December 27, 2012

Migratory Birds - Survival of the Fittest!

Hi Guys,

Yesterday morning, I saw a few migratory birds flying over my head. It has been quite some time since I saw them. As soon as I saw them, my mind became so happy. It was then that I realized how much I missed watching these birds. I am not a keen bird watcher, but I enjoy seeing the flock of birds, their amazing pattern and the sheer strength displayed.

The great evolutionist Charles Darwin said that only the fittest will survive. The migration of the birds can be attributed to their survival. It is etched in their genes that they must travel in order to survive. I wonder how the evolution must have taken place. Identifying a place where they can be safe and travelling back and forth every year.
This bird (the white one) is known as the Great White Egret. It is a partial migratory bird (only a part of the species will migrate). It is commonly found in North America and it migrates to south Asia in the winter. I found this bird in a lake that was near my home. I took this photo a year back (on 25-12-11)

Many of the birds travel more than 10000 miles each year with the hope of surviving and creating their successors. The whole story is that they need to travel back another 10000 miles again. This process continues.

Over the time they have evolved in such a way the birds know exactly what they are doing in migration. Before the migration period they start conserving energy and store the food as Fat in their body. Some species of birds don’t stop in between during the migration. A bird species in New Zealand migrates to the northern Hemisphere without anywhere in between. They cover a distance of more than 6000 miles.

Most of the birds travel in a particular route all the time. These routes are genetically imprinted in the birds. They travel along a particular mountain range, coast or any other easily identifiable landmark. Most of these routes are designed in such a way that they consume less energy. Mostly we can see that their destination also remains the same. A particular butterfly in Northern America migrates from Mexico to USA and back to Mexico in a circular pattern. By the time, they complete a journey three generation of butterflies’ passes away. It is genetically programmed in such a way that when a newer set of butterflies come into life, they know exactly where to go.

Also, you must have seen the birds travelling in flocks. Most of the time they are V shaped in nature. This reduces the total energy spent by the birds in order to fly. The bird at the head directly counters the wind and it deflects the wind and the pattern is in such a way that the other birds are not affected by wind. After sometime, the head bird is replaced by some other bird. It is said that this process conserves around 15% of the energy. It increases the speed of the birds by around 3 miles/hour.

It is just mindboggling to know the amount of energy the birds spent in order to survive and pass on their genes. As I write this article, there must thousands of birds flying all around the world migrating from one place to another with the hope of surviving. At the end of the day, it is the ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and these birds are born to survive.

Happy Reading!!!

December 21, 2012

The Root Cause for Bus Footboard Accidents

Hi Guys,

A few days back there was a grave accident in Chennai where four students were killed in a bus accident. They were travelling in the footboard and a lorry crashed into them. It was a very shocking incident. It was a hot topic for one or two days and then it was forgotten.

The next day there was an article in Times of India about how the Transport Corporation operates fewer fleets due to lack of man power (2400 buses instead of 3300 available). Yet, their revenue never decreased. It is said that revenue increases when there is less availability of buses as it leads to people swapping buses after a short duration. On the day of accident, the bus had 120 passengers.

The next day High Court issued an order that schools can detain students travelling in Footboard. Most of the students don’t travel in footboard for fun. They travel as they don’t have any option. We should look into the backdrop of the problem and solve the root cause.

During my college days I have observed as to how the public buses are so crowded just before the school and college timings. General advice given is ‘Why don’t students catch the bus early?’ How early? I have seen most of the buses very busy for a long time in the morning. Yes, some problem does lie with the students for waiting till the last minute. In the afternoon very few people travel in most of the routes and yet there will be lot of buses. If you notice closely, the number of people travelling in Footboard is more in the morning than in the evening (as there is no Time Pressure).

Five days after the accident took place, I was travelling to Chennai around 8 am. It was the same route (OMR). It was a Saturday. Yet, I was able to see the bus full of passengers. There was no one standing in the footboard. But there were lot of school students and office going people. From the amount of people in the bus stops and the usual number of buses in that route, it was obvious that there was too much demand and too less supply. If it was the condition on Saturday, then what about week days when more schools and more offices are working.

The students don’t have any other option. The number of buses should be increased. Asking schools to detain those students doesn’t work practically. Will the schools accept students coming late? Never. The whole concept fails there.

The sad part is the whole issue is forgotten within a few days of the incident. It is so sad. Everyone blamed the students for the mistake and the Transport Corporation or Government officials never even bothered to look inside the case.

Hope something better is done and future accidents are avoided.

P.S: Didn’t finish with my usual style of Happy Reading. It’s not a happy one.

December 14, 2012

Travel Experiences!

Hi Guys,

A Long walk after a long time. It was a visit to a nearby township and the one and half hour walk to and fro was refreshing. It was supposed to be a 6 km walk, but a few wrong paths increased the distance. And my friend who was complaining about the distance before starting forgot it after a short distance and got immersed into the nature. It brought me lot of memories back.

Travel is something that we can’t avoid in life. We travel a lot. We travel to lot of places. We use a lot of vehicles. We walk a lot. Yet a few journeys remain fresh in our mind. Each time we get a new experience.

Two years back, I along with three of my friends was doing an In-Plant Training at a famous automobile company’s R&D centre. The company was said to be in the outskirts of Chennai. When we started on the first day, we were full of energy. By the time we reached their office we were zapped out.

Each day we would start at 5.30 am in the morning. We will reach Chennai Central by 6.10 am and catch a train at 6.15 am. The train journey to Minjur (a suburban station somewhere north of Chennai) would take 75 to 90 minutes depending on the traffic. The journey would show you the completely contrasting life in the northern parts of the city dominated by Industry Labors. After Ennore station, you would see a beautiful estuary where a Lake or River joins with the sea. You can note the effect of high and low tide clearly on different times.

We would be getting down in Minjur by sometime around 7.30 am and next part is the tedious one. We need to catch a share auto that would leave you in the office after 30-45 minutes or sometime even after an hour. Usually we would reach the office by 8.30 am. The road it seemed was created specifically with the purpose of creating back pains and asthma problems. The road was dominated with Container Warehouses and Trucks that carried the containers to the ports. We need to do the reverse in the evening and if we were lucky we would reach the destination within three hours. This was our schedule for the next one week then.

During my first two years of Engineering, I travelled in college bus and during my fourth year, I used my motor bike to travel. In between, during my third I travelled by other means – public transportation, share autos or some days with my friends. Share Autos are yet another interesting means of travelling. Of course, you should bear in mind that anything can happen. If you inside the share auto, you might experience a few quick turns and breaks, nothing more. If you are outside the share auto, particularly travelling in a bike nearby a share auto, then the chances of you falling down are very high.

Recently we had a case in Marketing Management about overloading in Indian Autos. The case mentioned the average overloading used to around 30% I have seen worse than that. I was standing in the bus stop. A share auto came. At a place where there can be 6-7 people, the driver loaded 10 people (3 people at the back) and as soon as he released the first gear, the front wheel went up and thank god, the auto didn’t fall down.

These days, most of the share autos have been replaced by mini vans. They offer more comfort, space and safety. They are the most common means of transport around my college (the current one). People here are so adaptive and adjustable. The fare is so low. The drivers get Rs. 10 for nearly 10 kms. The people here don’t mind about the number of people. I have seen the vehicle full and still the people inside adjusting themselves for accommodating one more person. They never complain. In Chennai people will be shouting on top of their voice even if an extra person gets in.

I want to share a lot other incidents. But this post is already long. Will continue soon…

Happy Reading!!!

December 8, 2012

Is it right to demand for Spinning Pitches?

Hi Guys,

Back to Cricket after a long time. This time I am planning to write about the wayward demand made by MS Dhoni.

Dhoni wants the pitches to turn right from Day 1 and this has created a huge controversy. The logic made by Dhoni is that Home Conditions need to favor the home team. Also in Australia and England pitches seam right from the first ball. Before agreeing or disagreeing to Dhoni’s comments, we need to look into the logic.

Leaving apart the nature of the pitch, we know that a new Ball seams or swings and as the ball starts to wear it starts to Spin. It is true in most of the cases, except that the amount of seam and spin depends on the pitch. Dhoni’s comments is nearly something like Alaistar Cook saying that England pitches should support seam and bounce the same way irrespective of whether its first over or 80th over.

Also in Test matches are not touched until the end of fifth day and the pitch withers according to the nature’s wishes. So, as time goes on the pitch starts to spin more or seam more. This is one of the main reasons why chasing a score above 250 in fourth innings is tough. Asking for a turning pitch right on the first day will make things worse as the match goes on and the match gets over in three days. Dhoni’s logic of saying that there is no fun playing for five days goes against the history of 5 day matches.

Dhoni says that each country has its own Home Advantage and India doesn’t. Indians have always had their home advantage. The blazing sun along with batting and spinning pitches has made the opposition tired. Other teams have found it hard to win in India. Steve Waugh’s dream was to win a test series in India and it never happened. And home advantage does not belong to pitches only. It lies with the environment, surroundings, fans, etc.

In Australia or England all the pitches don’t behave the same way. Perth is a heaven for Pace Bowlers. Sydney always supports Spinners to some extent. Melbourne and Adelaide are completely different. The same goes with other pitches too. Clarke doesn’t say that all pitches should behave like Perth or something like sort of that. Asking for similar conditions in all pitches of India is not a right sign.

With problems aplenty in the team, asking for supportive pitches (even after which we lost) won’t help. Grooming youngsters towards Test Cricket is the right sign. We always find someone to blame with. Similarly two good matches can take a player to extreme highs. A long term solution is more important than a short term one.

Hope to see Indian team performing well.

Happy Reading!!!