Sunday, April 20, 2008

Blogathon Day 1, Sunday April 20 2008: Infrastructure-How can we improve the traffic condition in our city?

The city in this case would be Bangalore-The IT Hub of India.Just to give you an idea of the traffic condition in Bangalore, everyone in Bangalore - the auto wallah, bikers, car users, company transport users & so on curses the traffic atleast once a day.

Traffic conditions are not just a well accepted excuse for being late but are also used extensively as an ice-breaker in discussions.In you are at a party, new to your company or a first timer in Bangalore,just walk up to any random group and say "Man what traffic !!".You would be accepted immediately as a fellow sufferer and a long heated discussion on Bangalore traffic would follow.The car owners will say bikers are at fault.Bikers would say the issue is with bus drivers and auto wallahs.Bus drivers and auto wallahs would pass the blame too. All this is apart from the usual grovel on condition of roads,one-ways,lack of a public transport etc.So as evident, traffic conditions form a huge chunk of conversations across the city.

Everyone knows what the Govt should do.They should provide nice,smooth,8 lane roads throughout Bangalore.Sorry not gonna happen in the near future.Public transport i.e. Metro would take a few years to get completely operational.

However I would say that instead of these long term projects, Govt can take a look at smaller issues to take care of the bigger picture e.g. Parking Space.The Govt should take a cue from the West and invest on building parking complexes.Say we have one such parking complex in the vicinity of MG Road. All the space on Brigade Road, Church Street etc that is currently being occupied as parking for vehicles would get free leading to widening of roads for traffic as well as reduction in traffic.Ofcourse this would mean that public would have to walk for some distance.I for one would not mind it and I think many others would not either. Most of the techies in B'lore could use the exercise anyway as they spend most of their time on their desks.

Better roads automatically result in smooth flow of traffic and less congestion. Now roads like Airport Road, 100 feet Road, Banerghatta Road etc are amongst the better roads in the city.The issue starts once you leave the main road for a side street.Here the citizens can take an initiative with societies pooling in money to build the 2-3 km roads.Or corporates can undertake it as CSR (I am not really sure if it would come under CSR but I am assuming that building better roads for the society can be considered CSR)

However,having better roads is just one part of the solution.Airport Road, Marathalli Bridge etc are areas that have good roads but are forever jammed.

Let me take an example.I used to go for work by the company cab.The cab had a capacity of about 15 people but on a normal day around 7-8 seats were occupied. Many people living in the same area would come to the office late by their own vehicle. Here I believe the willingness of the citizens with a little incentive from the Govt. can work miracles.If people are willing to use the company cab by going office an hour earlier than their usual time (& coming early too), the number of vehicles on the road would go down.One of the reasons why people prefer their own vehicles is the cost effect. In case, going by the company cab comes out to be more expensive than personal transport, people would prefer personal vehicles.Govt subsidy/tax cuts for companies operating their own transport would allow the company to cut the costs and pass on the benefits to its employees.

Traffic congestion is a given at the time of office hours.Hence it would really be beneficial if companies at can co-ordinate the cab timings amongst themselves.Lets take the example of Whitefields.If one-third of companies EOD is at 6, next one-thirds at 6:20 and the last one-third at 6:40 and similar timings for morning cabs, the number of vehicles on the road for those 20 minutes would reduce and so would the congestion.

Finally, the most in-vogue solution of the day-Car Pooling.A gr8 idea.For those who are not aware of the concept, car-pooling is basically a group of people with same/nearby offices can co-ordinate amongst themselves to go daily in a single vehicle.That would save costs for everyone of them, reduce fuel consumption and bring down the number of vehicles on road.However car-pooling is a bit tricky to implement because of lack of info.However, an online application might be the an online web portal dedicated to making lives better in Apartment Complexes is planning to come up an web interface for the same.Here I would like to add the disclaimer that the promoters of are my batchmates from IIT Roorkee.However this post is not motivated by any commercial interests or marketing gimmick.This is just being used as an example of how carpooling can be implemented.Following is a sample UI of the application being developed by

Similar applications or communities on social networking sites would go a long way in helping with car-pooling.

Lastly, I would like to emphasize the point that instead of looking at big solutions of a big problem, there might be a number of small solutions which can each make a little bit of difference.The overall result would surely be one step closer to solving the traffic problems of Bangalore.Howerver, most of the above mentioned solutions would need full support as well as initiative from the citizens as well.A dedicated group of people with maybe support from a NGO could do wonders for this.It is my sincere request that kindly let me know if anybody is aware of such NGO. Also, if there is a group of citizens working towards this or interested in working towards this, please count me in.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Reservation Quotas

Back after a long time. Seems like a different life. There have been too many happenings, so many changes.

It took some introspection on my part to answer the question, "Why dont I blog regularly?". I like writing.I havent been blogging very often, so it cannot be a case of "Writer's Block".The no of people reading my blog has never affected me, so why?

Guess its in the nature of a Piscean not to be too open.Maybe because I had decided that this blog would not deal with social issues,computer games,anime so on & so forth.However, that condition no longer applies.So I am hoping to blog a lot more often (fingers crossed).

So what have I been upto lately.I quit my job(That's why the change of blog title).Not that I got another offer or something.I just wasnt finding it fulfilling enough and frankly speaking it had become very monotonous.It just felt right to end that association.So I am now jobless by choice and on a sabbatical trying to get my life into perspective.

But the best news of the past 1 year or maybe longer is that one of the things on my bucket list is taken care of. Actually three if you count "Attending a live Iron Maiden Concert" and "Finishing a Death-By-Chocolate ice-cream all by myself".Now only about a thousand more to go. But getting back to the third thing......

The third thing was getting a Macbook Pro.Yeah people, I am now the proud owner of Marvin i.e. my new Macbook Pro. For those who cannot make the connection, the name comes from the Paranoid Android in Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy.C3PO and R2D2 were also close runners but Marvin's dry humor and sarcasm is unmatched.

However, this post is not intended to be about me.But being the narcissist that I am, couldnt help mentioning the few most important things.

Reservation. The buzz word for the past 2 years.Ever since Arjun Singh proposed 27% reservation of OBC, the nation (atleast the youth) have been up in arms."Dilution of brands","Unfair treatment" etc etc are the reasons being given.

Lets get this thing clear first of all. A nation which differentiates between individuals on the basis of birth might never achieve the true greatness it is capable of .Ability should be the sole criteria on which a person should be judged.Anything else race,sex,birthplace etc etc just brings down the standards and nothing else.

Not to say that I am against reservation.It is a well known fact that a discrimination in terms of opportunities has been there.If some people have borne the brunt of this discrimination, they fully have the right to demand preferential treatment elsewhere.

But as always, a good idea doesnt necessarily translate into a good implementation.Reservation has steadily become a way of gaining votes.

If I m not too wrong, there was a 22.5% reservation for SC/ST candidates in JEE 2002. Add 27% reservation for OBC and you have 49.5% reservation in IITs(I might be wrong here so any corrections are appreciated).So only about half the people in IITs would be able to say that "I am here on my merit, nothing else"? Now being an IITian I can say that the biggest differentiator between IITs and rest of the engineering institutions in the country is JEE.With a selection of about 8000 people out of 250,000, the IITs can very well stake the claim to having the Crème de la crème of the country (There is a minority who do get through on pure luck e.g. yours truly but that debate is for another day).Tampering with the selection process is pure blasphemy.So how about free competition for selection.Once a candidate proves himself to be worthy of a seat in an IIT, he can be given whatever the Govt wants.Low fees, all books, scholarship anything.

But if the Govt wants to continue like this, I have one request. Can we please have a heading on the gradesheets as well as the final degree which states the category of the candidate? If a candidate has the guts to mark a small circle on the OMR in the entrance form, he should very well have the courage to stand up for his decision.Sounds fair?
I am ready to bet that no candidate under reserved category will agree. After all, it would hit their credentials that they did not compete fairly which would translate into less opportunities to go abroad for further education,reluctance on the part of Private recruiters, so on & so forth.
Ohh wait, but the Govt is contemplating reservation in Pvt Sector too.They do have the best of minorities at their hearts.Who cares about the majority anyway.

SC (One of the few places in the country where logic & good of the people seems to prevail) has passed the bill with a few reservations (Pun unintended). The creamy layer cant take benefit of reservations. Totally agree. If one generation in a family has made use of the reservations for their upliftment,it shouldnt be allowed to do so anymore.
No reservations in post graduation.Again, agree. Once a person has gotten into top college for graduation on the basis of reservation,he shouldnt be allowed to use it for post graduation but this is where the loopholes begin.IIMs do not offer a post graduate degree. They offer PGDM i.e. Post Graduate Diploma in Management which holds its own against any MBA.BUT Govt might be able to claim that IIMs give out diplomas & force them to accept the reservation too.Lets wait & watch on this.
One observation on the part of SC that had me laughing was that the no of communities under OBC has steadily gone up since independence.So either the Govt discovers new communities which they didnt know existed OR the whole "India Shining" is a sham while in reality India is steadily declining in terms of social equality.

The statistic that I would really like to know is the
(No of Selections in general category)/(No of people appearing in general category) and
(No of Selections in Reserved)/(No of people appearing in reserved category)
to get a clearer picture.

All said & done, reservation in its current format is flawed. There are students in IIT Roorkee planning a "No CAT 2008" campaign. People think its their loss.I beg to differ.Talent will come out on its own.It doesnt depend on the institute, conditions or the country.And they blame us for Brain Drain....

As a sign of respect to my readers, no football (& no its not because of the fact that Real Madrid is out of CL), no cricket (not because of India's horrible loss) and no anime (not because Itachi Sama is no longer with us. R.I.P. Itachi sama.U'll always be in our hearts.sniff sniff)

Disclaimer: Couldnt help the last para.After all such things do define my blog.Topic might be serious but I hate being serious for one whole post.If some of that stuff is Greek to you, I apologize for spoiling ur serious mood