Titbits from real life 25022020!

Our life is full of interesting and annoying things. Some events create anguish in our minds, but life is good, in general. When you watch the video below, it will confirm that all is well with this world.

The incident took place in Pune. In Pune, the corporation is trying to do its best to make better footpaths, to start with, and in certain areas, the roads are getting converted into a walking plaza. For example, Fergusson road and J M road, main arteries in central Pune. Both are unidirectional roads, and the footpaths on both these roads are being widened. In India, we must have wide pathways because there are a considerable number of people walking. Before this widening, people would walk on roads because the footpaths were narrow and hawkers occupied a part of it. Since the traffic is unidirectional on these roads, the action taken will allow people to walk on the footpaths, comfortably.  Pictures of J M Road and Fergusson Road are given below.

But Pune has a unique road culture. Supreme Court has mandated that two-wheeler riders must wear a helmet. But wise people of Pune think otherwise. They don’t like to wear helmets, so they don’t. In between, there are drives to catch these rule-breakers. But even wiser politicians of Pune intervened and made the government stop such drives. Ultimately, it is my head! Who the hell is Supreme Court to tell me to wear a helmet?

The video above shows Mrs Gokhale from Pune. She did not take law in her hand. The wise riders in Pune treat the footpath as a unique way of riding bikes. Pedestrians don’t exist in Pune. Anyway to hell with them! Gokhale madam, one day decided to stand on a footpath and ensured that the bike riders got down from their High Horse position of riding on footpaths. There is a simple rule in life. If you need thirty minutes to reach somewhere, give at least ten minutes buffer. If you plan your schedule correctly, you don’t need to do stupid things like riding on footpaths. Yes, once in a while there could be an accident which would delay not only you but everybody. It should be treated as Force Majeure in business terms. Force Majeure is unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract and it is a legal term. But no events give you the freedom to break the fundamental laws with impunity. I have seen individuals helping traffic coordination in the absence of police. Mrs Gokhale and these good samaritans give you a good feeling about life. Way to go folks!

Then there was an exciting event about Usain Bolt of India. There was a news item in papers.

Srinivas Gowda, 28, broke the record in Kambala, a sport where people sprint 142m through paddy fields with buffalo. He is said to have finished in 13.42 seconds, while Bolt holds the world 100m record of 9.58 seconds.

People extrapolated the timing for a hundred meters, and it comes to 9.55 seconds. Wow! Incidentally, Gowda looks very fit in pictures. But we all start believing that this is true. Of course, it is printed in the newspapers. Immediately the government agencies woke up and sent him a train ticket to travel to Sports Authority of India office in Bangalore for trials- he did not go. Central Minister Rijju took notice and instructed experts to check.

Somehow in all this hallagulla, we forgot one thing. Gowda is 28 years of age, the age at which or before, the sprinters retire. Nobody gave a thought, how the timings were measured. Was the “start” tracked? No, it was not. Only the end was tracked,  of all the things, by a laser system. We have gone high-tech in buffalo racing!

Athletes like Bolt, practice with equipment, shoes and artificial track. They have special diets, coaches and a whole team of people supporting them and they practice, practice and practice. Their life revolves around athletics. Once these athletes show results, many of them get sponsorships.

Gowda has been running this buffalo race in a sport called Kambala. In the race, the buffaloes run, and persons like Gowda run behind them. They are definitely not pushing the animals, but animals are pulling them. He cannot be running in tandem with the animals. When he gets pulled, is it running? In athletics, the athletes use their toes while running while in Kambala the runner uses the heels for running. The Kambala is a sport where running is done in paddy fields full of water and mud!

Comparing Gowda and Bolt is like comparing Apples and Oranges! But how people fall for such traps? Why is such news even printed? Why a minister sends him an invite?

For records purpose, Anil Kumar Prakash (born 28 August 1978) is a retired Indian sprinter. He holds the current 100 metres national record of 10.30 s set at the National Circuit Athletic Meet held in New Delhi in 2005.

Can it be compared with the rumour of Ganesh Idol drinking milk? Why don’t we see through such items? It should start with news reporters. Poor Gowda may not have even heard of Usain Bolt.

Another surprising thing that we see in India is about the egos of people. For the formal banquet, in honour of President Trump, the opposition leader was invited. The opposition leader decided that because their “Interim” party president was not invited, he would not attend the banquet. Why the party president did not become the leader of the opposition is for that party to decide. Ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also chose not to join because of the same reason. Was he invited because he belonged to a party? No, he was not. He was invited because he was the Ex-Prime Minister. Party affiliation has nothing to do with the invite. It is because of sycophancy in Indian politics, such decisions are taken. Does it matter to President Trump? He will not even notice, either way. During the Namaste Trump event in Ahemdabad, Modi introduced Amit Shah to Trump. From his expression, Trump looked confused. He was asking Modi, ” Who is this guy?”

Another hilarious thing I read was a news item from Kolkata. Communist Party of India (Marxists) took out a procession shouting, “ Trump, Go Home!” What a joke! Who cares for them? People don’t even bother about them in West Bengal? Will their sloganeering matter globally? What is this group of people trying to do? What are they trying to show? Communism does not exist in Russia and China today!

We have all sorts of jokers in our public life so no point keeping the count of these people. They give us relaxation in our daily grind.

Are we ready? 

The year is 2029. The family is eagerly awaiting the birth of the child in the family. As the time comes nearer, the lady is in the labour room. Finally, a baby girl is born. The doctors give a couple of pats on her bottom, and she starts crying. All is well! Everybody is happy and thrilled. The waiting family takes a look at the baby girl who is naturally crying. Doctors tell the family that once the baby starts sucking the mothers breast, she will stop cryingThe baby sucks and stops after fifteen minutes. The mother hopes that she will finally be able to sleep at least for some time.  

But no, the baby starts crying again. An hour passes, but she doesn’t stop crying. Finally, they call the paediatrician again. Doctors phone rings while she is checking the baby. Two-three rings of Mozart’s Allegro 5 and the baby stops crying. The baby stops crying instantly. She is a smart doctor. She asks the mother, “Did you listen to a lot of Jazz during pregnancy?” The mother smiles. The doctor says, “Put some music on when the baby cries non-stop. She is used to your heartbeats and the Jazz. Buy a pair of headphones for the baby too!”  

Okay, this is fantasy but nothing surprising. In the last two decades, our lifestyle has completely changed. WWW, Internet, Social media have touched our life everywhere. Where it will reach in the future, we do not know. In the first decade, we felt that it is okay for senior citizens to stay away from these things. But the rapid proliferation of cell phones has changed many things.  

Bill Gates had made some predictions in 1999. All of them have become reality in the two decades. 

https://www.businessinsider.in/Bill-Gates-made-these-15-predictions-in-1999-its-scary-how-accurate-he-was/11-Online-discussion-boards/slideshow/47090642.cms 

It is both scary and fascinating at the same time. It shows his visionIt shows his smart thinking. Not bad for a college dropout- don’t forget that he was admitted to Harvard before he dropped out.  

The most surprising aspect is that Microsoft is the only company that has remained in the top ten performing companies list during this continuous transition period. They had products with them which were futureready. They were required to make changes to suit the changes in hardware and internet speeds. Their top products are the operating system (they lost out to Google on Cellphone OS), Office needs no introduction. They have gone towards cloud computing using Azure. They are offering storage- free as well as paid using one drive. We talk of Google when we search on the web. But you may not be aware that Bing, the Microsoft search engine, is used by Facebook.  My prediction is that Microsoft will be a top performer in the coming decade too.  

Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and other chat sites had a phenomenal growth during the last decade. But I feel that they have reached their plateau. Now future growth could be average, or they will face fierce competition. Honestly, I don’t know who those competitors will be. 

Finance and banking sector will change drastically in the coming decade. I had two diametrically opposite experiences in the last fifteen days. I had made a couple of iTwitternvestments in equity and Mutual fund. I wanted to redeem both of them. For the mutual fund investment, I had to go to their office physically, wait till my turn came. My work was finished in ten minutes. But I had to travel for about two hours. Whereas in the equity-based investment, my experience was different. 

To begin with, I found out that the management had changed and the name of the company was different. I could locate my portfolio without logging in based on PAN number. I was wondering about the next step, and I saw the button “Call me”! I entered my cell number, and lo I got the callback within in minute, at 8 pm. The person guided me through the procedure; my user id was an extinct email id. He changed it for me online to my present email id recorded with them. I redeemed my investment in ten minutes again, but the system helped me to eliminate the two-hour travel. 

I bought an internet TV recently. Well, internet TV is a TV which is connected to the internet. So, there are distinct advantages. Jaya’s and my cell phones are of the same make as TV. In a zip, they have become additional remote controls. I have not bought Alexa, but finally, now someone in the house listens to me, the TV. Thanks to Google assistant (OS on the TV is Android) I can instruct the TV to do a few things.  

Am I getting too techy? But friends the world is becoming techy to help us perform our day to day things. No point in remaining away from these things. Take help of your grandchildren if required. My six-year-old granddaughter Rhea was talking to us on WhatsApp video call. Suddenly she said, hold on for a moment. I was wondering what she was going to do next. She said, “Now let’s group chat, I have taken so and so on the call.” Thank you, Rhea! 🙂🙂 

What I see in future is that we will have to use the technology, whether we like it or not. Traffic police stop you and ask you for the documents. Now you can’t carry all the original documents in the car. If the vehicle gets stolen along with the papers, god bless you! So, what is the alternative? Well, whether you are twenty or seventy, you need to show the documents like License, the RC book and maybe Vehicle Insurance policy. Simple it is. Open your Digi locker on your cell phone and display all these documents. It is now legal to show the documents on Digi locker. I was coming by an Uber one day. While chatting with the driver, he told me, “A policeman stopped me for a minor traffic dispute. I showed the license to him. He took it away and returned it after fifteen days; I could not use my taxi for those fifteen days.” When I told him about Digi locker, he was thrilled.  

But don’t forget that technology can make mistakes too! A technological error saved the world recently from major conflict. Yes, I am talking of Iran shooting down Ukrainian commercial aircraft. Iranian radar system made an error in judging if it were enemy aircraft or a neutral aircraft. The conflict was saved at the cost of 172 innocent people.  

Technology will have different effects in future. Technology will handle remote car repairs, and you will have driverless cars. But the similar technology will run Uber and Ola. So, people may buy fewer cars. Electrical Vehicles will turn the car business on ithead because twenty parts will replace 2000 parts from the drivetrain. Technology will help invent new drugs and investigation tools. It will bring down the death rate, but technology will make humans redundant in some areas. So many areas, jobs will not be created but will be lost! 

But you and I cannot prevent technological development, newer and better technologies. So, the right idea is to keep abreast with new stuff and start using it. It is no surprise that four-year kids take photos on cell phones, and do many other things. I am sure that in future eighty five-year-olds also will also use technology for everything.

 

 

 

 

 

NRC – National Register of Citizens

NRC is the National Register of Citizens. The idea behind writing the blog was to make people aware of the overall scenario. During the year after independence, different situations have been existing. We started as a developing nation. In Nehru’s times, dams and Public sector companies came up. In Indira Gandhi’s time, we showed the courage to break Pakistan in two. But this act created its problems.  Rajiv Gandhi brought in computerisation. Narasimha Rao made the Indian economy open to the world.

A significant influx of refugees and people persecuted by the Pakistan army had started in early 1971. The movement of people began during the times leading to the 1971 Bangla Desh war. These people included both Muslims and Hindus. Majority of these were from lower financial strata and low social status. During such movement during the partition, the concept of India was just at the formation stage. There was no stable government, nor was the big army to handle a war-like situation. Hundreds of thousands of people, both Hindu and Muslims, were killed in the riots. There were huge refugee camps in northern India. Some of the refugees travelled down to Mumbai and Pune.  

It took years for these people to come to normalcy. But when a similar thing happened before and after the 1971 war, reactions have been different. People of the North-Eastern states had not merged with Indian culture even after 20 years of independence. They had their grievances, especially the people from Assam. They felt overwhelmed by the influx of both Hindus and Muslims from Bangla Desh and West Bengal. Assamese felt that their culture would be submerged in the Bengali culture. The exodus was the starting point of the discontent in North-Eastern states.  

I am not going to into various acts that have been promulgated, modified and remodified. It suffices to say that the problems of “outsiders” coming to India and going into North-Eastern states have started from 1950. Even today, people in other parts of India consider the Indians from these areas as “Chinese” because of their Mongolian features. Assimilation is not complete even today. It is because of the different cultures and physical attributes. There have been agitations and accords galore, especially in Assam. Assamese do not want anybody from “India” to go to those areas. They are afraid that “outsiders” will grab their opportunities, and grab the land and business.  

The agitations have been continuous, resulting in significant unrest in the year 1979. This agitation continued for six years.  

Given this continuing influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Assam, suddenly a group of student leaders in 1979 came out in fierce protest demanding detention, disenfranchisement and deportation of illegal immigrants from Assam. The events quickly developed into a mass movement which came to be known as Assam Agitation or Assam Movement led by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) and lasted six years. It was considered by various intellectuals and media forums as one of the most challenging mass movement in the history of the world led by students’ union, this six-year-long agitation left behind thousands of bleeding hearts, and bloodstained fields. The movement culminated in the signing of a landmark Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) – the Assam Accord, between the agitating parties & the Union of India on 15 August 1985, at the behest of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in New Delhi. 

The accord ended the agitation, but illegal immigration continued. There have been discussions about different cut-off points. They kept on changing due to various modifications in the acts. The actions of locating illegal immigrants kept on happening sporadically.  

The process of detecting and expelling immigrants suffered from teething problems for a considerable amount of time. The first attempt to systematically identifying foreigners by updating the National Register in Assam was through a Pilot Project which was started in two circles. 

The first attempt started in Kamrup district. The second one in  Barpeta district in the year 2010, which had to be aborted within four weeks amidst a massive law and order problem involving a mob attack on the Office of the IAS Commissioner, Barpeta that resulted in police firing killing four persons. For a long time, since the bitter experience in the pilot project, NRC update was considered almost an impossible task by the government agencies. 

It is here that the Supreme Court of India stepped in, the year was 2013, in regards to two writ petitions. Supreme Court has taken it forcefully and made sure that the work was taken up earnestly. But when the government of Assam started the job, they understood the enormity and complexity of the task. The staff went to each family with forms; six persons per family was the norm for the form. If the family was bigger, more forms were required. Supreme Court said that the speed of collecting the data was too slow. I will not go into details of how and what computer system was developed. It was a modern system which could be used both online and offline. It was essential as the Internet was a big problem. Many people were required to upload old documents as proof. Cell phone OTP’s were for people in India and for those who were outside India on travel, could connect using email. Writing about the creation of this system can itself be a subject for one blog.  

Finally, when NRC created the list, 20 lacs people did not have correct documents hence were declared illegal.  In the list majority were Hindus. The finding created significant unrest. The current government had already announced that India should be the land for Hindus of the world on similar lines like Israel is the land for Jews. 

CAA would facilitate Hindus from the list to become citizens from a particular cut off date. But Assamese don’t want this change. They are looking for much earlier cut-off time because they don’t wish to have so many outsiders to become legal citizens.  

Supreme court had given direction to make a list without considering the religion of the individual. Government has now passed a law based on faith.  

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/12/16/cab-now-called-caa/ 

My previous blog about CAB/CAA and this blog about NRC hopefully has cleared many doubts in the minds of the people. There is one more complexity that the government wants to apply NRC all over India. North-Eastern states don’t want permanent outsiders in their states. Now Meghalaya has requested the Central Government to shield them with ILP- Inner Line Permit. ILP is needed by even you and me if we want to visit these states as tourists.  

As I have understood, the situation is too complicated for the general public to understand. Students and political parties are opposing it and have come on the roads rioting. I don’t know how many understand the real situation. 

 

 

 

 

CAB, now called CAA! 

CAB-CAA today has a different meaning than the conventional definition. CAB means Citizenship Amendment Bill and CAA is Citizenship Amendment Act. Here is a disclaimer. I am neither a constitutional expert nor am I a Supreme Court lawyer. I am an ordinary citizen of India like crores of others. I have tried to write in a manner without writing about complexities (there are too many) because I am not an expert. I am also not an intellectual. People like Doctors, Engineers, Architects are not intellectuals. You have to be born intellectual and be educated at JNU, Oxford, Harvard in political science, finance, or at least history! Sometimes Geography is also okay!

CAB was passed in Rajya Sabha on the 11th December after Lok Sabha passed it on the previous day and became CAA the next day; it became law as the President signed the necessary documents. Citizenship, migration is the phenomena of the 20th Century. Before that period,  travel was tough, and a comparatively small number of adventurous people migrated and settled in different countries. The journey from one part of the country to another part was tough. Hence the laws and rules of migration and citizenship have been comparatively recent phenomena.

India was never a single country as we see it today. There were Rajas of various small and big states. I am not sure how people travelled in those days from place A to place B. Hyderabad was a big state under the Nizam. The procedure and documentation involved in going into Hyderabad from outside are not known to me. Was the visa required before independence? After the independence “India” was split into two nations. Bharat and Pakistan (West and East) were created based on religious majority. India had a Hindu majority, and Pakistan had a Muslim majority. Creation of Bangla Desh in 1971 created a significant flux in Eastern India. Many people from erstwhile East Pakistan moved to India and moved to West Bengal/Assam. These people were both Hindus and Muslims.

The partition in 1947 created the first sizeable Hindu nation of the world. The first principle of citizenship is if you are born in a country where your parents and grandparents were born, you automatically become a citizen of that country. The US is a nation formed by migrants. So even today, there is a law in the US that if a child is born on US soil, the child automatically gets US citizenship. They do not bother about the citizenship status of the mother. She can be alien too!

India applies a similar law of citizenship, and those who lived in India at the time of partition automatically became citizens of India. Those like me who were born just after partition also became a citizen of India by birth. This law applies to all the people of irrespective of their religion. India used the same law before and after the CAB bill came into existence. My point is that there is a significant discussion going on, that this bill is against the Muslims, is not correct. The bill has nothing to do with Muslims who are already citizens of India, like me. Such propaganda and discussion are incorrect. I have one question for the intellectuals. Do they know that Muslims in India are far better off than Dalits, Tribals in India? So why not talk about these people?

So why are different groups protesting the CAB bill? Political parties feel that it is an excellent vehicle to create confusion in the minds of the people and get some mileage to push the government politically. People forget that politics is a trapeze act in a circus. Accidents can happen easily if both sides do not follow the basic rules of the coalition. A classic example is Rahul Gandhi’s comment on Savarkar. Shive Sena has immediately retaliated on what he said. I am sure that it will lead to blood pressure and temperature rise in Maharashtra politics.

I have read many articles, treaties, and seen a couple of videos by experts. I have tried to explain the critical issue of CAA in plain English! Now at least I am clear what stakes are involved in CAA. I hope you also will get a fair idea of the same.

CAB1

Why there is a strong protest in Assam? Assamese feel that many Hindus who have “migrated” after the 1971 Bangla Desh war in Assam will become citizens of India. The act will reduce their opportunities in their state by making a large number of migrants Indian citizens. The map above shows the states for which CAA is not applicable. The blue states do not come under the purview of CAA, but it applies to Meghalaya, Assam, and Tripura. These states have a common border with Bangla Desh.

It is important to know what is ILP. ILP is an Inner Line Permit. This permit is required by tourists,s including all Indian citizens. At a time, it is given for seven days; later on, it can be extended if required. For those Indians seeking jobs in these states, it is given for one year at a time; it is also extendable like the tourist permit. The permit is used for keeping intact the special social and cultural fabric of these states. Now Meghalaya has also requested ILP. It will be decided in a meeting after Christmas.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_Line_Permit

Why there is a strong protest in West Bengal? Mamta Banerji is a strong supporter of Muslims. She assuages the Muslim community at the cost of the Hindus. She has a fear that her vast vote bank of Muslims from Bangla Desh will not get citizenship under the CAA. They can be sent back to Bangla Desh.

Don’t miss this horror story of what Jyoti Basu’s West Bengal Government did with low caste migrants who came to India in large numbers before and after Bangala Desh War.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marichjhapi_incident

The concerned people have managed to keep it hidden as much as possible.

Why are protests continuing in Jamia Millia and other such institutes in Delhi? The main reason is that they do not understand the meaning of the act. Secondly, these institutions have been anti-government all the time. The moment they get an opportunity, they start protesting.

There are collateral damages when acts like CAA or action like Article 370 is taken. The first discussion on citizenship had begun in 1971, and it took some form in 1985. Somehow the governments after 1985 kept the status quo instead of acting on the same. The collateral damage of CAA will be the relationship with Bangla Desh. But in the first place, we must note than Bangla Desh never made any attempt to stop the illegal migration of Hindus and Muslims to India. Once India starts acting on this bill, India will send back many Muslims who had illegally entered. The reverse migration can be problematic for Bangla Desh. But is that India’s fault? Pakistan did not like Article 370 action. If they had lived peacefully, India might have maintained a status quo. But continuous terrorist attacks forced India to act in Kashmir. A strong nation needs to act even if others don’t like it. Recently the US sent back about 500 Indian people who were trying to enter the US illegally via Mexico. Did India protest? They were Indian citizens trying to perform illegal acts.

Opposition leaders and intellectuals are raising a question. They are asking why the government has chosen only three countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangla Desh. I feel that it is a matter of policy. Persecuted people are usually in the minority. These countries have Muslims in the majority. The Indian government is trying to help people in the minority. Muslims from these countries have a different route of seeking Indian citizenship. Adnan Sami, Taslima Nasreen, Dalai Lama are the prominent people who have been given Indian citizenship. Ruskin Bond has been living in India for 50 years. If Imran Khan decides on one fine day that he wants Citizenship of India, he can always apply. He will have to follow a standard procedure, and at the end of scrutiny, if he fits the bill, he will get Indian citizenship.

Opposition parties and intellectuals are raising a question of why Sri Lanka (Tamils), China (Uyghur), Myanmar (Rohingyas) and more are not included in the list. India is already giving shelter to Tamils. Rohingyas are coming via Bangla Desh since we don’t have a common border with them. So they have to go back. CAA is a relaxation in rules of giving citizenship and not against taking away citizenship. The government has made CAA to help minorities from these three countries (these countries have a majority Muslim population) who are persecuted. The persecuted majority from these countries can apply if they feel like taking Indian citizenship. The government will consider them under routine migration process.

By no means, this subject is over. Major genuine discontent is for Assamese people. I am sure that the Central Government will sit and talk with Assamese people and their leaders. They will come to an amicable solution with CAA as the guiding principle. Some tweaking may be needed. I am sure both the sides will show flexibility and reach a reasonable conclusion.

Car? No, I would instead take the horse carriage! 

You must be wondering what I am talking about. I am saying that cars will go out of fashion soon, and will be replaced by horse carriages. Technological changes are developed over a period, but once they reach the tipping point, technology spread can be breathtaking. Okay, I was joking!  What I want to say is that IC Engine cars will be replaced by Electric Vehicles!

The photos below were taken 13 years apart. It’s 5th avenue in New York. The first picture was taken in the year 1900, and the second one was taken in the year 1913. Production of the Ford T model started in 1908, and by the year 1930, the equestrian age was over for all practical purpose. Such is the power of disruptive technology.

We can replace these years by the current relevance of electric vehicles; replace the year 1900 by 2010, 1913 by 2023 and 1908 by 2018 the trend looks very similar. IC engine vehicles will be replaced by 2040 if we replace the year 1930 by the same logic. Are you surprised? At least I am not surprised. In the first 30 years of the last century, there were many battery-operated vehicles, but somehow the research in battery technology lagged far behind other developments. IC engine cars took over.

The year 2019 has seen dramatic sales drop in Indian Automotive sector. Sales are down by about 10 % in two-wheelers, by average 25% in cars and 35 to 40% in the commercial sector. Is the point of inflexion in the automotive sector reached? Nobody can explain why this is happening. The only sector where sales are doing well is high-end cars. In this range, people buy cars when they want, recession or no recession!

According to me, there could be many reasons. For the first time in the car segment, the number of second-hand cars sold was more than the new cars sold. Millennials would rather buy a second-hand Corolla instead of buying a new I 10. Or they may not buy cars at all and use Olas and Ubers.  According to me, two-wheeler production has reached a saturation point.  Add to the woes of automotive sector, Metros are getting operational in many large cities; their introduction is also a game changer.

In the commercial sector, many things have happened in the last five years. Roads all over India have become much better. The stoppages of these vehicles at various hurdles has reduced to one hurdle, the toll plazas. Most other checkpoints have gone away because of system changes. Because of this change, the turnaround time of these vehicles has improved drastically. Computerisation, GPS and other such systems have helped to keep track of the vehicles easily. Now toll collection all over India will also become automated in the next few months due to mandatory implementation of RFID technology. It will further reduce the time wasted at the toll plaza! The overall efficiency improvement has resulted in a reduction of the commercial vehicles required by the industry.

Carriage3

On top of this scenario, Electric Vehicles are slowly being introduced. What direction it will take is difficult to predict. But it appears that many Metro cities are trying to introduce Electric buses.

carriage4

In Nagpur, Ola has introduced 200 Mahindra Electric cars. Raipur has introduced 200 Mahindra autos. It appears that established companies are coming into the market strongly. Bajaj Auto has declared introduction of Chetak Electric scooters.

Tata Motors is talking about introducing Electric cars for individual customers. MG Motors and Hyundai have introduced high-end Electric SUV’s, with good range per charge, in the Indian market.

So, the similarity between horse carriages/cars and IC Engine cars/EV’s is not far-fetched! Another strong variable getting into the market is driverless cars. Looking at traffic in India, we feel that it will be impossible to introduce such cars in India. But in the developed countries this technology has been developed, and it is said that driverless vehicles will come on the roads by the 2021/2022. How will this development affect the car segment? Consider a journey which costs Rs 100/ today. If Ubers and Olas of this world introduce driverless cars, the cost of the journey will reduce by say, Rs.30/. Further, they introduce Electric driverless vehicles.  Assume that the running goes down by Rs.20/. The same trip will cost you Rs.50/. When the costs go down so much, will you buy a car? At least I will not buy one. There will be lots of Ubers and Olas on the road at any time.

As the battery costs go down, and as the production is scaled up, the running costs of cars will go down. Even at today’s running costs of EV per km  is less than that of IC Engine cars.

About Electric cars, we forget one thing. The batteries are going to replace petroleum products. Currently, petroleum products are delivered finally through petrol pumps. But there is a huge ecosystem which has come up over a period of one hundred years to reach the fuel to petrol pumps.

Similarly, “the new petroleum products” also need a delivery system. The delivery system is the charging station like the petrol pump. For charging we need Electricity- “the new petroleum”. Increasing electricity production is also equally important; it is equivalent to oil wells. Non-conventional methods like Solar, Windmills and Nuclear power stations are the way forward. In the time frame that I have mentioned above, the required infrastructure will be in place.

What about the scaling of battery production? It is already happening. Tesla is in the process of setting up a Giga factory. Part of this factory is leased to Panasonic. Panasonic brings their raw material and processes it, and produces battery cells. These cells are  handed over to Tesla on the same premises, and Tesla do the final assembly.

Similarly, Volkswagen is also in the process of setting up its own Giga factory for battery production. I am sure other serious players will follow suit. In India, Toyota and Suzuki have joined hands with Toshiba to manufacture batteries in a plant in Sanand. Suzuki will make Electric cars for both themselves and Toyota in India, using Toyota technology. Toyota has joined hands with Mazda in the US!

Unless you make your own batteries, the cost of electric vehicles will not come down. Costs will further come down on scaling. But smaller players will have a disadvantage with the cost of batteries.

I am not an expert in this field, but I have been in the automotive components field all my career. So, my comments are based on my gut feeling. Electric vehicles will spread faster in small developed countries like Norway, Sweden. In large countries, they will spread into the market in regions. For example, in the US, it can happen quickly in the bay area or areas around New York on the East Coast. The introduction will be faster in areas where average daily commute distance is smaller; people anyway will have home chargers.It can happen around London, Paris, Madrid, Frankfurt and so on. China anyway is way ahead of others in EV production. 50% of EV’s in world are currently made in China.

In India, I feel that it will happen faster in buses, taxis, rickshaws and high-end vehicles. In high-end vehicles if per charge distance covered is decent, price hardly matters. Total moving parts in IC Engine cars are 2000, and the same in Electric Vehicles are 20. Hence commercial vehicle maintenance cost will be reduced drastically. Once “new petroleum” infrastructure is in place, the numbers will go up exponentially in cities for local transport like buses, rickshaws. Small cars will be initially costly because of battery prices; hence, their spread will be slower.

Car? No, I would instead take the horse carriage!

Oh, my title was wrong!  I would instead take a Driverless Electric Vehicle!  

Montreal Musings-day to day living V!

Two days after we left Montreal for Pune, it started to snow in Montreal. The coincidence was that the day we reached Pune, it stopped raining. I could see the difference. We in Pune have rains ¾ months during monsoons. The rain intensity is heavy only for a couple of spells of 2/3 days during the season. Otherwise, the rain is hardly ever discussed in Pune and we can move around easily most of the time without an umbrella! But winter in Montreal is quite harsh, and temperatures are below – 0 degrees to sometime –35 degrees. The severity is quite consistent, and people are very much geared up to handle the winter.  

One thing I realised in Canada, that the time taken to get ready to go out is high. Even if you are going out casually, you have to prepare. In India, you may probably quickly change into Jeans and Tshirt. You may wear sandals instead of chappals. In Montreal first you need to check up weather report and understand if it is going to rain, or there is going to be snowfall. You also need to check up if it is going to be windy because the windchill effect is going to create more problems. We may need to wear thermal wear or layered clothing. You need to protect against rains too. Umbrella handling becomes very tricky if it is going to be windy. Then comes the hoody, the scarf, the wool cap and scarf. 

On top of that, you need to select the right jackets depending on the temperature. You also need to decide if you need to wear regular socks (sometimes two on top of each other) or woollen socks! In short, one could easily take ten to fifteen minutes to get ready to go out. Ladies, of course, should add their additional time requirement of getting ready! 

I faced one difficulty. With all this winter gear, our side vision gets restricted due to scarves and hoodies. Plus I always used to cover my nose with the scarf. Due to this covering, there used to be fogging of my glasses, which needed to be wiped regularly. But when there was no rain or strong wind (it did now snow during our stay) walking was a great pleasure. Weather was always fresh, and the pollution was almost nonexistent! I forgot to mention hand-gloves but keeping hands in the jacket pockets was good enough during our stayWe walked a couple of Km at a time, many times and it was fun.  

Another thing I observed was that people mainly wear black or darkish clothes during winter. It is natural as black colour absorbs heat rather than reflecting like the white colour. Another thing we see on the road is other than retired people most people walk very briskly. The brisk walk is because it is so cold that you want to reach your destination as early as possible. Plus brisk walk also generates heat! We living in India do not understand the importance of the Sun because we always have it. In these cold countries, sunny days in winter are infrequentWe are lucky to be living in the region where weather is temperate.  

I came to know during discussions that many senior citizens live all by themselves. They manage with some hired support and sometimes without assistance. I have seen that some larger grocery stores give you free delivery at home if you buy items worth more than $50/. I am sure that there may be some online stores who provide home delivery of many things with or without some rider! Amazon is always there!  

I also saw many shops from the chain https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DollaramaIt’s beginning was in 1905, and it has become big chain with stores at more than 1000 locations. They initially started with items costing around one dollar, but now they have increased the range a bit and have things costing up to five dollars. The change allowed them to increase the range of products they can keep in the store. We don’t buy expensive items daily, and Dollarama has created a store where day to day lowcost needs are satisfied.  

Baklavas1

Baklavas!

I am aware that Canada is a country of immigrants. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of establishments run by Iranians/Libyans and people from the middle-east region. The strong Iranian presence was indicated by the presence of a big coffee shop at the Montreal Airport. Besides having the usual Sandwiches, Lays and Doritos, the shop had a big section selling different types of Baklava! It was like an outlet like the ones we have on Indian airports, Haldiram items.  

Now I have reached the end of my series so let me share my travel experience during the return journey. I am always amazed to see that desi crowd in a group somehow cannot show basic discipline. At the Montreal Airport, the desi crowd on the flight was about 20/25 %The line for boarding and the actual boarding process was quite smooth.

But for my next leg from Munich to Mumbai 80-85%, people were desis. I could see the difference in the behaviour of the people in the queue, unnecessary pushing and shovingDo desis feel that flight is going to go without them? Are they afraid that they may not get a place to sit? Are they worried that they may not get space to put their carry on baggage? don’t know what makes them behave chaotically.

I am sharing below a tweet sent by Mr Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group. 

Only flights to & from India at most airports have so many wheelchairs pre-ordered. Trying to figure out why. 1) Do elderly Indians travel more than others? 2) Do we have more infirm/unfit people? 3) Are we just jugaadus who order wheelchairs to get faster access through queues!?pic.twitter.com/eyIm5O4KB1 

I feel that the third point mentioned by him is the correct analysis. Jugaad is a colloquial Hindi, Bengali, Marathi जुगाड, Punjabi and Urdu word, which has various meanings depending on the situation. Roughly translated, jugaar is a “hack”. It could also refer to an innovative fix or a simple work-around, a solution that bends the rules, or a resource that can be used in such a way.  

Or I feel that we Indians where ever possible, want to cut corners. Where ever possible bend the rule. For ordering a wheelchair, you don’t need a doctor’s certificate. You order it, and the attendant helps you go through all formalities till you are in your car. I can understand this if one is unwell, or one does not know a word in any foreign language. But when you are fit, you know English, and you are going for 5th time, you don’t need this support. But it is the children of these people who are equally responsible; they make them dependent on things and do not explain what needs to be done.  

My neighbour lived in the UK and wanted his mother to join him for the first time. She could speak only Gujarati. We asked her how much foreign exchange she had with her. Her son had arranged for not a single dollar. Then we gave her about the US $50/ in a different denominationand told her if some delay takes place at Heathrow, she could at least buy some biscuits and water. 

I hope in future these folks will guide their parents properly and make them confident. I have seen Goras who are 80 plus, walking all over the airport without any help. 

Now I am back in Bharat Desh, and I can see a lot of fun (stupidity?) going on in Mumbai! Let us watch and see what happens in future!  

 

  

Surprising uses of GPS!

Today is world tsunami awareness day! Taking this opportunity, I thought I will share with you some interesting technical stuff.

Friends, this is not a blog in the usual sense.  It is a compilation of scientific applications of GPS in different fields. I have taken this information from the net but mainly from some documents published by Smithsonian Institution.  I thought I must share this with you folks.

https://www.si.edu/ 

If you are scientific-minded, don’t miss the opportunity to view this site. 

GPS is a commonly-understood acronym that stands for “Global Positioning System,” which in turn is an interconnected system of satellites and receivers that allows for the precise pinpointing of locations anywhere on or directly above the earth. These sorts of systems have become very popular for everyday navigation, and many cars come with receivers installed to help drivers find their way to their locations. Maps applications on many smartphones also provide this sort of turn-by-turn guidance to help people get on the right streets and take the proper exits. Beyond this more “standard” navigation, though, global positioning systems also have a significant role when it comes to navigation on the ocean, deep in the forest, and in other largely “uncharted” areas.  

The current GPS is wholly owned by the United States, but they allow free usage of the same to everybody.

Several other countries and regions, in particular Russia, the European Union, and India, have or are in the process of creating their unique systems. It is to complement the US version but potentially also to augment it and protect local users in the event of failure or other disabling of the services. 

The heart of the system relies on 24 satellites that orbit the planet twice per day. Devices that are equipped with GPS equipment receive transmissions from at least a few of the satellites and can discern exact positioning data. The first of these satellites was launched in 1974, and it wasn’t until 1994 that the 24th entered orbit. New satellites are periodically launched to replace ageing ones. 

The discussion is going to be a bit technical, but I will try my best to make it in English instead of techy language.  

I was surprised to find that GPS can be and is being used for some other applications too! It is nor surprising in the technological world. The human brain can find many different uses other than the intended usages. 

GPS is being used to 

  • Analyse atmosphere 
  • Probe the snow 
  • Sense a sinking 
  • Monitoring the Volcano 

I was also equally surprised to know these usages of GPS systems. I will briefly share how this is done. 

Analyse atmosphere 

Water vapour, electrically charged particles, and other factors can delay GPS signals travelling through the atmosphere, and that allows researchers to make new discoveries. 

A group uses GPS to study the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere that is available to precipitate out as rain or snow. Researchers use these changes to calculate how much water is likely to fall from the sky in drenching downpours. 

GPS signals are also affected when they travel through the electrically charged part of the upper atmosphere, known as the ionosphere. Scientists have used GPS data to track changes in the ionosphere as tsunamis race across the ocean below The force of the tsunami produces changes in the atmosphere that ripple up to the ionosphere. These changes help in predicting details about tsunamis.

Probe the snow 

A typical GPS receiver mostly picks up signals that are coming directly from GPS satellites overhead. But it also picks up signals that have bounced on the ground you’re walking on. It is then reflected up to your smartphone. 

For many years, scientists had thought these reflected signals were nothing but messy interference of signals. Scientists started looking at the frequencies of the signals that reflected off the ground. Depending on how those combined with the signals that had arrived directly at the receiver. By studying these two signals, a scientist could deduce qualities of the surface that the echoes had bounced off.  

Such a study allows scientists to learn about the ground beneath the GPS receiver. For instance, how much moisture the soil contains or how much snow has accumulated on the surface. The more snow falls on the ground, the shorter the distance between the echo and the receiver. The technique is beneficial in areas like Arctic and Antarctica, where having physical weather stations is not practical.  

Sense a sinking 

Scientists placed one GPS station on the concrete roof of a primary school. They set up a second station nearby, atop a rod hammered into a rice paddy. If the ground is sinking, then the second GPS station will look as if it is slowly emerging from the ground. And by measuring the GPS echoes beneath the stations, the scientists can measure factors; the factors as how much water is standing in the rice paddy during the rainy season. 

Monitor a Volcano 

Many volcano observatories, for example, have GPS receivers arrayed around the mountains they monitor, because when magma begins shifting underground that often causes the surface to shift as well. By monitoring how GPS stations around a volcano rise or sink over time, researchers can get a better idea about where molten rock is flowing. 

Before the big eruption of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, researchers used GPS to understand which parts of the volcano were shifting most rapidly. Officials used that information to help decide which areas to evacuate residents from. 

I hope you liked this compilation. The scientific theories behind these applications are too techy. Hence I have avoided using technical terms and tried to make it easy to understand.