Thursday, October 28, 2010

Song in my head

From the movie Swades, a lovely song

Mann se raavan jo nikaaley raam uske maan mein hain...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Oily oily politics

The Son of the oil is an amazing personality. And his son is an honourable man too. A few years back, he gave us an example of how governments either run by him or supported by him can give us great governance. They took extreme care of the city and Bangalore was on the verge of being Singapore. Did I say Singapore - I meant Singapore of the 1940s or earlier - one could have shot a period movie effortlessly. He kept his promises with his partners - and promptly pulled the carpet from under them. And then the electorate, stupid as always, voted him out. Other than that one small stupidity, he has been in power always.

Every now and then, he has professed his love for rural Karnataka - all the while living in the big bad city whose residents he so dearly hates. He really does, see this.

And now, he comes out the woodwork hoping that the BJP government will collapse under the weight of money and the people will vote for him. Well, Bangalore will never vote for their party - anyway not much of it exists today. Even if the BJP does collapse (well, every political party is entitled to its survival instincts), the JDS wont benefit.

And then again, does anybody think that corruption originated with this government? Let us not kid ourselves to think that everybody other than the BJP are bathed in milk. Actually they could very well be, given their assets. And what was that saying about glass houses and stones?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A year for a flyover

An average flyover in India takes a year to make - give or take a few months. I am pretty sure that the time required to build a flyover can be crunched to a few months.

Now, I am no construction expert, but commonsense suggests that in any activity there are parallel activities and sequential activities. In the case of the flyovers, it appears that much of the work is being done in a sequential manner. Take for example, the pile drilling rig. The
flyover builders have exactly one per flyover. Commonsense suggests that having 2 or 4 of these machines will help them drill piles 2-4 times faster. Then post that the pillars are constructed; again, there is no reason the pillars have to be constructed one after the other - they can all be done simultaneously - or atleast 50% of them - so that time required for the concrete to harden/settle is better utilized. And then the actual bridge which rests on these pillars - can be constructed - since they consist of pre-cast elements that are mounted on the pillars. Easily all this can reduce construction time by half at the very least.

What I have written is purely from observation. No doubt flyover construction in India has progressed in the last decade or so - from the kerosene powered pile diggers to pile digging rigs, but the way the companies handle flyover construction shows a problem of a lack of
scale. The companies can bid for more flyovers if they have the scale, but they don't want to build scale and wait for projects. So, because of this chicken and egg situation they understaff their projects and it results in everybody bidding for about a year for each flyover. Infact nearly 10 years ago, Mumbai (with the traffic constraints) showed that flyovers can get done faster with the right incentives - and the Delhi and Bangalore metro (essentially a flyover with larger capacity) also shows that this type of construction can be done much faster.

So, why do our flyovers take ages to construct?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Outsourcing security

Rajesh jain nails it in his post on security.What started off as a comment there is a post here.

The Indian government cannot build enough power stations to power the entire country 24/7. Forget the country, they cannot even power the main cities 24/7. So, we all invest in generators that will provide us back up while the power plants undergo what is known as load shedding. I am sure in the developed world or wannabe superpower world, there is no load to be shedded. We are the powerless superpower.

In the same way, the government has outsourced security to offices, malls, hotels so that they take care of themselves. Because our government, intelligence networks typically never can avert a terror strike (even if they did, there are far too many human rights wallahs to make the officers lives miserable), they have  outsourced security to us. So, that if the terrorist enters via our porous borders, manages to put together a bom, the onus is on the malls and the hotels to prevent it.

We are underpoliced, our police are badly trained, handle outdated equipment (we saw it all during 26/11, did we not, the chilling footage at the CST) and the government is not very keen to pursuse modernization or police reforms. Thus it is that we need to secure ourselves, because the government cannot do it for us.

Take any example, you will find pretty much the same answer.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A case of exploding bonhomie

The guy who wrote A case of Exploding Mangoes, Mohammed Hanif recently exploded the myth that the peepul of our westerly neighbour are like us. And that too at a literary fest. No the chap is not being rude. He is right on the button.

So much for people to people contact. Even the writers on the side of the friendly neighbours are not friendly. Hows that? Till now we thought that all except those who cross the border on rubber dinghies are our friends, did we not?

Thanks Mohd Hanif for exploding this myth like your rather enjoyable novel, a case of exploding mangoes - I hope our jholawallahs, candle wasters, peace award hopeful leaders, newspaper owners with an eye on the neighbourly market and TV channel owners with an eye on rating and adverts learn it and internalize it.

Agriculture thought

This article in Forbes is a lovely article.

I am not sure about the yields though, since what I have heard is that organic farming traditionally reduces yield. Be that as it may - imagine if the cities created compost and sent it back to the farms instead of letting them rot in landfill sites? We don't need no fertilizer then, right? Considering the amount of consumption that our cities have? The more I think about it, the more it seems feasible. If you havent already started composting, please do. It is about doing your two cents to save the earth. And if you need compost, drop me a note - my next batch should be ready in a couple of months.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Where good ideas come from!

Lovely video!