Friday, March 29, 2013

Dr. S U Pillai of NIT REC Calicut

I was frantically searching for a photograph of   Dr. S U Pillai on the net but sadly I found none..only a audio-video clip of one of his key-note address at some seminar that too in  Pakistan. Dr. S U Pillai is to REC Calicut what Krishna Menon was to India..defiant..single minded..crusader..a maverick who knew what could have been done and wasn't and pursued with dogged determination against odds to put REC NIT Calicut on a more stable and formidable ground.


Let me also mention in the history of REC's there is one more name I heard..Dr. Manisundaram who was principal of REC-Tiruchi in the early 1980's..I have not seen him but only heard of him to be in the league of one of the transformers of NIT REC Tiruchi.

Who is Dr. S U Pillai...he was the Principal of REC Calicut from 1983 for a period of twelve years...What did he do ?  He brought discipline into the various elements of the institute and at the same time laid foundations for its future without fear or favour  and by doing so left a legacy that cannot be effaced or underestimated..... though not a person demanding veneration but none the less a achiever with idealistic goals and a strategic change creator.

I used to know Dr. Pillai  fairly well especially sometimes sharing the dais with him at some functions and seminars.

Dr. S U Pillai was one of the earliest crusaders of academic autonomy for REC Calicut and surprisingly the institute has become academically autonomous now though under a different posture.There were many who endorsed it and many silently opposed to it and given the circumstances of the times making the institute academically autonomous would have been a complex legal tangle..but his cries for academic autonomy had one positive side effect..without delay it disciplined the university of Calicut especially in adhering to time frames and schedules with pin-point precision. I have to thank him for this as it made the lives of students more predictable and stable and postponement of exams becomes a thing of the past and results were announced with haste and precision.Though during these times academic autonomy was not granted but it did one thing the need for it diminished at least for the short-run.

Dr. S U Pillai was passionate about REC and Kerala and could not stand REC Calicut not figuring among the top REC's of these times and possibly went about expediting things towards this end. Today I think NIT Calicut would figure among the top three NIT's of the country and may be a front-runner on some independent yard-sticks - the verve to achieve these some where came from the Pillai era.

He tried to fortify the campus an effort not embarked upon by many..the borders were hazy and at times intruding into public domain without proper demarcations  but none the less providing a rough or may be a largely precise boundary for the institute and also identifying usable land that remained dormant was a challenging affair. I still beleive some 20% of the land mass of REC NIT is tucked at remote and isolated patches and would need ingenuity to be put into larger good. The fencing and boundary gave insights into the land resources in a more pronounced fashion and the many possibilities that could arise there-upon.

In my view point some thing interesting has dawned upon Nit Calicut of today namely the Koduvally-Kettangal road.This road must have come up of-late and is a de-facto highway on which the present NIT Calicut is located.Geographically speaking this is a welcome move and I am told a main gate has come up at this place.Firstly the Kunnamangalam highway is a prominent life-line of this part of the world because it connects Calicut to ooty, Mysore and Bangalore the more resplendent  neighbors of  Calicut as a city. The Cherupuzha river was an impediment during that era which must have been bridged now which means the travel time to NIT Calicut from the many cities mentioned above must have reduced by nearly an hour..a very welcome sign. This means  the entire campus of NIT at present has a welcome re-orientation facing the Western Ghats..The posture of NIT of today is Ghat-ward.

What could NIT Calicut do to pursue the legacy in some form handed over by Dr.Pillai.. first of all acknowledge his contribution in no lesser terms. I am sad to note that none of the Technical institutes in the country match up anywhere vis-a-vis the best in the World..a matter of grave strategic concern.

Secondly create bench-marks on various parameters to progress in an organised manner into becoming the better of technical institutions in the country and the world ; and finally call one of the roads in the campus after him  as a tribute to his endeavours that many would know that there was a man who fought relentlessly for the future of NIT Calicut of today.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Some time back I was invited by the Madras University to talk on Artificial Intelligence ...hither to I had only heard about the University and had never been there and on the appointed date reached the city and with some difficulty checked into a hotel in T Nagar and reached the University in a Taxi.

On that eventful morning there were two events slated at the University and I happened to be at the wrong gate where the CM of Tamil Nadu Smt. Jayalalithaa was supposed to grace a function and needless to say the entire gate and its surroundings sealed by the Tamil Nadu police. Anyone who entered the gate did so by showing an invitation card that resembled a Wedding Invitation card and to my dismay I noted that I had no documents of identity. I tried to non-chalantly walk into the gate noting that I am almost late for the seminar and the special forces detained me  for my not carrying any valid documentation. I was held in abeyance for nearly ten minutes by the police as I tried to explain to him my position . The moments spent in front of the  Madras University gate was most awkward as I did not know how to tide over the situation.

Providence intervenes when ever Iam in a crisis. Suddenly I saw Mr. Srinivasan  who is a very senior member of the AICTE emerge from the gate and he almost instantly recognized me..and he told me the seminar was about to commence and what I was doing here..I explained the situation to him and he told me delegates for the seminar must use the adjoining gate and not this one and both of us made our way to the main entrance of the Madras University near by.

When I look back Iam aghast as to who is responsible for such confusions and mis-information..Is it the Police..the University..or Me.However all is well that ends well..I got to see and be part of one of the oldest universities of our country the Madras University..its Raj era main building which was being renovated and the aura that is Madras/Chennai.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Energy would be a key concern for humanity. Nothing works without energy and research has provided new sources of Energy..with depleting oil reserves and the difficulty associated with the posture of oil mankind than ever before is contemplating new sources of energy. A day may not be far when energy sources are available off the shelf to be plugged in our homes and vehicles.

In the seventh semester at Engineering college we had a course called "Direct Energy Conversion"..I received some kind of a email  emphasizing the role of energy in the future and I happened to connect the gravity of the situation with a course I learned long back, Oil might soon become a thing of the past and the future of humanity hinges on his collective ability to research and harness newer and cleaner sources of energy wisely and safely.

What is DIRECT ENERGY CONVERSION  ? it is converting some natural form of energy into usable one without the aid of rotating parts..not a new always existed but has become a specialized area or domain for study. Let me see if I can list at least  six such devices;

MHD   magneto hydro dynamics

wind power


solar power

peizo electric devices

tidal power

There are many in fact..I only remember these and more than anything else research is needed on these lines for betterment and improvement. In Bangalore city I have seen few electrically operated two-wheelers.a welcome change..a 12 hour battery charging would give 50 kilometers of ride..a difficult situation but never the less a pointer in some welcome direction.

The sooner the better the world must begin its metamorphosis in some form to use use of such energy devices; it can have large scale global and local ramifications both from a societal and regulatory view-point.

Among all the above devices I mentioned Solar power seems fascinating. (Let me add that I saw a wind power generator at the Bannerghatta national park a fully working model of direct energy conversion creating power exclusively for one of the buildings.). Solar power comes free round the year and it must be quickly investigated how Solar Power can replace conventional power devices both for home and traction. To some extent in my view point more than any other source of power the sun is the most reliable and easy to harness.

This means we want to see sun operated cars on the roads. Most cars are parked in the sun and the heat radiation on the walls of the vehicle must be tapped as storable energy which can drive or provide energy for a considerable amount of time. More than anything we need solar operated cars that work by tapping sun light on the go.

Hail the Sun..a day may not be too far when all the energy requirements of mankind come from
above as against below at the moment.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Lalbagh




The above are a couple of pictures of LALBAGH a very important and historic park of the city similar to MOGHAL gardens in many ways and old and historic in the heart of the city. Generally Lalbagh and Cubbon parks are termed as the two key parks of the city..Lalbagh styled on Moghal style  and the Cubbon park typically in the British style.

This park was conceived by Hyder Ali as a response to suggestions from many visitors who used to visit him the idea of creating a park on Moghal lines and this park appears to have been developed almost in tandem with the Summer Palace built by Hyder Ali near the present day city-market and Lalbagh would be five minutes drive in a horse driven chariot or on a horse back from the Summer palace. Hyder Ali drew inspiration from the Moghals who preceded him and built Palaces and parks on those lines. both the Bangalore Palace and Lalbagh was completed by his son but envisioned by Hyder Ali himself.

Note that the park is close to a hillock which acted as some kind of a watch tower for any troops possibly getting into Bangalore from madras and a olden travel conduit between Madras and Bangalore has become the  Hosur road to Madras. The hillock owes its significance to KEMPE GOWDA who was a chieftain of this place along with three other hillocks at various points of the city and these hillocks were some kind of a military watch tower and largely oriented themselves in directions of possible enemy onslaught and also served as corner stones.

The word lalbagh literally means the RED PARK possibly pointing to roses that formed a key component of Moghal gardens.Why did this location be considered for a park...the water that flowed down the hillock during rains were collected in a trough below forming a large pool which served the water needed to maintain the garden a handy system of those times.

Another striking feature within this park is the Glass House  which to me looks like a moghal like palace and the kings of these times had an idea of converting it into some kind of a full time palace within these gardens which the Moghals did at many places..enjoy moon-lit nights  amid roses. The events of these times in the Deccan became too chaotic that many of these fantasies could not bear fruition .However the Glass House is a British structure built on the lines of Crystal Palace in London in 1898 under instigation from legends and insights of yore.  It took some twelve years to build the Bangalore palace of Hyder Ali  seen near the modern City-Market..a small structure by modern standards and this palace bears striking resemblance to the styles of  Malabar. Transporting stones took a hell of time and effort delaying the activities of construction.

I can go on and on..The British continued to maintain this garden in my view point and had a fancy for it. The Cubbon Park takes shape much later around the house of the Regent the modern Raj Bhavan ..Sir Mark Cubbon wanted a British like park for the Europeans around this place to spend their mornings and evenings. Cubbon park is distinct in its vast array of well ordained trees..It is more of a British Wood than a park yet a wonderful and self sustaining flora.

Lalbagh for me simply is four things..the hillock...the pond...the glass house..and the vast expanse of flowers.Anyone aspiring to be at this place please ask for the Shanti Nagar bus stop and this place is just few yards from this point. The nearer locations would be DOUBLE ROAD or the K H ROAD and even the RICHMOND CIRCLE.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Weather of Bangalore

Every city has an unique weather pattern; In my view point temperature, aridity, rain and winds dictate the weather of any place or city. Some time back while walking through Singapore I was suddenly caught in a bout of rain and it rained for more than two hours and I had to walk in the rain all the way through bencoleen street. For some reason stretch of land near the sea experience such sudden bouts of rain.

If we study Bangalore and its location it is mid-way between the Arabian and Bay of Bengal seas and is around 3000 ft above sea level. Ooty is another place proclaimed for its weather and this place is some 6000ft above sea level and is a special peak on the western ghat ranges and the temperature touches to a very low degree in ooty. Bangalore must be some 1000km from the Indian ocean and note that the city is on the Deccan Plateau.

Generally to my observation unlike the coasts the city of Bangalore receives a jolt of intense rainfall  the kind of rainfall seen at least in the western coast only for about a week in the months of June or July. The rainy season of Bangalore stretches from June to October. Rains during this time is generally moderate barring for a few occasions sometimes stretching all day. It used to rain in the summer months especially in the evenings once upon a time but such rains have become scarce of-late.

One of the characteristics of Bangalore is a limited summer generally stretching for three months between the months of March and May where the mean temperature would be above say 20 degree Celsius and the mean temperature falling below this limit in non-summer months. Summers of Bangalore are not very arid as in many cities that add to the summer heat ..the aridity largely absorbed by the vegetation and water bodies of the city.

What make Bangalore as a city is the largely protracted winter in my view point starting well in September and stretching into the end of February a full six months or more which is at least half the year. There are few cities in the world to my opinion that shows a predominant winter. In the western coasts of India it is a predominant rainy season caused by the monsoons and people prepare for it. Winter of Bangalore is not extreme but mild in many ways but nevertheless cold because of winds and temperatures touching upto 10 degree Celsius  on the lower side and about 20 degree Celsius on the higher side.
I read with dismay deaths due to extreme cold in cities like Delhi and it is a matter of Governance of the country that some form of warm set-ups be created for the public to thwart the cold and some public policy be created for the same.

Many different people would have differing views about the weather of the city but the matter written above would be adequate for any individual curious about the weather cycles of the city. At the most all any one need to have handy is a couple of sweaters as warm wear with socks and a rain coat of some kind and they would suffice to counter any weather condition of the city at any point in time.

One more point to note is that one cn safely say Bangalore gets much of its rains in the evening between 4:30 and 8:30 and is a peak hour with people returning home from their offices and the roads of the city are a picture of chaos with traffic jams with water rushing into the drains and water pools at many spots all pointing towards a discouraging and uncertain environment. I believe this situation needs management and monitoring and action.The focus must be to reduce the traffic on the roads and the populace. A weather office could forewarn of an impending down pour and the offices could foreclose for the day say at 2:00pm itself and employees return home much before the onslaught of the rains and the work compensated on some other day.Such kind of a forecasting system in my view is a must and must be implemented with the consent of the various agencies.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sir M Vishweshwariah

The story of  Bangalore is incomplete without some discussion about Sir M Vishweshwariah . Some time back I had the opportunity of  visiting KSDL  Karnataka Soaps and Detergents ltd in Yeshwantpur and happened to see many dozens of photographs of Sir MV along with many dignitaries of his times including JRD Tata. I hope someday to instill these photographs on this site and would be a rare collection for many to see. I had also seen a bust of  Sir MV in the lobby of KPCL.. Karnataka Power Corporation Limited. I used to meet Mr. Nelliappan who was head of personnel here and also the MD Mr K Jairaj an IAS officer. 

There was a time in Bangalore when a child was asked what he would like to become when he grew up ans some would say ..he wanted to become like Sir MV ..what a lofty goal of an idealistic era..things must have changed now but to the credit of the people of the Karnataka state and more so the Mysore kingdom this person is still revered and held in veneration.

Sir MV was Diwan of the Mysore kingdom between 1912 and 1918 may not be a large span in time and more than anything also has the credit of mentoring many successive Diwans like Mirza Ismail and also initiating many developmental projects. He was a successful civil servant from an Engineering background to sum things up ans one of his projects was the KRS dam. Apparently the KRS was built for two reasons in my view point. Firstly to act as a reservoir for agricultural needs and secondly to control the flow of water into the Shivanasamudra Power generation set-up. The second factor being more demanding than the first. Shivanasamudra was the only power generation set-up for this part of the world and supplied power to a large belt for many years and conserving water at an higher elevation meant perennial power generation.

What makes Sir MV special . He is an Engineering person blessed with sound wisdom more than anything else who used his Engineering background  for public good and ran even non-engineering activities with an Engineering mind-set. This casts him into a special mode and note that he was an initiator of Banking institutions like the State Bank of Mysore. He understood well at a strategic level a wide variety of social and technical issues with a spontaneous insight and acumen and was largely selfless in his approach to the tasks he undertook. The pride of Mysore ..its pomp...and above anything else the strong confidence of the future in large measure comes fro the relentless contribution of this man to a large extent in my view point. It also bears credit to the Engineering institution he studied and the many who mentored him here and gave him the lethal confidence to develop and motivate things in this part of the world. Mysore minus Sir MV according to me would have been like any undeveloped belt in the world.

Some time back I had visited the REC at Nagpur and to my satisfaction found it to be named over  Sir MV and I appreciate the state of Maharashtra for having taken such an unprecedented step. There is a relationship between Maharashtra and Sir MV for he studied Engineering at the COEP (College of Engineering Pune) one of the few engineering colleges established in Asia in the 1850's.

I am  told the 15th of September every year is observed as Engineers Day in many parts of India and I would definitely enjoin every single engineering  institution of India from the elite one's downwards to observe this day as 'Engineers Day" and no engineering institution in the country is worth the salt if it calls itself so and does not spend some time in veneration for a lad from Kolar with a not so amicable background traveled all the way to Pune to study and come back and serve his home ground and contribute to Engineering progress and above all used the principles of Engineering in diverse situations to emerge a transformer and a revolutionizer of communities and people who never imagined such leaps were ever possible.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Any city for that matter consists of some key roads and locations. Many of these roads start as small approach streets and with time growing in importance with commercial establishments finding their place. I mentioned somewhere before British occupation Bangalore must have been some kind of a village with many lakes small and big abound and with hutments and note that there was large thick vegetation making the weather of the place much much colder than present even touching 2 degree Celsius in the winter..with the disappearance of vegetation the city becomes warmer by the decade.The British cantonment is the birth-place of modern Bangalore and before this event the city was probably full of temples both big and small the remnants of which is strewn all over the city..there is no road in the city which does not have temple like structures at least they exist at the middle of M G Road and at the commencing point of    Kempe Gowda road..possibly many have disappeared for want of maintenance.

MG Road in the early 1900's

Plaza theater on MG Road presently razed

Kempe Gowda Bus terminus

State Bank of Mysore building on Kempe Gowda Road

War Memorial on Residency Road

The Kalasipalyam Bus Stand in the early 1900's

The Residency the present Raj Bhavan
I have posted some old photographs of Bangalore and some of them might be recent and in these photos is hidden the chronology of how a sleepy hamlet suddenly and gradually but surely progressed into the metropolis of the future it is going to be. See the mix of the Victorian and modern era trapped in these photographs.

The roads that were prominent before Independence and the one's that became prominent after independence are distinctly different. Residency road , M G Road, Palace Road and few adjoining roads were prominent during the British era but with the loosening of the city from European hands the significance of these roads began to be redefined.

If one were to somewhere ask me which of the roads in Bangalore would be prominent today it would be difficult to answer as the Ring roads define the city today as against the earlier benchmarks.
This is the most significant metamorphosis of the city of today and various concentric circles of such ring roads will take shape with time.

But I would still try to name the following roads as prominent roads;
M G Road
Residency Road
Chinmaya Mission road
Kempe Gowda Road
Bannerghatta Road
The M G Road or the Mahatma Gandhi Road continues to be a prestigious road of the city but may be loosing perceptive importance and was called South Parade in the past. A metro line runs on the road now. This was a stretch of road possibly used to parade troops once upon a time and this road technically starts from Trinity Circle and ends at the Queens park and must be some three kilometers in all. M G Road of today has many business offices today built on demolished Victorian style houses. On either sides of this road were Victorian style houses and some of them continue to this day. The Mittal Tower is a prominent business Centre here.

The Residency Road shoots diagonally off the M G Road and leads to the Residence of the Resident who had the role of controlling the overall affairs of the Mysore Kingdom and a prestigious post by English standards.It is the Raj Bhavan today. There were many theaters on this road like Galaxy once upon a time but demolished now..technically the Ricmond crcle comes at the end of this road. Richmond Circle was a big circle once upon a time and the circle dismantled in the late 1970's. What is this road known for - maybe-shopping centers and restaurants.

The Chinmaya Mission road is a modern road of Bangalore and could be called as some kind of extension of the M G Road and jets into Indira Nagar. I somewhere believe this road would gradually replace the M G Road for what it was known for. This road is much abound with young people at the various eat-outs in the evenings and the key aspect of this road is that it crisscrosses the residential area of Indira Nagar.

Any one from major part s of the city maybe barring Malleswaram area and Mysore road area must use the Kempe Gowda road to reach the  Central Railway Station. This road has been made one way now and is a key road of the Majestic or Subash nagar area of the city. Once upon a time this road was known for being in the Guinness book of world records for having the highest number of cinema halls. This place is ideal for shopping in my view point as against many other roads of the town and is a one stop store for entertainment and is easily accessible from the Kempe Gowda bus terminus.

One of the key features of the present day Bangalore is the emergence of Bannerghatta road as one key area that houses various business offices to the exclusion of various other locations and this road intersects the Nice Road which is a toll road of International standards and this belt would resurge as a corporate hub of the city and is a long stretch of road running some twenty kilometers and is a business zone for professional people and employees.

Thus about the various roads f the city and I have missed many and a novice to the city of Bangalore would find reading this an intitial orientation to the aspects of this city and a etail understanding of sorts obtained from various other sources both text and graphical.