Friday, May 31, 2019

Should social media apps like FB and Google continue their exploitation of the customer ?

I had the good opportunity to read an interesting article in HBR of May '19 titled "Don't break up Facebook, treat it like a utility"

At first the article and is contents went over my head. I had not come across any conversation nor articles till then that discussed the exploitative business aspects of social media. Then I decided, as a Bschool professor, how can I let it go just like that without straining my intellect at least a bit ?

The popular social media apps
The article I found stressed on why free apps like FB, Google etc need to be reined in to prevent their undue exploitation of the customers.

We all know by now, these apps cannot be totally disbanded by governments or legislation or taken out of global service as they contribute in no small measure to many aspects of consumer interest, facilitating seamless communication and the power of networking - helping make global communities and reducing the threat of war and destruction ..

However, to prevent undue exploitation of customers, clear policy guidelines need to be brought in to prevent these finely balanced services from misusing customers from their position of dominance without inviting the wrath of policy regulators from doing away with them outright.

A point which all of us are unaware - Is Facebook and other popular social media apps exploiting customers ?  On the face of it it is a big NO .. It is so simple..

As a user of social media, the customer considers himself lucky as he/she is
  • not paying any physical currency to be in touch with his friends over voice calls, video calls
  • not paying money to be updated about all events happening around him
  • not paying anybody to keep pumping his screen with loads and loads of modern and latest information, developments and knowledge
  • not paying anybody to keep himself informed and educated with latest developments happening around the world through videos on Youtube etc ..
Then what is the problem ??

You may have heard people say, there is nothing like a free lunch ! Of late, have you observed there is a surge in unsolicited telephone calls and messages coming to your mobile phone asking whether you need a free credit card, quick disbursal loans, opening new bank accounts or insurance policies and what not ! From where did they get your data ? Who has benefited by monetising the customer data ?

Yes, now I think you understand. You were being digitally exploited ! You were not paying any currency to Facebook, Google or other apps, but they were extracting a currency from  your digital world without your permission. The currency they extracted was not money but a complex combination of the individual's personal data and attention.

These firms' business models are like the 2 sided platform models. 
Extract the end customer's currency on one end of the platform (the customer's personal data and attention) and trade it for monetary returns at higher rates at the other end of the platform.
All this happens without the hapless customer's knowledge or consent !! And the customer cares less, as he is unaware of this new business model ..

Imagine, there are almost 2 billion people around the world who have fallen silent prey to this unethical, intelligent exploitation of the ignorant and hapless  customers !! It is high time social media sites be made accountable to the public..

When such innovative commercialisation of ideas breeds exploitation of the individual, are the democratic rights of the individual important or the freedom of markets to exploit the ignorance of the customer ?

We need to address this question together - how can the society and world at large act to prevent the exploitation of the individual ?

Ref : Dipayan Ghosh, Dont breakup Facebook, treat it like a utility, HBR, May 2019. 


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Rogue CFC11 gases coming back into the atmosphere ?

Globally we are aware of three international treaties and agreements that have played a major role ensuring less environmental damage, promoting sustainability of the environment. They are the Paris Agreement, Stockholm Protocol and Montreal Protocol.

  • The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, signed in 2016. It deals with Global rise in temperatures and measures to contain this by 2099.
  • The Stockholm Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants, an international environmental treaty, signed in 2001 and effective from May 2004, that aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of persistent organic pollutants. Pesticides and fertilizers that are harmful to humans like Endosulfan in Kerala was banned through this act.
  • The Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone layer (like ChloroflouroCarbons, CFCs) is a landmark international agreement designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. The treaty was originally signed in 1987. The Ozone layer prevents the cancer causing ultra violet rays of the sun from entering the earth's atmosphere.
  • Kyoto Protocol - The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the scientific consensus that (part one) global warming is occurring and (part two) it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it. It was adopted in 1997 and effective from 2005. The Paris Protocol was a result of the US' non-cooperation to sign on the Kyoto Protocol recommendations that wanted to limit green house gas emissions across the countries of the world.

A refrigerator assembly plant in Xingfu, China, pic courtesy, Nature.
Of late as reported by Nature magazine, (click here for the link), the Ozone layer, protected by the Montreal Protocol, returning back has been halted by almost half which has alarmed the scientists and ecologists. Somewhere in the world CFC gases are getting released into the atmosphere.

From 2008 till 2014, the re-emergence and rebuilding of the Ozone layer was at an annual rate of almost 0.8% while from 2014, it has been found to be growing at only half that rate. 

China's north east industrial area of Xingfu is known for assembling refrigeration equipment. Scientists with monitors in Korea and Japan have been able to detect higher doses of Trichloroflouro methane (CFC11), the most potent of all ozone depleting gases in the atmosphere, the production of which was discontinued globally from 2010. It is traced and reported that about 3000 tonnes annually of this CFC 11 gas is being released from Xingfu annually into the atmosphere since 2013 aggravating the situation and violating the international protocol. Another 4000T of rogue CFC11 emissions still remains to be identified, the origin of which needs to be accurately ascertained.

China has been officially communicated to ensure international agreements are followed in word and spirit. Hope China agrees to follow international conventions and protocols for the better future of humanity.  Click here for the paper published in Nature, lead authored by Mathew Rigby, University of Bristol, UK.


Saturday, May 25, 2019

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

Nadia Murad, image coutesy Nobel Committee
The first time I heard about Nadia Murad  was when she was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize for 2018 by the Nobel Committee in Stockholm. Last year, 2018, on the 10th of December she was awarded the very prestigious Nobel Peace prize for her contributions and efforts to bring peace in the world. More than bringing peace she is credited with the efforts to bring the terrorists and criminals of the Islamic State of Iraq and North Syria(ISIS) to justice.

The story of Nadia Murad, a member of the Kurdish speaking Yazidi tribe in North Iraq, (click here for a wikipedia report  on the Yazidis)  now 26 years goes this way. She was barely 21 when she was torn away from her home, her school, friends and family. Her six brothers were brutally murdered, she was separated from her mother and sexually molested by different members of the terrorist group ISIS at different parts of North Iraq. Her escape (illustrated in her biography, The Last Girl, Virago Press, 2017) from the clutches of ISIS around 2015 after three months of cruel torture as a sabaya (sex slave) is hailed as one of the most daring by any woman in recent years from the religious fundamentalists of the world.

Yazidis follow a monotheistic religion (believing in one God) unlike the polytheistic religions of Hinduism, Budhism, Taoism, Shintoism etc.. Yazidism is on par with the Mesopotamian religions and has traces of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam but are not part of Zoroastrianism which also has its traces around the same region. The vastly successful Tata family of India are originally Zoroastrians from Northern Iran who migrated to Gujarat around the 1830s. 

A 1920 pic showing Yazidis in Iraq
During the time of religious cleansing (Arabisation as called by Saddam Hussein) upto 2003 and followed by others who wanted to categorise them as Kurds led to the group getting scattered across North Iraq and Syria.

Yazidis are an endogamous (marrying only within the tribe) group in total about a million around the world. Iraq holds about 300,000 to 500,000 Yazidis while the rest of the world hold the other half million. Germany holds 300,000, the other 200,000 members are  scattered across Syria, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, France, Sweden etc. striving for their cultural and religious identity. The migration to parts of Europe has been of late.

Continuing the Kurdisation process of the Yazidis in North Iraq, ISIS too started meddling in the lives of the Yazidis. ISIS by 2014 had started to control different parts of Iraq, after Saddam was killed by the US forces and Sunnis had started to regain control over different parts of Iraq.

The present day fine stock of the Yazidi tribe
The Yazidis, who claim to be following the Supreme God through his messenger Tawuse Melek, staying in the foothills of the Sinjar valley were given the option to convert themselves to Islam. When she and her tribe members refused to convert to Islam, in her hometown in Kacho in the Sinjar valley in North Iraq, they were subjected to this torture by the members of ISIS. As a young girl of just 21 years she was mentally traumatised very much and was determined to bring her tormentors and molestors to justice.

Her life for the past four years has been dedicated to traveling around the world to different cities and gatherings and speaking to them about the horrors of the ISIS regime. She is aware that she has been lucky enough to escape from the cruel clutches of ISIS, unlike the thousands of girls like her who are still in the control of ISIS, even though ISIS has been disbanded in Iraq.

Listen (click here) to the Nobel Prize acceptance speech by Nadia Murad, 26, winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. In this acceptance speech, 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. 😪😪

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. 🙏🙏🙏

Click here to listen to her Nobel Prize acceptance speech .. (with English subtitles) ..

Her biography The Last Girl (click here to order from Amazon India) is a glowing tribute to her spirit to continue life in spite of all hardships, personal losses of loved ones, sexual molestation and negative events in her life inflicted by Islamic fundamentalism, more specifically, the 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 ?? 🙏🙏

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 !! 🙏

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 !!👍   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 .. 👍

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,

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 ..