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Innovative Ideas 6, 7, 8 and 9

May 2, 2018

Ideas for Indian Railways

In my earlier write-up under “Innovative Ideas”, I have proposed how Electric cars can be made affordable by making Batteries as replaceable like Gas cylinders for domestic use. Then in the 2nd write-up I have proposed an Elevator System with helical rails, a Number Lock  with increased security, a Room Air Conditioner with a cool box and lastly, a Gym Charger. You may see these ideas elsewhere in my Blogs. In the present write-up, the third in the series, I am giving my innovative ideas for the improvement of passenger convenience in our vast Railways network in India. I hope to send this to our efficient Railway Minister Mr. Piyush Goel.

6.0 Railway Reservation

In India, Railways is one of the most preferred and popular mode of travel between cities and towns. Since it is the most energy efficient mode of mass transport, the Indian Government is rightly giving high importance to this and offering a lot of incentives to promote its use. For the last few years I am observing a very disturbing trend which results in considerable inconvenience to genuine travelers and a loss of revenue for Railways. The amount of last-day-cancellations is on the increase. For example, last December I was travelling from Bengaluru to Chennai by morning Shatabdi express. I was wait-listed and my reservation was confirmed only late on the previous day of my travel. When I came to the train, I found our carriage was almost 2/3rd empty. I thought it may get filled up at the next Bengaluru Cantonment Station. But it still remained half-empty. When I enquired with a co-passenger, he said this is the normal occupancy or slightly less on the particular day. It is apparently due to multiple bookings or safety bookings, mainly by software engineers travelling very frequently between Chennai and Bengaluru. They book multiple tickets 3 months in advance by default, and as the travel day approaches they review their need to travel and cancel the trip with minimum loss. Since the seats become vacant in the last moments, there are no takers, who are ready to travel at such short notice. This happens almost in all express trains between cities causing, as told earlier, considerable inconvenience to genuine travelers and a loss of revenue for Railways. There is very simple solution as suggested below:

Booking Window:

  • Open only 30% of seats for reservation 3 months or 90 days, in advance of travel date
  • Open the next 30% of seats (+ unsold tickets of earlier quota) for reservation 60 days in advance of travel date
  • Open the next 30% of seats (+ unsold tickets of earlier quotas) for reservation 30 days in advance of travel date
  • Last 10% will be the Tatkal quota to be opened only 3 days in advance of travel date

You may compare this with the present practice of opening all the 90% at one stroke 90 days in advance. On very popular and crowded routes the 90% quota will be exhausted in the first 2 or 3 days. Any genuine traveler, who plans his journey, even 8o days in advance, will have to wait for 77 days before going for Tatkal booking. This will force him to think of other modes of transport.

Cancelling Window:

  • Anyone who cancels his reservation within 30 days of his booking, or 30 days in advance of his travel date, whichever is earlier, will get 100% refund including reservation charges. Only a nominal service charge of Rs 10 or so could be billed to him.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 29 days and 15 days in advance of his travel date will get 100% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 14 days and 5 days in advance of his travel date will get 75% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 4 days and 3 hours in advance of his travel date/time will get 50% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Anyone who cancels his reservation, between 3 hours in advance of his travel date or a few minutes after departure of train, will get only 25% refund excluding reservation charges plus a nominal service charge.
  • Any cancellation later than the above windows will get refunds at the discretion of Railway Superintendent of the respective stations.
  • After such cancellations as above, the vacated bookings should be allotted to the next passengers in the waiting list immediately at every stage, so that they have adequate time to prepare for their travel.

You may again compare this with present practice. Now even if somebody knows well enough that he will not be travelling on the booked date, he waits upto72 hours before departure of the train before cancelling the tickets. Resale of this ticket in such a short notice will not happen and eventually Railway loses a customer. With computerized booking, such intelligent choices are very easy and efficient to implement.

Hope Indian Railways considers my suggestion as above.

7.0 Bridging Platforms:

In Indian Railways, recently they have realized the tremendous advantages of double discharge platforms on either side of the train. Such double discharge platforms are being implemented in all major railway stations and terminuses. The idea of double discharge platforms relieves the passengers with the stress of deciding which side, to be ready with the luggage, to disembark from the train. Another stress for the travelling public is to crossover to the exit of the stations, or to another platform for catching a connecting train, using over bridges or under passes. With several luggages and along with family and kids it is always stressful. Here is my idea to improve this situation:

  • Provide retractable bridges between the platforms over the railway lines at three places across the length of the platform – at both ends and in the middle.
  • The bridges can be retracted as the train arrives at (or runs through) the particular track with required safety features like interlocked signaling, bells, lamps and whistles.
  • This may not be practicable in very busy stations with frequent arrival of trains. In such stations escalators and elevators are a must.

This will greatly avoid the risk of fatalities occurring during illegal line-crossing which happens too frequently in India.

8.0 Train Toilet – 1

There are many problems with toilets in train: Cleanliness, Wetness, convenience, washing facilities, safety grips etc. In addition when the trains are halted in a station, yard or on a loop-line, use of toilets makes the station more dirty, unhealthy and unsightly. Of course there is a notice of request to the passengers not to use the toilets when the train is halted at stations. But the rule is rarely adhered to. Here is a solution at least for the last mentioned problem.

  • Toilets should be prevented from usage when the train is not moving,
  • To do this we may use an intelligent movement sensor to be interlocked with the toilet latch
  • When the train slows down to a very low speed, preparatory to halting, the movement sensor will lock the latch to prevent opening from outside. Anyone using the toilet will be able to open the latch from inside to let himself out. But as he closes the door, the latch will again get interlocked with the movement sensor.
  • As the train picks up speed, the latch will get decoupled from the interlock and get released for opening from outside.
  • The maintenance staff can be provided with a special key to open the toilet even when interlocked, for cleaning and maintenance.

9.0 Train Toilet – 2

All 2-Tier, 3–Tier and Chair-car carriages have totally 4 toilets, 2 each at the respective two ends. It may be better to convert 2 of them (one each from either end, into one male and one female urinal). Urinals are more frequently used, easier to clean and require less space, by accommodating both urinals in the space of one toilet. It will make it easier to keep the toilets clean.

However one major problem is with the solid refuse of the toilets. In most of the trains these toilets discharge waste through an opening, onto the track area itself. This corrodes the track fittings and risks the hygiene of track workers and inspectors. Here is my solution to this problem:

  • It could be better to compact the solid refuse in the under carriage of the train itself.
  • These compacted solid refuse stored in exchangeable drums can be replaced as a part of train cleaning and maintenance process at the terminal stations, or even in a designated cleaning stopovers en-route.
  • These drums of solid refuse can be used as bio-fuel and fertilizer for various applications
  • For safety of conservancy workers, we may automate the process suitably, (eg) auto-sealing of the waste drums as they remove them, integrated cleaning sprays for the toilet discharge area etc.

I Hope these ideas get considered seriously enough. They may be suitably engineered to increase the passenger convenience and safety many fold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tamil – Class:2 / Teaching Through English

September 18, 2017

Class -2

The vowels we learnt in Class-1 are actually known as Life-Letters in Tamil (i.e) உயிர் எழுத்துக்கள். The bare consonants are known as Body-Letters (i.e) மெய் எழுத்துக்கள். When these consonants get life when combining with vowels, they are called Life&Body-Letters, (i.e.)   உயிர்மெய் எழுத்துக்கள். This is really a unique and apt description of alphabets of a language.

In Class-1, we learnt most of these Tamil Alphabets. Now let us learn a few words using them. Let us see a few words using the letters Ma and Ra, (i.e), and .

மா – Maa – Big or Mango

மாமா – MaaMaa – Uncle

மாமி – MaaMi – Aunty

மை – Mye – Ink or Dye

மரம் – MaRaM – Tree

மரு – MaRu – Mark (on the skin) or Name of a plant

மார் – MaaR – Chest

மோர் – MoR(e) – Buttermilk

மரை – MaRrai – Thread (as in bolt and nut)

மாமரம் – MaaMaRam – Mango Tree

மாரி – MaRi – Rain, A Village Goddess

மரி – MaRi – To Die

மேரி – Mery – Mary, a name

மும்முரம் – MuMMuRaM – Deeply involved

ரமா – RaMaa – Name of a girl

ராம் – Raam – Name of a Hindu God

Sanskrit (or Samskrit) is an important language of India. It is a language of universal knowledge. It has assimilated the great literary and social features of all Indian classical languages such as Pali, Prakrit and Tamil. It has also contributed in evolution and development of all the languages in India, including Tamil. Sanskrit (or Samskrit) is an important language of India. It is a language of universal knowledge. It has assimilated the great literary and social features of all Indian classical languages such as Pali, Prakrit and Tamil.  It has also contributed to evolution and development of all the languages in India, including Tamil. From very early days of Indian history, may be even  from 4-th century BC, Tamil and Sanskrit have been studied with equal interest by all intellectuals of South India. Sanskrit is also the language of science and religion for all the ancient religions such as Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism.

Now let us learn a few special characters inducted into Tamil to enable us writing words from other languages like Sanskrit, English etc. They are known as Northern letters or Grantha letters.

ஸ்ரீ
S  as in ‘Sulk’ J as in ‘Just’   Sh as in   ‘Rush’      H as in       ‘Hut’

Sri as in  ‘Sridhar’

The first four of the above can combine with all vowels by taking same symbols we learnt in class-1

Let us learn a few words using the above letters along with (Ma) and (Ra)

மாஸம் – MaaSaM – Month

ரஸம் – RaSaM – Juice, Extract,  a spicy sauce eaten with rice

ஸமம் – SaMam – Equal

மேஜை – MayJai – Table

ரோஜா – ROJaa – Rose

ராஜா – RaaJaa – King

ரிஷி – RiShi – Saint

ஹரி – HaRi – Another name for Hindu God Vishnu

மஹா – MaHaa – Great, Big

ஸ்ரீராம் – SriRaaM – God Ram with respectful title ‘Sri’

ஹாரம் – HaaRaM – Necklace, Garland

All the above words have explicitly derived from Sanskrit, though there are many other words also derived from Sanskrit which have been, may I say, fully Tamilized.

You may again revise all the alphabets learnt in Class 1 and 2.

We will meet in Class-3.

Bye for Now.

(L V Nagarajan)

 

Books Read during 2016

February 9, 2017

Books Read during 2016

by L V Nagarajan

We were visiting our son and daughter in the US during July/Nov 2016. Many visiting Indian parents find such visits as boring, since they are confined to home most of the time with nothing much to do. But in our case we look forward to such visits, as we can spend a lot of time in walks, Yoga and most importantly in books. The libraries in the US are too good and have excellent collection of all kinds of books. All the books I have listed below are borrowed from a single library in Cupertino, Ca, US. I am not sure whether we can access such books in India unless we search and purchase them. The library system in the US allows us to search the digital catalogues with lot of ease, looking for titles, authors, topics, fiction, non-fiction, etc. Herein I have given a brief review of some of the books I have read during my stay in the US in 2016.

  1. Shikandi – Devdatt Pattanaik – 16/07/16

It is a book about sexual queerness, as narrated in the epics of India. Story of Shikandi is only a sample. There are other characters which are also as narrated by the respective stories. He includes Shiva’s episode, where he takes the form of a midwife for a devotee, (and delivered her child, in the absence of her mother) though there is no sexual interaction with anyone. He even considers the story of fast friendship between a poet (Pisir Aandayar) and a Tamil (Chola) king as ‘queer’. Story of Vishnu taking the form of Mohini, the enchantress, also finds a place in the narration. It is a readable collection of ‘queer’ stories from ancient India.

  1. Inferno – Dan Brown – 01.08.16

This book is typically a Dan Brown adventure mystery. This new novel ‘Inferno’ by Dan Brown is based on a biological ‘terrorism’ of scientific age placed in the surroundings of medieval mysteries of Ottoman Empire covering present day Florence of Italy and Istanbul of Turkey. This novel is heavily based on Italian poet Dante Alighieri master piece ‘The Devine Comedy’ consisting of three cantos – Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise, describing the path of the dead/soul towards Hell, Punishment and finally perhaps the Heaven. There are many articles available in the net comparing this piece of ancient literature with similar ideas represented in ancient Hindu scriptures by Saint Veda Vyasa in his Garuda Purana. Some of them even suggest that Dante was inspired by this description of Hell (and the travel of soul with its pseudo-body through the hell to the Paradise). In Maha Bharata epic, King Yuthishtra is supposed to have passaged through hell as a punishment for abetting the unfair killing of Ashvattama.

In this novel there are some unexplained ambiguities as below

  • How can a single type of vector virus would do equal harm to the fertility of both men and women? Evidently, their reproductive systems are quite different.
  • Though a lot of anxiety is expressed by all the characters in the novel about this biological ‘terror’, it appears to be a very humane way of controlling the population. It is same as vasectomy and tubectomy, which are of course, voluntary. This type of population control is normally adopted in animals and pests.
  • The characters in the novel, opposed to this type of ‘terrorism’ initially, come around and accept the same and think of making it reversible.

However the novel is quite interesting and highly readable. It has also come as a movie with Indian actor Irfan Khan in the role of Provost, the off-shore expediter and the secondary antagonist in the novel.

  1. An Incurable Romantic (The Musical Journey of Lalgudi Jayaraman), by Lakshmi Devnath, Harper Collins Publishers India (2013) – 11.08.16

The book itself was published in May 2013, just after the sudden demise of Sri Lalgudi on 22nd April 2013.

  • The episode concerning Lady Lokasundari and Sir C V Raman is quite funny. Smt Lokasundari was trained in Music by Valadi Radhakrishna Iyer, grandfather of Lalgudi. She sang ‘Rama nee Samaanam evaru’, apt for the occasion, when the groom Dr. C V Raman came for bride introduction function at Madurai, in early 1900s.
  • In the CD attached with the book, track-8, ‘Meenakshi Memudham’ was simply superb. The violin sings. When Lalgudi plays on two strings we can hear the words. Initially I thought he sings along. He creates this effect repeatedly in his rendering. The CD itself was too good and deserves to enter into all musical archives.
  • On 9th March 2008, The Music Academy, Madras awarded Sri Lalgudi, the Special Life Time Achievement Award, a one-off award for the first time ever in the ninety years history of the Academy. During the occasion the president of the Academy Sri N Murali said that non-award of Sangita Kalanidhi title to Lalgudi, can be compared to Mahatma Gandhi not getting a Nobel Peace Prize. Sri Murali was proud that they did better than Nobel foundation, by seeking ‘to erase the mistake and the aberration’ and ‘in conferring the Special Life Time Achievement Award’ for Sri Lalgudi. But all said and done, I am still feeling sad to see that Lalgudi’s portrait is not seen anywhere in the lobbies of the Academy, not even among the portraits of Sangita Kalanidhis. Will the Academy take steps to erase this aberration too?

The book is a very interesting read for a biography. It has been a very well researched material with all interesting references. Some of the intrigues, conflicts and challenges in the world of Carnatic music have been brought out along with Lalgudi’s mature responses for the same. I felt the book could have included a few more comments from the rasikas including a few Lalgudi fans.

  1. Athisayam Athi Rahasyam – Lakshmi prabha – Vanathi Publishers -15.09.16

This is a Tamil Novel. It revolves around the mystical experiences of a couple, whose father becomes a ‘siddha purusha’. They go in search of a mystery to the forests of south Indian mountains and encounter several mystical experiences. It is a good attempt at mystical spiritualism in Tamil.

  1. Story of Numbers – John Mcleish – Fawcett Columbine 1992 – 20.09.16

This is a biography of Numbers and evolution of mathematical sciences. Like all authors of the western world, Prof. McLeish also appears reluctant to give due credit to the ancient civilization of India for the evolution of the number system and other mathematical concepts. Surely he has allotted one chapter (10 pages) for India, as compared to 20-page chapters for Arabia and China.

For example: Yajnavalkya (c. 9th– 8th century BC) recognized that the Earth is spherical and believed that the Sun was “the centre of the spheres” as described in the Vedas at the time. In his astronomical text Shatapatha Brahmana (8.7.3.10) he states: “The sun strings these worlds – the earth, the planets, the atmosphere – to himself on a thread.” He recognized that the Sun was much larger than the Earth, which would have influenced this early heliocentric concept. He also accurately measured the relative distances of the Sun and the Moon from the Earth as 108 times the diameters of these heavenly bodies, close to the modern measurements of 107.6 for the Sun and 110.6 for the Moon. He also described a solar calendar in the Shatapatha Brahmana”. Several Solar, Lunar and Luni-solar calendars are still in regular use in India. In the author’s discussions on calendars, he totally ignores this ancient Indian contribution.

P-144: Muhammad Al-Khwarizmi (c.780-850 CE)- (Ref: Wikipedia): The author mentions this Arab mathematician profusely in his text. Perhaps his most important contribution to mathematics was his strong advocacy of the Hindu numerical system, which Al-Khwarizmi recognized as having the power and efficiency needed to revolutionize Islamic and Western mathematics. The Hindu numerals 1 – 9 and 0 – which have since become known as Hindu-Arabic numerals – were soon adopted by the entire Islamic world. He oversaw the translation of the major Greek and Indian mathematical and astronomy works (including those of Brahmagupta) into Arabic. Though the Arabic scholar is willing to acknowledge the pioneering work done in ancient India, Western scholars and leftist intellectuals (even in India) are still not willing to accept the same, and call them as tall claims by Hindu nationalists.

  1. Artifact – Gigi Pandian – 28.09.16
  2. Pirate Vishnu – Gigi Pandian – 10.10.16

The author’s father is from India and she seems to have spent good amount of time in India to appreciate the ancient and recent culture of India. The first novel is about a lost and hidden treasure of ancient jewels of Jaipur royalty pilfered by an East India Company executive, centuries ago. Their descendants have hidden the same in a site near Irish border. An archeological explorer in the area hires some diggers, who seem to have their own agenda of finding and snatching the treasure and selling them to international art mafia. The story is well narrated as an adventure mystery. When I was reading the books of Dan Brown, I always thought there is a lot of scope for writing such treasure hunt mysteries with ancient treasures at many ancient locations of India. In fact, I have given my ideas of such a theme in my blog “Ancient Mystery thriller” – (https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/ancient-mystery-thriller/

The second novel by Gigi Pandian, Pirate Vishnu, is also about an art piece, lost from Indian Port town of Tutucorin during the early struggle for Indian independence. The mystery revolves around Kochin and Sanfrancisco during the period of Gold rush. Mingling the stories of the past and present really enhances the narration. Especially, care has been taken to see the treasure being lost (or hidden) at the end of the ‘past’ story and it being found at the end of the ‘present’ story. Being only her second novel, her narrative style has shown lot of improvement. Quite an interesting read.

  1. Lost Kingdom (Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia) – By John Guy – Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – Yale University Press – 10.16

This is a very good photo journal describing the influence of Hindu-Buddhist rulers in South East Asia. Excellent photographs of sculptures of almost all Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina religious icons are listed and catalogued. We know about Angkor Wat, Cambodia. There are hundreds of such temples throughout South East Asia. It is really amazing to see the photographs along with their historical perspective, with a sense of pride.

  1. A Southern Music – The Karnatik Story – T M Krishna – Harper-Collins Publishers India (2013)

The above book consists of 27 essays on music written by Sri T M Krishna, a musician of great repute. These essays are put into three parts, namely, The Experience, The Context and The History. TMK has been doing a lot in taking this art music to all communities, especially to the community to whom it belonged a few centuries ago. He has received Magsaysay award for his work in breaking the community divide that is perceived to exist in the field of karnatik music. This award has been seen in a totally different context by the media and purists of the art form. But those reading this book will understand his views better in a social context than political. TMK suggests a lot of ‘mid-term corrections’ to the course taken by Karnatik Art Music at present times. I totally agree with many of his views on this aspect.   We rasikas (and in fact, even musicians) should thank Sri T M Krishna for telling the story of karnatik music from the perspective of a concert artist. I feel parts of this book should be prescribed for study for all the serious students of karnatik music. Those who want to get a summary of the first part of this book can visit my blog as below:

https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2016/12/11/the-story-of-karnatik-music/

Hope my readers like some of these titles and get access to read these books.