This is the first of a series of ten journals I will be writing as part of the course on Infrastructure Planning and Management by Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam.

Infrastructure in India: Opportunities and Challenges


The first few classes of the course served to extend my notion of ‘infrastructure’ from merely being a set of basic civic amenities to that of an indispensable link between the economic and social development of a region. Quieroz’s study [Queiroz ‘92] of the relationship between per capita GNP and road infrastructure reinforced the ideology. Further discussions demonstrated the nature of the linkage to be strongly reciprocal – it became amply clear that while a vibrant economy will significantly contribute to adding infrastructural capacity, improvements in the quality of infrastructure will result in increased investments and greater industry-confidence leading to economic growth [Lou Harris ‘88].

Sector-wise Status:

Over the next few classes, we examined the current status of development in transport, telecom, power and urban and rural infrastructure. Each sector presents a unique set of opportunities to be leveraged for economic gain as well as a plethora of challenges which threaten to undermine the pace of socio-economic development in India. Continue Reading »

I am working on an academic project with Prof. Sudhir Chella Rajan (Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras) that involves constructing energy use scenarios for India. We have adopted an end-use approach to disaggregate the energy consumption and intend to analyze the impact of techno-economic policies on energy demand and green-house gas emissions from India.

The first phase of the project involves gathering data on ‘current accounts’ – figures concerning activity and energy intensity levels in a particular reference year, in our case 2005-06. As I strive to distil relevant and accurate data from a heap of papers and reports, it becomes apparent that dealing with macro-figures is no mean task. There are endless choices to make. Which data-source is more accurate? What parameter represents the variable adequately? How much detail does one incorporate?

On the way to meet Prof. Chella today, it occurred to me that our facts and figures resembled broken pieces of glass. Each with it’s own distinctive shape, tinge, size and edge.

I have to put these together.

I have to put these together.

The skill, of course is to identify each piece for what it stands and assemble all of them into a composite, meaningful portrait. One that describes the present as it is and the future as it will be.

What lies beyond.

What lies beyond.

Images courtesy DixonBaxi and Malinkrop.

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Once you figure out what a joke everything is, being a Comedian’s the only thing that makes sense. – Edward Blake

dt: 5th April, 2009

I had a nightmare tonight. What surprised me was the hybrid mix of real and imaginary characters, physical settings and concepts that inter-played to create the entire experience.

It was scary as hell – drawn largely from the ‘Saw’ movie, I guess – however, with strong influences of ‘hostel life’ as the physical setting – in fact – even locations familiar to me through another dream – for ex: the imaginary ‘rest house’ adjacent to my room which I am pretty confident has appeared in an earlier dream too.

It all started with me waking up in a strange, deserted place with fires burning in the stoves all around. I remember some strange scene involving a leaking sink that was caused because I suggested using ‘broomsticks’ to support columns of clay beneath the sink! ***k. Next scene, I was being carried to a hack-saw- man on the top of a bus.

Several moments later came the defining scene of the whole nightmare – which lasted for god only knows how long.

I was with this character who looked remarkably like the ‘masked’ villain in ‘Saw’ but had an uncanny humanness about him. It all seemed normal till we went fishing in a river, and suddenly, the fellow disappeared. I turned around and searched the stream, only to stumble across a dead fish floating in the water – and suddenly, out of nowhere, this fellow’s severed head was bobbing up and down in the flowing stream – as if alive; mocking at my futile attempts to figure out what was going on.

This is where the catch lies – the whole point for me noting down this experience. In the dream, I was terrified and literally ‘felt’ an entire artery in my chest bursting and squirting out blood. It was precisely then that I ‘actually’ had an acute chest pain and woke up panting to realise all was well and I was still in my room.

Now, the question – can incidents like these actually cause a heart-attack? I am scared.

As happens almost every time I go to the Central Library to read up for an upcoming paper, this time too – an innocent looking book entirely unrelated to the subject under study caught my attention.

‘The essence of truth’ by Martin Heidegger  – read the almost austere cover page. The contents of the book, however, were nowhere close to what I had imagined. I managed to read an entire chapter before dozing off to the all-too-well-known library induced slumber. Here are a few extracts for you to reflect:

And what is true? The true is what is known. It is just what corresponds with the facts. The proposition corresponds with what is known in knowledge; thus with what is true.

So truth is correspondence, grounded in correctness, between proposition and thing.

Must what is given first of all resemble something given, therefore itself be necessarily a correspondence?

The Earth had consisted of six continents – Asia, Europe, Africa, South and North America and Antarctica. While Asia and South America wielded very little power and hardly had a say in world affairs, North America and Europe competed fiercely to become the rulers of the New World.

Then began the ’42’ year long war (bows to Douglas Adams) between Europe and North America where plane-loads of nuclear fusion devices were fired by each side. Technology had advanced to the extent of creating underground bunkers strong enough to withstand a universal nuclear attack.

nuclear-explosionMeanwhile the rest of the world’s resources – oil, coal and gas were being funnelled into two large barrels – Europe and North America. There, a blazing fire raged that guzzled every remaining drop of fossil fuel left on earth.

*The light pollution caused by explosion of these nuclear devices was harmful to the pseudo-equilibrium of the  Universe.*

The bunkers, mind you, were built to withstand shock from impacts and beta radiation from fissile nuclear devices. No one knew that nuclear ‘fusile’ weapons technology had become a reality. A ‘hydrogen bomb’ had been made possible. Bang!