Saturday, March 27, 2010

S K Brahmachari and Lies relating to Soleckshaw

Soleckshaw is a solar-powered rickshaw. This seems to be a novel concept as the idea is to remove drudgery of poor rickshaw puller. But, does this seemingly novel concept really designed to live up to its purpose? Or is it just a gimmickry that Indian politicians and bureaucrats are known to play for their own advantage?
  • Soleckshaw is not completely driven by solar-powered batteries. In fact, the power of solar batteries is to assist rickshaw puller only when they are climbing uphill; rest of the time they are supposed to use manual labor. And, if they do rely on solar-powered batteries only, then that battery does not last long and soon drains out. 
  • Soleckshaw in its present technological life cycle costs much more than 2.5 times the normal rickshaw (this is after very conservative estimates). Can a poor rickshaw puller afford such a luxury? Will any bank give him loan for that? – It is a common knowledge that most rickshaws are owned by someone else. Why will those people pay abnormally huge cost for the sake of rickshaw pullers’ health? – And, even if they are willing to buy, THE PRODUCT is actually not even a partial solution (because of above stated reason – it still leads to drudgery). 
  • CSIR, our premier technological R&D institute, is not even capable of delivering a viable solar rickshaw. Their prototypes have been a huge failure. The only people to benefit from it are – S K Brahmachari and Kapil Sibal. The latter used those prototypes in his election campaign and has won handsomely. Brahmachari got many news items that praised him for such a novel concept. 
  • One can easily get electronic rickshaws at a competitive cost; but the wishful thinking of ‘green’ rickshaws is coming in the way of the primary goal – ‘removing drudgery of poor rickshaw pullers’. If CSIR leadership is so worried about ‘carbon credits’ why cannot they run their ACs powered by solar panels?? Does their ACs have energy ratings? Why is Ambassador – oil guzzling car – their choice of car?
  • Lack of technological competence is evident in a recent policy decision by Pranab Mukherjee. He stated that no customs duty (and excise duty) will be levied on solar rickshaws. Customs duty?? – Is it not pathetic to think that now we have to import parts from abroad to build a cycle rickshaw? 
  • It is known that MNRE is considering a proposal to hugely subsidize these rickshaws. Why cannot they make a ‘novel’ product that is not sucker of tax-payers money? 
  • Dr. S K Brahmachari justifies that along with the above subsidy, rickshaw pullers can benefit from commercial posters that they can put at the back of the soleckshaws. Can those posters not be put at the back of any rickshaw (manual, electronic batteries or solar-batteries)? – Will it not be better that rickshaw pullers be empowered by giving soft loans to buy normal (but ergonomically designed) and/or cheaper electronic-battery powered rickshaws instead of hugely expensive soleckshaws?

BUT, S K Brahmachari and others want to be seen as progressive ‘green’ scientists at ANY COST…. So, why care about technological competency to deliver project, tax-payers’ money, and the true goal of health benefits to poor rickshaw puller?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

CSIR Leadership’s Wishful Thinking and their Lies to Public of India

CSIR Leaderships's wishful thinking and daydreaming with respect to their technological competence is leading to wasteful expenditure. Is this deliberate or just a very poor management style of functioning? - This question remains to be probed and answered.

Freedom for Science had earlier brought forth many instances that suggest involvement of CSIR Leadership in corruption and poor governance. In this article, we further expose TWO big-bidget projects of CSIR by asking some relevant questions.

NCL claims to harnessing solar power by indigenous research

Dr. Sivaram (Director, NCL) in a press release (of January 2010) boasts of Rs 900 crore research project to harness solar power. He makes a feel-good impression by talking about futuristic innovations – “paints that absorbs and store solar energy for use in computers, and mobile phone chargers to efficient roof tiles that does away with the traditional photo-voltaic cell panels and mirrors that can focus solar energy to generate hot water and steam.”

The above project is supposed to be part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission launched by PM Manmohan Singh.

Our QUESTION is – Have they checked on the credibility of CSIR scientists to deliver this project successfully before committing such serious public money?

A quick google search will lead to a news item that will clearly lead to a negative answer. NCL (of which Dr. Sivaram is the Director) spent Rs 70 crores and more than eight years to develop indigenous fuel cell technology. The project was started in 2001, and did not meet its initial targets. Now, the claim is that they may have the technology ready by 2012. 

Contrary to this, China started developing the fuel cell technology in 2002. They finished developing the technology successfully in 3 years at a cost of $18 million (roughly Rs 80 crores at current exchange rate).

Should Dr. Sivaram and his team not focus on wrapping up their old commitments before talking about futuristic projects? Or is it simply the lure of Rs 900 crores?- Make hay while the sun shines!!

NAL’s plan to build 90-seater civilian aircraft

NAL’s story is not very different from the above story (of NCL). Daydreaming is rampant among CSIR Leadership.

NAL was developing a 14-seater indigenous aircraft (named SARAS) and had in fact built two prototypes. – One does not know CSIR’s definition of ‘indigenous’. The engine of the aircraft was imported from Canada and almost all the electronics from Israel. – Anyhow, the test flight last year of the more advanced of the two prototypes was a disaster. It ended in a crash that lead to the death of two bright Air Force pilots. 

It was claimed that this was a huge setback to the ‘indigenous’ development of aircrafts – it had put the team behind by almost 2 years. 

Now, they want to start a big-budget  project to build 90-seater civilian aircraft. Is this not a very ludicrous claim? How has government approved this project?

Is NAL not obliged to first demonstrate their competence by building a 14-seater plane (SARAS)? – They should first prove their competence by showing that the product they have developed is actually commercializable and is truly ‘indigenous’.