Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Henry Ford may be a man worth remembering somewhere and humanity owes a lot to his intellect and philosophies and he was a pioneer with deep convictions which would have been opposed by many but at the end stood the test of time. What makes Ford special...to me is his rebellious nature and his inventive spirit which stood in good stead to reform the world.

Note that Ford was ahead of his times and not a very formally schooled man in the strict sense of the term and being largely acquainted with a farming family an activity he loathed to the chagrin of his father points instantly to an unhealthy relationship between father and son. Farming during those times in the USA was probably treated as the only known or a safe mode of making a living and the young Ford being indifferent to it must have been a unsolacing feel for his father who must have been largely concerned about the future of his recalcitrant son.

This is at a place called Dearborn which was probably a farming village about 15 miles from the city of Detroit. What could the place have been like. It possibly had a church and some kind of a village school and few bars and inns where people socialized but must have been sparsely populated and insecure and people moved around the place in horseback's or on horse drawn carts and life must have been very difficult and there must have been quarrels between people on some count and sometimes taking a vociferous overture and Ford saw it all as a child and somewhere probably understood the limitations of an economy largely driven by agriculture. Ford had a contemporary in John Davison Rockefeller who ran the Standard Oil Company and there is int much evidence to point any warm and long standing relationship or friendship of some kind between these two people for reasons unknown possibly because each had a strong and rigid value system which could have taken a collision course.

The young Ford seems to have walked or taken a ride in parts in a horse cart all the way from his farm possibly as the rift with his father became unbearable and his colossal inability and aversion for the farm its activities and its economics. His mother possibly gave him money(when alive) to sustain himself in Detroit but the city and its business interested him and the various machine shops and their occupations were an attraction to the young Ford so much so that he saw the future of humanity in them. I believe Ford had some kind of ability at conceiving an end result and then enjoining people with various skills into achieving the end result a skill of coordination which he carried in abundance.

Ford lost his mother when he was young a feature he shares with Lincoln and it could have further fueled his desire to leave the farm and go to Detroit. Detroit was a happening place for Ford and he liked it much more than the farm, the sound of machinery from the various work shops and the general dynamism of the city synchronized well with the verve and aspirations of the young Ford. I presume he must have been twenty years of age when he fully accustomed himself to the city possibly doing various kinds of jobs largely of the machining kind thereby unconsciously garnering very valuable experience. Ford was chief engineer of an illumination company for some time during this crucial period of his life and I don't know what this means and what his job was like but I can very well presume he did not find himself in this vocation and a desire do something mammoth was too strongly intertwined in his persona and a large scale desire to involve himself in something more lasting and challenging. Ford being born in the year 1864 and the duration of a crucial kind according to me where Ford transformed himself from a farm lad to an experienced and suave city-man must be between 1884 to 1900 a full period of around 16 years ---a period long enough to transformation in any one.

I see another interesting coincidence in another contemporary of Henry Ford a man called John Davison Rockefeller who pioneered refining of petroleum crude to create kerosene and other hydro carbon products which ultimately provided the gasoline with which the cars made by Ford would run. This is a coincidence which helped in the creation of gasoline fueled cars and a new dimension in technology. There is not much indication any where to show any kind of long standing friendship or relationship between these two individuals who were similar ind dissimilar with each other in many ways. Rockefeller was more of a business thinker and Ford was more of a social thinker and this fundamental conflict of ethos must have prevented any long standing companionship between these two individuals. Rockefeller seems to have German roots and Ford Irish. Nevertheless the activities of both these individuals created a composite cumulative impact and moved the world and its events into a particular alley and into a definitive rhythm. Moreover Rockefeller was older than Ford.

Ford made the quadricycle which has become the modern day car. Basically his idea must have been to take two cycles and weld them together with a base and an engine propelling the back wheel with some control systems for braking and speed. This meant the structure was more stable than a cycle and could seat a couple of people and Ford must have rode this vehicle on the streets of Detroit to the amusement of many. He probably took the vehicle over long distances and made corrections on the vehicle of various kinds like may be fitting a shock absorber. The vehicle amused many. Similar vehicles were built by the Germans too but for some reasons nothing much is heard of their forays into this field. There was a man called Carl Benz in Germany whose legacy is carried by Benz cars today. Ford was fortunate to be in America and in a city where many things were handy and the quadricycle that he built would in due course propel him into a domain so elevated that he would redefine business for posterity. There was a market for the car; there was manpower that could make it and there were many resources that instantly came from the vicinity and above all he had a great sense of ingenuity to look beyond every day hurdles and obstacles a possible trait that differentiates him instantly from the many other people in the world who were on a similar trail. Unlike Europe of that era which was less united, America presented itself as one single block that spoke the same language and people in the villages saw this car as an instant contrivance to travel from their habitats to towns for various purposes an activity which Ford himself must have endured as a young man and he knew too precisely where his quadricyle or later the Ford model T would be precisely employed.

The period between 1900 and 1908 is crucial as this period possibly gave birth to the model T car which would ultimately sell more than 15 million. 15 million is a staggering amount even by modern standards. Many people would come searching for Ford in Detroit and were willing to buy his car and so came many investors who were willing to invest capital in some form. What would have began as a demand for 10 cars a month slowly became 100 and then 1000 and then 10000 and Ford was increasingly looking for methods to develop new production methodologies and apparently the mass production methodologies used in the abattoirs of the day seemed to have inspired Ford into division of labor and even possibly hired people who had experience in such outfits where animals were culled to mass produce food.

These events were a crucible in many form where far reaching changes would get dictated and I believe the emergence of America as a super power has largely to do with its quick metamorphosis from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy largely working on hither-to unknown principles and the combination of the mind of one man and circumstances would redefine the world into creating large scale economic advantage and the Ford Motor Company was at the center of it all . What are the far reaching changes; Firstly the industrial sector got the credibility of a reliable and consistent employer of multitudes who worked in unison to create economic miracles, secondly Ford saw the benefits of Economy of scale possibly for the first time possibly never seen before and called Fordism; The car as a product brought America closer there-by creaing a physical and psychological unification of masses and finally the day to day production problems and quality problems faced would pave the way for many sister technologies and methodologies to advance at a rapid pace. As a result of such forces Ford was able to pay his workers 06 dollars a day an amount considerable even today in many parts of the world.

Have I seen a Ford model-T ? - the answer is YES in the back yard of a Victorian style bungalow on Brunton road in Bangalore. This means Ford model T had found its way into India possibly owned by British officers of that time which they abandoned in a hurry during their exit from this country.

Let me put in a nut shell Henry Ford and his contributions to making the world a more safer economic haven;
  • By playing with the Quadricycle and later transforming it into the model T Ford lays the basic foundations for the auto industry which over the century would become some kind of a driver of world economy.
  • Ford demonstrated the viability of a semi-professional industrial society where people in large numbers would converge in search of employment.
  • The activities of Ford saw a strategic shift in economic patterns with the Industrial economy becoming a pull factor to the agricultural economy redistributing patterns of consumption of agricultural produce.
  • Ford proved Fordism through economies of scale a previously unknown commercial phenomenon.
  • Activities of Ford spurred the need for managerial thought and awakening relating to various aspects of operations and manufacturing.
  • Ford ran the most difficult of supply-chains of the world starting from iron ore to the final dealer of his produce.
  • For the first time in the world competitive manufacturing began to emerge with the growth of General Motors.
  • Unionism becomes a reality in the industrial world due to apparent problems in the way a large work force is handled and managed.
  • The need to study markets and market research becomes a reality.
  • Finally the automobile would catalyze crude refining the world over and the automobile emissions would create the negative effect of global warming.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I am more of a person of conjecture than one of facts.... and co-relating various aspects of history is a matter of conjecture. The Vijayanagar empire and its influence and possibilities over the Deccan is far-reaching and amazing. Robert Sewell has written a book on the Vijayanagar empire about which I had some review and found it to be a largely descriptive about the chronology of the events that happened during the era and does not cover much about the large scale ingredients of the society of these times...or may be it does and was not to my observation.007.

In my opinion this empire must have had a very large scale influence on the sociology-polity of southern India and is largely under estimated and lye's camouflaged by more recent happening and advancements. I believe historical research is converting available data into knowledge and the knowledge so created nust be compared with other facts to ascertain the exactness and credibility of the possible conclusions.

What triggered the growth and existence of such a large empire.....I believe there are many.

Firstly the Kakatiya empire in Warangal which was called orungallu in the past largely having its existence from the 1100 ad to the 1300 ad. This being a hindu empire giving rulers in the deccan taste and experience of running a state.

Secondly the threat of foreign invasions southwards partially impeded by the many rivers that take their birth in the western ghats and flow eastwards and the beheading of the king of the kakatiya dynasty by Mohammed bin Thuglaq which send shock-waves over Deccan.

Thirdly the Shringeri math founded by Adi Shankaracharya which formed a central think tank yielding to the consolidation of various south Indian forces

..and finally the demand on a worldwide scale for the for the spices grown in the deccan of that time.

How did the empire come into existence...possibly as a result of frenzy. Hukka and Bukka credited with the formation of the Vijayanagar empire appears to me were in the service of the Kakatiya king at warangal possibly in a military capacity and were witness to the be-heading of their king by northern forces; they possibly take shelter in the Shringeri math and in the process coming into contact with the wit, wisdom and experience of a possibly a large number of seers who possibly averred that defences have to built largely hither to the thungabadra river which would prevent foreign invaders from penetrating into the deccan - a strategy that seemed acceptable to many and the shringeri math taking a pro-active role in mobilizing kshatriya forces over the deccan. It is unlikely that the Nairs of Kerala were not involved in some capacity over time largely taking part in training and strategy of troops. In a hurry a large fort complex was created and thence assembled oll the forces of south-india in large numbers orienting themselves gradually into a formidable force which would not only defend invasions but grow in stature to the point of having large-scale influence over the Deccan.

Let me deviate for a second into what some visitors to the empire during various stages of its growth mention. A traveler of repute has documented " i see various communities of southern India here " and another said "the pupil of the eyes would never see magnificence of this kind " and these statements when understood cumulatively throws light on the composition and composure of the empire which attracted travelers from all over the world. I have a co-relation. Some time during the period of the empire the ottoman turks capture constantinople the modern day Istanbul and prevent the land route for spices thereby forcing the Europeans to explore a sea route. Note that Mohammed-bin-Thuglaq was a turk and the Turks in constantinople blocked the pepper route which must have eventually had a negative impact on the spice trade of the vijayanagar empire and its large scale revenues making the sustenance of the trade increasingly difficult. I believe the large wealth of the empire was from the taxes collected from the sale of spices more so pepper and note that much of pepper was grown in the northern parts and fringes of modern day kerala largely pointing to a largely unmagnified possibility of an intense trade and cultural link between the people of modern day kerala and the empire.

The history of the Deccan would have taken a different shape had it not been for the many rivers that take birth in the western ghats and flow eastwards making it a natural fortress for any invading troops who have to bear the brunt of carrying men and equipment across the rivers creating a logistical anomaly. I believe very precisely that somewhere the Nairs of Kerala were employed by the empire to deliver pin-pointed guerrilla assaults on enemies who attempted to cross the Thunga Badra river. It would take days if not weeks for a three lakh army to be effectively ferried across the Thunga badra and as the invading forces embarked on such a process ferried possibly 6000 of their troops a day which was an instant victim of assault from Nair forces loyal to Vijayanagar largely a battery of 20000 troops dismantling the resources and power of the enemy forces that crossed the river there-by frustrating the enemy into huge losses and deficiencies. That the enemies of Vijayanagar used diplomacy and chicanery later to take advantage of the empire is a possibility but the above mentioned strategy worked effectively for decades if not centuries.

The undoing of the Vijayanagar Empire could be due to infighting and claims and counter claims for power by various generals and royal clans with the Shringeri math largely playing a mediator y role and there could be elements within the empire who so urged its downfall looking at the fibers of the times. That three dynasty held sway on power during various times is a large scale indicator to the very many possible discord and resentment in the undercurrents of the empire --- like in all empires of the past and this situation largely taken advantage of by inimical elements. But amidst all these rumblings came up mighty buildings and structures within the Vijayanagar city itself about which there are no traces today as they were demolished by the advancing enemy who took control of the city and its precincts in 1565. That Vijayanagar architecture did not withstand the test of time is a sorry tale and a largely despicable one and the empire so significant and formidable in its moorings be forgotten as if it never existed at all steals away from the recorded annals of history two centuries or more as if they never existed.

I am told that there there is a palace at a place called chandragiri near to tirupati reminiscent of the Vijayanagar Empire and built in that style and I am yet to have a closer look at it and it is believed that Krishnadevaraya the more successful king of the empire at conquests spent his childhood at this place. May be the govt must take additional steps to improve tourism to this spot.

What did the military of the empire look like.....That the empire succumbed to invasion in 1565 is but a natural consequence. The possible decline in pepper revenues due to the blockade in constantinople and the number of foreign suitors for spices largely dwindling the economic machinery of the empire must have been in jeopardy added to the growth of the moghul empire and dissent of various kinds within the empire and the resulting alignments must have played havoc. The military in its full bloom had around 3,00,000 of advancing soldiers probably divided into foot soldiers , cavalry , elephant brigades and the like with the foot soldiers in the front...again this could be a possibility. The foot soldiers were made into several bands and the head of the foot soldiers were called Nayaks and Nayaks hailed from various communities of south-india from malayali to tamil to konkan to oriya to kannada to teleugu to even people of srilankan origin. The modern day sri lanka was under some form of control of the vijayanagar empire. A new genre of humanity sprout in south india according to me ...in the children of these heterogeneous nayaks who gave their sons and daughters to each other in wed lock and hence the southern india genealogy has been largely influenced by the composition of humanity and their association and interactions at the Vijayanagar empire; what exactly were the kind of relations no one can precisely tell but there existed such associations. Most of these people advance southwards along the eastern ghats in 1565 on being subdued by the aggressors who largely used deceit to behead the the less experienced king Aliya Rama Raya who was possibly the son-in -law of Krishnadevaraya. Power struggle undid the Vijayanagar empire possibly taken advantage and exacerbated by people who were in violation with the empire and possibly many such traitors existed very well within the palace..no one knew or took care.

In the war of 1565 called the battle of tallikota many people assign many reasons for the defeat of Vijayanagar...possibly the aggressors who were now a consortium of various powers had more superior machinery which would have been rebutted but the slaying of the king was the coup-DE-grace. This was possibly achieved unreasonably and with deceit. Aliya Rama Raya is enticed to meet the enemy for a possible truce largely being initiated into such a procedure by traitors well within his fold and the advancing king mistakenly assuming victory was beheaded by elements assigned for the purpose without forewarning or notice and his held high on a long sword the very sight of which disillusioned the Vijayanagar army into buckle for want of leadership. What a tragedy ? Are there lessons for the modern man from this episode...the only lesson is "History can repeat itself"......every single head rolled in Vijayanagar the situation having strayed from any control and the city bled both its blood and its wealth. Thence stayed the marauding forces for six months denigrating very single structure of the empire they could lay hands on and an Empire slips into rubble. So enabled they were with the wealth and pomp of the city they never pursued southwards and later saw any such venture fruitless.Most of the ingredients of the kingdom who were fleet footed made well their escape with many elephants carrying articles of value down southwards along the eastern ghats..they say there were 600 elephants in all. The terrain of the eastern ghats being more friendly and providing fodder and shelter and possible gave vegetation to be dried and used for creating fire for cooking. Many of the people living around these regions today have in them some remnants of the empire which they are so pitifully unaware.

All humanity at the end of the day is a product of some history and un fathoming it brings people closer who previously thought were disparate for they spoke varying tongues and behind all these realities of the present day world lye events and stories and possibilities only when fathomed and analyzed spring a possible thread that runs through many which always existed and only needs to be given due recognition and discernment which would bring homogeneity in the populace more faster for a more organized world.