Friday, July 31, 2009

India & Global Warming - 2

This is a continuation of my previous post. First time readers would do well to read the post just prior to this one to get the complete picture.

The challenges posed by Global Warming are enormous and are going to challenge the human race in every way possible. There are going to be technological challenges, infrastructural challenges, societal challenges, etc. It might not be too far fetched to say that it is going to be the most difficult challenge that we will face in this century.

We are going to have to be at our innovative best if we are to generate enough power to sustain life and civilization as it is today. In this scenario it is imperative that the Ministry of Power should develop a road map for power generation in the future. Sadly, nothing of the sort is forthcoming.

Below, I'd like to discuss some plans and ideas that I have in mind to overcome the power generation challenge. I've not really done a complete study on the viability of these projects but I have a hunch that some of them could work.

Central to my ideas is the belief that we have to try and make each house self-sufficient in power. Solar energy will of-course play a big part in this. There could also be other avenues like the construction of low-cost wind mills, or energy from bio-mass etc. Now what this means is that every house owner is responsible for generating energy for themselves. So if you want to put that additional AC in your house then you have to make sure that you are able to generate enough power for it.

Any excess power generated should be fed in to a grid. In times of distress where a particular household is not able to generate enough power for it's needs then it should be able to draw power from the grid. So for eg, if it's an overcast day in the place you are staying in and the solar panels on your roof are not generating enough electricity then you can draw power from the grid and run the appliances in your house.

Major solar-power plants and hydel power plants can be used to provide power to large industries. Additionally they should also supply power to the grid which can balance the supply and demand over the whole country.

I think we should take it on ourselves and try some of these ideas out. It might not be a bad idea to go in to the interior regions of our country, where there is still no access to electricity, and give it a shot.

There needs to be an urgency to tackle these challenges. We need to be more bold and welcome the challenges that the new economy is going to put on us rather than shy away from them.

I'll be happy to hear your thoughts on these ideas. Thanks. :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

India & Global Warming 1

Flashback to the 80's and 90's- The American Auto Industry Lobby in Washington successfully stalls all efforts by Congress and the Senate to introduce emission and mileage controls on automobiles. The Auto industry argues that consumers should have the freedom to choose their vehicles and the kind of performance it should give. The industry feared that, with tighter laws, the American public would not be able to buy the big gas guzzling Suburban trucks and 4-wheel-drives that they were so fond of.

Coming back to the present. General Motors(GM) is bankrupt. Ford has lost it's position as the second biggest car company in the world and had to sell Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata to stay afloat. Chrysler is considered so toxic that Diamler-Benz(with whom they were supposed to have merged!) removed all associations with them and the company is struggling to find a buyer who can bail them out. The American Auto Industry, once the pride of the American people and the poster-boys of American prowess, now lies in tatters.

On the other hand Euorpean and Japanese Auto makers had to comply with the strict laws that their Governments were putting in place. As a result the mileage efficiency and emission levels of their cars improved drastically. When the era of cheap-oil ended, these manufacturers offered vehicles that were more value for money than the American ones. As a result America lost while Europe, Japan and other countries(most notably South Korea) took over the market.

Now, where is the lesson in this for India???

The Indian Govt's line, in most international forums for climate change, has been that the so-called developed countries should do more to curb pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases. On paper this looks like a good argument, coz if we compare the per-capita emissions of India and the so-called developed countries, our pollution levels are way below. But, having said that, because of our Jumbo size, India still manages to be the 3rd most polluting country on the planet!

Our Govt and members of our elite argue that, if India has to become a fully developed and fully industrialized country, then it needs to have more leeway in fulfilling it's emission and pollution control obligations. They argue that it is simply not acceptable that one standard be set for all because the developed countries have already developed, whereas India cannot afford to set tighter laws and regulations coz that would impede economic and industrial growth.

I think the Govt and others who have taken that line have a fair point. We need economic growth to remove poverty and for further societal development. But should we not accept global norms when it comes to pollution control? Should we leave it to other nations to try and bring down their emissions while we go on with the old way?

Clearly there is going to be a new way. Scientific studies have proved that the old way is simply not sustainable. Oil, Gas and Coal are not going to be replenished and when the world runs out of these sources we're going to have to look at others. This is where my eg of the American Auto Industry comes in. What will happen to India when the world runs out of these sources?

Other nations will have a head start when it comes to developing technology for renewable resources. Since they have tighter regulations in place today, manufacturers and researchers will look for the technologies that will be more Eco-friendly, and in time they will have these technologies with them.

It is bad enough that India is lagging behind today when it comes to industrialization. But if we follow the course that the Govt intends for us, then we are going to be laggards in the future also.
Most of the power plants that we are building today will simply be of no use tomorrow. What about all the money invested in them? We are still going to have to generate power. If we hold on to the line that we are holding on to, then we will soon find ourselves in the same place where the American Auto Industry is today. The rest of the world will be reaping the benefits of foresight, like the European and Japanese car makers are now, and we will be playing catch-up just like we are now. If there is no reason and no incentive for our researchers and manufacturers to develop alternate sources of energy then obviously there is going to be no development in the field.

Analysts estimate that the renewable energy market will be worth 2 trillion dollars by 2050. India's current GDP is a little over 1 trillion. Isn't there a big opportunity for India to try and capture that market? We have to awaken our people to the possibilities of renewable sources and their market potential.

I will continue this essay in my next post. :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

# 50!

Well readers, open them champagne bottles... coz this is my 50th post! :) :) :)

I remember taking a new year resolution at the beginning of this year to write 10 posts- Yes 10. And as you can see I enjoyed writing my first 10 so much that this blog has now become a part of my life. Two good things there-- one, I exceeded what I'd set out to do, and two, I actually kept a New Year resolution! Well that's the only one I managed to keep.... and no, you're not allowed to ask about the other resolutions. ;)

It's been a one of a kind experience so far. I started out with just Issam reading my blogs and, from those humble beginnings, :P , today I have 15 followers(:)). Thank you so much guys and gals... you make me feel like a rock star... or at least a publishing phenomenon(at times)! :P.

Well I'm not going to get nostalgic and all... tschhh tschh...:)

This is just the beginning.... there is much more to come. Once again thank you guys and girls out there. Have fun... God Bless!

AJai Ravi Kesavan

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Struck by Potter Mania!

Well this post is not about the recent Potter movie. No it isn't. This about the Harry Potter novels. I've just started reading them. :)

I know most of you out there will be like... Potter???... and now???... and that I'm just about a decade late. :)

But, I read my first Potter book(The Philosopher's Stone) just 3 days back. And, I'm happy to inform you that, I've also completed the second book(The Chamber of Secrets). :)

I'm hooked and I can't believe that I've fallen under J.K.Rowlings' spell. I'm actually re-living my old school days and the brilliant times I had then. Wishing I could go back and take some of the Hogwarts spirit with me. Ah... what that would have been!

Hagrid, Dumbledore, Snape, Dudley, Malfoy, Ron, Hermoine-- yes, all the characters have entered my head and I'm sure they're going to remain there. Wizards, witches, magic, wands, flying brooms, Quidditch!- they're all there.. tucked deep inside my memory now. :)

I stayed away from Potter thinking it would be kiddie stuff. You know like -Enid Blyton's Famous Five, and the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series. I remember reading those books but I never had the passion and zest for them. I read maybe a copy each of those books. Somehow I couldn't enjoy those books much.

It's only much later, when I discovered Harold Robbins and Mario Puzo in my Dad's cabinet, that I actually got in to reading. So my natural conclusion was I was in to more serious reading. Maybe adult fiction was my genre. So that's the way it's been mostly. But I've been branching out in to other things also. Lot of Non-Fiction books, biographies, history and things related to finance and stuff. I know it sounds geeky. But I'm not always like that. Adult fiction is still the staple fare and 7 out of 10 books I read will be adult fiction for sure.

So Harry Potter wasn't really given a chance to work his magic on me. But he's got his chance... and he's got me hooked. :) Those of you out there into reading, and who've not picked up these books yet, I suggest you give it a try. I promise you it'll will be worth it.

I already have the 3rd part(The Prisoner of Azkaban) ready and waiting. So I'll be going to catch it. So long muggles!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

@ Tagged

Well I've been tagged by Venky here. So I have an obligation to fulfill... here I go!

This is the 4 in 4 tag.

Four places I have lived in :

  1. Chennai( where I live now : ( .... not your fault Chennai- you've been good.. I'm looking for something else... something more!)
  2. Kuwait(the atypical --- "Gelf Malayaleeee!")
  3. Palakkad(native territory)
  4. Abu Dhabi( once a "Gelf Mallu" always a "gelf Mallu"!)

I've actually lived only in Chennai and Kuwait... but the tags wants 4- the tag gets 4...:P

Four T.V shows that I love(d) to watch :

Ah ha... let's see...
  1. House M.D.(Hugh Laurie does a Holmes- but his enemy is disease and not crime!)
  2. Two and a Half Men( Charlie Sheen is the best!)
  3. Top Gear(was a big fan of Jeremy Clarkson)
  4. Midnight Hot(on FTv--- ps: don't ask for explanations!)

Four places that I have been on vacation:

Ah.... wouldn't I want to go on one now... well my list is....
  1. Orlando/New York/ New Jersey( Trip to the US when I was a smaller kid- I'm a big one now! ;))
  2. Dubai- ( What the f*** is wrong with these Sheikhs???? They've gone mad.... it's Glitz and Glamour in stone and concrete... it's vulgar and in your face... it's grotesque and beautiful at the same time!)
  3. Bangalore( many times... but last trip was special!)
  4. Mangalore :)
M'lore and B'lore(especially last trip!) were most fun.... can't reveal all details here. :P

Four of my favourite food items:

People who know me well will know that I'm not really very fond of food... unless it's food! :P
Oh.. for the record.. I'm over-weight by 11 kilos! yaaaay!
  1. I'm dreaming of a big juicy Steak!
  2. My mouth's watering thinking about my Amma's Tuna Fish Cutlets!
  3. I'm a sucker for Punjabi food... :)
  4. Ah hell.... I love Tag question!

Four websites that I visit daily:

  1. GMail~
  2. AJ's Take (someone's got to look at it... come on!)
  3. Shelfari~ site for Book Lovers.
  4. Blogs I follow!

Four places I would rather be.

Well... I'm going to let my imagination run-riot here.
  1. The tribal areas between Afghanistan & Pakistan--- why? Well... it'll be like living in the wild west... you know... with might is right... and riding horses and shooting guns and that sort of thing... very wild... lot of fun. ;)
  2. Las Vegas- I want to turn in to a degenerate gambler... in Sin City. :)
  3. Amsterdam- I'm an adult... and I don't want to give more details that that! :)
  4. Mumbai- it's held my fascination for ever since I can remember... there's no one reason..

Four things I hope to do before I die.....

Here's another one for the imagination...:)
  1. Find what I want to do in my life!
  2. Do the thing I want to do in my life!
  3. Write a book!
  4. Attain bliss!

Four novels I wish I was reading for the first time:

  1. Fools Die- Mario Puzo(the book that changed my idea of the ideal woman!)
  2. Shantaram- Gregory David Roberts(the book that changed my philosophy!)
  3. The Fountainhead- Ayn Rand( the book that changed my idea of work and passion!)
  4. The Adventurers- Harold Robbins( the book that changed my life!)
Four movies that I can watch over and over again:

  1. Nayakan
  2. Forrest Gump
  3. Saving Private Ryan
  4. Gattaca

Four people I believe will respond to this tag:

  1. Sana
  2. Ayesha
  3. Issam
  4. Raks
Don't disappoint people! Pls!

Well that was that.... hope you enjoyed reading my tag... :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Well I'm a lil embarrassed about my outburst in my last post. I don't know why I did it- but I did. I know I can delete the post. But I'm not going to do that.
Thanks to all the people who showed concern. I'm not very good at this and I can't really put it in words. I know I should be grateful, and I am, but it's hard to acknowledge that at a certain level. I don't know if you people understand....well I'm psyched out.. I am.
I've been trying to come out with a post. I have some ideas in mind. Maybe in a few days it'll be out here.

Gosh I'm horrible with this. If you are reading this then you obviously are a very tolerant person.

I'll be back soon. With something good hopefully. Take care

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Being in a rut

Right now I'm in a place in my life where I can't and I don't want to do anything. Why??? Well I can't pin it down to any one reason. Collection of things.
I'm angry. Somewhere something's ticked off in my mind. I can't seem to control it. I'm depressed. I have been for some time now. I'm lacking confidence.
I've tried talking to people. Read books. Watched movies. Tried to forget it and move on... but nothing seems to work.
I just wish I didn't think about things so much. I just wish I could live the day without having to think so much about the future. I wish the people I care about could understand me.
Alas, I feel I'm asking for too much!

Monday, July 6, 2009

As a responsible citizen of India how will I take my country through this financial slowdown?

Hi people. There is an essay competition here in Chennai and this is my entry for it. Results are not out yet. So please cross your fingers for me. ;)
Also today was the day the budget was released so I think it is apt that I post this essay of mine here for all of you.

As a responsible citizen of India how will I take my country through this financial slowdown?

The sub-prime mortgage crisis that originated in the US, soon consumed every country of the world, and has now become a Global Crisis of epic proportions that is second only to the Great Depression of 1929.

Most of the major economies in the world are in recession and this is taking its toll on people everywhere in the world. With reduced demand leading to reduced productivity, this in turn forces more and more people out of jobs as companies try to cut-down costs and maintain bottom lines.

India has escaped the brunt of the crisis thanks to its strong domestic economy and good financial regulations. We have managed to register 5-6% growth in the last year. This is down from 9% in the previous few years, but is still impressive considering the global crisis we are in.

However, certain sectors of our economy that are export-driven have suffered with reduced demand from abroad. This has resulted in job-losses for millions. Most of the people who have lost their jobs are daily wage-earners and usually the sole bread winners in their families. So the problem scales up when we take in to account all the dependents.

The stock market also lost nearly half its value. Many investors lost all their life’s savings in a matter of months.

Many analysts and experts say the worst of the crisis is over and things can only go up from here. But there are others that say that the world will take a long time to recover from the excesses that led to the crisis.

It is important that we focus on recovery and maintain strong economic growth rates to realize the dream of a poverty-free India. President Kalam once said that if India were able to maintain a growth rate of 10%, then by 2020, we could eradicate the scourge of poverty from this country. It is therefore imperative that we all take steps to re-energize the economy.

So, as a responsible citizen of India, how will I take my country through this financial slowdown?

Many analysts and experts believe that a recession/slow-down is a good time to restructure the economy and give it a better direction. I’m a believer of this school of thought and would like to look at this tough situation in a positive way.

It is widely accepted that one of the ways for an economy to handle recessions/slow-downs is to invest heavily in infrastructure. The deflationary effects of the slow-down means prices come down and therefore more work can be done for the same price.

India needs to develop its roads and transportation network. We need better schools and colleges. We need better power supply, better telecommunications, better ports and airports. Thus there is a tremendous opportunity to develop our infrastructure and bring it to world-class levels. This large-scale investment in the economy will drive up demand and will bring dividends over the long- term. Now as an individual I’m not really in a position to invest on my own in projects of the scale mentioned above. However, in a democracy, I am enabled to vote for the candidate that promises to do as mentioned above. I did exercise this power in the recently concluded general elections and I will continue to do so in all elections in the future. I also plan to be more involved and write to my local MLA, MP and Councilor demanding the implementation of the election promises and also try and give my own ideas and initiatives when I can.

I would also like to develop a savings habit for myself and encourage others to also do the same. Like the old saying goes- One must save for a rainy day. India has the highest savings-rate in the world. But being born in a generation with easy access to credit in the form of credit cards and personal loans, I feel those good old-fashioned money values are being lost. This easy accessibility to credit was the reason for the crisis in the US and I believe it is the duty of every responsible citizen to try and avoid it so that we don’t suffer a similar crisis here.

I also plan to become a prudent investor. I won’t be dealing in the stock market until I have understood the market dynamic. I want to have a complete knowledge base and I don’t want to be playing the market on speculations and gossip. People should return to their books and become thorough before they enter and play the markets. Market speculation and hype was another big reason that drove the real-estate bubble in the US. We must try and avoid the same here.

I have a long-term goal of becoming an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is the key to harnessing innovation and creating jobs. Job creation will hopefully be a positive off-shoot of my entrepreneurial venture. I will also encourage others around me to get in to business and try out new ideas and processes. In this way we can all play our part in developing Brand India and in harnessing this country’s tremendous potential.

These are the steps I intend taking to help my country through this financial crisis. I know that I am only an individual and there is very little that I can do to influence society and policy from where I am today. I also know that there is very little one can do when a crisis of a global scale is on us. I might be only one drop in the ocean, but each drop makes the ocean. People should learn and understand that, individually and collectively, we all have our roles to play in our society, economy and country. I’m sure if we all work on it we can pull through this crisis and make the India of our dreams a reality.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shingara Singh- the last known survivor of Jallianwala Bagh

Shingara Singh, the last known survivor of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, passed away this Monday. He was 113 years old.

On April 13th 1919, a crowd of almost 1500, had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, to protest the harsh measures the then British Govt were taking against the local people. General Dyer, an officer of the British Indian Army, ordered his men in to the compound and blockaded the only entry/exit. He then ordered his men to fire on the protesters and, in the indiscriminate firing, 379 people were killed and over a 1100 were wounded. Many of those who lost their lives were women and children. Many were crushed in the stampede that ensued in the Bagh when the firing began. Many jumped to their deaths in to a large well that was in the compound as it was their only defense against the guns.

When I first read about the incident I was a very small child. Nevertheless it made by blood boil. The incident is a big part of the award winning movie- Gandhi. It was an inspiration to many of our freedom fighters including the likes of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Chandrashekar Azad.
Till date, the British Govt has not apologized for the massacre. General Dyer received no punishment. Don't be surprised as there is nothing unusual about this. The Brits are known for their snobbishness and arrogance. Next time these people make a hue and cry about human rights and other issues, remember that these snobs have very different rules for themselves and for the others.

In many ways the passing away of Mr Shingara Singh is the passing away of an era- the era in which India won its independence.
There was a small article in the Hindu about Mr Singh. It saddened me to read that he felt he'd been ignored by the Govt. To quote the article- "he rued government apathy towards him and his family". He'd been honoured by President Kalam on a visit to pay homage at the Bagh. But clearly this was not enough for Mr Singh.

God Bless the man's soul, but I wish he'd looked at things a little differently. I wish he'd not cribbed about the Govt apathy towards him, coz well, that's what we are going to remember him for. I'm not saying what the Govt did was right. No, I don't intend to defend the Govt.

What I'm trying to say here is this... that we've got to stop blaming the Govt for everything. This problem is so endemic that many of us take it with us to our graves. Business is bad- blame the Govt, rains are bad- blame the govt, India doesn't win enough medals in the Olympics- blame the Govt, law & order- blame the Govt, caste and religion- blame the Govt, bad roads- blame the Govt, dirty cities- blame the Govt.

Where does it end? It doesn't. You see the problem with a democracy is that it depends very much on the people's initiative if something has to be done. Take any one of the problems I mentioned in the previous para and the fault for them lies with us as much as anyone else. The Govt does play an important part in formulating and implementing policy. But we play a bigger part in choosing which policy the Govt is going to follow. We also play a big role in forming/shaping national attitude. This is where the dejection that comes naturally to most people in this country hurts us most. This negative attitude permeates everywhere and everything.

I'd like to quote John.F.Kennedy here. He said-"ask not what your country does for you, ask what you can do for your country".

Right now most of my country men are fighting over who takes more of the pie. Everyone wants reservations for their communities, everyone wants subsidies, everyone wants and wants and wants. But no one is ready to give for their country!

Maybe the Govt was bad to us, maybe things didn't work out the way we wanted them to. But that doesn't mean we crib about things. We can't sit and complain as that demotivates others. We have a duty to try and be positive all the time, to try to make things better, to keep ourselves motivated. To keep hope. This is our duty.
My fellow readers and country men, I will conclude saying this. That when it is your time, please don't complain about your country. It might have done you wrong, but forgive it. Believe in your country and it's destiny. Let hope, not dejection, be the last message you leave on earth.