Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Schrage Motor at REC NIT Calicut

The Schrage Motor at NIT Calicut has a special place for me..it was the penultimate experiment I did in the Electrical Machines lab of REC. The Electrical Machines lab was a zone of trials and tribulations for any student and an intense learning ground . I think the Electrical Machines Lab of REC is one of the better labs even compared with such facilities among other institutions of its kind. A large area about 1/3rd the area of a Football field housing various kinds of   Electrical Machinery. I enjoyed working at this set-up and was a very crucial part of our education honing logical skills and it is probably only in Electrical Engineering a student gets to work with many kinds of machinery with a wide range of Horse Powers.

My success rate at this lab was very very high some times out of fortune and at other times out of fortitude and this lab was always a pointer to me that I had some competence which I used to doubt and was diffident about and with time became certain about. Out of the many experiments I did here I only fumbled once and was successful at all others. It is nice feeling to wire a machine and then switch it on and to note all the meters are reading and the noise it creates and the machine responding to controls.My earliest success in this lab was as a first year student making a staircase wiring in the final exam which I executed to a high degree of accuracy.

The Schrage Motor possibly does not exist in many institutions of this kind I presume and is a special purpose Induction motor. Note the weakness of any Induction Motor is its lack of speed control meaning it works at constant speed..the speed of the rotating magnetic field determined bu 120 f / p which means the rotor speed of the motor can only be controlled by changing the input frequency or changing the number of poles. Before the invention and advent  of  Power Electronics changing of frequency was an impossible and improbable thought and the only other solution was to wire the system for multiple poles and change the number of poles thereby establishing different levels of speed. Today this motor would look obsolete or in congruent as devices exist that can vary input frequency thereby varying the speed of an Induction Motor.

On being given the Schrage Motor I wired the machine and went about my work to a high degree of  proficiency and even did the viva well and as I came out of the lab was filled with a sense of accomplishment that I can deliver under trying circumstance and the Schrage Motor was just one of those trials.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


The ISKCON temple of Bangalore close to the Yeshwantpur railway station. I was a patron of Iskcon for some time and used to know  Madhavadas for some time and also an American who used to run the ISKCON  facility in Kulur near Kundapur. A must see for any visitor to Bangalore spreading holistic awareness in the key part of the city.

Friday, August 24, 2012


There is an anecdote that links me and this movie and the venue being the ITI Auditorium theater for the first show. I accompanied my father for this movie and we stood in the queue for tickets and on that day surprisingly there was a long queue and this must be somewhere in 1973 and  behold we got only one ticket before the box office shut House Full; and imagine the situation that only one of us could see the movie and I was too young to walk back home all alone. Our next attempt was to placate the person standing at the entry to the balcony- the gate keeper- to let me in considering that I was a small boy but he refused stating that I was above three years. We could sell the lone ticket to some one and both of us could head home....and there was disappointment writ largely on my face.

JAWANI DIWANI is a Randhir Kapoor starrer with Jaya Bahuduri in the lead and before long we could hear some trailor playing in the theater which means the movie would start anytime and time was  ticking for us. The family of   T S Krishnan who had made advance reservations arrived with their entire family a large one and the gate keeper that a head count be conducted and in their group was a supposedly five year old child who could not be accounted for and the gate keeper who was very strict constantly saying that "Iam also an ITI employee like you"  refused unequivocally that the child could not be let inside causing bewilderment in the face of Mr T S Krishnan and family and T S Krishnan decides to sell all his eight tickets and my father being his friend was an instant beneficiary and both of us could enter the theater. I dont know what to call this ...the hand of god ticket into ITI theater.

My father never faced embarrassment whenever Iam around and this is one of the earliest examples.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The KSRTC bus stand at Calicut

The KSRTC Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus stand of Calicut fills me with both agony and ecstasy considering the various hits and misses of Buses while travelling out of Calicut. This bus station is a small L shaped structure that can handle some six columns of buses with congestion. A announcer constantly announces on the microphone the buses parked at the bus stand and those about to leave. KSRTC buses are a genre by themselves and a marvel of Maintenance ; most of them being old buses but refurbished from time to time and made highly road worthy.

By the way the best bus station I bear evidence of surprisingly is Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. This bus stop is spacious and elegant in design with a well maintained dorm in the first floor and I have found the general behavior of the staff of APSRTC more courteous and considerate.

I mentioned "hits and misses"  above..this means that I narrowly missed boarding some buses in a hurry by a whisker and rarely on being at the bus stand got a bus inadvertently. Calicut city of our times in the mid 1980's had two bus stands..the KSRTC bus stand and a private bus stand at Palayam junction. A new bus stand at the end of Mavoor Road came up in 1987 and was designed by Dr. Vincent Paul of the Civil Engineering Department of REC they say.

My earliest brush with this bus stand and its affairs was in 1983 when somewhere out of the blue Giri my room mate and myself planned to visit Bangalore and reached the bus stand planning to take the 10:00PM bus which is also called the Paper bus meaning that this is the bus that brings Malayalam newspapers to the city of Bangalore and we has also bought coupons for the same but could not board the bus as it was already full. I beseeched  the conductor using many ways possible to let us inside but leading to no avail. Both of us could not hide our disappointment. This means waiting until 3:00 Am in the bus stand for a deluxe bus that comes from Ernakulam and bound for Bangalore via Calicut. I cannot forget this sordid experience hanging around in a bus stand just walking up and down trying to while away five hours. At around 2:45 I noticed the bus entering the premises and jumped into it at the earliest opportunity and I found there were many contenders for the few seats in the back. Previously having had experience jumping in and out of the BTS buses of Bangalore the experience came handy. I seized seat number 23 and reserved 24 for my friend and both of us felt relieved when the bus finally crawled out of the stand reaching Bangalore at 12:00 PM.

The second ordeal was few years later reaching the bus stand in the night from Ernakulam well after the last bus to REC had vanished. This means waiting up to 4:00 AM from 10:00 PM a full six hours or so at the stone benches of the Calicut bus stand. I find one thing very good at this bus stand and I appreciate it and request that the same trend be maintained...namely the punctuality and rigor for schedules. Some kind of Six Sigma works here unlike some other bus stands of our country. I reach REC Calicut at around 4:45 AM when it was unearthly and quiet . The nights are ruled by Jackals in REC and I found myself encircled by a few jackals one of them howling at me and I howled louder than them and within some seconds found no trace of them. Few months later I missed the 3:00 AM bus I was talking about by a whisker seeing the bus make a quiet exit from my Auto and I could do nothing about.

My senior David from Coimbatore and myself share a common experience waiting in the bus stand for about  two hours early in the morning ...I having reached the spot from Bangalore by the 6:00PM Ernakulam bus and he having reached from Coimbatore and both of us walking to our respective hostels from the bus stop of REC.

This is the Kozhikode Calicut bus stand of our times and an important nerve center for students of our college ...REC buses coming at the right end of the stand and the ticket costing Rs 1 :65 to REC and some Rs. 35/- to Bangalore..the green color express bus..the red colored Fast passenger bus..some white colored Deluxe buses..the drivers clad in khaki uniform with their shirts partially unbuttoned occasionally puffing a beedi ..the continuous announcement on the public address system ..the tea and fried banana in the tea store at the corner..some foreigner tourists asking for the route to Mysore or ooty..the inquiry counter constantly grappling with schedules and the bursting sound of a suddenly cranked engine the Calicut Bus stop of KSRTC had them all. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My fascination for Lee Kuan Yew

I was always fascinated by Lee Kuan Yew. A major part of what he has done strikes me with awe and some part with despair. However Asia must be proud of him in creating and  maintaining an English speaking city-state in the neighborhood of India that matches major cities of the world and that too very quickly over a period of may be less than three decades.

I happened to listen first hand to a live telecast of an interview of his at my hotel room in Singapore in 2006 March where representatives of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce ..all young boys and girls in their early twenties..asking questions of various kinds and even having the audacity to counter sometimes what the elderly Lee was saying. But Lee Kuan Yew   deserves credit for what he has done  to Singapore in particular and Asia in general. According to me somewhere he is an ultimate consultant on Governance and affairs of countries and states. Sometimes in some interviews I hear even American journalists asking Lee what America should be doing as a country in the present circumstances of the World.

What is the legacy of Lee ? A combination of situation , circumstances and opportunities diagnosed with accuracy and the optimism to chalk out a clear cut plan and implementing them without deviation and with force with constancy of purpose and thereby orienting a fishing village of Singapore into a city of international proportions. Singapore as a society had a distinct advantage in my view point ..being a colony of the English had English speaking people and they had as a society something to offer to the rest of the world as a whole.Lee saw this and did so enjoining his fellow citizens in the process to a stable and prosperous Singapore we see today. Lee always worked with something..Facts of the situation and this is a differentiator from many other leaders of the world..a candid obsession with facts and what to do about them..there was nothing chimerical about his approach and the way he went about things.

There is something strikingly different between What India did in 1947 and may be what Singapore did in 1965. Singapore is only the size of Bangalore and the realities are quite different but the moot question is Could India have followed the strategy of Singapore? May be it could have but the leaders of this country tread a different path and to my view an apt and great path of establishing various public sector units. India in what ever growth path it exists today was built over a Vision of few people and in the case of Singapore it was more of a mission not of a group of people but that of Lee Kuan Yew alone. There were many takers for what he said in Singapore of his times and he delivered what was promised a city-state built on the lines of business as against anything else. There is something common between India and Singapore ...its British roots but harnessed in different ways by both these societies.V K Krishna Menon and Lee Kuan Yew have one thing in common..they had  association with the London School of Economics.

We have something to learn from the legacy of Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore of today might have some lessons to learn  from India as a country and in the future the need to learn from each other would not only increase but would also be easier with the kind of technology growth we experience today and communities of the world would be more closely knit than ever before. Now I read that Lee Kuan Yew has retired from most commitments and I wish him good health and it is the right time to be nostalgic about the vast stretch of events spanning through many decades from which he thrived and emerged..and as they are viewed through the scanners of his present state of wisdom and perspective and feels that some one was wronged willingly or inadvertently in his quests and aspirations it would be more than appropriate to meet with them over a cup of tea as a gesture of good will that posterity would know Lee Kuan Yew not just as a leader who made a difference to the economy and created pecuniary growth but also  a true statesman in the league of Lincoln and many others that being humane also was somewhere a part of his overall agenda.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Teachers at NIT Calicut of our times

There were many experienced  teachers at NIT Calicut during our times with many of them having doctorates from IIT "s and created refinement to the learning process. Somewhere education was tough and at the same time hectic and challenged students into honing their skills. Crisply said we as students were beneficiaries of the vast academic experience of the faculty.

In the first year itself we had Doctorates teaching us in Dr. Revathy Rajagopal who held a Ph.D in mathematics and Dr. P P Gerwadis who used to teach the subject "Basic Electrical Engineering" and Dr.Rama Rao who used to teach us Physics, Dr. VKC Menon used to teach Chemistry and so did Dr. AKR Unni, Dr.Ramakrishnan and Dr.George. One of the highlights of the first year was Mr. Shankaran nair who used to teach Humanities with humour.

In 1983 there was a strike at REC Calicut precisely in November and  students being packed off home for almost a month. The third semester classes were just underway with Dr. Prabhakaran nair teaching circuit theory. There was one Dr. Murthy from Karnataka state who used to handle our Electrical labs at this point of time who subsequently left REC. After the strike Mr. Suresh Kumar started teaching Electric Circuit Theory . I think he has written a book on Electrical Circuit Theory now. He is both a Btech and  Mtech from IIT Madras.

Somewhere in 1984 there was  a major technical seminar organized at  REC attended by many stalwarts from across the country. I remember Dr. Natarajan from IIT madras also being one of the speakers on Thermodynamics. Later Dr. Natarajan was the Director of IIT Madras and also Chairman of  AICTE. I had spoken to Dr. Natarajan in 1998 over the phone when he was the Director of  IIT.

In the fourth Semester Dr. Raghunathan used to teach Strength of Materials and he had his Doctorate from France. In our circles he is known as Dr. Raghu and he was the student of  my Mother's uncle P O C at the village school in Cherukunnu at Cannanore. Even today I remember two things I learnt from him 'Shear Force" and "Bending Moment" according to me a very crucial word in any engineering. The father of Dr. Raghunathan was a LMP doctor at the village and the only other doctor in that Village being the brother of my Grand Father .

I forgot to mention the name of Dr. Phillip Varghese at the Mathematics Department who used to teach Mathematics with distinction and is a serious overlook from my side . He used to be a great natural teacher of mathematics and very astute at explaining things. He lived mathematics and I used to get very high grades in his exams and tests.

There was  Dr. Rama Krishnan used to teach Fortran programming for us in the  5th semester. Dr. Paul Joseph also taught us and was generally very well disposed towards students and more friendly with them. Dr. Rama Rao was back teaching Material Science in the 5th semester.

Dr. K P Mohandas used to teach us "Linear Systems Analysis"  and "Control System Theory" with distinction. He has written a book titled "Modern Control Theory" and Iam longing to have a look at it. Dr. T L Jose used to teach Power Systems. Dr. P S Srinivasan used to teach Induction Machines with eloquence. Dr. Neelakantan Nampoothiri taught us Computer Science;Dr. Chandramohan taught us Operations Research which according to me was a great advantage being introduced to this subject very early in life and I have always had some involvement with this subject from time to time.

All these people and some more though their wisdom, experience and advanced education impressed upon us various subjects from time to time in a punctilious fashion posing challenges to the students and people like me who not just learnt but ruminated upon what they said must have advanced  into a more egalitarian and distinguished flock in this society where education at the end of the day and like the one provided at REC puts you in some form of a higher pedestal only to lift many around into better forms of life and living.