Thursday, July 30, 2009

Vizhinjam Port the future of Indian shipping(Only if allowed to develop!!!)

Vizhinjam portsite

"Recent reports suggest that the South Korean shipyard Samsung Heavy Industries
is building the world’s largest container ship of 16,000 TEU with 20 per cent
more capacity than the current largest container ships of 13,000 TEU. With a
length of 400 metres, drawing a draught of 18 m when fully loaded, this behemoth
is expected to begin regular service by 2011. By that time, it is expected that about 200 giant container ships of 10,000 TEU capacity and above are likely to be in active service. These giant ships may draw a draught ranging from 15-18 m and they will be very selective in their port calls." The Hindu

Vizhinjam is a small coastal town in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala. Why Vizhinjam port is so important is that it fullfill the above conitions, that too with minimal maintenence coast.

The advantages of the site is the availability of 20m contour with in a nautical mile of the coast; Proximity to international shipping routes due to its unique positionIt requires a diversion of just 20 nautical miles, and will become a good stopover for vessels before proceeding to Suez; Minimal littoral drift along the coast so low maintenence and dredging coast ;Close to international airport and rail road networks etc.

"The study, carried out by IL&FS infrastructure Development Corp andHauer Assiociates, says that container traffic at Indian ports has increased by 102 per
cent over the previous five years to 3.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units
(TEUs) in 2003-04. The rapid growth is expected to continue and by 2016-17, the
country will handle 15.64 million TEUs.
On the other hand, the present Indian gateway ports do not attract a sufficient number of mainline vessels due to inadequate facilities and the distance from international shipping routes. As of now, about 61 per cent of Indian export/import containers are trans-shipped through the nearby foreign ports of Colombo, Singapore and Salalah (Oman.) This results in an additional burden of up to $200 per TEU of cargo interests with freight paid by Indian exporters being 11.4 per cent of the c.i.f
(cost, insurance, freight) value of goods as against the world average of 6.1
per cent." Hindu Businessline

Not only this, in total Indian ports doesnt have the capability to handle huge motherships. Now we are depanded on Singapore, Salala, Colombo ports for transshipment.

"according to the Container Shipment Economics Study. At present, India`s port
capacity (12 major Indian ports) is a meagre 4.61 million TEUs/annum compared
with China`s capacity of 50 million TEUs, almost 11 times that of India`s" Lankannewspapers

A port which have so much economical advantage and critical importance faced so much delays may be unbeliveble, but its the truth. Vizhinjam was declared as a port in 1977, opened for cargo only in 1991, but to be declared as a customs port it waited upto July 1992; The history of the plan to develop the port is much more sad story. Memorandum of understanding to develop the port as trans-shipment port was signed in1995. But its is yet to realise!!!

The bid to build port facilities was won by Chinese firms, which was rejected by Union shipping ministry citing security resons. But the ruling allience led by CPI(M) wasted time by fighting against the decision. Legal battle followed with Mumbai based Zoom developers, and in the end the Hyderabad based firm Lanco Kondapalli which won the bid told to the ministry that it is withdrawing from the project because of the possible delays and legal issues.

On july 25, 2009 Kerala Law and ports minister asked the union government to take 4,500 crore project as it had the potential to earn over 1000 crore rupees of foreign exchange after commissioning.

I dont think people expect the government to execute the projects in lightning speed. Nor they expect the efficiency of Chinese government in finishing dream projects. But I think people of India have the right to see the completion of projects in sheduled time.

This will be the one of dream projects in Kerala atleast for the nect 3-5 decades if realised. It will rewrite India's shipping history and we will no longer depanded on other nations for trans-shipment. But the million dollor question is will the governments allow it to develop?


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

China and RioTinto

RioTinto is a multinational mining giant with Head Quarters in London and Melbourne. The company was founded in 1873 when a consortium of investors purchased a mine complex on RioTinto river, Spain from Spanish Government. The commodities produced by the company includes Aluminum, iron ore, copper, uranium, coal and diamonds etc. This global 500 company have 35,000 employees as of 2007 and net income of US$4,650mn with a revenue of US$58,065mn in 2008.

In February this year RioTinto announced about the on going talks with state controlled Chinese firm Chinalco, to receive a substantial equity infusion. Chinalco bought 9% of companies ownership in 2008 and after this move - which if succeed(chances are low as investors are also exploring other options) the ownership may grow to 18.5%.

Up to now everything goes fine, Chinese now one the shareholders of a leading multinational mining giant. But the story didn't end here.

After the equity talks, Chinese demanded a 45% discount in iron ore prices due to global economic slowdown but RioTinto struck to 33% only.

Later Chinese authorities claimed that four of RioTinto employees including one Australian where guilty of stealing state secrets. They arrested the 4 employees, accused of spying and stealing state secrets by allegedly bribing Chinese steel mill officials. As a matter of fact in China anything can be a state secret. It is said that till some years ago, a Chinese patient didn't know his disease. All diseases have numbers

The arrest made a huge pressure on Pro Chinese PM of Australia Mr Kevin Rudd. Later the Australian Trade minister said that
"It's important for the Chinese to understand better the concerns that we have about the circumstances surrounding not just Mr Hu's detention but the lack of detail. This is important as a signal to all people seeking to do business in China."
This 'signal' may not limited to RioTinto, but it also alarm other international companies too, recently RioTinto pulled out all foreign nationals from China.

Beijing told US and other foreign oil companies to halt work with their Vietnamese partners in South China sea or face consequences inside China. In Sparty Islands affair friction grown up between China and Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. The border dispute with India is not yet resolved. Another issue with Japan in the case of Senkaku island - which is now under Japanese control - is still active. Beijing's attempt to block loans from ADB to Arunachal Pradesh- an Indian state claimed by China, even if not succeed is not yet forgotten. String of Pearls strategy is another one by China which creates panic in Indian ocean countries.

What is the key asset of China is its US$2.15trillion foreign exchange reserve, which will give Beijing enormous capacity in negotiations and commercial arm twisting. How far they can go with this 2.15trillion reserve is yet to see, but they are very successful in getting business in central Asia, Africa etc where most of the time they will outbid their competitors.

But the RioTinto affair will burn China's hands, more and more companies will become worried about their employees especially foreign nationals who are working in China. Whatever China do, in this case it is difficult to get a face saving exit.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ladies only seats

Its not happening for the first time; I gave up the seats before too - of course not according to my will- because our beloved government want women to sit in the 33% of the seats. Don't ask me why its not 50% as women are approximately 50% of the society - In Kerala its higher that 50%.

But this time it was too much(Is it necessary that we have to follow some rule even if it creates unfair advantages to one part of population? The same is applicable in the the case of discrimination against one part of society). This time I was traveling continuously for last 3 days, day and night and in the end; I was back in Bangalore in a good morning - but for me it was not so good as i was traveling continuously and for the last 11 hrs, at least 40-50% standing.

As usual I went to BMTC stand using the underground path from Bangalore City Railway station. From platform 15 I got the bus to Electronic City; In that time there were no ladies and all the seats except that for ladies are occupied.

As there is no other way i selected the last reserved seat, if not more than 10 ladies come its good as i don't have to leave that seat. Four other reserved seats are occupied by others. But the number of ladies reached 12, 2 are standing. Then one suddenly came towards us for claiming that seat. As there is no other way and it is the so called law, we - there is one more gentleman in that seat about whom i don't know anything.

But this forced me to think about the reservation once again. To be truthful - i don't like the idea of reservation in any category. But this reservation of seats in bus, which remembered me one title - "Men are from Mars and women are from Venus". I didn't read that book, as I don't have it with me but i like that title. But government try to make it so - Ladies only seats, ladies only trains, may be ladies only planes too will come soon!!! There is a bill before the parliament which recommends 33% reservation for women in Loksabha; but whenever this issue become part of the agenda people start kicking it like a soccer ball!!!

The reservation in buses actually became a problem for women itself. If reservation is not there(even if its there!!!) there is no problem about seats, ladies can sit anywhere(I mean in any seats). But after reservation what happened is that everyone thinks(including women if my observation is correct!!!) that 33% of seats are for women and rest is for men. Many of them have keen interest in occupying the 33% reserved seats but not that much for the rest. Actually what happened is that it become a 67% reservation for men.

The other problem is that, people who originally deserve that seats have to give away it to someone else, who just come and sit. Most of times i will try my maximum to get the side seat - just to watch outside - who want to sit in a tightly packed seat that too in the middle. But reservation always become an unfair adjustment, to be proved wrong(As long as there is a vote bank it will not be proved wrong, don't worry - politics will make it sure) in long term.

History may be there to justify it. But we have to find other solutions like mass scholarship schemes etc to eradicate poverty and illiteracy. Anything that is unfair like untouchability, partiality from government sources must be terminated. Dark will not become bright by removing the existing bulbs, but by upgrading it and creating new ones.


Friday, July 24, 2009

APJ Abdul Kalam and Protocols

Now a days the question of frisking APJ Kalam in IGI aiport, by Continental Airlines is fuming in India. The interesting thing is that it happened back in April 24, 2009; I don't know why this news didnt appear at that time and suddenly popped up.

"Kalam was reportedly forced to wait on the aerobridge even as the airlines security personnel debated whether to put him under the security scanner or not. Kalam was asked to surrender before the security officials for a complete body check and remove his footwear as well." timesofindia
Later(after months!!!) it become a political issue and our civil avaiation minister Mr Patel said that
"We will ask for correction action from the airline and in case they are proven wrong, we will ask them to tender and apology."
After that airline said that they send an offical appology to Dr Kalam. This happened after the aviation authorities sought an FIR against the airline. The interesting thing is that Dr Kalam went through the process without any fuss. To a question by reporters if he was hurt by the incident he replied that "I am smiling".

But the incident is not over with this, later Transportation security administration came up with the explanation that

"There are reports that the government of India has an official list of VIP’s and their spouses that are exempt from pre-board screening procedures. However, such a list does not mirror U.S. requirements for passengers that are exempted from pre-board screening when traveling aboard U.S. commercial aircraft. While traveling from an international location to the U.S. on an U.S. commercial aircraft, former Heads of State, and other VIPs, are screened according to the same screening procedures as for any other passenger. If requested, private screening can be provided."
They also added that,
"TSA regrets any inconvenience that Dr. Kalam may have experienced as a result of our standard security requirements. TSA works closely with our international counterparts and our stakeholder air carriers to ensure a safe and secure transportation network."
But this incident raised two questions. First question is, in Indian soil, a company is supposed to follow Indian rules and regulation or other countries rules? Its not a matter what is the US requirements, but if a company want to operate in India it should follow Indian rules no matter what it is.

There are many Indian companies operating in US, many Indian medical companies are fighting cases in US law courts against US pharmaceutical companies. They didn't said that we are working according to Indian rules and so these cases are not applicable to us. There they have to obey US rules, and it should be the case in India too.

The next question is why VIP and VVIP are exempted from normal procedures which a common Indian citizen have to undergo? Remember that if we exempt some from normal procedures, we will be forced to do the same with other countries too. If some other country says that this person is VVIP and he/she shouldn't undergo security checks according to protocols - we may not even have much knowledge about that guy. Then think about the security risk it creates.

These VIP, VVIP list should be scrapped, and government should not create useless rules if it cant enforce it. In the case of this case, instead of demanding apology apply the same rule to every Americans no matter who he/she is. But make it sure that whichever company operating in India should follow Indian rules and regulations.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

At last nuclear market opened for India

[Kalpakam fast breeder Reactor: Courtesy ArmsControlWonk]

For a long time India faced nuclear apartheid and 'n' number of sanctions for nuclear tests conducted in 1974 and 1998. India was not the first one to test the nuclear weapon but most probably the first one to face sanctions. But it didn't provide any significant challenge, sanctions marginally affected to India's development.

And after many years majority of the sanctions are lifted. India even signed the Indo - US nuclear deal and opened the civilian reactors for safe guarding under the agreement with IAEA. The nuclear market of India is too large to ignore, and many deals are signed or in pipeline for nuclear technology transfer or fuel supply along with building a number of reactors.

India committed 1,80,000 crore for 30,000MW for three countries France, Russia and US. It is expected that India will get the access to the enrichment and reprocessing technologies and will be able to remove the fear of energy security at least partly.

Atomsai of Russia - a state run nuclear company is going to build 4 reactors of 1,200MW each in Kodankulam(Tamilnadu).Atomsari is already building 2 reactors there. Areva - a French company- is going to build two 1650MW reactors in Jaitapur, Maharashtra. four more reactors are expected from the same company in future.Apart from this Areva also promised life time fuel supply to these reactors. 10,000MW power project is going to US companies through new reactors in India. Apart from this framework agreement with UK and Canada are also in pipeline (In the past before 1974 nuclear test Canada participated in building reactors in India).

In February India promise to buy 2,000 tonnes of fuel worth $700mn from Russia and in last december India committed to buy another 300 tonnes from France. A pact is already signed with Kazakhstan for the supply of fuel and technologies. It is expected that all these reactors will become operational in next 25 years.This will be a boon for India's starving energy sector which is not able to compete with demand.

But here what India have to taken care is that we should not allow any monopoly in this sector. The market should be evenly distributed and more share should be given to the trusted companies which stood with us and supplied fuel even in the times of sanctions. And care should also be taken that whatever happened in the future the supply should not stop and should not allow anyone to impose additional rules and regulations upon us.

Along with this India should also explore and mine Uranium and other fuels required for the operations of reactors through bilateral agreement with major Uranium producing countries. It will be difficult for India to go further than buying technology and fuel from Canada, Australia- which produce almost 51% of total production. So care should be taken to sign long term bilateral agreements with countries like Kazakhstan, Russia, Namibia, Niger etc which are other major producers. Indian companies like NPCIL shouldn't be just an end user in these agreements but should form the core.

Apart from this India should also move forward with the indigenous development of nuclear technology like using Thorium as fuel etc. As other countries like China moving fast in producing nuclear submarines India have to focus on that sector too. Always buying will not be suitable formula for sustained development.


Healthy competetion between India and Pakistan

Recently Pakistan took one record from India. Can you imagine in which sector? I am sure this may not be your first answer. The record is for the number of mangrove trees planted in one day. With 5,41,176 young mangroves planted by 300 volunteers in one day in Pakistan broke the previous record of 4,47,874 held by India.

The mangrove tree planting event was held in the vast wetland of Indus river delta of southern Sindh province 150km south east of Karachi - which is also a designated Ramsar site. The trees are expected to occupy 325ha of land.
"This is a wonderful example of partnership between government, local communities and the private sector for a common cause, for conservation,"said Richard Garstang, the head of WWF Pakistan Wetlands Programme.
           "It is good to see a productive competition between Pakistan and India. We hope that tree planting competitions will become as popular as cricket matches,"  he said       wwf 

[Image courtesy : NOAA ]

 Mangroves plays a crucial role in the ecosystem. It not only provides habitat for many organisms like fish but also protect the coast from erosion, storm surge(during hurricanes) etc. Mangroves extensive root system is very effective in dissipating the energy of waves.But because of the extensive destruction of these mangroves; along with rich habitat, natural protection provided to the coast from powerful ocean waves also lost. Now the erosion is increasing in alarming rate.Despite the restoration efforts; mangroves are disappearing very fast.

We are building costly stone walls to prevent erosion which have to rebuilt after some years. Even the presence of stone walls didn't prevent attacks by powerful ocean waves. 1379.9 km of Indian coastline out of 7516.6 km are affected by erosion. Its is practically difficult, expensive and not a good solution to build stonewalls throughout the coastline affected by erosion. But mangroves are a good solution- a practical as well as natural one.

Anyway this type of healthy competition will allow both countries to gain some mutual trust. And this should be the type of competition not guns, bombs and terrorism.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Population growth and India

"In 1979, China’s total fertility rate was 2.8, while Kerala’s was 3. By 2007, 28 years after it forced a coercive one-child policy on its people, China’s fertility rate stood at 1.7. Kerala reached the same figure but without treating its people like laboratory rats. " timesofindia

Roughly 1/6 of all humans are Indians and the population is growing in such a way that it may become 1/5 soon. Government invented many ways to stop this growth, and our Health and family welfare minister recently suggested that rapid electrification of villages, TV and late marriages will stop the population growth. May be there will some logic in that; you may be wondered how TV will stop the population growth. Don't worry ask to the minister.

Its a well known fact that in normal circumstances population will grow exponentially and food production will follow arithmetic progression. Which will ultimately resulting in the wiping out of our remaining forests from the face of earth. May be scientists will find suitable techniques to export humans to other planets so that they can sit some where.

There is no argument on whether we have to stop the population explosion or not. The answer is definitely a 'yes'. But the question is how to do it. The answer lies in education and economic welfare.

But the problem is the fact that India which is also the land of Khajuraho and Kamasutra now considering sex as a taboo and many will hesitate even to talk about it. Along with this the so called protectors of society will create problems in giving sexual education to childs and teenagers. But this didn't stopped the number of rapes and molesting in the society. Each day news papers reporting new rape cases and as the time goes people will be familiar with this issue and our passive(active in the times of reservation issues and vote bank politics only!!!) society may no longer pay any attention to it.

According to UNICEF's state of world's children-2009 report 47% of Indian women aged 20-24 married before the legal age of 18, with 56% in rural areas; it also shows that 40% of world's child marriage occur in India.

This early marriages which happens at a time when children are supposed to play, spoils their childhood. All of a sudden they become housewife and this creates enormous pressure on children(now housewife). This not only results in more children but also hit mother's health.

The other problem is the false belief of people. They think that more and more children means more people to earn and will results in more income. But they forget to think that as the number of children increases their capacity to provide good education and nutritious food too decreases.

As of now we can't export humans to moon or mars. so have to find other ways to control the population growth. For this sexual education should be a part of the curricula along with development taking the driver's seat instead of corruption. It is a well known fact that in the developed(i mean in terms of economy only - who can develop other person's mind?) societies population growth rate is very low. Many developing countries even face the problem of decreasing population.

The other key thing is the literacy of women; even now the literacy of women is low in India. Remember that this is the same India where Gargi and Mithreyi lived.

Anyway minister's suggestion for electricity is good, at least there will be some development. But the key lies in the fact that how far we will be successful in abolishing child marriages, providing sexual education, women empowerment, usage of contraceptives etc. But will the so called protectors of society will allow these things to happen?


Monday, July 20, 2009

Growing relations between France and India

[Indian Soldiers on French day Parede Courtesy TimesofIndia]

It is said that in 17th century a Freanch physician named François Bernier was the personal physician for Mugal emperor Aurangzeb for 12 years. And france was one of the Europen powers have colonies in India. It may be an old story but now the relationship is growing much faster.

These are not just some news articles published in media but also reflects the growing strength of relations between two nations. Recently Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh was the cheif guest for national day celebrations in France - which indeed a rare honour as France doesnt have any custom of inviting foreign heads except in few situations.

A contigent drawn from all three services of Indian armed forces, led by Marata light infentry marched down the 1.5 km stretch of Champs Elysees along with French soldiers.

India and France also have deep strategic cooperation in defence sector. Apart from joint excersices India is also purchased Mirage 2000 fighter planes and Scorpene class submarines from France. Both countries shows more and more interest in defence, aviation deals and even set a bilateral trade target of 12bn Euros.

France was very helpful to end the decades long neuclear isolation of India and both countries now are in the advanced stage of setting up 2 nuclear power plants in Maharashtra - a joint venture between NPCIL and Areva to generate 1650MW electricity. France is the one of the few nations who didnt condemned India's nuclear tests in 1998 and also one of the largest supplier of nuclear fuels to India.

But the protectionist methods of France in agriculture and tough immigration laws are always a problem for Inian industry. Hopes that the scenes happened at the time of take over of Arcelor by Mittal steel will not repeat again.

In EU France stood 5th in the list of trading partners with India, 7th in the list of investors. France accounts for only 2.05% of India's export to EU. Its here, we have to improve our ties, we have to increase our export to France as well as we have to sign more and more defence agreement with France. This not only helps French defence industry but also India as it will get more choice in buying arms and so the price will automatically come down. This will surely helps India to save money.

Another notable sector is electricity production and distribution system of France, which produce almost 87.5% of electricity from Neuclear energy and even exporting electricity to other countries. France can help India in setting up more and more reactors to produce electricity more efficiently and economically.

Let the friendhip progress further and further, helping eachother in international arena.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Trinity explosion and the bigning of Atomic Age

Tsar Bomba

It was long back in July 16, 1945; the first atomic bomb was exploded. Trinity was the test of an implosion design Plutonium bomb by US in White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico, US. The explosion which was equivalent to 20 kilotons of TNT changed the future and nuclear weapon age begins. After that nuclear technologies developed with astonishing speed and Fusion bombs etc are emerged.

It is said that at the time of test the scientific director of Manhattan Project J. Robert Oppenheimer reminded a line from the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita - I am become death, the destroyer of the worlds.

In Hiroshima and Nagasaki it was proved that Atom Bomb is really a destroyer of the worlds. It give so much power in the hands of people and nation who are authorized to use it. After that more and more countries acquired nuclear technologies. As year passes more joined in the nuclear club and many impatiently waits outside.

Russian Nuclear delivery system- RT-2PM Topol

US, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea have nuclear weapons in their arsenals and many countries are in shadow state.In 1985 there are around 65000 active nuclear weapons, it reduced to 20,000 active weapons in 2002. But it is more than enough for humans.

For example Tsar Bomba or RDS-202 Hydrogen bomb, the largest and most powerful weapon ever detonated in earth - developed by Soviet Union with yield of 50 megatons - This is equivalent to 10 times the amount of all explosives used in World War II including two nuclear weapons detonated in Japan. Remember that the technical design is capable of 100 megatons. This 3 stage H-bomb created a mushroom cloud of 64kms- 7 times higher than Mt Everest and a power output of 1.4% to that of the sun!!! What will happen if bombs of this type detonated in war?

Like any other technologies nuclear technology too can be used for good purposes like generating electricity. Using 59 plants "Électricité de France" produces 87.5%(a staggering 425.8 TWh in 2008) of total electricity production using nuclear energy. 18% (around 100 TWh is exporting to other countries) and France's electricity cost is the lowest in Europe.

But the irony is that no country will completely avoid their nuclear weapon program(exception is South Africa). But the question raising about all these nuclear programmes is that there is already many diseases and other natural and man made calamities which are enough for humans to suffer, so is it necessary to use nuclear energy too to kill the humans most effective ways?


Image coutesy : nuclearweaponarchive

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Indian Navy required complete modernisation

[INS Mysore]

"No battle was ever won that was poorly planned. No plan ever succeeded that was poorly conceived"

In a country like India which have a coast line of 7417km and where majority of the trade is through sea, the importance of the navy is very important or that is what people think. But look at Indian Navy.

In Indian Navy up to 60's all the major ships were purchased from other countries. In 70's there was an aircraft carrier, 2 cruises, 17 frigates and destroyer. In 80's 6 new ships came and 9 phased out. In 80's 5 destroyer from USSR and 3 frigates joined Indian Navy. total =8.(At the same time 8 gone - 5 due to age and 3 to coast guard). In 90's we have 4 frigates of 70's, 5 destroyers and 3 frigates of 80's, 3 destroyers and 3 frigates(indigenous) and 3 from USSR. total 21 destroyers/ frigates.

[INS Jalashwa]

If we consider the case of submarines; we dont have any till mid 60's, 4 in the end of 60's, it reached 8 in 70's. 8 more in 80's and 6 more in 90's. After scrapping some submarines navy operated a total of 18 in 90's.Now its only 14 submarines.

The first 6 scorpene SSK submarines are expected to join the fleet in 2012 and the remaining 5 will follow at yearly intervals. Hope that project 75, project 76, Advanced Technology Vessel program all will go fine.

But MDL shipyard will roll out no more than 1 frigate/destroyer in 18 months. Some new ships will join the nave in next decade but atleast a dozen will be phased out. Along with this we have to improve naval aviation too.

CAG report of oct 2008, especially noted the poor naval fleet. The staggering notification is that no more than 48% of Indian submarine fleet is available for waging a war. Indian navy holds just 67% of force level envisaged in its 1985 plan. an some of the submaries are already outlived their service plan.

It is not easy to build ships and put it in service quickly. But its the time where China is moving aggressively in naval front; they are building ports after ports in Myanmar, Srilanka, Pakistan etc. They are also planning to add many more ships to their fleet. The race for the control of Indian ocean is already on, but the main competetiors are US and China. Even the ocean is named after India, If we didnt move swiftly in naval front we may become just observers in the race between US and China for the control of Indian ocean.

India's defence spending is only 2% of GDP; in China it is 7% and in Pakistan it is 5%. In the last year out of 7200 crore allocated to the navy only 4000 crore spent. Coast Guard too returned 200 crore back to the government out of their allotted 947 crore. Current budget allocation to coast guard is 1904 crore.

Its high time to give a special focus on Navy. Political or any other delays should not come in the path of Naval expansion and modernisation. Othewise the plan to turn Indian navy to a blue water navy will remain in plan only.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Why ladies only?

I don't know why feminist organizations and government is so crazy over reservations for women. Up to now there was a demand for reservation of 33% in parliament. Now government is introducing ladies only trains.

Ofcourse the introduction of ladies only trains in Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata suburban routes will help women travelers. There is no question about its usefulness. But the question is how long we can go in this way?

Ladies only trains like ladies only constituencies may offer many benefits to women. As politicians say it may help the women to reach the forefront. But is it the right way?

There are other things too consider, the society is both for man and women. No one should have special rights. This is the time where rape cases no matter the age - small child to senior citizens - are continuously on the front pages of news paper. In a country like India, where once ladies are respected - now in the storm wind of rape cases, molestation cases etc.

Not only this one, girl child's are facing discrimination and gender ratio is falling.

Putting ladies to separate compartment, running ladies only trains, ladies only schools, colleges (May be proposals will also come for ladies only flights, ladies only companies etc) will not end this situation it will only worsen the situation.

What government have to do is to introduce sex education right from schools, it will also help in preventing child sexual abuses. Sex shouldn't be considered as a taboo- i dont know why a country like India which also construted Khajuraho temples is considering sex as a taboo. Governments decisions too is not in the right way. The outright ban on 'Savitabhabi' website indicate it.

School cariculum should change in such a way that it should view men-women relation with dignity. And should view girls/women with digniny not as an object to molest or rape. And also society should help the victims instead of turning then as an obect for further laughter and abuse I think proper education with severe punishments to the rapists and other abusers will eliminate the problem.


'Tests' on Test cricket - New 4 day format

In the end that too happened. The growing popularity of 20-20 format finally forced to reshape the test cricket too. The recent interview of ICC president David Morgan with India Today Magazine may be a blow for test lovers.

The proposal is to change the test cricket from 5 days to 4 days, so that it will be somewhat short; to introduce coloured balls; and to play the test in night too - To attract the prime time slot?

It is a real fact that after the introduction of ODI and 20-20 format the number of viewers for test cricket is in constant decline, and if the views are less so will be the money generating capacity (read Ad revenue). Compare the revenue of IPL matches with some test cricket tournament- short time, more viewers, more money.

But what about draws? If there are four innings and only 4 days without any limitation on overs, the draw rates will starts to increase (In 1990-99 64.29% of matches showed results, in 2000-09 75.68% showed results) may be ICC will introduce some countermeasures to avoid these draws.

The decision to play the test in night will increase the television audience and ad revenue too.

Anyway the the beauty of test cricket will have to face some set back.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ugly fruits won the war against European Commission

Yes, what you read just now is right, ugly fruits won the war after two decades against European Commission. The ugly fruits means the fruit which are not in the perfect/standard shape.

If you are wondering what is special with these rules then read some of the rules:

*Class 1 cucumbers must be “practically straight” and their maximum bend must be at a gradient of no more than 1/10.
*Carrots must not be forked (with more than one root). They must be smooth and regular. If they are less than 20mm (0.79ins), they must be called “early” carrots.
*A bunch of grapes must not weigh more than 1kg.
*An onion can only be sold if two thirds is covered in skin.

Its very funny isn't it? I don't know what is the problem if a bunch of grapes weigh more than 1kg or carrots are not smooth. Due to these rules some 20% of vegetables were rejected by the shops because it failed to meet the standard shape.

According to new rules standards will be repealed for 26 products : apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocadoes, beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbage, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, water melons, and witloof/chicory.

But even now European Commission is not ready to accept the ugly fruits fully. Standards are still in place for 10 fruit items: apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuces, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes and tomatoes. However, Member States may also exempt these from the standards if they are sold in the shops with an appropriate label. In practical terms, this means that an apple which does not meet the standard may still be sold in the shop, as long as it is labelled "product intended for processing" or equivalent wording

The interesting thins is that these 10 fruit items accounts for 75% of the value of EU trade.

Rule that hasn’t changed: The bend of a banana must be “the thickness of a transverse section of the fruit between the lateral faces and the middle, perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, must be at a minimum of 27mm(1.06ins). Really horror!!! isn't it?

Anyway now unattractive vegetables too find a place in supermarkets. Another interesting thing is that retailers estimations says that the price for this unattractive vegetables will be 40% lower.
Its not necessary that nature will always give beautiful, size and standard specified by European commission. A banana can be more curvy, but i have no problem in eating that banana, do you have?


Bandra -Worli Sealink : Economics and time

[image courtesy to BBC]

Some days back Liberhan Commission submitted a report to the government. You may be wondered what is the similiarities between a commission and an infrastructure project. Let us see. It took 17 years for the commission to submit the report after 48 extentions and an expenditure of 8 crores.

Bandra-Worli sealink, the 5.6km long, India's first and longest bridge to be built over an open sea, opened in the end. Its expected that bridge will reduce the journey time from 45 to 6 minutes. But at what cost?

At the time of initialisation of the project the expenditure was estimated at 300 crore but when it completed the expenditure was a wopping 1634 crore. The project took 10 years to complete that means almost 5 years overdue. It may not be a surprise for Indians as we have projects which took more that 10 years to complete, and lay behind the shedule by more than 5 years. All most all government projects are subjected to cost overrun and laying behind the shedule. Indians may be happy that it took only 5 years extra to complete the project!!!

[image courtesy BWSL project]

Lets look in to difficult infrastructure projects in other parts of the world. The 7.8 km long Öresund Bridge(also called Øresundsbroen,Öresundsbron etc) bridge connecting Denmark and sweeden took only 4 years to complete. It was 3 months ahead of the shedule.

35.6 km long Hangzhau Bay bridge connecting Shanghai and Ningbo took 4 years to complete. 50.5km long Channel tunnel (under sea rail tunnel linking England with France) took only 6 years to complete even if it undergone 80% cost overrun .

But in India red tapes, renegotiations in the midway, long delay in gtting the clearences usually lead to the huge cost overrun and delay in the project. In this case the delay is around 5 years and cost was 1634 crore(expected 300 crore).

Not only this but there are other flaws associated with the link. The roads taking the cars from the bridge is much narrower than the linkThe problem will be more exposed when all the 8 lanes are opened for public. If they can build a 8 lane sea bridge with so much cost why they cant build an appropriate approch road?

I dont think Indian's expect an efficiency of Chinese, Europeans or Americans in completing infrastructure projects, but atleast government can do somthing to improve the situation. They can avoid the beaurocratic delays in giving the clearences, delays in awarding the projects(for your information: The trans harbour bridge creek has been bid for twice yet not awarded to anybody).

Its not that we are not efficient in executing the project, Delhi Metro is the best example. This Metro Rail project completed with in time and with in the budget.

Bandra-Worli sea link may be a new step in India's infrastructure projects. And if India want to advance in the world, where we have to live with countries like China, US, European countries
we have to be efficient like them or more than them; otherwise we remain in the closed group of jargons like developing country(not developed country), emerging economy(not emerged economy) etc.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

F22 Raptor and India

[image courtesy Lockheed Martin]

Lockheed Martin/Boeing's F22 raptor is a fifth generation fighter aircraft and uses stealth technology. Which is used in electronic warfare, ground attacks, signal intelligence etc. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor along with Boeing Integrated Defence Systems.

F22 Raptors General charactristics:
Primary Function: Air dominance, multi-role fighter
Contractor: Lockheed-Martin, Boeing
Power Plant: Two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners and two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles.
Thrust: 35,000-pound class (each engine)
Wingspan: 44 feet, 6 inches (13.6 meters)
Length: 62 feet, 1 inch (18.9 meters)
Height: 16 feet, 8 inches (5.1 meters)
Weight: 43,340 pounds (19,700 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 83,500 pounds (38,000 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: Internal: 18,000 pounds (8,200 kilograms); with 2 external wing fuel tanks: 26,000 pounds (11,900 kilograms)
Payload: Same as armament air-to-air or air-to-ground loadouts; with or without 2 external wing fuel tanks.
Speed: Mach 2 class with supercruise capability
Range: More than 1,850 miles ferry range with 2 external wing fuel tanks (1,600 nautical miles)
Ceiling: Above 50,000 feet (15 kilometers)
Armament: One M61A2 20-millimeter cannon with 480 rounds, internal side weapon bays carriage of two AIM-9 infrared (heat seeking) air-to-air missiles and internal main weapon bays carriage of six AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-air loadout) or two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAMs and two AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-ground loadout)
Crew: One
Unit Cost: $143 million
Initial operating capability: December 2005
Inventory: Total force, 134

F22 raptor also won the Collier trophy(This trophy is for greatest achievements in aeronotics or astronotics in US) in 2006. This fighter aircraft is not for sale to other countries and its unit cost forced the US government to consider the closing of production systems.

This is one of the most advanced aircraft ever built in the aviation history as Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said.

But look at India's situation even now we are buying the aircraft from foreign countries. And ofcourse the expenditure for these aircrafts will be very high. In another manner we are simply buying the aircraft and giving the money to them. Even if there are many joint ventures and technology transfers occur in the course of time its high time for India to aggressively move towards indegenious production.

It should not be compulsory that only Government Companies will get these prestigious contracts. Allow private companies to come in. In US and in many European countries aircrafts are not only built by Government undertakings but by private companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing Integrated Defence Systems, Dessault Aviation, General Dynamics etc. Government can have some stakes in these companies. The recent decision by Indian Government to introduce private companies in Indian defence sector may improve the situation.

It also generate more jobs and huge investments in defence sector. The another important thing is that the selling of these aircrafts to other countries will generate huge profits. Remember that whatever happened o world economy no country is going to cut short their defence expenditure. In these times when our neighbours like China are moving fast forward in the defence sector its high time for us to improve our capabilities.