Is it three cheers for EV’s or one cheer?

EV’s are here to stay!

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The other day I was at a party held by foundry technology experts group to commemorate an individual landmark. Fish, chicken and various tikkas were available in abundance. Liquor was flowing and I was as usual high with my drink H2O on the rocks! Different subjects were being discussed, old memories were shared. It was a fun atmosphere. I asked someone who is in foundry related service industry, “What do you think will be the effect EV’s on your business? And when do you think it will start affecting your current business?” He was very candid and said, “Yes, this is going to affect my business in a big way, that may be felt from year 2030. But then by that time it will be for my next generation to handle it, and not me!”

There were 2/3 others in this discussion. One of them was a foundry expert plus, energy consultant. Another person was a foundry expert for an International giant for Asia Pacific region. I am none of these but as a hobby, I read a lot about Electric Vehicles and consequently about Energy situation. It was mentioned that one the industrial giants, Kalyani group is already jumping the EV components bandwagon. Tata, Mahindra, Suzuki-Toyota combine, Hyundai (they claim that they will launch their first EV in India ahead of Suzuki-Toyota combine in 2019 itself.) will be four major players in India; for these four mentioned companies, it is imperative to be in EV market. Suzuki manufactures and sells more than 50% of their global production in India. Hyundai’s India % is sizable. Tata/Mahindra are local companies so they have to do it and have started off well in EV’s. My other friends were arguing that that 2030 is too early but inflexion point for production will come around 2040 which is 22 years hence.

(Point of Inflexion means a moment of dramatic change, especially in the development of a company, industry, or market.) 

Another argument was about power availability in India. I felt that people’s information on power situation in India was a little dated. India has jumped the power bandwagon in a big way. Solar and wind power may not need long distance transmission of power as is normally done, thereby reducing transmission losses. It could be done locally and there are huge number of diesel engine run water pumps in India, in rural areas. I will not go into details of whether this achievable but I can say that power generation costs have come down in India by using non- conventional methods; one tender was sanctioned in Gujarat in Dec 2017, at Rs.3/ per unit as against Rs.6/ plus of coal and fossil fuel methods.

http://powermin.nic.in/en/content/power-sector-glance-all-india

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

These links give details about power generation situation in India as on Dec 2017 and renewable energy projections upto 2022, respectively. The argument in the party was that current power production is way below even today’s needs, so how can India feed EV requirements. When fossil fuels rates are controlled by Arabs how will we get cheap power? The two links clearly show that the current power generation situation is not as bad it is thought by many. In some areas in India there is a power surplus. Our current problem is that the grids are not able to distribute the power from surplus areas. As more and more power in India is going to be generated by non-conventional sources like solar and wind, price reduction  of power will quickly happen and capacities will be added faster! This is already happening in Germany and in California!

According to my understanding the Point of Inflexion for introduction of EV as a product reached long back. In September 2017 total EV production in the world was 1,23,000 which was 56% above 2016 Sept sell. Extrapolated to yearly sale it will be 1.45 million against world production of around 90 million. This is about 1.6%. This indicates that point of inflexion of product proving is crossed. There are reasonable number EV’s on the road. Major manufacturers like VW, Toyota, Ford, Nissan already have big plans for EV’s which will start rolling out in larger numbers.

In the discussion I was having, someone had a view that EV is just a passing fad and will die soon. IC engines can never die! This I felt was a very naive thinking. This gentleman also suggested that many products showed a lot of initial potential and then died. There are two strong reasons why this will not happen for EV. First is pollution. Delhi, London, Beijing and many others are classic examples of what havoc pollution can do. World is not left with many choices but to get pollution free methods of motoring around. Secondly, countries which have large amount of fossil fuels currently, control the economy and inflation related issues. World already has said enough is enough. Big searches for different methods are underway for alternative fuel. Already some major cities and some small nations have started creating laws which will be effective in not allowing diesel cars within their limits ; later on they will not allow even registration of fossil fuel cars.

Smaller companies have already made their foray into electric tempo, riksha. These are one of the most polluting vehicles. This is a good sign as the last mile is always tricky. These are not very costly and fancy vehicles, so big shots will not be interested. Another good sign is people are also talking of making ships run on EV! It is doable, weight and space is not an issue for them. Buses appear to be next after cars but I am reading about leading companies like Hero, Bajaj and Honda foraying into Electric two wheelers.

So, whether we like it or not, whether we know about it or not, whether we want it or not EV’s are here to come. So, during my next party with H2O on the rocks discussion will be more about when and not about “if” of EV’s. Cheers!

Supreme Rubble!

My take on Supreme Court situation!

Last two days saw tremendous churning in India’s democracy. We are proud to be the largest democratic nation in the world. India is also described as a functioning anarchy. Our friends from different countries are simply amazed to see how our country works both in good and bad way. In am sure, that some of them will be worried that if India were to become a more disciplined country with disciplined people, we will overtake most of the other countries in everything as we have large population which is hoping to get more educated. We are doing it anyway in our current chaotic status. Judges did not need to add to it!

Before writing anything further I am sharing with you the Oath taken by judges during swearing in and the Procedure to Impeach Supreme Court Judges. All rights are with the Collegium. This is important because then we will understand that this institution of judges is independent of the Executive functions i.e. the Government.

OATH TAKEN BY JUDGES

will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, that I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my ability, knowledge and judgement perform the duties of my office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will and that I will uphold the Constitution and the laws.

IMPEACHMENT PROCESS FOR JUDGES

As Per Article 124(4) of the constitution, President can remove a judge on proved misbehaviour or incapacity when Parliament approves with a majority of the total membership of each house in favour of impeachment and not less than two thirds of the members of each house present. For initiating impeachment proceedings against a judge, at least 50 members of Rajya Sabha or 100 members of Lok Sabha shall issue the notice as per judges (inquiry) act,1968. Then a judicial committee would be formed to frame charges against the judge, to conduct the fair trail and to submit its report to Parliament. When the judicial committee report finds the judge guilty of misbehaviour or incapacity, further impeachment proceedings would be taken up by the Parliament if the Judge is not resigning himself.

The Supreme Court of India is totally independent of the executive and can take up certain cases under its aegis Suo Moto (on their own). This is a great counter balance to governments which many times behave in a manner which are guided by personal thoughts or political thoughts. The improvement of the people and state of the nation are their objectives but governments tend to slip! Classic example is emergency declared by Indira Gandhi’s government in 1976. Government had taken away Habeas Corpus.

Habeas corpus (/ˈheɪbiəsˈkɔːrpəs/; Medieval Latin meaning literally “You may have the body”) is a recourse in law whereby a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment before a court, usually through a prison official.

Supreme Courts are expected to act against such events. Discussion about emergency will be another matter, hence I am sticking to the current events. When such an august body like Supreme Court is in upheaval, nation is bound to sit up and notice. We cannot go against this act to any court. Everybody has to say things very cautiously, so that basic laws are not broken. There is no authority in our country which can resolve this issue; it needs to be resolved by itself. It’s like asking cancer cells to cure the disease.

I was trying to understand the situation with my limited knowledge on the subject. But I find the following.

  1. I felt that there is some conflict of interest
  2. I am surprised that out of 25 judges, four senior most judges have rebelled, if I may use the word. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sitting_judges_of_the_Supreme_Court_of_India
  3. Out of four three may never get the opportunity to become Numero Uno as their retirement dates are before or very similar to that of current Chief Justice.
  4. It is already a known fact that even President of India has no say in this matter.
  5. It is expected that the judges do not take press conferences, have direct connect with people; you and me can be friends with anybody and everybody, but judges can’t do that!
  6. This unprecedented act was according most analysts, uncalled for because the solution for this issue has be found from within, there are no other options. When a reporter asked one of the judges if you are looking to impeach chief justice, he said that it is for public to decide! How does public decide, when this out of gambit of everybody else including government?
  7. There is a story today, that government is now trying to change the method of selection of judges. Currently judges select judges. Why open a gate for outside interference?

What did these four judges achieve with this act that created a situation where the rubble is created out a strong judicial building? What made these wise old men to act this way? I am not sure if the story will ever come out. What are the results of this act? Rumour mongering has started. People have already started making this a political issue. An item on the net says, that these four judges are congress supporters; since CJI allowed 1984 cases of Sikh killings to open up these four revolted. He is supposedly pushing faster resolution of cases against Lalu. Come on, suddenly honest judges don’t become partial. In fact, in last few years many politicians have gone to jail, and many were released due to lack of evidence! This clearly indicates that things are hale and hearty in the judicial system.

By this press conference, they have opened a Can of worms, but Can is with them and with no one else. They themselves have to put the worms back. Media will have a great material to improve their TRP. There will be media circus going on for some time! So, my usual question is Why? Why and Why? Honestly, I have no answer and I hope that the issue will be resolved as soon as possible but I know that it will an outwardly resolution and not a real solution.

The main contention of these wise men was that institutional traditions were broken. These traditions have started more than 100 years, do they not need change? Currently government is repealing laws that exist in our constitution that have absolutely no relevance in today’s time. About 20 years back, they found out in district of Solapur, a report was being generated and obviously filed. I will tell you why. This report was giving a list of somethings done during the month and was needed to be sent to, of all the people “Queen of England”! This was in year 1995. Can you believe it? This was stopped right away. We have switched from messengers, to postal letters, couriers, to e mail, to SMS, to WhatsApp messages. Government departments have also started legally accepting the new methods of communication. Convicts have been taken to courts for cases going against them. Now the courts have allowed Video Conferencing for this, in cases against certain dangerous criminals? Traditions? Does this Video questioning become wrong? Illegal?

This whole circus has become  like a case where your parents openly have big shouting match in public. Only they can resolve it then why had it in public. I just remembered my blog who will guard the guards? Tell me your opinion on this matter.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/quis-custodiet-ipsos-custodes-who-will-guard-the-guards/

Elphinstone Station Tragedy!

Elphinstone Station tragedy, solutions will come only when apathy goes away!

22 people died in stampede on the foot bridge at Elphinstone Road railway station on western railway in Mumbai. This sort of tragedy was waiting to happen! The blame game has already started, starting from railway administration to Mumbai Municipal Corporation. Activists have started blaming politicians depending on their affiliations. I am sure major part of blame has to go these agencies but the apathy that we as public show, the way we accept everything and anything is unbelievable.  First a bit of history about Suburban Railways in Mumbai then known as Bombay.

The Mumbai Suburban Railway is an offshoot of the first passenger railway to be built by the British in India, and is also the oldest railway system in Asia. The first train ran between Bori Bunder (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) and Thane, a distance of 34 km, on 16 April 1853 at 15:35. The 14-coach train took 1.25 hours to complete the 34 km journey, with a halt at Sion to refill the train’s water tanks. Since 1991, it has been expanded rapidly. (Wikipedia)

I have lived in Mumbai till 1975 and in those days, except for rush hours, going by trains was fun. In fact when I was in school we used to go by train for picnics! Things started changing after that. Infrastructure in those times was ok. To my understanding infra would include rakes, platforms, over bridges, ticketing windows, toilets, signaling and many such systems. This would also include exits from the station and entry to the station. The bridge where the event occurred was built in 1972 with maybe about 20 years projected traffic. Now it is 45 years!

My “latest” travel by these trains, maybe once or twice, was “about 18/20 years back. So I am not an authority to comment on the same. But I will share my experience with you. I went from Dadar station to Kandivali, it was a Sunday and I boarded the train at 7 pm. There was heavy rush and I somehow managed to travel, profusely sweating. When I reached my friends home, he said you are looking tired! I said there was so much rush on the train. He said, “Pramod today was Sunday that is the reason I invited you, Sunday’s are reasonably rush free days.”  I had no comments. I once also traveled from Andheri to Dadar to go to VT. I caught a train around 4.30 am, reached Dadar; then for switching from western train to central train I walked the foot over bridge at 5 am. I could never imagine that at 5 am there could so much rush! Walking itself was a big deal. That day I decided that I will never travel in suburban trains in Mumbai, ever! Infrastructure was bursting through seams already. That was 20 years back.

Population in Mumbai in late 90’s was 9.9 million and now the population is 18 million! It has doubled. Railway system carries 7.5 million passengers daily. I don’t think the overall infrastructure increased proportionately. I am only looking from passenger perspective. Improvement in signals does not really improve passenger comfort. Passenger ingress and egress is the most important aspect along with capacity of the compartments. Outside most railway stations, there is chaos of taxis, autos, hawkers and what have you! Hawkers of course sit on the bridges too! Whatever space was there 40 years back, probably same space is available outside most stations but mostly occupied by the usual culprits. Large number of taxis and autos and hawkers occupy lion’s share out of that space.

This obviously shows that such accidents were waiting to happen. My friend Shashikant Limaye who is an expert in this field shared on TV how many plans have been made to improve infra and shelved. There was special World Bank loan sanctioned but was cancelled due to no progress by authorities, in the year 2007. I feel that both Central and State governments discuss issues as if they are third party to the problems and say that it is Railway departments responsibility. There are some good experts with heart at the right place but with mouth at the wrong place! Yesterday one of them was demanding that Maharashtra CM should resign as it is his personal responsibility. He also claimed that it is Prime Minister’s personal responsibility! Probably he said such things out of sheer frustration at the sheer apathy shown by all concerned!

Now let us take a mirror, open it and hold it in front of ourselves. Do we have public awareness as a society? We blame the hawkers for occupying space on bridges and space around stations. Do we ever consider of stopping to buy from them? If nobody buys what will they do? But while buying we look for convenience. A society gets government it deserves. All political leaders are from our own society. Those in Mumbai surely know the conditions more than senior leaders. Some of them must be using railway system daily. Has anyone ever raised concern, voice, over these issues seriously and loudly? The “VIP’s” of the politics never “know” these things as they have “open” roads and “closed” vehicles. I can understand that certain jobs may be available only in Mumbai e.g. film/TV related. But there may be many that will be available elsewhere too! So why not shift? I know it’s a tough call but at least think about it! Why cling and stick to a place? I don’t think salaries are so high in Mumbai that people don’t want to leave Mumbai. A cousin my mine who has now retired, moved to Bavdhan, Pune from Hindu Colony, selling everything lock stock and barrel! When I asked how he found the change, he simply said, “Why the hell I was living in Mumbai, God knows!”

Every day in Mumbai railway system, 8 to 10 people die because of various types of accidents. I don’t think any government is responsible for that. It has become so routine that these are hardly being reported. Why this apathy from people? Hundreds of thousands of people cross rail tracks every day and this causes deaths. Imagine everyday 8 to 10 times the train system goes on hold, due to death, there is domino effect of delays and consequential pressure increases on the system, every day. There are many things which have started coming out after the stampede. Parel in olden days was an area where there were mills and mill workers lived around the mills. Getting down at Parel and Elphinstone station was never on your priorities. After mill properties got developed in commercial properties, it seems one million people come to that area every day! This has happened in last ten years so, and  system has started understanding it now.

I always hear of “Bombay Spirit”! It is a myth created by the media. What option do people of Bombay have? Once the Elphinstone station was “sanitized” after yesterday’s stampede, people started going on the same bridge, the same platform and same system! You have to go home is it not? Is this “Bombay Spirit”? What do you do? Stay in office for the day? Or walk home or what?

Let’s pray to God that better sense will prevail and people from various departments will sit together, plan and start actions. There are always immediate, short term, mid term and long term actions in any project. Something can always be started right away. For example if there are more than one bridge on a station with proper ingress & egress, out of sheer habit people will keep on using old bridge all the time. Make bridges “one way” where possible,  it will straight away increase capacity by 50%.  People will have to walk a little more. I see very long walkways in CBD area, and people prefer covered walkway; but they use this because there is no other option to cross the express way. Start merciless operation of fining heavily, people crossing the rail tracks! It is their responsibility “not” to cross the rail track! Removing hawkers from bridges and areas outside stations is possible but needs to be sustained over a period of time. This will need political will. Removing rikshaws and taxis from outside station is easily achievable.  People should form a movement at all stations “Not to buy from hawkers”, it is their responsibility too! All in all every department, person, officer, and commuter should raise their hands and start to act.

Latest news is that Central Government has come into action and a lot of things are planned for suburban train system with a specific time frame. Let’s hope it works out.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/sep/30/foot-over-bridges-will-be-mandatory-additional-escalators-cctv-sanctioned-for-mumbai-stations-piy-1664829.html