Are we just 10 years behind china?

I found these statistics about chinese and Indian Economy, and it makes an interesting reading. These numbers suggest that we were neck to neck with Chinese about 20 years ago and today we are about 10 years behind with Chinese. If china continues to grow the way it has in last 10 years, and we don’t do some serious catching up, we will probably loose out.

But, our leaders seem to be too busy running up scams after scams, while helping their industrialist masters. We need to have single minded focus on improving our export performance  – we seriously lag behind on this even in comparison to 1990 china! We need to build infrastructure to allow such exports. We need to have easier norms of labor to create large manufacturing factories. Today’s laws and rules are primed for delays and inefficiency and higher cost. For all this – We need to reform our governance to allow for rapid build up of infrastructure and business.  It doesn’t seem we can grow to the size of China with an American model of consumption led economy – We are too large a nation for that.

So, it all boils down to change the way we do things. Retrain our bureaucracy and retrench the deadwood within the govt. to make rapid growth in country’s revenues and thus standard of living possible.


FDI inflow (at current prices)

1990 2000 2009
China $3.5 bn $38.4 bn $78.2 bn
India $236.7 mn $3.6 bn $34.6 bn

Net exports of goods and services as percentage of GDP

1990 2000 2009
China 3 11 5
India -2 4 -5

GDP (at current prices)

1990 2000 2009
China $356.9 bn $1.20 trillion $4.98 trillion
India $317.5 bn $460.2 bn $1.31 trillion

Annual GDP growth (%)

1990 2000 2009
China 3.8 8.4 9.1
India 5.5 4 7.7

GDP per capita (at current prices)

1990 2000 2009
China $314 $949 $3,744
India $374 $453 $1,134

Gross domestic investment as percentage of GDP

1990 2000 2009
China 40 35 45
India 22 24 35

Urban nightmare…

“You guys are pathetic” I used to tell my Bombay Friends back in early 90s.. I was referring to their 1+hr one way commute, planning for a few days for simple pleasures like watching a movie.  Afterall – If  I decided to go to a movie, I was in the center of town and munching pop-corn within next 10mins!

Well, Bangalore in mid 80s was already a big city.  But vehicle/road ratio was pretty good – I could commute distances of 10km in less than 10-12mins. I didn’t think twice about going from my office near MG Road (Center of town) to Jayanagar (6km away) to just have a coffee with a friend. I’d be back in office within the hour!  It just took 30 minutes to get out of town when I drove away from bangalore.

In 2010, The vehicle ownership has grown about 20 times from 1981!!! But roads have hardly grown twice as much.  So, now it takes 1hr to cover distances of 10-12km, takes upto 2hrs to get out of (or get-in to) the town This is  a nightmare. Here is a chart that shows the vehicular traffic growth in Bangalore:

YEAR TOTAL Pop Pop growth rate Vehicle density
1976 108437 1,654,000 6.6%
1981 190653 2,922,000 77% 6.5%
1991 662148 4,130,000 41% 16.0%
2001 1566142 5,101,000 24% 30.7%
2010 4068045 7,155,000 40% 56.9%

Yes, that’s  right.  We already have 1 vehicle for every two persons in Bangalore. Growth rates suggest that we’ll cross 1vehicle per person within another decade.

Exaggeration? Wrong projections? This is actually a conservative estimate of vehicles on road by end of 2010!    Bangalore Traffic Police Site says the number is 36,53,368  as of 2009.   So, I’d say the figure is much higher!  If you doubt this just ask any car sales man at Maruti, Toyota or Honda show rooms, they are having one of the best years of their entire career!!

However, This is nothing compared to what is coming our (and our children’s) way in next 10-20yrs.

I was going thru this nice Youtube video, which covers the upcoming global urban nightmare very well (though it is about new type of cars) –

We indeed have no more space to widen/create roads. Our population is growing and our living spaces are going vertical. People are still pouring in from non-urban locations. It is quite feasible that Bangalore will have 4times as many vehicles as today within next 10-15years, without increasing amount of roads even 10-15%.

And this won’t just be Bangalore – It will be so in every Tier-1,2 & 3 cities of India.

So, we will need multi-pronged solutions to this problem.

1. Easily the top one is – Mass public transport. This should have higher coverage and should be made most effective in everyway (comfortable, cheap and easy to access).

2. Making private transportation very expensive – The cost of ownership of a vehicle should not be on the basis of the cost of the vehicle, but should be on the basis of size of  vehicle. The biggest expense of owning a vehicle in future should be the taxation. After all – How long can a car owner expect to park his car on a ground of 150sq.ft in the center of town for Rs/10 an hour? Would anyone give you 150sft on a Rs.6000/month rentals in commercial places of Bangalore? The true cost of owning the car should fast become the averaged real-estate cost to park it.

3. We need to carbon tax the fossil fuel. After-all the users of vehicle are polluting, so it is only fair they pay for it. This will also make Electrical Vehicles more attractive, and will push demand for clean energy.

4. Govt. should encourage work-from-home to avoid non-essential travel.  Afterall it is very unproductive waste of time to travel to office, especially if you burn 2+ hours of your day in traffic. It is a national waste, so encouraging work-from-home, will reduce pressure on streets.

5. Toll the roads for peak hours. We can’t have all vehicles clogging the roads at same time. We should come up with mechanisms to charge more for people who choose to commute at peak hours on their private vehicles.

I am sure there are many other smaller measures to be taken too.

If we don’t bell this cat, the urban living will become a worser hell than it already is.

DNS323 NAS harddisk upgrade.

I have been using a Home NAS product by Dlink (DNS323) for close to 3 years. It is rock solid and serves me well.

But, I keep running out of hard disk space. Initially i had 1TB (500+500). Then I upgraded one of the Disks to 1.5TB to have total 2TB.

And I have run out of space on that too!

So, just upgraded it to have total 3.5TB, by putting in a low power 2TB drive (consumes 50% less power).

The biggest challenge of all was transferring the existing data. DNS323 has no interface to transfer/backup contents between its two drives, though it supports an external USB drive. Had to pull out the drives and connect Hard disks (with EXT2 file systems) to a Linux system to get the job done fast.

Working well so far…

Sony & its deathwish.

In 80s and 90s, Sony was the brand I looked up to. They used to have the coolest techology, best designs and high reliability in all that they chose to produce. They used to be priced at a premium, but used to be worth the buy.

How things have changed!

Today, Sony products continue to be priced at a premium, but they certainly do not command that premium.

The user interfaces in most of their products is non-intutive. The quality is no where close to what it used to be (I have half a dozen head phones, camera and such at home to prove my case).

The last sony product I bought was their Reader PRS505. While it does its job and hasn’t died on me yet, it isn’t the best of the products out there!

When it is out of Battery, it just displays the last displayed page, and doesn’t respond at all. I’d have thought the product had died, if I hadn’t done extensive search on the web, and left it for recharge for a day, after a reset! How difficult would it have been for them to have an external light to show battery status?

Their software support for the library is atrocious. I use calibre instead of the one provided by sony. The positioning of the buttons on the reader are not very ideal either. A Year back, this seemed like a better deal than Kindle for the PDF support is better. Today, i’d blindly go with the iPad, when they support some multitasking.

I have many other products of Sony at home, one thing that stands out is the lousy user experience. If this company needs to survive (leave alone achieving the heights of 90s), then they need to reinvent their user interface skills.


Last weekend I saw this movie called Unthinkable. It apparently didn’t receive any theatrical release, perhaps because of the controversial subject it deals with – Torture of suspects.

The storyline provides both sides of the argument – for and against. It seems to support the torture all thru, but the message is subtle – In the end it shows that the torture doesn’t pay.

Movie was gripping and makes one think where one stands on the subject. Human rights and civil liberties are important ideas. But, where does one draw the line? Do we need to compromise? Can people who don’t have respect for any law, be treated humanely? Can a persons close relatives be used as part of interrogation tactics?

We live in a country where justice rolls very slowly – and most of the time doesn’t work effectively. How can an efficient law enforcement be done, if the police and prosecutions can’t keep crooks behind bars?

On the other hand, we also live in a country where police brutality and corruption knows no bounds – how do we limit the police power to avoid unscrupulous policemen from trampling over citizens?

I suspect this is one subject on which I can’t arrive at a definitive conclusion.

Apple Monopoly?

Have been using more and more of Apple’s product in the past year or so, After owning various iPods for a long long time.

I like most of what apple has to offer, especially their breathtaking designs for their products. I had earlier used Mac for a brief while in late 90s and didn’t find them as much fun, now MacOS certainly is the best out there (Windows7 being close). The best thing I like about MacOS is the built in Time Machine, which makes sure I never loose data, or productive time.

However, I dislike the tightly held nature of some of Apples products. iPod is tightly coupled with iTunes (Never understood why!). No SD support in iPod or iPhone, why are they so scared of people adding their own memory?

iPad extends this further by not supporting certain third party products.

Ok.. They have good products, but why is it that Apple looks more and more the monopolist, and non-Apple products more open??!!