A little deviation!

My little probe on current politics!

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I generally avoid writing about things that are in public domain and especially related to politics. But some recent events have forced me to temporarily tweak my rule, maybe just this one time! So, pardon me. Many actions in public domain are supposedly taken with elections in view, or some such ulterior motives. As usual ruling party and oppositions parties do not see eye to eye on most things. Only time both sides seemed to have come together, are during national emergencies. But there have been no such emergencies. I am not talking of this government or that party. 

Today I read about a small plane carrying Rahul Gandhi and his close aides, flying from Delhi to Hubli. It appears that as the flight was approaching Hubli, the airplane suddenly lost height, became unstable, and pilots lost control. This was during day time and weather was clear with no obvious winds. Pilots took charge of the plane by shifting from Auto Pilot to manual mode and landed safely. On landing, the entourage approached the police and lodged an FIR, claiming sabotage. The FIR is lodged against the pilots! Do pilots not know if the plane crashed, they will also die? I do not know why FIR was lodged. All, including crew were petrified. If someone wanted to kill the leader why will they put the lives of unknown persons also, in jeopardy? The plane could fall and kill a few on ground too! Are we such a vicious country that we will try to kill some senior leader because of elections? Are we a set of “Stupids” to react this way? Are we so malicious, that we want to charge our opponents of murder? After getting down, the complaint could have been made to authorities. These authorities could have been requested to stop flying the plane for thorough inspection. (apparently this is now done) Who advised this group of people to complain about saboteur? What is this, stupidity or viciousness, naivety?  

On the other side, due to the rise in Oil prices in international markets, petrol and diesel prices at home are also sky rocketing. With elections around in some states and national elections next year, this is supposedly a disaster for the current government. But they are sticking to basic finance rules and not taking any action to reduce these rates by way of subsidies. Sometime back, Indian petroleum sector was linked to international oil prices. A couple of years back, we got the benefits of very low petrol/diesel prices. Popular measures may be good politics but it is not good for the nation. This is an extraordinary courage being shown by the government.  

Supreme Court Chief Justice issue is one more such saga. I do not understand much about law of the land. But it was apparent from the beginning that this action was going to boomerang on the people who started the action. First and foremost was that the opposition parties could not form a coalition, based on similar thinking. The numbers were not there, and according experts, logic behind the action was not tenable. With this background there was no point in moving ahead. But why they moved forward is a mystery! Do they have no other agenda? Do they have nothing viable to pressurize the government?  

AFSPA is Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA), are Acts of the Parliament of India that grant special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in what each act terms “disturbed areas”. Tripura government has withdrawn this act after 18 years. This was promulgated when situation there was bad and there was no option left. But somebody has reviewed this and taken a decision to withdraw these. This is creditable because generally nobody wants to bell the cat. Decisions in the government, are generally left to bureaucracy and their motto is status quo! Generally, there will be no review, things keep on lingering. One arm does not know what the other arm is doing! That reminds me of a small anecdote from Solapur district. In the district collector’s office, there was a file called “Report for the Queen”! Nobody knew what it was. But every month a group of officers was creating a mundane report, to be sent to the queen (of England), naturally! This procedure was started more than 100 years back during British Raj and continued till the year 2000! Review? What is that! 

Last but not the least is current China visit by our PM. Both our countries are large and with big population. Somehow China has been coming in the way of many things that India wanted to do on the world stage. May it be Pakistan, Sri Lanka or United nations China has always tripped India; on top of that there has been continuous probing on border posts in Himalayas. These type of skirmishes, are always stressful and can prove to be very expensive, even money wise, with no tangible results. Our PM has realized this and has taken first step to cool down tensions with China. There will be give and take, but we need to be pragmatic and keep our egos aside! That is the real diplomacy. I always felt that India was always lagging in finesse in diplomatic relations, though there has been improvement in last ten years or so. There were no declarations, no noise, just tête-à-tête between top bosses; it appears that meetings will be regular in future! I felt that this is a feather in the cap of our Government!  

Are we showing maturity in our governance? Are we not afraid to take steps which may be termed bold? But one thing is sure, we continue to be idiots, stupids and smart at the same time. Mainly the political arena has to change! Can we be a little smarter in our internal political moves also and try to be less confrontational? Hope we mature in this area too!  

Jaihind!  

 

 

  

Naysayers or anti dev!

Naysayer is one who denies, refuses, opposes, or is skeptical or cynical about something!

There is an abundance of everything in this world including the naysayers! I don’t think we are born naysayers, it is the characteristic that we develop over a period. Like all other things, this human trait gets developed over a period due to circumstances in which we grow, people we have come across, maybe ones education. But when I think about naysayers that we see sometimes, it is really difficult to judge why one becomes a naysayer. One may be opposed to an idea, or thought process but one cannot be opposed anything new, it can be a new thought or a new technology!

These thoughts came my mind while I was reading about Bullet Train project. Why does India need a bullet train? What is wrong with today’s trains? They take you from place to place, sometimes on time with some comfort. Why change the status quo? To me bullet train is not a train, it’s a concept! I am advisor to a Japanese conglomerate in India. One customer of ours wanted to visit the plants in Japan. He wrote an e mail asking what is buffer time he should keep to catch a flight from place B. He was to travel from place A to B by bullet train. He got a reply from Japan, “What buffer time are you asking about?” Our friend was not sure if the train would reach in time for the flight. When he mentioned this, reply from Japan was, “No buffer time needed! Shinkansen never gets late! Only if there is major earthquake it can get late!”  When we have bullet train in India, I am quite sure part of a system in India will reach international level! Between Mumbai and Ahmedabad it is going to stop at 7/8 stations and will improve systems in those areas! 

Shinkansen

We have all seen this, look at Metros all over India. Very rarely we see Metro trains getting late, platforms being dirty and so on. This is observed all over India. Who uses Metros? Everybody! Why this has happened? It is said that a place is modern when rich use the public transport! We as a society are open to these changes, but our naysayers don’t want them. Sometimes I feel that naysayers are worse than the politicians. They do not want any modernity or a change. Kolakata metro is more than 20 years old but still remains spik and span!  

KolMetro

It is not about modern technology, it is about modern thought process. Modern methods that new technology can usher. When Mumbai Pune expressway was being planned the naysayers were of course dead against it! What happens after 20 years! We cannot imagine life without the expressway. Modern Facilities, infrastructures not only involve technology but a new way of thinking. In many countries train and bus systems are so well connected that they have a single ticket which can be used across the systems. New way of thinking comes up with new solutions. Indian railways is in the process of establishing a diesel engine plant in Bihar which is expected to go live in a year or so. But world over, the thought process is shifting from Diesel to Electric! In today’s papers, there is a news item that discussion is going on with the Partners GE about trying to find out ways of discontinuing this project. Govt maybe forced to pay more than US $ 2/ billions but in the long run it is nothing but benefits! Seeds of this discussion are already sown! Naysayers will of course say, “Oh, we are wasting money!”  Govt has recently scrapped 11 power projects based on coal and have decided to go ahead with Nuclear plants! This is again having the same reason as that of diesel engine plant! These two are examples of how serious now India is about environment! 

Recently we travelled from Zurich to Frankfurt by train. Tickets were bought a couple of months in advance. When we went to Zurich and checked, I was a given a route paper saying that some track work required emergency repairs hence instead of direct journey there was a change in route. After one hour we changed the train, then we reached a very small station by another train, where there were no escalators etc. We were worried as our bags were heavy. But they had made arrangements for senior citizens; our bags were carried free of charge by porters to the other side of the station and put on a bus. The bus took us to another station about 15 kms away. At that station, we were put on a train to Frankfurt! Had there been naysayers in the railway system, they would have told us, Sorry! This is your refund! Have a great trip! What I could have done if I was given refund! Nothing and scramble for a way to go to Frankfurt! But it is positive thought process, because of which, we reached Frankfurt, only about ½ hour late!

How naysayers were against Maruti? They wanted people to continue using Ambassador and Fiat! Rajeev Gandhi introduced the idea of computerization, Manmohan Singh opened the economy in 1992! How much resistance was there! Our naysayers wanted to keep on following socialistic model where everyone remains poor! Even after their Citadel Soviet Russia had failed!

Maruti800

What is the profile of a naysayer; they are generally good speakers, are against any sort of development, have lawyers in the group, an engineer is thrown in between for technical arguments, and are generally know all. What is their agenda? NGO’s preferably foreign funded, are in their gambit, with foreign trips thrown in for lucky few! Their favorite subject also include housing encroachment on hills and tree felling! If half the hills are encroached by illegal shanties it is fine but someone tries to build something legal! Heavens will fall. Good old SFO is a city on hills and there many such cities world over.

SFO

In the city of Pune where I live in India, the usual traffic issues are there. For last 15/20 years government is hoping to build a road on the hills which may take care of bottle necks! Court cases started and it was ruled that, against each tree brought down, ten new trees should be planted. Government agreed to plant 50 in place of ten. Effect, one more court case against with another issue! What is the solution for this?

In democracy these things keep on happening. Patience is what is needed! I am not arguing that there should be no opposition; in fact different views always bring out the best possible solutions, most of the times. But opposition for the sake opposition is not the way forward. Years ago, India’s well known industrial doyen Shantanurao Kirloskar had said, ” Are trees for us or are we there for trees?” Hope our society will carry forward his wisdom and make this world and especially our city Pune, a better and modern place to live! 

 

 

 

 

Auto Industry 2040?

Auto Industry Circa 2040. where will it be?

WOW! MMG! DISCO! These could be names of some of the leading auto component industries in the year 2040! Why have I selected the year 2040? Simply because everyone is talking of this year for introduction of electric cars in a big way; from this year onwards, the real downward trend in manufacture and use of IC engines in the cars, as we know them today, will begin. I am simply assuming that the cars will be available, similar to the cars of today. Masses of cars will be driven by humans, they will have a steering wheel and a power plant/train to give them. They will have some form of braking, electrical system handling various functions, wheels and body with fuel storage area, air conditioning and so on! Things inside could be fancier with more and more entertainment, superior navigation abilities, drivers may become more stress free as cars systems will be able to understand many things and may take over some functions from humans. Internet of things (IOT) will allow things that are not even thought of today.

This is part of evolution of human race but this could be culmination of major change that is taking place currently. The “new” car industry is putting its toddler’s steps today. Evolution is nature as everything in this world is always evolving! Basic driver for these changes is computers and computer chips. The car industry will be using different chips and will capture lots of data data generated by various systems. This data will be in endless loop and will allow cars to function more and more efficiently.

What will be the difference in the cars of today and those in 2040? Today’s power plant, the Engine & Drive train will be replaced by Batteries and Motors. Today’s drive train, gear boxes etc will be just be not there. The exhaust system as is known today will be simply not be needed because there will be no IC engine, both Petrol and Diesel. Gear box and the whole system is really not needed because their function can easily be handled by Electric Motors. Even today, in electric cars, there is a single gear which reduces the RPM to what is needed to drive the car at allowed speeds!

There are many companies that are manufacturing the components that are discussed above. These components may become redundant over a period of time due to introduction of electric cars. Bosch, Denso, Continental, Valeo, Aisin Seiki are some of the major players that manufacture the cluster of these components. These companies together manufacture products worth US $200/ billions every year.  These products may comprise of 40% to 70% of their current turnover. The giants must be already studying the questions that have come to my mind. How are they handling these questions? I am sure it’s a tough call to all of them though they have the where withal and deep pockets to handle difficult situations. Some have started making navigation products, some are making parking assist, camera -related systems. But suddenly new names are being heard in these discussions as vendors. CISCO, NVIDIA are some of them. Some are direct vendors to car makers and some are vendors to components manufacturers.  Where is the real scope for new development and business? Battery packs, battery charging technology to increase per charge distance that the cars can travel today! All other developments that are computer related can also happen in IC engine cars too! TESLA is already building a giga factory for their Battery Packs! So will the “new” component business be taken over by Car Manufacturers? Suzuki, Toyota and Toshiba are coming together in India for big battery plant! What happens to smaller manufacturers of these components? Will they survive the major change? Will “WOW! MMG! DISCO!” replace them? Only time can tell.

In car making, after a long time, new name TESLA, started coming into prominence. TESLA came mainly for the new product offering. It appears that technology like fashion goes round! Till first two decades of last century, IC engine based transportation was not very popular. Trains used steam, cars used electric power plants; but battery technology could not catch with the then needs. Hence IC engine cars and trains became popular. From the existing car manufacturers, some are already manufacturing electric cars more than what TESLA is producing. On top of that they have a running profitable business producing IC engine cars. But one thing is for sure they have the humility and know where they lack. Look at what Volkswagen Brand CEO Deiss has to say about TESLA! 

VOLKSWAGEN brand CEO Diess has said that VW which manufactured 5,987,800 cars last year has to catch up with Tesla which produced 83922 cars last year. “Tesla belongs among the competitors which has abilities that we currently do not have,” Diess said in the interview with “Inside”, a publication for VW employees. Around half of Tesla’s engineers are software experts, while at VW’s core brand it is a much lower proportion, Diess said. Tesla has good electric motors, a fast charging network, autonomous driving technology, internet connectivity, and a new approach toward vehicle distribution. “This shows that we need to significantly improve. We can do this. We measure ourselves against Tesla quite deliberately. Our goal: Using our abilities not just to catch up, but even to overtake,” Diess drives an electric VW Golf.

 Current giants have ready infrastructure and eco system to make and sell millions of cars. They of course lack Electric car eco system as mentioned by Diess above. Their main struggle will be recharging stations for electric cars; but TESLA is also going face the same problem! The question arises if TESLA, a loss making company, a start-up, survive? Let’s look at the startups from the Silicon Valley and the west coast, who really made it big in computer industry sunrise era. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple they all became very big with the products/services that never existed before. TESLA is pitted against the giants for making existing products where the main “driver” is only a different technology! That’s a huge disadvantage. Fighting against giants, who have woken up a bit late, like Mercedes, Honda BMW, Toyota, GM, Ford, Fiat, Hyundai is going to be very very tough for TESLA! Some of these giants are also going to suffer or may merge! My take,Continental TESLA may cease to exist  by 2040 or even earlier as it is known today! Takeover? Maybe!