Thursday, January 31, 2013

Talakad - Kovalam Beach near Bangalore

There are quite a few interesting places near Bangalore and often the most visible is Mysore and places around it and any beach is some 300 kilometers from Bangalore and the sea or water bodies of a larger kind are not a component of Bangalore as a city and its skylines. In many ways the largest river near Bangalore is the Cauvery encountered on the Mysore road and since time immemorial this river has formed part of the mystique and fables of this part of the World. The Cauvery is God for many with many  tributaries and is possibly the only river that touches and has links with the states of South India namely Karnataka; Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

But of late and to mention very late barely few hours drive from Bangalore I find a place called Talakad off the Mysore road towards Kollegal and on the banks of the river Cauvery full of sand and looks to me all at an instance as the Kovalam beach in Trivandrum that I visited many years ago .Talakad as a place is under-positioned to any inmate of Bangalore and here the river Cauvery masquerades itself as a Sea and anyone desirous of having a beach experience this place would come handy. It would need some considerable amount of time to come to terms with the vast historical significance and expanse of this place largely full with sand. There are many temples around this place with deep driven significance that possibly runs through ages.

I did go through some tales associated with this place..the most significant one of  Alamelamma  the wife of Sri Ranga the last Viceroy of the dwindling Vijayanagar Empire in the middle part of the 17th century. Raja Wodeyar who appears to be Chieftain of nearby Mysore ousts Sri Ranga from control and takes over SriRangapattana for himself and Sriranga and his wife settle down in Malingi a small town on the opposite banks of Talakad across the Cauvery and Alamelamma having carried jewels with her on her departure. Raja Wodeyar on noticing the missing jewels pusues it by desptching his soldiers to Malingi who were only given a pearl nose ring and Alamellama adorned with the other jewels drowns in the Cauvery on her own accord cursing the Wodeyar kings of Mysore thus....




Surprisingly all these curses have come to pass which would be astonishing to a agnost. Talakad is full of sand from sand storms that gripped the town from the hills around apparently many bunds were built to prevent the migration of Sand. Malingi did become a whirlpool so much so people had to be evacuated creating a place called "Hosa Malingi" away from the Cauvery river and more than anything the Wodeyar Kings have themselves bore the brunt of the curse with no issues to the serving King. Alamellamma is pleased through worship today by the Wodeyar kings during Dussera.

It appears that one of the better of the routes to Talakad would be via Kanakapura but this road is a single track road that leads to Mysore and some of the bridges on this road are metal structures creating constrictions and in my view point this axis of connectivity between Bangalore and Mysore adjoining Talakad must be gradually or instantly developed into a more motorable one which would contribute  many economic rewards and also would please Alamellamma that many more visit  Talakad and take stock and part of its various ancestry and heritage.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

NIT Delhi

My joy was out of bounds when I came to know that an NIT the erstwhile REC has come up in Delhi and feel almost instantly that in Delhi there is some station or domain which I can associate myself with and in some way call my own. The Government is pro-active and rightly so in the manner in which it is going about these institutions and setting them up and hand-holding them one by one into a successful orbit.

NIT Warangal

NIT Delhi seems to have operated from NIT Warangal for nearly two years and now has a make-shift campus in New Delhi and a new campus is underway. May be the Government and all concerned agencies must expedite matters and ensure that a colossal and astounding and redoubtable NIT comes at Delhi to which other NIT's can look to for inputs and verve. Instantly I see cities like Mangalore; Tiruchi and Calicut where these institutions first came up and in many cases in rustic back-drops almost instantly riding piggy-back on the glory of Delhi and what it stands for.

There are many advantages for an NIT  from NIT Delhi. Firstly this NIT is attached more closer to the seats of power and governmental decision making. NIT Delhi would instantly act as a conduit between IIT Delhi and other NIT's in the country thereby leveraging on the framework of other IIT's in general and more than anything it adds to the prestige of the REC movement created by the founders of this country.

May the Delhi government in all its wisdom create the best of building designs and facility lay-outs for NIT Delhi as the heart of NIT's is slowly shifting to Delhi for sure and is destined to pump pomp and motivation to all  other NIT's in the country.

I only hope the Government of India  make more purposeful use of the students who have passed out from these institutes past and present and especially the past ones who lived in a society that was truly a mini India with all its trials and tribulations.

Monday, January 28, 2013

RE - ENGINEERING What is it?



                                                                                                                   -  MICHEAL HAMMER

Not many have heard about Michael Hammer ...somewhere in 1995 along with James Champy authored a book  "Re-engineering the Corporation" and thereafter has written a couple of books  alone on the same subject. I happened to go through some of them myself and there was a brief period around this time when the buzz word across organisations revolved around Re-engineering. Some understood it....others thought they understood it..many mis-understood it....while many made use of it as a jargon to pull on in related projects.

Michael Hammer

Michael Hammer deserves credit for upfront trying to combat certain earlier held ethos though these earlier ethos are not totally out of place it needed some refurbishing and enhancement and to that end Re-engineering has contributed in some measure..some kind of an awakening to managerial principles and beliefs which may not be totally applicable but yet relevant.

With industrialization as a result of the steam engine various formulations of organizational management has been experimented with culminating in flow-manufacturing using division of  labor. Various types of  processes have evolved leading to complex manufacturing and service situations as seen today. Business organizations develop various vestigial and non-value adding activities along the way which possibly needed eradication or streamlining. Re-engineering has been largely mis-understood as a methodology that can be instantly applied across the board but is something that must be considered as a remedy in organizational dead-locks or impasse or an impending impasse.

Even in Bangalore I have seen many organizations embark upon Re-engineering. I used to know Mr. Gersappa at   L & T  Bangalore who had some implementation experience in this field..Mr. Lalith Kumar Raichur GM  of Ingersollrand ; Mr. Shetty of VXL Instruments; Howard Martindale of Krone Communications to mention few names and organizations.

What is Re-engineering? It is a fundamental re-design of Business processes with an end result of obtaining quantum benefits in process performance. Two things differentiate Re-engineering from any other process study..A fundamental re-design ...and quantum benefits....  Re-engineering always need not use technology but technology finds itself very often as an enabler. Larger the organization larger will be the complexity and the need to re-define and streamline. For example we are living in a re-engineered world that came all by itself as a result of technological revolution. In not so distant past it would take five hours to contact some-one on demand through an express telegram which is less than 30 seconds today through the induced re-engineering one might say and the world at large is yet to get a grip of things. Any process is a set of activities treated as one.

Any organization will have up-stream , steam and  down-stream activities.Upstream activities are logistics that bring raw material into is the manufacturing and down-stream is the activity of forward logistics that take finished goods to the customer. Today many of these activities work in real time which means that they operate with least uncertainty and on-demand tracking.

Mr. Ganesh Natarajan and M S Jayaraman  were two Indian pioneers of these times talking vividly on this topic to large corporate audiences  also  writing books on these areas. A good gesture and venture for the corporate establishments at large.

How should an organization re-engineer itself. First of all the question is Should it ?  A well run organization and managed one may not find the need for Re-engineering as it re-invents itself  in an on-going way. When organizations lose track then it might need re-engineering. The converse of re-engineering according to me is Engineering  which realigns processes or organizational orientations. I must hasten to add that there are sister procedures to Re-engineering in the form of Re-structuring and Re-organization and these two methods concern Organizational structure and People respectively. These two methods are often used unlike Re-engineering that concerns business processes and hence it is called BPR (Business Process Re-engineering).

When an organization intends to Re-engineer itself it might have one or many of the following problems;

1. Diminishing Customers as a result of market forces
2. Increased Operating costs
3. Overburdened work force
4.  High levels of Organizational conflicts
5.   Overruns in costs and cycle times of delivery and processing

Many of the above problems can be corrected without a Re-engineering exercise but a composite of these problems lasting for a considerable time might demand Re-engineering.

How can a company Re-engineer itself or conduct a BPR  Business Process Re-engineering. Note that any Re-engineering exercise would need atleast a year.

Firstly identify the various customer related processes and the activities they comprise of. Upfront remove activities that have become redundant or no-value adding.

Secondly identify any new activities that must be added to the processes.

Thirdly every process must start with the customer and end at its logical starting points and also identify the bridges that connect and inter-connect the processes.

Identify the processes that can be re-engineered and leave other processes untouched.

Re-engineer the processes and thereafter synchronize the other processes to the Re-engineered processes.

Study and maintain the system with minimum after-shocks. Note that Re-engineering is largely a System exercise and rarely a people exercise

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fish Farming and Bangalore

Fish Farming is an activity of rearing fish in artificially or naturally created water spots where various kinds of fish can be reared for human consumption. The activity of Fish farming itself has notable and constructive social consequences. To my observation there is large scale fish consumption by the populace of Bangalore.

Fish for many years found its way into Bangalore in the Island express fish being shipped from the dynamic Fishing communities of Kerala and in essence was a thriving activity and add to this "Dry Fish" another form of fish preserved naturally through some processes. I find even technically speaking the mineral contents of fish having constructive influence on the Consumers. Retailing and its growth has most possibly altered the pattern and the mannerisms of Fish consumption, that with modern facilities at retail outlets Fish can be preserved for a larger period of time and at the same time consistent quality can be maintained.

What concerns me goes much beyond all these. Look at the lakes and water bodies of Bangalore...In and around the city every five kilometers one encounters huge water bodies and such occurrences not exhibiting itself in many cities of the world. These water bodies have emerged as a consequence of mud wall bunds deliberately created for storing water as early as the 15th century and note that the water content in these lakes are by and large clean. Many of these lakes have been converted into residential areas by force but there still exists many such protected water spots around the city. The Government has rightly created a body called the Lake Development Authority to take care and protect these lakes. There is also a well formed and framed Fisheries department of the Government. I remember appraising the Chief Minister of Karnataka state in 2001 Shri S M Krishna about the need to protect the lakes of Bangalore in a communique. 

Can many of these water bodies of Bangalore be subject to Fish farming  and when this activity is in professional hands an efficient Industry can be created here that perennially grows fish out of our waters and the fish so created cycled for human consumption through retail outlets or otherwise. These water bodies that silently skirt our firmament may have large scale economic ramifications. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Centrifugal Pump

Arakavathy ; Vrishabavathy and Kumudavathy are rivers that can be associated with Bangalore. They take their birth in the Nandi Hills and flow through the plains of Bangalore and ultimately connect with the Cauvery near Kanakpura called Sangam. Bangalore they say must be having a population today of some six Million. The need for centralized system for water was felt long back and some kinds of dams like the one seen at Heseghatta were set up on these rivers and water supplied to the city..thereby these rivers began to loose their original identity of rivers and become some kind of conduit for waste to flow out of the city in  some form of a natural drain. Note that on the banks of these rivers as they flowed past the city there were temples set up and for example the temple in Ulsoor is on the banks of one such rivulet and another seen on Mysore road. The Kings of yore found these as ideal settings to set up temples. I have enjoyed the silent flow of one of these rivers inside SAI the Sports Authority of India campus on Mysore road..contaminated water flowing in the form of a river....If any of the kings of yore were to take a look at the state of these rivers today they would weep. But changing circumstances have had their spell on Bangalore.

Reservoirs like Hesserghatta and Tippagondanahalli find it difficult to meet water demands due to diminishing rains and the river Cauvery some 90 miles away is slowly becoming a source of water for the City..pumping of water through tens of miles and BWSSB has been doing a good job.  The terrain of Bangalore is one of hills and planes if one studies it; and the ground-water situation is much better in the planes than in the hills.

The above is a recent photograph of the reservoir or lake at Heserghatta called heserghatta lake made using mud-dam technology.

How does the BWSSB water circuit work..largely pumping water into underground sumps of house-holds from where they are pumped into an over-head tank within the residential facility and this pumping has to be done periodically as the water level in the tank declines a repetitive activity largely done by small centrifugal pumps or vacuum pumps..but largely centrifugal pumps.

Centrifugal pumps are an interesting technology that works as a reverse Francis turbine and is a complex and sophisticated Industrial pumping technology. It basically has a motor connected to an impeller all housed in a closed chamber and as the motor rotates it creates suction and note that initially charge must be poured into the down stream and create connection between the motor and the charge..more precisely the pump and the charge.The charge is prevented from flowing down into the tank by a hydraulic device called the foot-valve. When the motor rotates suction is created releasing the foot valve and charge flows into the chamber and centrifugal or tangential force created by the impellor pushes the water upward or the charge upward on a continuous basis.

Note that as the system works water rushes into the chamber and any suspended particles can jam or stop the impeller and this happens on a continuous basis needing periodic cleaning of the impeller a disadvantage of this system.

For long I confused a Centrifugal pump with a Vacuum pump. When we were students at NIT we had a lab in the III semester which was a composite of  Heat Engines, Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulics. During the strike in 1983 some disgruntled students entered the Hydraulics lab and removed the turbines and other equipment and dumped them in the well near-by and we never got a chance to work on Hydraulics and now with the various support systems on the Internet I am trying to understand Hydraulics..what a pity?

People who use such pumps must get the device serviced regularly largely getting the impellor cleaned to prevent down time in water supply.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Bangalore Palace

The above is a view of the Bangalore Palace..Majestic in its composure and view and appears to be a structure built on Victorian Style. It has a large lawn and a spacious yard inside. There is a Palace Road that used to run directly into this place once upon a time and possibly before Independence there is railway line that disrupts this road very near to the Palace gates thereby motoring into the palace difficult from this road. There are not many tourists that thwart  this place as it is seen as a private property but could be thrown open to public on a regular basis and is a spot worth viewing at least once.

Any visitor who is in Bangalore and wants to visit this place Bangalore golf course or the Windsor Manor hotel would be the land mark. This road directly empties into the Mekhri circle and in the junction ahead much before the Mekhri Circle take a U turn and  before Windsor Manor there is a road that proceeds left straight into the palace. One can motor oneself using this approach. However if you would like to use a BMTC bus ask for Mount Carmel College and crossing the railway tracks on foot one is inside the palace.  Take care while crossing these tracks as they are twin tracks with possibility of trains on both the tracks.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The concept of "professional product" in modern times

In the Manufacturing era of our times from primitive stages maintaining quality was a matter of great concern and many versions and approaches were tried from time to time. Maintaining consistent quality was a key concern. The Japanese brought in various concepts and also TQM in the management and sustenance of Quality. These concepts of Quality being more focused to the Industrial regime and climate.

I still believe confusion of sorts exist in the way the word Quality is understood and perceived and the very foundations of Quality Management is facing some kind of metamorphosis. Along with product quality gets attached service quality and with service quality gets linked relationship quality. This means that an organization not only makes worthy products but also services it well and thereafter continues to engage customers in constructive relationships.This is the cycle of Product Life Cycle Management. This means quality of today is a series of sequential activities forming some kind of a cycle.

I have believed the entire area of Product Management comes from the basis of Quality Management. Three kinds of products can be identified on the above lines namely....Basic Product......Quality Product.....and lastly a Professional Product.. A basic product is a product at its most fundamental level and can be put to more than one use. The end use of such a product is not very specific but the product exhibits basic functionalities. A Quality product is slightly augmented version of the above and has more advanced specifications and more than anything else has a specific function and role. A more refined version of the above is a Professional Product ..a product that meets professional standards. In the modern  day world products are moving over these continuum over these various levels or stages.

What is a basic product. A gas stove that can be moved around a place and used for multiple purposes is a basic product. When the stove is more streamlined with few multiple burners and placed in a kitchen for specific ends it is a Quality Product. It becomes a professional product when professional elements are added in its design..a control system that gives early warning of gas exhaustion..a leak warning system and may be some form of more user friendly container which can be shifted with ease

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Should we re-model the SSB ?

I have always wondered "What is the most important aspect of societies ?"..clearly it is the ability to innovate from time to time and solve problems and uncertainty. Human beings are different from other species only through the skill and ability of Innovation. Note that Innovation is a logical ability and involves various kinds of cognitive complexities and information processing.

There are four skills in the human domain. efficiency ; responsiveness ; Innovation and Quality. Any human being can be characterized as being dominant or dormant on some or many of these fronts. When a person is put to work he works with these skills or qualities. Efficiency is the ability to balance outputs in relation to inputs..Responsiveness is the ability to react to situations within acceptable time frames..Quality is the conformance to higher standards and Innovation is the renewed way in which a work can be done. With time innovation is a key driver of the other three forces.

I had been to an SSB Service Selection Board of the Military and find Engineering graduates being subjected to a testing procedure which appears to be archaic and modeled on the British format in vogue more than half a century ago. Note that in the British system possibly Indian's were only considered for low level posts and the higher ones largely kept for the British themselves with some exceptions but the percentage of Indians in the higher echelons would have been infinitesimal. May be these procedures are still valid in selecting soldiers and related disciplines but might be becoming in-congruent for engineering and related disciplines of a technology kind. Very precisely said Innovative people who could add to the quality , responsiveness and efficiency of the Services don't get some  place. Definitely the testing procedure is not slated where people with a dominant strategic dimension would find a place. It is largely strategy through which any warfare works and Wars are Strategy dominant.

I read in the news-papers that the Defence establishments of India are plagued by a deficit of man-power and may be it is time a re-look is done at the SSB at-least for the products of our Engineering institutes so that some new format in line with those practiced by the world is created by which Innovation dominant people too find some place to support the overall work done in this sector.