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Saturday, July 22, 2017

22.07.17 Policy Disruptors in Indian Economy

22.07.17 Policy Disruptors in Indian Economy

The recent policy decisions on demonetization of higher denomination of Indian currencies and implementation of Goods and Services Tax have generated so much heat and debate among the public – both informed and ill-informed. Everyone has become an expert commentator now. That includes me too.

Every government has been taking policy decisions as a matter of routine; however, some of them have disrupted people’s life so much that they were tantamount to life-altering changes.

In the past too, India had faced several policy disruptors that seriously altered the life of the common man. Some of them were:
1. Nehru’s socialistic policies towards industrialization of India through public sector investments, immediately after India’s independence
2. Green Revolution and White Revolution policies during the 1960s & early 1970s
3. Indira Gandhi’s decision to nationalize banks and insurance business during 1969 and after
4. Economic liberalization initiated by P.M. Narasimha Rao and F.M Manmohan Singh during 1991 and after
5. Demonetisation of higher value currencies during November 2016
6. Introduction of GST on 1st July 2017
There may be others too, but I am mentioning only a few major economic policy disruptors.

When every one of these policy disruptors came into effect, there were vociferous criticisms from several quarters and also widespread support from other sections.

Generally, people tend to react overzealously prematurely, not wanting to wait for some time for the policy changes to produce the intended results. As the decision makers in India have always had to take the impact of their decisions on their electoral prospects into account, they had also shown kneejerk reactions to public anger against some of their policy decisions, however well-intended their decisions were. Net result: the policy changes were introduced in half-hearted measures, slow paced, compromised on several counts, and marred by political calculations.

Probably, the people were never properly informed and educated on these policy changes. Probably, the decision makers failed to take the nation along while taking disruptive policy change decisions.

Yet, the fact remains that these policy disruptions have a long term effect; sometimes, it also takes time to fully realize the impact of these policy disruptions on people’s life. For instance, when Sri P. V. Narasimha Rao, the then Prime Minister and Dr. Sri Man Mohan Singh, the then Finance Minister brought in liberalization of economy during the early 1990s, there were widespread criticisms. Very little, people realized that many of these criticisms came from people with vested interests who never wanted to lose their control over things and events that they enjoyed during the license and permit raj. But, some 20-25 years down the line, today, if India is competing with some of the world economic powers in every front, the credit must go to the Rao and Singh combine. People of India, today, enjoys a lot more comforts of life because of economic liberalization. However, it must be admitted that even then, the liberalization was not done with full force as it should have been done because Mr. Rao government didn’t enjoy the support of the law makers and were apprehensive of people support. Of course, they were also under the compulsion to introduce those policy changes to bail out the country.

The same way, the recent disruptors: demonetization of higher value currencies and introduction of GST need to be viewed with the same long term approach. They were far reaching decisions, complicated, and will impact people’s life in different ways – benefitting some and affecting some. Yet, we need to wait for some time for these policy changes to bring about the intended effects. Somehow, I strongly feel that most people tend to rush with criticisms rather than wait. In this, unfortunately, most people tend to be misguided by self-centered politicians, media, and vested interests.

The major disruptors I have mentioned had all brought tremendous good for the nation and the people, in the overall sense, though there were some unintended negative effects too. For example,
1. The country became a strong producer of steel, cement, and electricity due to Nehru’s industrialization policy.
2.  India is now self-sufficient in production of food grains and milk.
3.  Banking and insurance spread to several small villages, benefitting millions of poorer sections of the people due to nationalization of banks and insurance by Indira Gandhi.
4.  Indians got access to several world-class goods and services that also induced positive changes in our standards of production and delivery of goods and services. We became more efficient and quality conscious. Millions of poorer families became affluent. All these happened due to liberalization of economy by Rao and Singh.
5.  The impact of demonetization is still to be fully understood. Only time will tell the positive impacts. The same with introduction of GST too.

So, let us wait for the full impact of demonetization and introduction of GST to take place. Hell is not going to break lose right now. There will be inconveniences everywhere. Vested interests will continue to criticize. Let us not be misled by people with vested interests. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

21.07.17 Check Dams

21.07.17 Check Dams

My motivation to write about check dams emanates from a report titled “Check Dam could address salinity,” I happened to read in today’s The Hindu.  

I have written and published an English novel titled: WHAT, IF OUR DREAMS COME TRUE! AN UNCOMMON MEETING WITH LORD SIVA. The book is about the life experience of an enlightened individual and his struggles and achievements, told in first person. Of course, for the narrator, it was no struggle or achievement – just finishing the agenda for which he came into being.

Here are the 7 of my dreams that eventually found their way into the book:
1.     Preventing flash floods by building check dams across         several small rivers
2.     Protecting the centuries-old assets of the temples from the     exploiters
3.     Eradicating begging, especially child begging
4.     Developing Sports in India as a Movement and make           many youngsters world-class champions
5.     Providing true autonomy to village administration (Gram     Swarajya on the models dreamed about by Gandhiji to         help rural development)
6.     People’s integration through people’s interdependence

The 7th is: For an individual to fight for these dreams he would need to be highly enlightened so that he is fearless, honest, determined, have no self-interest, maintains inner integrity, and loves our nation. Gandhiji was one such person in our recent history. He was also one of the most difficult to understand. That was the kind of narrator of this story in the book.

While preparing for the book, I tried to do some detailed research on all the seven topics.

While searching for ways to prevent flash floods, I came across several articles written by various professionals supporting construction of check dams, vis-à-vis, big water reservoir dams, which serve other purposes like generation of electricity etc. I learnt that check dams were effective in preserving the ground water potential, preventing flash floods, and protecting the flora and fauna of the region; they need less money, can be organized with local indigenous labor, don’t need enormous technological support, and so on. So, I borrowed the idea and built one whole episode, where the hero of the novel went about organizing construction of check dams on the hilly terrains across Tamirabarani River.

In the same way, in another episode, the people of a group of villages decide to construct another check dam in another place with their own personal finances and borrowing from the banks, rather than relying and waiting for the government to decide, plan and construct. Here, the question was: Do the people of a group of villages have the power to decide what development project they need and how they want to go about implementing the project?

Now, the current news report says check dams can present salinity of the water too.

There are 7 episodes in the book, each depicting approximately 7 years of life of the narrator, in 7 different places, along the River Tamirabarani – all abodes of Lord Siva.

The book: WHAT, IF OUR DREAMS COME TRUE! AN UNCOMMON MEETING WITH LORD SIVA is available on, I would recommend this book to every avid reader. Books are great gifts. Please buy one today. Send your comments on the book. Greetings!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

12.07.17 Ravi Shastri as the Head Coach for the Indian Cricket Team

12.07.17 Ravi Shastri as the Head Coach for the Indian Cricket Team

A ticklish issue has now been resolved. Another possible disaster averted. The BCCI has taken the tacit approval (or was it, a clear prior approval?) from Kohli, the Indian Captain to appoint Ravi Shastri as the Head Coach.

No one can deny the essential need for some constructive cooperation and coordination between the captain of a team and the coach. No one desires to have another Greg Chappel experience in our Cricket, recent shadow duel between Kumble and Kohli behind the screens notwithstanding.

Yet, something doesn’t seem alright.

It is the board who controls the game, has every prerogative to decide on team, coach, and manager selection, the finances, the itinerary, etc. Informal consultations among all stake holders are always useful. Professional management of the game is of utmost necessity. Professional integrity is required in every process from everyone involved.
Still, does the Board need the nod of the captain to appoint a head coach? Why so much dillydallying about the appointment?

The role and objectives of the captain of a team and the role and objectives of a coach are quite different, though there will be a lot of convergence of the objectives. Each one has to discharge his/her duties towards the objectives agreed upon while being selected for the particular role. The Board has every right to demand fulfilment of those expectations agreed upon at the time of appointment from every member of the team and its management.

Now, a serious question has unintentionally crept in. Who is the boss? Is it the Board or the Captain of a team?

This is bad for the game. The Board has set a bad example.

The real issue is: Money. After all, our cricket board is not participating in an Olympic event, where they get only medals and certificates. Cricket is no more the game when players played for the country, and for the passion of the game. They play for the money in it too.

When IPL was first introduced, however much it looked very luring and captivating, the game of cricket had died. Players from different countries have now become thick friends and colleagues, playing for IPL. How would they suddenly shift their allegiance to the national team while playing against another country? They need to have two hats, dropping one and putting on another during different games.

Today, everything is commerce and money. I know I can’t complain.

Now Ravi Shastri has to be extra careful, dealing with Kohli, the captain. He can’t afford to apply sticks when things go wrong and still produce the result expected from him.

But then, who cares, as long as the Board, the player, and commercial advertisers make their money? International players would continue to eagerly look for the auction of players for the next IPL. The money lures, and the money corrupts, and corrupts absolutely.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

“கிள்ளியூரில் பிறந்தது ஒரு கதை” - என்னுடைய புதிய குறு நாவல்


நான் எழுதிய “கிள்ளியூரில் பிறந்தது ஒரு கதை” என்ற குறு நாவல் நேற்று போத்தி.டாட்.காமில் ஈ-புத்தகமாக வெளியிடப்பட்டது. தற்போதைக்கு விலை கிடையாது. இலவசமாக இந்தப் புத்தகத்தை வாங்கிப் படிக்கலாம். படித்து மகிழுங்கள். உங்கள் கருத்துக்களைத் தெரிவிக்கவும்.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

05.07.17 Internet of Things (IoT)

05.07.17 Internet of Things (IoT)


Ever since I bought a DX2 486 desktop computer in 1996, wilting under the pressure from my children, and later, a laptop in 1998/99, looking back, I now realize that my knowledge of the computers is very little compared to the ocean of the computer world. I have traveled a long way, learning the computer, yet miles to go.

Like many things about science and engineering, the internet and the way it works really baffles me. All along, I have only known the internet of computers (IoC) through the web, until recently, when I read a book: FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, which taught me the term ‘The Internet of Things’ for the first time. I didn’t understand initially what the Internet of Things really meant; the book gave me some preliminary ideas, kindling my curiosity to learn more about IoT.

When the student is ready, the teacher somehow appears before the student.

A few days back, I chanced upon another book ‘The Internet of Risky Things,’ in the public library, reading which widened my current elementary knowledge of IoT and how it impacts life on earth.

One thing for sure, like the IoC – the Internet of Computers through the web (our broadband internet) - the IoT is going to be another major disruptor in our life. It has the potential not only to impact how we live our life, but also how we work. The "Internet of things" (IoT) is becoming an increasingly growing topic of conversation everywhere.

As the broadband Internet is becoming more widely available, the cost of connecting is diminishing, more devices are being created with Wi-Fi capabilities and sensors built into them, technology costs are coming down, and smartphone penetration is sky-rocketing, a setting for the ‘perfect storm’ is being created for the IoT.

So, What Is The Internet Of Things?

Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an ‘on and off’ switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, cars, wearable devices, and almost anything else you can think of.  This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig.

The IoT is a giant network of connected "things" (which also includes people).  The relationship under IoT will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things.

The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices. 

How does this impact our life?

Say, for example, you are on your way to a meeting. Your car could have an access to your calendar and had already decided the best route to take. When there is a traffic jam, and you are likely to be delayed for the meeting, your car might automatically notify the other party that you will be late for the meeting. The car will also automatically decide on another route for you to reach the meeting quickly.

It is morning 06.00 am. Your clock rings the alarm bell; simultaneously, it also notifies your coffee maker to start brewing coffee for you and switches on the TV for the morning news channel.

You have a digital patch embedded in the chest of your body. It reads your blood pressure and other parameters constantly and notifies your doctor about your condition on a regular basis, alerts the hospital if your condition worsens, and immediately releases some medication from another tiny capsule implanted in your body.

The concept of Smart City works on the basis of the Internet of Things. Road traffic, garbage collection, accidents notification, managing electric power grids, sudden security threats, or an emergency alert, and so on.

The reality is that the IoT allows for virtually endless opportunities and connections to take place, many of which we can't even think of or fully understand its impact, as of today; it certainly opens the door to a lot of opportunities, but also to many challenges.


Security is a big issue. With billions of devices being connected together, how to ensure that their information stays secure? Will someone be able to hack into your toaster and thereby get access to your entire network? We saw a glimpse of what could happen in a remotely controlled car, in the recent movie ‘I.T’ by Pierce Brosnan.

Then we have the issue of privacy and data sharing.

Another mind boggling issue will be: how to store, track, analyze, and make sense of the vast amounts of data that will be generated by these billions of devices.

Positive impacts of IoT could be:

Increased efficiency in using resources, rising productivity, improved quality of life, environmental impact, lower cost of delivering services, more transparency in using the resources of the nation, safety (planes, food, etc.,), efficiency (logistics), more demand for storage and bandwidth, shift in labor market and skills, creation of new businesses etc.

What its impact would be is unknown in some areas like:

Shift in business models (asset rental vis-à-vis ownership of appliances), massively distributed infrastructure for information technology, automation of knowledge work (analysis, assessment, and diagnosis), higher utilization rate of cars, machines, tools, equipment, infrastructure etc.

One of the serious concerns of IoT is the possibility of a ‘Digital Pearl Harbor,’ to mean, the potential of digital hackers or terrorists paralyzing infrastructure, leading to no food, fuel, and power for weeks together.

Some recent developments

The Ford GT model car has 10 million lines of computer code in it.
The new popular model of VW Golf has 54 computer processing units in it.

According to BMW, 8% of the cars worldwide, or 84 million, were connected to the internet in one way or other.

Insurance companies like Aetna are thinking about how sensors in a carpet could help detect smoke and prevent a potential fire hazard.


Our earth is going to be a world of sensors and connected computers.

While, IoT throws up tremendous possibilities of how our lives are going to be altered, it also throws up terrible challenges of how we are going to keep things under control.