Five p. m. blog! 22032020!

You must be wondering, what is this 5 p.m. blog? Well, today on 22nd March 2020, we the people of India came together, to thank a group of citizens of India who are working tirelessly to handle the Coronavirus issue. Many of us came out clapping, blowing conches, thalis with spoons, to thank the team.The charged atmosphere and the thought that people of such a diverse nation from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Gujarat to Tripura can come together for such a cause raised goose bumps. Men usually don’t express such feeling and women do! I had become restless and the result is the blog. It may not be coherent but it has come from the bottom of my heart. How so many people forget all the difference in a calamity and come together was displayed yesterday.  No commentary needed for video below.

Mr Modi, our Prime Minister, suggested the idea. It was a gesture to try and bring as many people as possible on the same page! In the speech about the event, Mr Modi had suggested that all of us should stay at home for this day. It was for social distancing; and say a big thank you to these professionals.  It was to make people realise that this is needed and is doable. I was sure that it was a prelude to strict measures that were to follow.  

Today, most of the train services, interstate buses, Delhi Airport are being shut down.  Many districts in various states in India are now under full lock down till 31st March- to start with. Industries around Pune are also under full lockdown.

People have shared various statistical figures about Coronavirus. To me, the most crucial data is about deaths. The death percentage across multiple age groups is as below. 

  • Children &Teens:0.2% 
  • 20 s:0.2% 
  • 30 s:0.2% 
  • 40 s:0.4% 
  • 50 s:1.3% 
  • 60 s:3.2 % 
  • 70 s: 8 % 
  • 80 s: 14.8% 

Among all viruses to hit our planet, Coronavirus has spread the world over to 160 plus countries, and the number of people affected has gone above 250 thousand or 2.5 lacs. In all other pandemics, the largest was Ebola in 1976, affecting 34 thousand people. Average death percentage is around 4% in the current pandemic.  

But if you see the chart, it is the people above 70 that are in real danger. If these people have previous conditions, it is the worst situation for these peopleEverybody is talking about a small percentage of death. But that is not the correct picture. Most of the deaths are in this “risky” range of people– people in my age group and above. When there is no danger, then why should the people below forty even bother about taking care of wearing masks and social distancing?  

Friends, it is for your fathers/mothers, uncles, grandfathers/grandmothers you need to take care. You may be in a 0.2 % risk region, but these relatives are in a high-risk zone. I am sure when you look at the situation from someone else’s perspective, you will understand the real issue. Plus, these high-risk people also may have undergone some procedures, surgeries or health conditions. Blood Pressure and Diabetes are common in this age group. These preconditions increase the risk from 14.8% to a much higher percentage that I don’t know.  

It is like saying that air travel is the safest way to travel anywhere. The risk is one passenger for more than 13 million people going. But when the air crash happens, there is a chance that 100 % of people die in the crash. For those families, death is 100% certain! So, when the statistics are mentioned, it is better to decipher what is being said.  

The Coronavirus is teaching us to think about others, and on the other side, it tells you “keep distance” for social distancing! These are two conflicting things we are forced to do for our benefit! But that is life!  

What should people in the age group of seventyplus do? Everything is doable. It is the will of the people that is more important. It is what people have understood; that is what is going to make the difference.  

First and foremost is we need to go under total lockdown. In India, nobody exactly knows, at what stage is the Coronavirus spread. That is the reason the government has taken tough decisions to reduce the movement of people. It will also help to prevent people from mixing 

It is easier said than done. But give a thought, activate your grey cells, and you know what we could do. I will start with telling you what Jaya and I do! First is we go out for necessary purchases only twice a week. We go in the car though distances are small. It helps us to increase social distancing. Once we went to a shop selling ready to cook foods. We bought some soups, chicken tikka, and paneer makhani packets along with some other stuff. We usually don’t buy these things, but now we will not be going to restaurants for some time. Ten days, three weeks, one month, two months; we don’t know. It will be dependent on how the pandemic comes under control. So, some things that we eat in restaurants, we will make them at home, and yes maybe we will have candle-light dinner! Why not? One thing we have been doing for some time is playing cards. We continue to play cards every day. Of course, there are music systems, the Bose one, Caravan which has five thousand pre-recorded songs. But now we have a new tool. We bought an internet TV recently. What we do is search for jukeboxes on youtube. These could be Lata, Rafi, Madan Mohan, Sonu Nigam, Shah Rukh, Marathi bhav geete; we select different jukeboxes and listen to audios. The TV has eight speakers and gives a lovely sound!  

Why am I sharing all the details? The only reason is with the changed circumstances, with none of us being able to move out, we need to take care of our mental as well as physical health. How can we do that? For physical fitnessyou can walk around the house or in your parking area. If you are going to the parking area, make sure that you go when there are few to no people. I do it in a little different way. I have a set of dumbells and stretch band with meexercise with these and then do in-place jogging. After that, I do my bending and stretching exercises. Don’t remain physically idle else you can feel depressed.  


Now we have morning tea in our balcony. The weather is delightful, and with a reduced cacophony of traffic, we can listen to birds chirping. Today, we went out for dinner! It’s a new place called “702”; it is in Karve Nagar. Initially, the government has declared ten days of lockdown, but we don’t know how far it will get stretched. So, we had chicken tikka and pulav at home! Jaya cooked both the dishes, and we ate at home! By the time we sat for dinner, we were too hungry. I wanted to change my dress and wear something formal as if we were going to a real restaurant. It is one more aspect I want to suggest. From tomorrow, after the siesta and coffee, we have decided to change to formal dress. Otherwise, for the next two months, we might be wearing T-shirts and track pant 24/7.  

It is an excellent time to try and do something which you have been doing previously or start something new. Celine, our family friend, has begun the cross-stitch work. She is seventy plus. Another friend shared some design that he created out of dry fruits! Mohan has taken out his stock of Wodehouse books to get through these tough times. Scratch your head, activate those grey cells. Some new idea will come out. Remain involved, no point in keeping aloof!  

It would have been easy for us to remain aloof during 5 p m event. But we were involved. It is a matter of taking control of the situation rather than getting dragged into a quagmire. You are not going out of your home. For people like me it could be a trailer of our life after five or ten years, for people in my age group! Who knows? Idea is to learn to adapt! It is in your hands how to remain happy!




Electric Vehicle-another revisit!

During a surprise visit by my grandnephew last night, we went for a quick bite of Idli-Dosa. He works for Tesla. We, of course, discussed the merits and demerits of the Idli-Dosa one gets in the bay area. As usual, it was concluded that you can’t beat the “original” stuff you get in India (it need not be from Chennai, even Pune Dosa is better!) The main subject of discussion naturally, was about EV’s. The original EV maker is Tesla! In such a debate, there never is any conclusion. What one does is exchange information and knowledge. So here we go!  

The development and now the production of EV’s is gaining momentum for higher and higher volumes. China is leading the pack, and almost 50% of global EV production is done in China. Technology wise Tesla is way ahead of the competitors. Tesla vehicles smoothly go 300 miles and above per charge. In fast charging technology, Tesla is ahead of others; they can do it in 30 minutes. Looking at our Pune Bombay travel on Expressway, if the 30 min/300 miles combination is achieved by our car manufacturers, then it is easily possible to make a round trip, the way we are doing with IC engine cars today. The same is possible with Nashik, Kolhapur, Aurangabad. But our car manufacturers are still lagging behind Tesla in the above combination.  

How fast can the EV’s come in daily use and what could be the limitations for them? What will affect the quick proliferation of EV’s? Other than Tesla all giants like Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford, Volkswagen, Fiat have the knowhow to make cars in large numbers, In fact, they have decades of experience in this field. But they are behind in Electric drive technologies and batteries needed for EV’s.  Tesla will struggle to reach large numbers like other giants. Elon Musk twitted Tesla achievement of producing 6000 in a week for the first time in the history of Tesla; Ford Europe CEO congratulated him on the twitter, “Elon congratulations on the great achievement! For your information, we achieve these numbers in four hours”!  This shows that replacing IC engine cars by EV’s in a significant way is not going to be so easy, yet. 

Except for Tesla, most companies making EV’s are having joint ventures, different joint ventures in different countries. Toyota has joined hands with Suzuki in India. They have jointly come together in India with Toshiba to make battery packs! It is interesting to note that Suzuki will make EV’s in India for Toyota too! For EV’s, Toyota is providing technology to Suzuki. Toyota has joined hands with Mazda for making EV’s in the US. What Google and Apple will come out with, is anybody’s guess. But there is a big drive going on for driverless cars. It is expected that in the US driverless cars or their variants may come faster than EV’s.  

Other than the points mentioned above, what factors will decide the proliferation of EV’s. If we see country wise, smaller countries might be able to handle this better because of geography. Creating charging infrastructure, changing laws, changing insurance policies will be much easier to incorporate. With the same logic, the EV numbers will go up in large countries, states or regions. Like in the USA, proliferation will be quite swift on the west and east coast but will take time in mid-Americas because of low population density and vast distances; add to that mountainous regions. 

One exciting event took place. A couple of weeks back, Tesla has opened up all its patents to the general public for use. Musk declared, “We are aware that Tesla alone can not achieve the car volumes required to improve the environment. We are opening up all our patents to everybody with a hope that this will improve EV production volumes fast.”

Similarly, in India, this will occur around metros like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai-Pune. Chennai-Bangalore, Surat-Vadodara-Ahmedabad. There are more such areas in India. But India has similar problems with long distances in rural areas with less car usage. But it will take some time of coast to coast driving in the US, and Kashmir to Kanyakumari drives in India to happen regularly.


The graph above shows the reserves of Lithium in Metric tons in the year 2017. Lithium could be the next oil, and the top four could form the next Cartel, the Lithium Cartel. The battery pack is going to be the most crucial part that is going to limit the production of EV’s. As per current technology available, Lithium is the raw material for batteries. The four nations above are going to be next Arabs for the auto industry. The auto industry is one of the significant consumers of petroleum-based products. As EV production goes up, Arabs and other cartel members will come together and reduce petroleum prices; using IC engine cars will remain more attractive. This will make it attractive to make IC engine cars. So, what will be the product mix in 2030? That will be decided by many factors. 

The product mix in the year 2030 is predicted to be 35:35:30 of EV’s, Hybrids and IC Engine cars. The combination could vary a bit, but the general proportion will be as above. EV’s will be controlled by how car manufacturers other than Tesla adopt and ramp up with the limiting conditions of per charge mileage, least possible charging time and availability of battery packs.   

Hybrids are a combination of Electric drive and IC Engine drive. Hybrids are forced by the requirements of environmental norms; hybrids have a better carbon footprint compared to IC Engine vehicles. The volume of EV ramp-up will not be sufficient to achieve global improvement of environmental standards; hybrid will provide some relief.  

IC engine cars will contain a predictably higher percentage of Petrol cars. Diesel Engine cars are expected to get a major jolt by the year 2022/23 when Euro 7 norms come into existence. These norms will be extremely challenging for diesel engine manufacturers. The cost of development and manufacture of Euro 7 compliant diesel engines can be prohibitive. Volvo has already decided not to manufacture Euro 7 compliant diesel engines for cars.  

It appears that if Electric buses are made available, they will be quite useful and practical. In Pune, about ten Electric buses have started plying on the roads, about ten days back. On the first day, approximately forty thousand people travelled on these buses. Bus application is going to help the improvement of the environment in a big way. Today most of the buses everywhere are run on diesel. They are very polluting, extremely noisy and many times people travel in them because of the lack of other viable options.  

One interesting aspect I must mention. When EV’s are produced in large numbers, industries like casting, forging, heat treatment, furnaces will move towards extinction. Same will be with the car service industry. But as almost 70 % of cars are expected to have IC engines even in 2030, these industries will have more time to handle the life-threatening change.  

My personal experience with EV’s is minimal. I have visited Tesla showrooms a couple of times during my visits to Seattle. In our condo in Pune, a couple of people own Electric Scooters. I drove one of them for a few minutes. The feel was excellent. I have enjoyed a few rides in the Toyota Prius, the Hybrid, and it was a very pleasing experience. 

I am looking forward to owning an Electric Vehicle.  When? It is anybody’s guess!