Geeky posts no more

Between work and Praja.in, I hardly have time left for this ‘personal’ blog. Never started this with ambitions of becoming the best known blogger on the Indi-blogosphere or anything like that. I am not that good either. I was told I would find like minded friends via this thing called blogging. And that I did, a good number of them, and so so very like minded that we have a whole big geeky site we all call our own now. Mission accomplished! However, on the subject of blogging, I do find interesting reactions to a question I have asked around – “So really, why do you blog?”. The one that intrigues me the most is – no answer, a posture of discomfort, with “why do you ask me” looks. Anyway.

Thanks all for your support (no names here, but you know) and encouragement. All this stuff – talk of infrastructure, positivity, local governance etc – all of which can summarily be rejected as boring, is where my interests are. And I will continue the talking, and as much as possible, some doing at Praja.in.

I am not sure whether to continue this blog as a place for pure ‘personal’ takes on other interests such as Hindi Music, Ancient History and Regionalism of our country, R&D outsourcing/offshoring ), or to just pause all this for a while till I can be sure of finding time to make at least one post every week. Let me think.

So long then. I will be back, very likely here itself in a re-invented way. Or elsewhere. But regardless, I am always around you-know-where. Just google silkboard :)

cheers,

Pranav aka silkboard

Transportation reforms around the BMLTA concept

[Cross posted from Praja-Bangalore, comments off]

In the telecom space, you have TRAI, which is a national level regulatory body. Rightly so, since telecom networks have national footprint through interconnections, it need not be looked at as a state subject. Drawing a parallel for our state, think of extending BMLTA concept to the state – a Karnataka state land transport authority (KSLTA). Why so? Because we want efficient two or three change connectivity from Whitefield to Haradanahalli as well, and not just to Jayanagar or Malleswaram. Just like the primary schools, every region needs good connectivity.

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Traffic police – why stand and deliver?

[Cross posted from Praja-Bangalore, comments off]

Was driving my F-I-L’s Santro the other day when I was stopped by one of those police parties. 5 of them, settled under a lush thick tree, half of them waiting to stop unsuspecting vehicles, the other half busy ‘punishing’ the ‘successful’ catches. I never get stopped when driving bigger cars, but the 9 year old santro ‘fit’ their criteria.

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Meeting with Mr Tripathy, BMTC – Summary

[Cross-posting from Praja-Bangalore, comments are off]

So it did happen. Naveen, Murali sir, Vasanth, Praveen, myself got 30 minutes of Mr Tripathy’s time in his office. After introducing Praja etc, we were planning to present our (rather, Naveen’s) slides on single dedicated lane based BRTS idea. But Mr Tripathy said he was short on time, and would look at it later at leisure. However, he warned us that he just can’t do BRTS by himself. He is only a bus operator, and owns only the rolling stock. We should go to other bodies (BBMP/BDA/Traffic police to get non-rolling stock infrastructure for BRTS) to push for it. He then updated us on the BRTS-on-ORR project a bit. He seemed well versed with BRTS, its need and advantages, Bogota etc. Though, his take on the key reason for the success of buses at Bogota is – the interesting ways in that city ran campaigns to educate citizens on road discipline.

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How is 18% for majority!?

After casting my vote early in the morning yesterday, while I drove around and was doing some shopping, I was curiously trying to spot the ink on those index fingers. My empirical observations told me that less than 50% of people had taken the trouble of visiting a polling booth. Morning newspapers are saying that Bangalore city areas saw only 44% voter turnout, and I am not surprised.

With three cornered (four, if you add BSP) contests everywhere, it is safe to assume that winning candidate will at best get 35-40% of the votes polled. 40% (winning percentage) of 44% (voting percentage) = around 18%. So, the winning candidates can realistically claim to have support of only 18% of Bangalore’s citizens.

What a shame. 18% is not even half of what we call majority (50%). They say democracy is the rule of majority and I am wondering how the hell do we call this democracy.

[Cross posted from Praja-Bangalore, comments off]

Traffic – Insurance laws to strengthen enforcement?

Over an year ago, I was driving not so fast not so slow, near the hard median of a road, when I spotted a bold biker riding on the ‘wrong’ side. Right around then, an impatient cab (Sumo) following behind decided to pass me from the left, the overtaking action putting him on a collision course with the wrong-way biker. The biker sensed trouble and tried to ‘filter’ through us. But in between his confused maneuvers, the bike slipped, fell, and I found the man and machine directly ahead of me. Hard median to my right, heavy-metal Sumo on my left, I didn’t have much to do or think, I braked hard, real hard, and stopped just short of the fallen human and machine waiting to be crushed.

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Shell outlets: shutdown coming?

Suman isn’t the only one. I too noticed that my neighborhood Shell bunk now sells only the premium petrol (Shell supreme or something), cost ranging from Rs 61 – 64 a liter over last month. The BP bunk nearby offers Rs 52 – 55 Rs/liter. 15% is a bit much premium to pay, though I know I get 8-10% better mileage with Shell. So, no more Shell now. And guessing from reduced crowds at this Shell bunk, this seems to be the case with many.

Reliance recently announced shutting down all its retail petroleum outlets (pumps). How long before Shell does the same?

Now, while filling at the BP bunk, I can’t help staring at the diesel rates – Rs 36 odd per liter! That is a third less than petrol, again, a bit too much, and calling out to trade in my petrol car with a diesel.

Its all pretty sad though – us, the consumers not paying the real price for petrol, and more so for diesel. The whole sarkaari petroleum machinery is happy siphoning off money from organized adulteration business (I don’t have proof, so this is loose talk by definition). And by subsidizing the cost of fuel, they keep our mouths shut and voters happy. Wonderful arrangement – that subsidy is like a kickback for us to let distribution irregularities pass off under the carpet.

Will the fuel prices be unreasonably high if sarkaari control over distribution and pricing were to go away? Don’t know. May be not, because loss of subsidy may be offset by more efficient and clean distribution process brought in by private enterprise. Or may be yes. But why should government care?

Entrepreneurship around alternate energy will prosper only if we start paying the real high prices for petrol and diesel, isn’t it? We will change our driving and private vehicle usage patterns only if ‘real’ and high fuel prices start pinching our pockets dry, isn’t it? Its sort of like saying water is important so preserve it, but keeping potable water’s cost so low that you don’t take those threats seriously.

So tell me now. Which diesel is better, Swift VDI and Getz Prime?

Update on roads over storm water drains

It was just over an year ago when BBMP talked about the project – about 250 km of roads over Bangalore’s storm water drains. Local papers, when covering BBMP budget today, are saying that this project is now funded. Here is a quote from TOI:

“Here’s what people can see within one year: Bangalore will see its first set of toll roads that will be built over stormwater drains. Four such roads are proposed under the Swiss Challenge method (14.7 km in the budget): KH Road to Inner Ring Road of Koramangala (5.1 km); Old Madras Road to Airport Road in Challaghatta Valley (2.7 km); Airport Road to Bellandur tank in Challaghatta valley (4.2 km) and Outer Ring Road to Raja Canal STP of Hebbal Valley (2.7 km). Infrastructure major IDEB has offered to take up the project. “

Getting to see this in an year sounds like a stretch. But, interesting stuff. These would be tolled roads. No mention of tolls yet. Not sure how many exit and entry points these roads will have. No talk of dedicated Bus corridors on them. That BBMP tender last year had talked about “upto 250 km” of roads. Is there a bigger plan for 200-250 km worth of road network, or the current proposal (about 30 km) is only a piece-meal project? Last, was this part of CTTP, or is outside of that project?

So lots of questions, we should hopefully be getting the answers over next few days.

[Cross posted from Praja-Bangalore, comments off]

Bangalore’s Water: 38% is not “accounted” for!

Some newspaper reports (Hindu, ToI) this week mentioned that:

… water supply to Bangalore is … 694 million litres a day … consumption which is actually billed … around 429 million litres a day. The unaccounted for water comes to an alarming 38.2 per cent

Wow, 38.2 percent (quoted from Hindu)! This would include two types of losses, 1) distribution loss: damages, leakages etc, and 2) water that is not getting billed. There is no clear mention or estimates of split between the two categories. Assuming distribution loss (leaks) to be 20% (double the 10% developed world aims for, google “Water Management Act US”), 18% of water could be going unbilled. That guesswork tells us that 1 in 6 of us, Bangalore citizens, isn’t paying for his/her water.

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So really, who owns Hindi?

Alright, okay. So I am a North Indian, and someday I will be branded a Northie and questioned in Bangalore as well. I can take that, and would understand the sentiments and politics around that. But, at times, when I am called a Hindi guy as opposed to a Northie, I pause and think.

Would you have guessed that both my grand-moms (ajjis, as in daadi and naani) found it hard to talk in Hindi? One used angika, and another maithili, both of which I can describe as languages that sit somewhere between Bengali and Hindi. Yeah, one is more of a dialect today, but maithili has well documented grammar and literary history as well.

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