not have any companies from India or China. It is a matter of concern for both of these industrial giants and the first (China) and third (India) largest economies of the world as they need to clean their backyards and care for the environment.

Click here for the Forbes list ..

The 4 measures on which the analysis has been done by Canada based Corporate Knights are as follows
  • performance reducing carbon and waste
  • gender diversity among leadership
  • revenues derived from clean products (clean revenue with 50% weightage) - Percentage of your total revenue derived from products and services that are categorized as “clean”
  • overall sustainability
Sifting through 3.7 million data points collected from Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and other sources, a team of almost 60 people worked for 5000 hours to get the list up.

Pic courtesy
In the top 100, US has the largest number of environmentally sustainable companies of the world , almost 22. (This is despite the fact that US is the second largest environmental polluter in the world and emits a per capita annual CO2 emission of 27 tons.)

Then comes UK and Japan with 7 each and then is Finland and Canada with 6 each. The top Asian Asian country is South Korea with 3 companies, both LG and Samsung included, then comes Taiwan and Singapore with 2 each.

Not a single environmentally sustainable company from China or India in the top 100. Can we strive for it ?


Chicken, world’s most popular meat ..

I always used to wonder how chicken were getting fatter and fatter over the years. Some said it was the antibiotic injections, I was clueless ..  

The Super Chicken, pic courtesy Economist of London.
From a study reported in The Economist, Jan '19, at 56 days life, the weight of chicken has increased from 0.9 kg in 1957 to 1.8 kg in 1978 to 4.2 kg in 2005 .. But how ?  By getting them to live in cramped spaces, preventing unnecessary movements, converting the conserved energy into meat .. 😳

Like how mostly the so-called smarter amongst us, in the present day world, avoid unnecessary movements or exercises, conserve that energy to convert to fat deposits around our waist to be called fat 😄

According to a 2018 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report, per capita annual chicken consumption in OECD countries stands at 30 kg, almost double that of beef at 15 kg and 33% more than pork at 23 kg. 

Chicken is thus, the rich world's most popular meat ..  it's all in this article .. 


Monday, February 11, 2019

Energy , some thoughts and discussions ..

Energy is the originator of life on earth. Without energy life cannot exist.

In the modern world, the  need for energy is only going to increase with each passing year.

Per capita annual energy consumption :

Qatar uses 223 MWhr per annum and is highest.

US - 80 MW-hr

China 25 MW-hr.

India - 7 MW-hr

Our energy usage will increase 4-5 times in the next couple of decades and this energy has to be generated most responsibly and by green methods.

Comparing the world's largest (China), second largest (US) and third largest economy (India), you will find that there is great scope of growth in the largest and greatest economies of China and India.

Click here to watch a good ppt on energy .. 

Energy resource .. (click here for a good description ..)

This ppt is very interesting,.. (click here)

An intro video

Click here for Renewable energy video from NG ..

Friday, February 08, 2019

Block chains Panel Discussion at Alliance Uty, 9 Feb 2019, Bangalore .... ..

Alliance Uty Business School had a Conclave on Block Chain technology , a great panel discussion this morning in the first floor seminar hall. The session was attended by MBA students of sem 2 and sem 4. After an introductory talk by Dr Ray Titus, Dean, the talk started and was moderated by Dr K M Santosh.

The Panel members on 9 Feb 2019 at Alliance U.
The following industry speakers were in the panel. Besides Moderator, Dr. K M Santosh, the other members were Surya Saha (Aon Plc), Apurva Srivastava, Bharat Chabria, Rajashri Mitra, Kapil Jain (Zorang Inc.) and Ajit Kallahally (Accenture).

The discussions touched upon aspects ranging from security of financial transactions, jobs, safety, technology, energy spent, Proof of work, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), Double spending, Sacramento consensus, hard forking, soft forking, segmented motor insurance.

Apurva Srivastava was of the opinion that Blockchain should not be thought as a panacea to all problems. Even though it does away with the mediator in most of the cases, it does not help in all situation for example, may not be good for replacing Amazon, Alibaba in ecommerce. We cannot say over time the inefficiencies of the Amazon / Alibaba model of e-commerce may be exposed and some new Blockchain based technolgies may arrive on the scene.

Demystifying Blockchains ..
Just like TCP/IP created great value to economic value to society by decreasing the cost of connections, it is believed that Block chains will bring great economic value to society by decreasing the cost of transactions. - Prof. Marco Iansiti and Karim Lakhani, Harvard Business School, from The Truth about Block Chain, HBR, Jan 2017.

The above path breaking paper from 2 Harvard Bschool professors give us a framework to predict how Blockchain technology and applications would evolve in the future.  (Click here to read the paper..)

First of all we need connections to communicate with others, may be from any part of the world. Thanks to the TCP/IP revolution, more than 50% of the global population can now be accessed and communicated with over the internet. Once communication or contacts is established either over email, internet telephony, whatsapp text chats, calls and video calls, messenger chats etc ., the next thing is to get to business. ie. after communicating we go ahead with the transactions.

The main aspects regarding transactions are 
  • how do we make transaction fool-proof ?
  • how do we ensure and improve the integrity of transactions ?
  • how do we make it fast ?
  • what technology do we use ? 
  • do we need a client-server or peer-to-peer network architecture ?
  • how do we make to effective to end customers ?
  • how do we make it cheap and affordable ?
  • how do we make it error-free ?
These are all interesting questions that are going to be addressed by the Blockchains of the future.
All transactions that leave a digital footprint are highly susceptible to get affected by the Blockchain revolution.
With Internet pervading almost all aspects of human activity, all human activities will be impacted by the Blockchain. Blockchain sits on the TCP/IP backbone. 

TCP/IP is open source, so is Blockchain..

One great lesson, the TCP/IP and Blockchain revolution is telling the world is that  the only path for the world to progress with foundational technologies is through the OPEN SOURCE path. Letting humnaity share in the spoils and no one entity or group having a stranglehold on humanity on sharing the benefits.

All technologies that been offered as open-source, have got transformed to foundational technologies and have helped transform mankind and humanity in many many ways. The world of profit, rent taking mentality, assuring annual interest, dividend yields etc. are all limiting and demeaning aspects of human progress and development, limiting growth of the human race on planet Earth. They should be set aside as things of the past. 

In the early 90s, nobody thought Internet would become a foundational technology as it is now and would change the way we live, travel, shop, carry business, search for information and so on. In another 15 years Blockchain would also influence our lives and transform the way we carry out transactions and it is sure to raise the standard of living of the people and society, bringing great economic value.

What is the next FOUNDATIONAL TECHNOLOGY after TCP/IP and Block Chain getting ready to disrupt the world was the question for the panel .. They are still thinking about it.

The speakers never thought they would discuss with the audience in under three hours about the many different concepts, possibilities, potential, ideas, postulates, ideas, convictions  and so on. That is the beauty of a Panel Discussion with many subject experts on the panel.  The panel represented experts and practitioners from many fields using Blockchains or planning to use it in the near future. Some discussions on Blockchain applications in the supply chain were also discussed.

The session was indeed an eye-opener to the students who attended in large numbers, the hall was full. This would have been the first such session in any Bschool in Bangalore with excellent and lively participation from industry experts, to try to understand and tame this new technology which has tremendous chances of application in lot of areas. The question answer session was very informative as it brought in many questions and lively participation from the panelists.


Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Solar energy - the new cash crop from Gujarat agri farms

For the first time in the world, from the land of milk cooperatives of Amul in Anand, Gujarat, India, comes another social innovation, solar energy cooperatives from Dhundi in Kheda dist of Gujarat.. 

Solar energy- the new cash crop from Gujarat agricultural farms along with the agricultural produce.... 

Click here for a newspaper report ..

If the Indian farmers around the country take to this combined irrigation mode, ie. on the ground get agricultural produce and on the solar panels, 5 to 6 feet above the ground get solar energy, it is going to be beneficial to farmers across the country in many ways as below.

  • their original occupation on the farm land is left intact and is under no threat
  • they are assured of green electricity to run their homes
  • the extra energy each household generates is sold to the state and farmers get additional income
  • without additional investment, the state gets additional energy and is able to meet the energy needs of a developing society
  • the investment which would have gone for generating power for the needs of the country can now be used for productive applications like medicare, care for elderly etc..
  • easy and free availability of power in the rural areas would help a population under neglect to rise and be partakers of societal growth and the country's development.

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 ..