Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Reducing Urea use by up to 50% with SOM

This author has written this note after reading a report in the times of India today that the government is hoping to reduce consumption of urea fertilizer by about ten percent by reducing size of urea bags by ten percent.

However, With SOM the urea utilization can come down from 25% to 50%, reduce costs, improves soil as well as yields. This is an original idea of the author, not published before, and the terminology SOM is his own standing for Semi Organic Mix. He is publishing it here online in public interest.

SOM Fertilizer

SOM fertilizers are prepared by thoroughly mixing together in industrial mixers a half and half mix by weight of dry compost and urea. A farmer may use more of the quantity by weight to get similar nitrogen yields but in that case also there is about 25% saving in urea.

The additional use of compost improves the soil and the embedding of urea particles in compost slows the release of nitrogen in soil so as to improve plant health and yield. If the farmer uses the same weight as urea then saving of urea would be up to 50%

Are there any disadvantages of this method? There is one but it is not significant. The SOM fertilizer would decompose nitrogen in the urea over time due to presence of bacteria especially in presence of moisture reducing its shelf life. It is advisable that such fertilizers are prepared every planting season and not carried over to the next to minimize this problem.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Restoring Jaipur as Dream City of World

Not along ago, about a hundred years ago, Jaipur city had been regarded as a fairy tale city of the world, ranking among the top ten beautiful cities of the world. Unfortunately, an uncontrolled expansion over the last seventy years has now converted it to not just one of the poorly ranked cities of the world but also of India. Tourists still flock to see the charm that lies hidden within its deterioration but that is little solace for those who love the city.

Fortunately, with a little effort, the city can be restored and recover its old glory again, Indeed some beginnings is already being made in the direction. In the view of this author, familiar with the city from time of his grandparents, seven things can restore the status of the city to its old glory and more. These are as follows

1. Restoration of Dravyavati River

In an older post  (see this note from 2012) this author had mentioned the importance of creating water bodies in and around the city of Jaipur including the Amanishah Nala area that was once a seasonal river. It would help restore falling ground water table in the city. It is essential since without water there is no life. Fortunately the present Chief Minister of the state has appreciated the idea and intense efforts are underway to restore the Dravyavati River along with shallow check dams along its route. The plan is to treat waste water from the city now charged with Bisalpur dam from far away and use it to charge the river aside from seasonal rains. With this, the first and most important step towards restoration of Jaipur is already underway. The major impediment is however the last step to be mentioned soon

2. Inner City

The inner walled city of Jaipur has similarly suffered much encroachments and dilapidation over the years. Far more intense efforts are required for restoration and conservation here. Some of its sections such as the area between Sanghaneri Gate through Johri Bazaar past Hawa Mahal needs to be completely blocked to modern vehicular traffic leaving it fully for pedestrians and rickshaws only along the lines of International practice for inner city malls. This part of the city is one of the proudest of heritages of mankind and needs to be honored as such

3. Green Lungs, Central Park

The Central Park is a major green lung of the city and needs expansion by including the recently acquired area of Lakshmi Vilas rather than turning the latter for commercial greed. Similarly there is a need for expansion  and improvement of green forested areas around the city that include the Elephant Vllage, Nahargarh and Jhalana reserves. A modernization of the hill road to Nahargarh fort is a crying need.

4. International Airport

The city already has a fine railway station and efforts are underway to improve the highway and bus stations. Some years ago the Jaipur Airport was converted to an International one. Now the need is to convert it to one of the best International airports of the world.

5. Metro

A Metro transport service has begun in the city. Efforts to add additional phases from Ambavari to Sitapur and from Bhankrota along Ajmer road to old transport Nagar through Raja park need rapid progress. A mono-rail section connecting Amer to Ram Niwas Bagh through Jal Mahal, Metro point and inner city is also needed, especially for tourist traffic.

6. Urban Management

While progress on the first five steps mentioned here is possible and has begun in many ways already, this last and most essential step would be difficult but in fact most necessary. Without it, the city should give up any dreams of becoming a fine city but rather prepare itself for further decay. Presently the city is managed by two authorities – a Nigam and a development authority. Both have not been adequate for the task for reasons best not discussed here. Trying to improve them would now be futile it seems such is the situation. There is a huge revamp needed by merging, deleting and innovating to create a new single authority on the lines of the Kyoto city of Japan or other famous historical cities. It is hoped that a new dynamic leadership will emerge that can undertake this task and take this most essential step towards restoring Jaipur as one of the proud and beautiful cities of the planet.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Eradicating Corruption in India using Adhaar and JAM

Recent data shows that there has been a slight reduction in corruption in India this year. It is because India has found a very honest Prime Minister in Narendra Modi and his cabinet. However the reduction has only been slight because at lower levels of government, born from years of habit, corruption is still widespread. An older note in this blog described how corruption can be eradicated with speed. It is presented here again with slight modification and simplification including the use of the now widely available JAM, Adhaar card number system in India. This plan is exceedingly simple to implement and cost effective. It involves just two simple steps

  1. Passing an ordnance that a bribe by the bribe giver shall not be a prosecutable crime provided the bribe giver files a complaint by post at --- or online at ----  within a month of giving the bribe. A draft design of the simple online form is included with this note. It may be modified to improve after study. Hard copies of the form may be picked up free from any post office too for sending by post or downloaded.
  2. Announcing a reward that may be given if complaint is verified and results in a fine from the offender.

With this method, corruption may be eradicated by speed because all of the citizens become partners in the exercise. Some may even make a living out of it as some RTI experts may have done.

Are there any down sides to this plan?  The only one is that those who are creating illegal wealth from bribes shall become unhappy but then it is time for them to stop and become happy again for as tweeted to the Prime Minister this morning,

Corruption, the unethical or illegal acquisition of wealth and violence are the two biggest evils that lead to decay in any human society. Eradication of these evils leads to progress, prosperity, beauty and happiness for all


The present plan addresses the problem of those who are compelled to give a bribe for a legal service. In case when a bribe is paid to overlook an illegal act the bribe giver will not report. However a very large part of bribes given in India are for the former category and when that is reduced the culture of bribe giving and taking shall come down. In the latter case too a third party can report the transaction if it comes to his or her notice and in a few cases the doer of an illegal act may also report. Overall the present plan appears to an excellent one to make a dent in the corrupt bribery practice. The form attached with this note is only a preliminary draft and deliberations on it can improve it easily, some this author noted himself after publishing the note such as – purpose of bribe

Friday, November 24, 2017

An Ordeal on Indian Railways Thousands Face Daily

An earlier note in this blog had some suggestions for the Indian Railways and one of them has already been implemented soon after the dynamic new Railway Minister of India, the Right Honorable Piyush Goyal took charge. Thanks have been recorded to him at the end of the note as an update. This note is on a different matter that also needs urgent attention of the Honorable Minister to save Indians from physical damage and huge hurt they undergo daily because of one of their practices. It is best understood from my personal experience two days ago, recorded next.

I needed to make a trip from Delhi to Jaipur on the evening of the 23rd of this month.  Looking up the new improved website of Indian Railways I found that there was a vacant lower berth in sleeper class of train number 14659 from Delhi to Jaisalmer. I chose the boarding destination as Delhi Cantonment since the station was closer to where I was staying. The train had a scheduled two minute stop here and my seat was in coach number S1. So far so good, but now the ordeal begins.

On some earlier trips, I had discovered that locating your coach on platforms that do not have display boards can be tough because trains are long and walking up and down along its length to locate it is not easy, especially if one has luggage. This platform had no such display boards. Fortunately this time, I had just a small bag with wheels on it that could be dragged on the platform by pulling on a handle. I was nevertheless worried because the stop of two minutes sounded too little to locate a bogey.

My eyes were on the train as it pulled in and the engine passed by. I looked at train coach numbers on a small plate in the middle of coaches, some not quite clear and spotted coach S8 when the train stopped. I began running along with my bag towards other coaches and saw S7, S6, S5, and then the Ss disappeared and there were some other coaches of which I could not read the number clearly. While running with my eyes on the coaches I did not spot a bump in the platform and tripped over as my bag flew to one side. I got up anyway and continued running. The train began to move. My godson who had accompanied me shouted get into this one anyway. I jumped in to the first door of the now moving train almost falling off once again but got in. It was a general coach, packed neck to neck, but I found a place to stand near the bathroom. My godson had once mentioned how his smart phone and purse had been pick- pocketed in a general bogey a month ago because it was very crowded but some money and original IDs were saved because they were in his bag. Worried about mine, I somehow managed to shift all that into my bag in the nick of time and stood firmly with my bag squeezed between the toilet door and my legs.

My intention was to get down at the next station which was Gurgaon and make another brave attempt at locating my bogie. There were others like me and someone said that after S5 they have general coaches then some more S coaches later where S1 was likely to be. There was an old couple trapped similarly who had reservation in a S2 coach and the lady squeezed in the coach was sweating profusely. She too intended to find the right coach at the next spot. Around eight minutes before Gurgaon, the train stopped on the tracks perhaps due to some signal and the couple decided to get down. I advised them against it saying that the track with stone grit was rough. She may fall. Moreover the train may start anytime and they would be left in the wilderness. They nevertheless got down and as warned the old lady fell flat on the track and bruised herself badly. They nevertheless got up and moved on. Hopefully they found their coach.

In my case I got down at Gurgaon and found my coach and thanked the Lord while also informing my Godson that I was now safe. He had been worried and had been calling repeatedly. In my coach I heard harrowing tales similar to mine and how the TT was asking for a bribe from those in wrong coaches. He let several unreserved person into our unreserved coach similarly for interim destinations. At long last, the train more than an hour late, arrived in Jaipur and I breathed a sigh of relief. But my mind was pained at the thought of that lady falling flat face down on the stone grit, getting up, blood dripping from her face and thousands of others who face the same problem daily day after day, month after month on the blessed Indian Railway and decided to write this note with a few suggestion that could ease the pain of thousands.


Are there any solutions to this problem? Short of platform display board that exists on large stations to indicate coach locations, some other simpler suggestions come to mind.

  1. It is easy to install large removable placard boards with coach number near coach doors ( each door) as displayed in the figure constructed for this note
  2. The train stoppage time could be increased to at least the time it takes to walk from one end of it to another
  3. There could be a single display board on the platform at least displaying the order in which the coaches are arranged of an arriving train.

There are just some quick thoughts but my impression is that officials of railways are not so stupid that they cannot find solutions nor are they sadists who wish to torture and injure Indian citizens daily. But it is possible that a group is corrupt and profit from the confusion and ensuing bribes. Greed and corruption is at the root of much that is wrong with our world.

The attention of the Honorable Railway Minister is drawn to the problem. Perhaps he could solve it and save ladies as old as his and our mothers from injuring themselves and bleeding on the tracks, perhaps day after day, year after year and older persons like me running on the platform with luggage and collapsing from cardiac arrest. If the minister wishes to know my age, it is the same as his brother in law Rajni who is a good friend because we were class fellows at IIT Delhi.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Open Defecation by Dogs in India

They say a dog is man's best friend but an unregulated, untrained population of dogs can also become public enemy number one causing misery to both the dog and human.

While street dogs have always been part of human civilization, with increasing urbanization and increased population these dogs create many problems for humans, the first being their open defecation on streets, secondly danger to humans especially children. There have been reports of mauling to death. Third is noise pollution by their persistent barking. This barking disrupts sleep and health of all, sometimes fatally in case of elderly persons. It destroys peace during day hours and hugely compromises study hours of children studying for school or exams at times leading to their failing in examinations.

Along with stray dogs the problem of pet dogs has become equally huge; they too contribute to open defecation on urban streets creating a stench and health hazard.

Their barking disturbs neighbors even more than that of stray dogs. During silent night hours, this barking spreads far and wide. This problem of dogs has become huge in India from pristine place like Nainital in the Himalayas to coastal cities across the land. It is heartening that one of the state governments of India that of Punjab led by the hugely popular Captain Amarinder Singh has begun turning its attentions towards this problem. A focus is now required by the government of India on this issue.

It is not necessary for India to reinvent the wheel for this problem because many other countries around the world have applied their mind to it already and solved the problem. India just needs to study their methods and develop its own regulation. While the dynamic government of PM Shri Narendra Modi is doling much to solve the problem of open defecation by humans in India, his Swachchta Abhiyan would never be complete without including this issue too. This note concludes with an easy road map towards this.

The Road Map

  1. Form a small commission consisting of a veterinary doctor, lawyer, urban planner and social worker
  2. Simultaneously offer research consultancy grants for short six month review study to six volunteering Professors of six leading universities to review practices for controlling dog menace in other successful countries of the world, summarize and submit in a brief report to the commission within six months
  3. The commission after inviting these six professors to a five day workshop should draw up the first draft of guidelines best for India.
  4. Over the next three months the commission may invite public suggestions on the draft and finalize guidelines
  5. Over the next three months i.e. by end of year the central government to draft and institute a new law for the purpose and send copies to states to emulate if necessary at state level within six months.
  6. The next six months may be used to set up implementation procedures and authorities

Thus in a period of two years the dog menace would begun to be dealt with and then India too can then aspire to become a clean and peaceful country. Without this it would be impossible to do so.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Irrational Food Inspection in India

Adulteration of food by substances dangerous to life is a fact in many parts of the world including India. Consumers have to be careful in ensuring that food they procure form markets is safe for their health and their families. Food safety inspectors exist in health departments of all countries to check food products and punish unscrupulous food sellers. In India however there is a unique dimension to this inspection that hovers between the irrational and sordid corruption that plays with the health and well being of citizens. Let us first explain what the irrational element is.

On October 15 there was a report in the times of India, the prominent daily newspapers that in a village in Chomu district of India, food inspectors from the health department had unearthed a mawa (a concentrated milk product used in many Indian sweet dishes) unit that was preparing it from milk powder and edible vegetable oil products instead of just pure milk (see here). They destroyed 120 kg of Mawa from this unit. Mawa is an expensive product and manufacturers have come up with various alternative recipes to bring down the costs. It is used in large quantities before the forthcoming festival of Diwali. In earlier years there have been reports of similar action by food inspectors when they seized and destroyed mawa prepared using potatoes or refined wheat flour.  The irrational and laughable thing about such exercises is that what is seized is not an unhealthy product but just a cheaper substitute. In most countries of the world this practice may have been lauded as an innovative and enterprising practice not an illegal one. While food inspectors destroy such good food in thousands of tonnes all over India, many lives, many a child dying of hunger and malnutrition could have been saved by its consumption.

The manufacturers on the other hand should ensure their own safety by labeling their product boldly, as mawa substitute, prepared using potatoes, vegetable oil or whatever. They can also put bold signs about it outside their production units and photograph it with evidence of dates. Thus they could then approach the courts for illegal harassment by food inspectors and compensation based on this evidence. I had heard a story during my childhood when a famous national ice cream manufacturer was similarly charged for using cellulose used in blotting paper in ice creams. They won the case in court when it was proved that the cellulose used was not harmful to health and in fact may even help some by adding roughage in their food. 

While the irrationality of this food inspection is explained, what needs to be explained is the sordid corruption behind it. It is similar to corruption in police departments where police have at times caught couples sitting in parks which is perfectly legal while letting off even rapists at times through secret bribes. The former gives the impression that the police are active in protecting women while the latter brings them illegal gratification and increased rape of women of India by criminals. Similar may be the case with food inspectors where they let off the real criminals polluting food with dangerous substances in return for bribes while making a show of action by harassing legal producers. Cases of serious even fatal food poisoning are heard from time to time in India including in a train yesterday run by the Indian Railways.

It is a tragic fact of life that in many a corrupt developing country from Africa to Asia, government officials paid by public, use their positions for illegal enrichment rather than serving people. Barack Obama on a visit to Kenya had remarked – Corruption destroys every aspect of social and economic life of a nation. The suffering of billions on earth increases as evil born of greed flourishes.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Need For Mother and Child Hospitals in India

May God bless this sweet Child and his mother
While much of the population in India is still poor and cannot afford private medical care, free government services are hugely limited and overburdened. The most tragic is the huge number of child deaths that are taking place in such hospitals due to inadequate care and it is here the need for improvement most urgent.

What is needed now is  new large modern government run Mother and child hospitals to take care of mothers from the beginning of pregnancies as well as children up to the age of five. To begin with one such hospital may be set up in each district across India at a place the population density is highest in the district. Each district may have special departments peculiar to their area such as North Central provinces for encephalitis and meningitis or the western tribal parts for malnutrition. Each district mother and child hospital may also run extension centers and mobile care vans across the district but under its full administrative control.

Such hospitals must not take in any adult patients or mothers that do not have a child less than six years old or are not child bearing so as to cater to this segment of the population exclusively in a child and mother friendly manner. It goes without saying all of the nursing and most of the other staff would be women in such hospitals although there may be some male pediatricians and other male staff such as administrative staff, ambulance drivers, security guards etc.

These hospitals must be child friendly and painted like a bright nursery school with play gardens for children. India can easily afford this service and it would go a long way in caring for its children as well as reducing its huge infant mortality rate.