Posts Tagged ‘Delhi’

Delhi beats Beijing for bad air quality

February 1, 2014

Indian media and Delhi administrators are not amused. They are up in arms and struggling to find reasons why the Yale 2014 Environmental Performance Index is not correct when it states that Delhi’s air is worse than in Beijing.

Times of India: Delhi’s air quality is indeed very poor but not as poor as Beijing’s, claim scientists. After an international newspaper recently reported that Delhi’s air quality this January has been worse than Beijing’s, System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) – under the Union earth sciences ministry – issued a clarification on Tuesday.

Data from nine monitoring stations in Delhi states that PM 2.5 (fine respirable particles) never crossed 350 micrograms per cubic metre while in Beijing it did cross 500 microgram per cubic metre and went up to 650 micrograms per cubic metre. …

“It is true that Delhi is reeling under very poor air quality. But in terms of concentration of pollutants, we are doing far better than Beijing which has declared emergency conditions because of their air quality. Our PM 10 (coarse particles) and PM 2.5 are both high but not extreme. High PM 10 levels in Delhi can be attributed to road and construction dust while high PM 2.5 levels in Delhi can be attributed to incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass,” said Gufran Beig, chief project scientist at SAFAR.

What they seem to forget is that while building wastes are the main source of PM10 coarse particles, they also – inevitably – produce a large quantity of fine particles. Incomplete combustion in diesel engines produce only fine particles.

They are wasting energy on the wrong fight. Whether Delhi is worse or better than Beijing is irrelevant. The point is that Delhi is as bad as it is.

I visit Delhi 5 or 6 times every year and it has the worst air quality that I experience. It is dust particles in the main – and a lot of that is from the ubiquitous building rubble and  building materials lying in piles (some small and some large) all over the city. The diesel engine particulates have – I think – reduced after the introduction of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for taxis and autos but they build up every night when the long-distance trucks roll through the city (they are banned during the day).

But Delhi is essentially a huge building site. In new building projects (many for domestic dwellings), building materials (bricks, sand, cement, tiles, sewer pipes….) are all brought and dumped in open piles on the street long before any building actually commences. Even completed building projects leave behind their piles of sand and bricks and rubble on the street which are never cleaned up. If a road is dug up for any reason the remaining mud and rubble is never actually cleared up . it is usually just pushed to one side. The last mile syndrome applies and nothing ever gets finally or properly finished.

But the real issue is one of attitude and behaviour. It is not that all the building rubble and waste could not be removed or that funds are lacking. The real issue is that “civic sense” is not of great value. The city administrators themselves do not see any point in requiring their contractors to finish a job and the citizens of Delhi are too busy with large issues and cannot be bothered with such minor matters. The administrators pay lip-service to the problem by putting up signs banning the open storage of building materials – which are promptly ignored.

Typical street Delhi

Typical street Delhi

Delhi’s atmosphere is what it is because the citizens of Delhi do not give any value to it being any better.

No global warming in Delhi – coldest December in a decade

December 30, 2013

It is missing in the Antarctic where ice levels are at record highs (and it is summer there) and it is missing in Delhi which at 28.6100° N is just outside the tropics (23.4378°S to 23.4378°N).

What global warming?

Where global warming?

It is impossible to have “global warming” if no local warming can be observed. Merely having a computer model say so or some arbitrarily weighted average  produce a number which cannot be observed  is insufficient.

Delhi: City reels under cold wave

Delhi: City reels under cold wave (image IBN News)

Weather is not climate of course, but 17 years of no global warming – while carbon dioxide emissions have continued to increase – is quite persuasive. Man-made carbon dioxide emissions do not drive climate and are clearly irrelevant.

The alarmists and the doom-mongers need to be held accountable for their “forecasts”.

Hindustan Times: The cold wave tightened its grip over Delhi on Monday as the minimum temperature went as low as 2.4 degrees Celsius in the city’s coldest December in over a decade.

The fall in temperature has been triggered by the biting cold in the Leh and Kargil towns in Jammu and Kashmir. Icy winds blowing from snow-clad mountains into the plains of the Kashmir Valley have also added to the intensity of the cold wave. The two towns, Leh and Kargil, recorded the coldest temperatures of the season on Sunday at -17.3 and -16.4 degrees Celsius respectively. 

According to the Indian Meteorological Department’s website, low temperatures are expected to persist for the next 24-48 hours. Mainly cloudy sky with possibility of rain or thunderstorm is expected on New Year’s eve in Delhi, with the minimum temperature possibly around 7 degrees celsius. 

The weather condition has been similar throughout north IndiaUttar Pradesh and Bihar also grappled with cold with Lucknow recording a new low of 1.9 degrees Celsius. In Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar froze at -5.3 degree Celsius while Jammu was at 3.5. In Punjab, the lowest recorded minimum temperature was at 0.8 degrees in Amritsar while Patiala shivered at 2.3 degrees on Monday.

Will buying “likes” on Facebook and Twitter translate into votes?

November 29, 2013

Perception can be reality. And fake “likes” are being used to generate fake perceptions of popularity and goodness. Whether humans are dumb enough to be taken in by fake perceptions and whether perceptions can be converted into real voters and customers remains to be seen.

The assumption within the public relations and advertising industry is that  buying “likes” on social media actually leads to some advantage for the person/thing/company being liked. Clearly some companies perceive “likes” as being an effective – if unproven -advertising form. There seems to be no shortage of people offering ways of buying and boosting “likes”. Offers are readily available to arrange “2000 Facebook likes for only $17, or 5000 for $35 or 100,000 for $500”. Carlo De Micheli and Andrea Stroppa have been looking at Twitter and the underground market

De Micheli and Stroppa

De Micheli and Stroppa


We estimated fake accounts make up for 4% of Twitter’s user base

Does this make sense?

  • Facebook makes it harder to create fake accounts yet openly declares: “As of June 30, 2012, we estimate user-misclassified accounts may have represented approximately 2.4% of our worldwide MAUs and undesirable accounts may have represented approximately 1.5% of our worldwide MAUs. 
  • Every account can follow up to 2000 people. 
  • By statistically excluding overlapping fake accounts, just on the 12 main marketplaces (Fiverr, SeoClerks, InterTwitter, FanMeNow, LikedSocial, SocialPresence, SocializeUk,  ViralMediaBoost), it turns out there are around 20M fake followers on sale right now. 
  • Followers are sold at an average price of $18/1000 followers (barracudalabs). 
  • Sellers can make between $2 and $36 per fake account 
  • Multiplying it out definitely shows a multi-million-dollar market

Apart from entertainment figures wanting to boost their apparent popularity, the buying of “likes” has now become a routine matter for politicians facing elections. They are relying on the herd mentality to lead  to an increase of votes in their favour. The risk they take is that humans – when acting as a mob or a herd – don’t like acknowledging or being accused of acting like dumb animals. But the risk of this backlash is being taken as being small. Politicians in India are now all rushing to buy “likes” – as just another legitimate advertising ploy. They have been paying for favourable articles about themselves and negative articles about their opponents in the print media for many years. But even the most socially illiterate politicians – who wouldn’t know a tweet from a twit – are spending a great deal of money to be able to show huge numbers of “likes”!

What part fake likes and dislikes are going to have in the Delhi elections next week and the national elections next year, remains to be seen. It could be quite effective in a city like Delhi where the penetration of social media among the new urban population is high  but among whom political awareness is still relatively new.

FirstPostIn a new sting operation, Cobrapost has revealed how certain IT companies in India are working to manipulate social media campaigns by buying fake FB likes and followers on Twitter, and running negative campaigns against rivals of their clients and also engaging in creating panic among minority groups. The report states that the most of these companies are working on the behest of BJP and Modi, but also work for Congress sometimes, and in addition manage campaigns for multinational firms, corporations etc as well. …….  In a statement to Firstpost, Facebook said that where fake likes and profiles are concerned, “It’s a violation of our policies to use a fake name or operate under a false identity, and we encourage people to report anyone they think is doing this.

CobrapostOperation Blue Virus also makes certain stunning revelations. If the claims of the companies exposed are to be believed, among political parties, BJP is at the forefront in social media campaign, so is its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, with scores of companies working overtime for him. This puts a question mark on the claims of the BJP leadership that there is a wind blowing in favour of their party and Narendra Modi. The larger-than-life-image that Team Modi has assiduously carved out for Modi over the past one decade may not be that real, rather invented, and is reminiscent of the Goebbellian propaganda, to sway the opinion of gullible public. It is no surprise then that even a milder criticism of the BJP’s star campaigner invites scathing attacks from his followers on social media, claimed to be in millions in count. 

Paul Joseph Goebbels would have been in his element.


Friday 13th, seven sentenced to death and Narendra Modi chosen as PM candidate

September 14, 2013

In Delhi, 4 of the 5 adults accused of the Delhi rape were sentenced to death. The 5th died earlier in custody. It waas as uicide according to the authorities and an “execution” according to the defence lawyers. The 6th accused – a juevenile – received tham maximum 3 year sentence. The odds oh his surviving his sentence must be considered far from certain.

In Madhya Pradesh a court sentenced 3 to death and a 4th to life in prison. Thry were bus employees who in a dispute with another bus driver torched that bus driver’s bus. That bus was packed with passengers and the accused barricaded the doors. 15 died.

And the BJP announcd the selection of Narendra Modi as their PM candidate for the 2014 elections over the opposition of LK Advani. I suspect Advani may be correct in thinkng it a strategic mistake and too early. I think Modi would have been better served by a few more months of speculation without offering a clear target for the Congess and other parties. The opposition to Modi now has time to mobilise.

It was Friday 13th September 2013 yesterday.

it remains to be seen if it was a Black Friday.

And so to bed…

July 15, 2013
Delhi street

Delhi street (Photo credit: April_May)

It has been a hectic week in Delhi.

A trip covering about 30 degrees of latitude and 60 degrees of longitude. From 58.7057° N, 15.7674° E to 29.0167° N, 77.3833° E and back.

I first lived in Delhi in the 1950’s and the city has grown out of all recognition. Size and population and traffic have exploded. The infrastructure has only just about managed to keep pace. (Considering the rate of growth that itself is no mean achievement.) Every home boiled water then and uses water purifiers today. You were subject to sporadic loss of power then and now put up with regular “load shedding” (as demand side power management is called). But inverters and generators are common and the urban Delhi dweller can “make do”. He has to – he has no choice.

Delhi Urban population –

The same “standard meal” (a bowl of rice, 4 chappatis, a bowl of lentils, 2 servings of vegetables and a small bowl of yogurt) costs Rs 30 ($0.50) from the street vendor, Rs 60 from the roadside dhaba, Rs 70 from the office canteen and about Rs 800 at an upmarket hotel restaurant. But mangoes from Uttar Pradesh were in season and mangoes and papaya everyday for breakfast was refreshing. And my hosts were kind enough to pack 10kgs of mangoes I could bring back with me.


It is Bharat versus India as Hindu fanatics try to justify the Delhi rapists

January 4, 2013

I have seen the Delhi rape being described as a manifestation of the conflict which arises at the interface between the rural and the urban life-styles. And there is probably some truth in that. There is little doubt that for the young who stream into the cities after leading highly repressed and frustrating lives in rural India it is difficult for them to make the transition from the middle-ages into the 21st century. The concept of women not being chattel is beyond some to grasp. The apparent “anonymity” of life in the city encourages a few to believe that they can prey on other “anonymous” and depersonalised victims with impunity. Most rapes and other crimes against people are rarely given high priority by city police forces struggling against an ever-increasing urban populace.  The speed with which the Delhi rapists have been apprehended and presented in court in this high profile case is the exception – not the rule. But this is not a problem which occurs only when rural meets urban or which only happens in cities. Rural India still abounds with horrendous cases of violence against others – against women,against children, against people of other religions and those of other castes. Most of this rural behaviour goes unremarked and unreported. The Khap Panchayats who use rape as a punishment and support “honour killing” and who are allowed to operate freely by supine politicians is a case in point.

So, I am not sure that this is just an “urbanisation” problem. It goes much deeper than that. The police act (or more correctly – fail to act) as they do in most cases because the political “leaders” give no priority to these. These “leaders” are rarely “leaders” but are mainly parasites. Many are themselves stuck in the attitudes of a few centuries ago and have not made the transition. Many themselves have no wish to make the transition. Many actually still believe that women are chattel. This view of women is not confined to any particular religion. It can be found among Hindus and Muslims alike. But among the Hindus, the parasitic politicians are usually those who continue not only  to believe in “caste” but are mainly responsible for the continued domination of caste politics. And they use the “privileges of caste” or the “perceived disadvantages of caste” to prop up their own out-dated and anachronistic positions. For some it is -paradoxically – the maintaining of the privileges of a “declared disadvantaged caste” which governs.

It is not a case of rural India versus urban India. The transition from rural to urban life and its difficulties could be anticipated by any competent politician or leader. It is surely the job of the leaders to manage and lead this transition. The root cause is a lack of  political leadership and a lack of political management. Fundamentally it is a lack of political competence. For “parasitic politicians” the continuation of a conflict at the interface provides more blood to be sucked out of the masses.

The issue is one of whether to live in a fantasy past or move to the real future. Whether to continue to exhibit the attitudes of  some glorified and completely false view of a Bharat – which never ever existed –  (or of the glorified view of a Moghul Hindusthan which exists only in the Muslim psyche) or to move forward to create the India of the 21st century.

In the particular case of the Delhi rape, the victim and all of the accused were Hindus. It has not taken long for the fanatics of the RSS (who may look utterly ridiculous in their khaki shorts and black caps but are a poisonous influence in the country) and some of the parasitic politicians of the BJP to try and justify the horrific behaviour of the Delhi six.

IBN Live:  Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Friday kicked up a controversy with his remark that rapes happened in cities and not in the rural areas. “Such crimes hardly take place in Bharat, but they frequently occur in India,” Bhagwat said seeming to indicate that “westernization” in Indian cities was the reason behind increasing cases of rapes. 

The remark follows a similar comment by a MP BJP leader who stated that women who did not stay within their limits, paid the price for it just like Sita was abducted by Ravana after she crossed the ‘Lakshman rekha’.

Maryland and Washington begin to sound like Delhi

February 6, 2011

In India, planned blackouts are used commonly for the management of electricity load. Delhi is used to regular black-outs and there is is no likelihood in the near future that the availability and quality of electric power will be sufficient to eliminate this system of load management. There is no office or shopping mall or large home in Delhi which does not plan for this by installing diesel generators as back-up. Smaller households or those which cannot afford generators use inverters which are sufficient for lighting and perhaps a fridge during an outage but cannot supply enough power for long enough for any air-conditioners or any heating. Even when power is available, the voltage variation is so large that virtually all electrical equipment must be protected by voltage stabilisers.

The black-outs in Delhi occur most often at peak times (around breakfast or dinner) and commonly at night during low load when equipment is shut off for maintenance to be carried out. Unplanned outages are apt to occur at any time. It is on summer nights that the sounds of Delhi are drowned by those of generators cutting in to keep air-conditioners running. There is no possibility of sound regulations being implemented to limit this noise and for those who have difficulty to sleep there is no alternative but to sound-proof their bed-rooms or to use ear-plugs.

The quality and reliability and availability of electric power in the more developed countries (Europe, Japan, US) is often quoted as the target for the Indian power generation and distribution system to aspire to.

But it seems that the US grid is now so weak that parts of Maryland and Washington are beginning to sound like Delhi. The Wasington Post reports:


Blackouts 2010 in Maryland and Washington

In Pepco territory, blackouts mean more home generators, more noise complaints

For Arthur Bennett, blackouts now come with a soundtrack.When last month’s “thundersnow” knocked out power in Bennett’s Montgomery County neighborhood, the preindustrial hush inside his house – when even the refrigerator seemed to hold its breath – soon gave way to the two-stroke roar of engines up and down his block.

Bennett, like many residents of Pepco‘s service area in Maryland and the District, has concluded that blackouts are likely to get even louder as the utility’s fed-up customers turn increasingly to backup power. According to retailers and electricians, home generator sales are booming in the area Pepco serves, especially since the company has been plagued by repeated, prolonged outages
over the past few years. Portable generators sold out at several home stores after the latest storm, and installers report that sales of high-end whole-house units have skyrocketed.

Jim Holt of Gaithersburg’s Holt Electrical said his sales of home generators have been climbing steadily and reached a near “level of panic” after the last blackout – mainly on Pepco’s turf. …….

…………. One thing both generator owners and their juiceless neighbors can agree on is the frustration of having to debate this issue at all. “I really think it’s kind of scandalous that in the capital of the world, we’ve got third-world reliability for electric power,” said Larry Posner of Shepherd Park in Northwest.

Read the entire article.

Commonwealth Games: A stirring closing under way and a metaphor for investment in India

October 14, 2010


Delhi 2010 logo


The Closing Ceremony for the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games is underway. The final verdict will come in the weeks and months ahead but after the incredibly chaotic, tainted and incompetent beginning the fact that it appears now as a qualified success is a tribute to those who finally mobilised themselves and further evidence of the “last-minute fix syndrome” that India suffers from.

Delhi virtually shut down on Thursday 2 hours ahead of the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, with government offices, banks and major markets closed for the day. The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, the venue for the event, is swarming with thousands of security personnel.

Around 60,000 spectators are expected to attend the event, that will start at 7 pm and end 10.30 pm. Around 7,500 security personnel have been deployed at the JN stadium. “A multi-layered security arrangement is in place for the closing ceremony, similar to the opening event,” Rajan Bhagat, spokesperson Delhi Police, told reporters.

Spectators will be put through manual and mechanical security checks at four points at the stadium, while Indian Air Force choppers will survey the skies. The stadium has 19 entry points where card readers, door frame metal detectors and X-Ray baggage machines have been installed. Mobile quick reaction teams have also been deployed on the outer perimeter of the stadium.

High-tech security equipment, including devices to check CBNR (chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological) assaults have been put in place. Delhi Police Commissioner YS Dadwal reviewed the security arrangements at a meeting with senior officials.

Delhi Police has also deployed snipers, commandos on Light Armoured Troops Carrier (LATC) and specially trained men from paramilitary personnel along with Delhi Police personnel at the Games venues. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are also in place to scan the ground.

There are 3 hours to go before the ceremony draws to a close and fingers remain crossed.

ABC Online says that after a chaotic start, Games organisers have given themselves a pat on the back for delivering a functional, if somewhat bumpy, ride to the finish line. “The athletes and the competitions have gone very well,” Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell said today. Australia finished the Games well atop the medal tally with 74 gold, 55 silver and 48 bronze. India narrowly pipped England for second spot, winning 38 golds to 37.

The Economic Times sees the Games as a metaphor for investment in India. Chaotic, difficult to enter, bumpy journeys but immensely rewarding at the end.

For many Indians who only two weeks ago labelled the event the “Shame Games”, it was an unprecedented success, with the country’s best-ever gold medal tally. “The Games has turned out to be better than worst feared,” said V. Ravichandar, head of Feedback consulting in Bangalore, which advises multinationals. “The Games were really a metaphor for investment in India. It’s not a smooth ride but things work out in the end.

After sparse crowds ruined the atmosphere in the first week of the two-week event, crowds soon swelled, with the medal results providing a respite for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his ruling Congress party, which before the Games had been under pressure to save India from international embarrassment.

The wider and much publicised chaos of the preparations highlighted the gap between India and China when it comes to infrastructure. When organisers called on luxury hotel chains to clean up the athletes’ village, it underscored the fact that the private sector motor that drives India had been left out of a Games run by a state immersed in red tape, cronyism and graft. Thus, the Games failed to be the coming-out party the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics was for China. For foreigners, delegations threatening to quit with filthy rooms, dog faeces and dengue-carrying mosquitoes in the Games Village were the overarching memory.

It was a sign of the health of India’s business that the blue-chip Sensex stock index hit a near-three year high during the Games. India has attracted a record $21.4 billion in foreign funds into stocks this year — one-third of that since September. State-run Coal India is poised to launch a $3.5 billion IPO, the country’s largest that is expected to see heavy investor demand. It underscores how private industry in India is booming, thanks to tens of millions of Indians aspiring to the middle class.

“In a sense, India stands out internationally,” said Amit Tandon, managing director of Fitch rating agency in India. “It may be difficult to come in, but once you are in you make money.” That may signal more complacency ahead from India’s leaders, increasingly focused on state elections next year rather than long-term economic reforms. “I do hope at the end of the Games, someone in Congress or the prime minister will sit down and take stock of the situation,” said Tandon.

Indian fiasco likely at the Commonwealth Games

September 23, 2010

The mess that is the organisation and preparation of the Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi is going from bad to worse. Every day there are new instances of rampant corruption, new examples of the venal attitude of all the organising committee and the surrounding politicians, collapsing architecture, cases of child labour, withdrawal of athletes and maybe even countries, security fears, uninhabitable and unhygienic athletes accommodation, traffic chaos and now even potential flooding after a prolonged and vigorous monsoon.

India is known for the “last minute” fix but is also known for  the “last mile syndrome” where the final 5% never gets completed. The organising committee and the Delhi politicians are busy pointing fingers and the Central Gov’t has been forced to step in.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has stepped in to clear the Commonwealth Games mess. Singh has called Union Sports Minister MS Gill and Union Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy for urgent consultations.

A view of the 2010 Commonwealth Games Village in New Delhi. Certain players have asked for a different accodomation as they found the Village 'unliveable.'

2010 Commonwealth Games Village:players have asked for a different accodomation as they found the Village 'unliveable.'

On a day of embarrassment for Delhi and with 11 days to go for the Commonwealth Games, the incomplete and “filthy” Games Village came in for severe criticism from foreign delegates and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).

The finger pointing and posturing is getting ugly. Meanwhile, Congress MP and former Union sports minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has slammed the Commonwealth Games Federation top bosses – Mike Fennell and Mike Hooper saying they have no right to criticise the Games.

This threatens to be a national embarrassment.

I live in hope but whether something can be salvaged from this fiasco remains to be seen.

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