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Re: Some thoughts

Rajeev Manikoth wrote:
> a. We need a major change in mindset. As a nation, we seem to be
> followers. We do ( at least some ) a great job when we are told to do
> so, or are pushed to the corner. Take the Supercomputing story for eg.
> CDAC is doing a tremendous job. But this was not a core innovation.
> Since the other guys couldn't give us one, we had to start from
> scratch. This happens in all spectrums in our lives. We need to think
> up original ideas, not be good at just implementing somebody else's
> brainchild. The IT industry is a good example of this. We need to
> examine this seriously. It also means looking at things differently.

Unfortunately, what many of us do not know is that what CDAC has
done is not to produce a supercomputer by assemble a massive
parallel processor using SUN's microprocessors. To really develop
a supercomputer, we should encourage the semiconductor industry.
We recently missed the bus when TI scrapped its plan to set up a
silicon wafer unit thanks to many hurdles. Had this come in, we could have
expected spinoff companies owned by indians.
Finally, CDAC deserves credit as Singapore and Russia have
placed order for PARAM.

> There was a case of a self made inventor from Tamilnadu, who developed
> a herbal fuel. There was skepticism all around, from the scientific
> community included. While some discarded the idea firsthand, there
> were others trying to find holes in the "invention". Somebody said
> there was some oil content in this.

This fellow is a confirmed fraud. The experiment in IIT Madras
under controlled conditions exposed him. Everything from the beaker
to the lemon juice added was weighed. Even the juice that was
squeezed out was weighed! All containers were purchased for him.
At one stage when he wanted to use a metal stirrer instead of the
glass stirrer, the scientists were foxed as they did not have one. 
Ramar Pillai produced his own. It was weighed and he started stirring.
One professor who was watching the thermometer suddenly got up
and pulled out the magician's hand when the reading was the melting
point of wax (74 degrees?) and asked in Tamil, "Ennapa idhu?" (what
is this?). Petrol flowed out from his hollow stirrer! Yet, he was given one
more chance the next day. He never turned up. 
It was not that the profs at IIT were jealous. They were informed about
him by one Mr.Bajaj(?) of some other institute (private institute?) that
there was lead content in his fuel during one experiment and no lead
content after petrol pumping stations started selling unleaded petrol.
Please, let us not believe in miracles. We need to develop scientific
temper. Hats off to the scientists who discarded his idea at first based
on the theoretical content of carbon required for energy to be produced.

> My point is this. If you look at it from another perpective, we can
> think of developing this as an alternative fuel, so what if there was
> a minor oil content. Imagine what the savings could have been.

Leaf burns. Some of them have some oil content. Systematic research
*is* going on. A few months back there was an article about oil from
some seed which could be used as fuel (but not very efficient)

> b. There was an announcement of a new energy policy : utilising
> hydro-power. This is a highly critical area. Our natural forests are
> being decimated at an alarming rate. What does this so called
> hydro-power generation mean ? What are the safe guards to an already

I agree with you on this hydel power fiasco. In summer the whole country
reels from power cuts. This year, the dams are full, yet some cities
have 4 hour power cuts. The reason given is that the dams are so full
that the generating system broke down. It is a mystery to me how these
broken generators function normally precisely between 8:30 PM and
4:30 PM the next day.

> degraded environment? Why again are we not considering new ways of
> energy generation ?

How about coming up with some ideas on IP? I think we should formulate
a policy on this important issue.

> We should define what will be the best path for us as a nation. It
> cannot be based on what institutions from the West ( Be it the IMF or
> the World Bank ) define as what is best for us.

I am glad you brought this up. Indonesia followed to the letter what
IMF said and things became worse. Mahathir Mohammed pointed
out that in crisis the solution suggested for Malaysia was to increase
the interest rates while for USA in the same situation, it is to lower
interest rates. Someone should point out the reason!

> In fact I am a firm believer that our Rupee should be strengthened to
> a respectable level. People should come to us for the quality of what
> we can offer. Not because we should be the cheapest. How long will we
> keep devaluing our currency to be in the race for exports ?

Another great point. The press in india misleads us saying that
devaluation is good for exports. This is untrue except when used as 
a short term, one time measure to get immediate revenues to
improve the infrastructure so that productivity can be increased.
The actual effect is that  the workers who slog it out to earn in Rupees
have to work as hard to earn the same amount in the devalued rupee.


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