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October 26, 2010

My Dad's story - Making of independent India's first tractor (Part 2)

Picking up the story from where I left a month ago.

(First Part :

In order to understand the challenges the Indian team faced in manufacturing the indigenous tractor my Dad felt it important for everyone to appreciate what is a tractor and understand how the "design to manufacturing" process works. ( transition to production in bpo parlance).. Part 2

Tractor came into existence in the late 19th century as a farming invention for pulling agricultural machinery for plowing, tilling, disking and planting seeds in the fields to grow crops. The design & construction of the tractor had to take into account the practical aspects of farming. To a discerning eye , tractor will appear as an odd member of the automobile kingdom. And in many ways it truly is.

Curiously unique thing about a tractor is unlike other automobiles it does not have a chassis. In an automobile everything is mounted on the chassis. This tractor design is keeping in mind the purpose of the tractor which is to ride on uneven, rough bumpy surfaces in the field which would create enormous stresses on the chassis. Instead in a tractor there are three main casting parts - engine, clutch and transmission systems and all the three are bolted together to create a quasi chassis. It is also amongst the select few automobiles with different sizes of front & rear wheels. With the rear wheel in size. All two-wheel drive tractors are rear powered as in the power from the engine is transmitted to the rear wheels also called the driving wheels while the front wheels act as assist wheels and are used for steering purpose(changing direction) only.

Reason for the driving rear wheel being so large is to generate higher torque and create better traction, as unlike other automobiles, farm tractors have to negotiate through muddy, loose soil, watering areas, uneven surfaces etc. Additionally the size of the rear-tyres determine the center of gravity of the tractor and therefore provide stability to the tractor in absence of a chassis. Similarly the front tyres are smaller as they help keep the tractor stable in terms of its center of gravity and also provide ease of steering for the driver. And it is from its existential purpose - generate Traction + using Motor that Tractor derives its name. A term credited to Charles W. Hart and Charles H. Parr who build the first prototypes of the modern "tractors" in 1903.

Though the design is geared to create higher torque it has to sacrifice speed in the equation. As motorist's stuck behind a tractor on single lane road would have realized.Another distinct feature of the tractor that is visible from the outside is the exhaust ,that appears like a smokestack.It is so designed to prevent the hot exhaust fumes from affecting the crops and the soil in the fields.

Manufacturing tractors involves various raw materials and some critical propriety components for electrical, instrumentation panel on the dashboard, fuel injection system, hydraulic system, air cleaner, coolant system, brakes system etc. Each manufactured component requires different manufacturing processes. On front it has front axle bracket & housing, the front wheels are fitted
using a king pin inserted in the housing. Rear wheels are the giant wheels connected through the real wheel axle the power from the engine is transmitted to these wheels. Most of the castings used in the tractor manufacturing are made of cast iron, some from malleable steel and a few from aluminium. The transmission system involves gears & shafts. For the various phases , the engine assembly consisting of piston, piston rings, liner, engine values was reserved for the last phase as it involved the most precision manufacturing.

In the Engineering industry for any new product development especially one involving so many parts, the design team works as the mid- wife facilitating birth of an idea. Drawings that the design team creates are the blue prints. The concept is put on paper -- all parts, sub-assemblies, final -assembly , finished product and details of each parts required for the assembly (nuts, bolts, screws etc) are designed. Based on the design specifications few prototypes are made and tested against the required parameters of strength, hardness etc. Later the parts are assembled in sub-assemblies and subjected to variety of tests in case of any problems observed either while assembling or testing further corrections are made. If the performance is as desired more intense tests are conducted to determine the factor of stress (maximum stress the part or the assembly can withstand). Based on the test results and corresponding data , necessary, required modifications are carried out and iteratively the design of the product is finalized.

Next step in the march from "design to manufacturing" is to convert the set of design drawings and prototype models into a manufacturing process. Process that determines how each component would be mass manufactured and later assembled into sub-assemblies - Engine, Trasmission etc and into the final assembly. That is the function of the Process Engineering group.

(Disclaimer: Both the images are of the respective owners - 1. Mahindra Gujarat Shaktiman tractor 2. Old Ferguson tractor design )

October 24, 2010

Story for all times .. King & the Sage !!!

A story I was told in my childhood in Marathi. Since then wanted to rewrite it in English. Its possible that u might have heard this story in different versions.You can draw a variety of morals in the end.

Story is thus told -- long long time ago, a wealthy King presided over a prosperous kingdom that he had inherited. It was the times of intellectual & spiritual fervour. In order to demonstrate to his subject's that he was as learned & wise as he was brave, the King secretly commissioned a venerated Sage to bring back to him the "wisdom of life". The sage was to have all the funds he would need at his disposal to undertake such an intellectually challenging quest. Several years later the Sapient returned to the court of the King with a 12 volume thesis. He addressed the King " Oh Mighty King here I bring to you all the wisdom & knowledge of the world , read & interpret this and you would have understood the truth about life". But the king was disappointed , he rebuked the Sage that had he the time & inclination to read and interpret so much written wisdom he would not have hired the services of that Sage. And ordered the Sage to further condense the learning's and report back as soon as possible.

Sage returned to his dwellings and started working on the conciser version . And so after few months of meticulous effort ( Mind you it was before the era of MS Word processors) the Sage paid another visit to the King's court to submit his now abridged thesis. Though pleased that the wisdom of the world was condensed to a single book, the King still did not have the were withal to invest that kind of time, so he challenged the Sage to further condense it into as few sentences as possible. Again insisting that the Sage would be suitably rewarded for this endeavour.

Once more the learned man returned disheartened but he could not refuse the King's directions as he could be punished for non-compliance with the ruler's wishes. And so a few months later one morning the Sage returned to the court and handed a sealed envelope to the King ( No it was not his resignation letter). Addressing the King he said " Oh the brave King, here I bring to you the wisdom of the world condensed in just 8 words. But there is an condition you need to fulfill to fully realize the wisdom , you have to retire to a secluded spot as far from anyone as possible and open the envelope around dawn" Though perplexed by such an odd condition, the King thought to himself that it was a very small price to pay to find the ultimate truth. So that night the King rode far away from his palace into the hills all by himself as instructed by the Wise men and at the light of dawn, he sat down and with great expectations opened the envelope. On a small paper were scribed exactly eight words " There is no such thing as free lunch"

King was infuriated as he felt cheated by the Sage, instead of providing some secret mantra or gospel of truth , the Sage had written something that did not make any sense. And mounting on his house , he started racing back to his palace so to order his guards to arrest the sage for fooling the king. But it would be several hours before the King would reach any of his soldiers so after settling into his long ride back, he started reflecting on the reason that the Sage put such an condition on his finding the truth after all either way he would have been arrested and put to death. Having nothing else to fill his mind he started analysing the events leading up to this moment and what those 8 words could potentially signify.

And just as the first rays of the sun appeared on the horizon, it dawned on him what the Sage was trying to teach. King was attempting to get the knowledge of the world without putting in any effort not even willing to read & understand the thesis written by the sage. So from a state of rage the King transformed into a state of acute embarrassment, as he realized his folly. That real things in life --wisdom, knowledge, peace of mind, respect, loyalty,love, affection are all outcomes of enormous effort, commitment and toil.And there are no short cuts to get them. Things of no lasting significance like wealth, power, land can be inherited but everything else each human being has to work hard to achieve. That is there is no such thing as free lunch. And what is the use of knowledge if its not for real enlightenment but just to impress other people.

On his arrival back at the palace he immediately changed into plain clothes and went in search of that learned men. On finding the Sage, the King plunged at his feet and begged for his forgiveness, for being arrogant, rude and foolish. And thanked the Sage for the courage of risking his own life in order to enlighten the King. From that day onwards the King started learning from other scholars,meditating, attending lectures and soon was on a path of true knowledge & wisdom. He went on to become one of the most learned, wise Kings of all time. And the name of that King was ?? Well it does not matter because for the truly learned men, fame & fortune are of no significance. And so thus ends the story.

The moral of the story is as relevant today as it was in those olden days. Money is a means to the end but not an end in itself. And to achieve the real end - wisdom, knowledge, happiness, peace of mind, one needs to put in real hard work. And there are absolutely no short cuts to attain any of these. Knowledge gained to impress & preach others is not of any long lasting value as soon as people can see through the reality.

October 15, 2010

Unconventional ...The Journey maketh the Man !

Exactly 16 years ago around this time in the morning (7:00 am) I set sail on an incredible voyage that took me thru L&T, Voltas, Philips, PentaSoft, Compudyne, Genpact and Cognizant. This day every year I introspect the decisions, risks, successes, failures, struggles, heartburns and some-times on “the road not taken” thru this journey. Time to reflect on all the relationships build and in many cases lost over time.

As I was approaching the work-day anniversary some years ago thought of penning down this epic voyage of self-discovery.

Early days.... the beginning

Armed with an Engineering diploma in hand, all of 19 years of age, I started my career --- Date: 15th Oct / Year: 1994

For a Mechanical Engineer, L&T is the Holy Grail - the ultimate organization. Having landed my first job at L &T Cement, I could not have asked for a better start. But destiny had some other plans!! Within a week of working at the L&T greenfield project site in Rajula, Gujarat, it dawned upon me that I wanted to work with people not machines.

Thanks in part to erstwhile Prime Minister late PV Narsimharoa and then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh; policy of liberalization started in 1991-92 (Though started more as a reaction to the Balance of Payment crisis, as Government of India was close to default on its foreign currency loans) the results of that policy were making itself visible. An entire generation suddenly discovered that there was more to life than just being an engineer or a doctor. STAR TV launched in 92 (With 5 Channels - BBC, MTV, STAR Plus, Prime Sports and Star Movies) beamed into our homes from Singapore, showed to Indians what the World outside was like. For a young impressionable mind, the World was calling!!!

So to the utter disappointment, disbelief and amazement of my parents, (Especially my father who is a design engineer by profession himself) I resigned from L&T without consulting anyone, and a week after my parents had seen me off to Rajula, was back in Baroda. Till this day I don’t know what prompted me to take this remarkable decision other than it was some inner voice.

(Today the cement plant in Rajula is the largest cement manufacturing facility in India. In 2004 L&T sold off its Cement business to Birla group and it was re-christened UltraTech Cement)

My real Alma Maters - Voltas / Philips

Fortunately I had a back up offer from Voltas as a Service Supervisor, which to me was more in line with my aspirations. In 1995 Voltas was rated by A & M magazine amongst the top 20 brands in India- Rank- 17. In addition it was a blue chip-public limited company with its stock being included in the prestigious 30-stock BSE Sensex. Being a part of the Tata Group also meant a certain respect in the market place.

For over 2 years I worked at Voltas, traveling extensively - Mumbai, Nagpur, Ahmedabad and almost every known city in Gujarat. Started using the Motorola pager in 1995 (I used to wear it with pride earlier not realizing that within a year, pager would become ubiquitous, than I started hiding it in my office bag and changed the alarm from tone to vibrate!)

Voltas being a corporate patron offered me access to British Library (Ahmedabad). My initial interest in joining British Library was to meet ‘interesting’ people, but the time I spent at the library had a huge influence on developing my interest in reading, which still lingers on.

I started pursuing a PG Diploma in Marketing Mgmt albeit thru correspondence. Philip Kotler’s mega theses on Marketing Management became my travel companion.

(In the years to come, further liberalization would lead to LG, Samsung, Whirlpool, Electrolux entering the Indian white goods market, unable to compete Voltas sold off its refrigerater business to Electrolux in 2000. Tata Chemical replaced Voltas’s scrip from the Sensex in 1996, the year I left . And I Completed the PG course eventually in 1999)

By 1996 I was ready to take a plunge in Sales.

Arvind Mills was hiring a sales team for the launch of their entry-level denim brand 'Newport' and after the initial screening in Mumbai wanted the short listed candidates to come to their Corporate HQ in Bangalore for a final interview. They paid for the flight tickets. Today in the day & age of low cost airlines, it sounds naive to talk about air-travel but 16 years ago " it was a big deal" that too flying at company expense. It was a thrilling experience but I could not accept the job offer, the salary they offered was not competitive (tempting!!) enough.

My interview at Philips was a experience in itself. At their Bandbox office in Worli, Mumbai the day of interview- the Union had organized a rally, shouting all sorts of derogatory slogans against the managers who at that very instance were conducting my interview. Though shaken by such a ‘close encounter of third kind’ I accepted the job offer.

I started working as a Sales Officer at Philips in Dec of 96, aged 21,at that time I held a unique laurel of being the youngest sales officer in Philips Worldwide. For that era Philips was ultra professional - JD Edwards ERP, separate warehousing & distribution division, quarterly sales reviews, and outsourced transportation. The only thorn (which remains till date) was their highly unionized work force, as Philips had their registered office in Kolkatta, WB (an labor union paradise). The legacy of an era when Kolkatta was the nerve centre of European businesses in British India. Listed on BSE, it had annual revenues in excess of Rs. 1500 crore.

Crushing of the Ego

As part of my training “I went to market” (phrase commonly used in sales lexicon to mean meeting retailers) with the sales rep of our distributor in Mumbai. Imagine walking thru Nariman Point, Colaba, and Breach Candy areas of Mumbai from one retailer to another to understand how our products (Philips Lighting) were being sold, competition strategy, impact of merchandising, pricing etc. As if it was not enough, traveling in the Mumbai suburban trains killed whatever else was left of my ego. When you get pushed & squeezed along with millions of other commuters, crushed to the bones, there is no ego; you realize how insignificant you are in this vast humanity. Whether you earn a dime or a dollar, it really doesn’t matter.

Bought my first cell phone (Nokia 2110) in 1998. Those days, AT&T charged an exorbitant Rs.12 / min for both incoming & outgoing calls. Same year also got my first opportunity at international travel – traveled to the Land of the Sleeping Buddha – Thailand as a company reward for having increased the market share of Philips Lighting in my territory from 5 % to 22 % in 1997.

My first serious brush with the impact of globalization came in 1998, how unrelated events thousands of miles away could impact our future (Either way). I was responsible for achieving sales numbers in South Gujarat. Surat, Navasari were some of the big markets in this territory. And both of them had significant diamond polishing units employing lakhs of immigrant workers.

In 97-98 two events shook the diamond industry to the core, reports that many of the diamonds could be blood diamonds (money earned by sale of diamonds fuelling civil wars in Sierra Leone, Congo, Liberia) kept potential customers away from buying diamond jewelry and the break up of a agreement between Argyle (Australian mining major) and De Beers (Worlds largest diamond business), which allowed Argyle to sell its rough diamonds in the open market instead of selling it to De Beers. Unfortunately Surat and Navsari were dependent on roughs from De Beers. Fearing unemployment, the immigrants went back to their farmlands in UP, Bihar etc. Overnight entire suburbs of these cities become ghost towns. It had a huge domino effect on the local economy. The same year, devastating floods on river Tapi in Surat, ended any hopes of quick economic recovery. Sale of almost every product plummeted. And at the end of my 2-year tenure at Philips (Dec –98) my promotion got put on hold. Instead I was sent on a punishment posting to Bhopal.

3 years later, another event thousands of miles away, would impact my life again, and that time with far reaching consequences.

In between I made a valiant effort to break into the advertising industry. A & M and programs like “The Dream Merchants” on Zee hosted by Adman Alyque Padamsee fired my imagination. I thought I had a right balance of working with numbers and ideas; so client service function in an ad agency would have been an ideal outlet. I was so convinced that I personally wrote & spoke to Sunil Lulla, then General Manager - MTV India to give me an opportunity in their Media wing. But destiny had so such plans !!

(Philips continues to dominate the lighting market in India but has lost the battle in the consumer electronics market. In 2004, Philips NV acquired a majority stake in Philips India by buying back all the outstanding shares and subsequently de-listed the company from the BSE. The Pimpri plant near Pune where I went for training was closed in 06. The fears of the diamond industry were not well founded and the industry is ‘raking in the moolah’ once again)

The Future is already here...

Having worked for close to 5 years I could almost sense the world changing. ‘The Third Wave’, that Alvin Toffler had so passionately wrote about in 1980, seemed to have finally arrived – the future had arrived.Though I bought that book on a pavement in Pune during my initial days at Philips, did not have enough interest to read it for a year. When I did read it in the summer of 99, it helped confirm my suspicion that the changes I was observing around me were not sporadic but rather a part of a larger, more fundamental transformation. A transformation being driven by Information Technology & the Internet.

In an issue of Computer Today the same year, Ganesh Ayyar, erstwhile CEO of HP India posed an intriguing question: "Is information technology driving business processes or are business processes driving information technology?" It was a profound question that resonated with me. (And still does). In his visionary book ‘Technovision II’, Charles Wang described the organization of the future having two employees a security guard and a dog. The security guard to feed the dog, and the dog to stop the guard from touching the computer.

I realized that Information Technology & the Internet were the future and they were not just changing our economic landscape, but also accelerating the pace of change. Every management concept was being rewritten or updated to reflect this new reality. It was already changing the dimensions of the 5 forces of competition as propagated by Michael Porter. Within a year of starting, was competing with Barnes & Noble a 100-year-old established book retailer. Now owning a prime location was not an entry barrier for selling books.

I started browsing in 97, set up my yahoo email ID in 98 (, it was not until the start of 99 (after all my efforts to get into advertising failed) that I took a serious look at the IT Industry and began to systematically reengineer myself: C++ & UNIX Shell Programming -NIIT, Networking Certification - Microsoft, Multimedia - Arena, Ebusiness Professional - IBM.

In Sep of 1999 finally I summed up enough courage to pursue my dreams (This time after consulting my parents ) and resigned from Philips. I traveled to Bangalore, in pursuit of an unknown future and went to work for PentaSoft. I vividly remember, walking on the streets of Bangalore, on the eve of the New Year in 1999 expecting something to happen as the Millennium switch over occurred(But Y2K bug was nowhere to be seen!!)

Bangalore – city I fell in Love with

Bangalore in year 2000 was a city like no other. The excitement and hope for the future was palpable everywhere. Investment in the IT field was spiraling. It was a period of Great Expectations. I was able to successfully transition from the Old Economy to New, from bits to bytes (As Nicholas Negroponte refers to the revolution in his book -Being Digital) to the extent that by 2001, I was talking about this new frontier at Corporates and Universities. I attended several seminars and got an opportunity to listen to visionaries like Narayan Murthy & Azim Premji.

(Bangalore today is a city under siege. The infrastructure of the city is crumbling and has not kept pace with the massive inflow of FDI it has received. But the city has been immortalized by Thomas Friedman in his book “The World is Flat”. To be bangalored has became the catchword for ‘the work being offshored’.)

With PentaSoft unable to invest in growing its IT business ,in June 2000 I accepted an offer in a managerial position at Compudyne as a Project / Business Manager. (Compudyne was a Tier 3, Public limited (listed on BSE & NSE), IT company. Dataquest reported it amongst the Top 50 emerging IT companies in India in their 2001 issue.

The same year, University of Western Sydney, Australia launched an offshore Executive MBA program with an option for students to complete their last semester on campus in Sydney. They accepted my application on the basis of my experience. Though expensive it allowed me to study without leaving my job. I was attending classes in evenings and weekends, which meant no free time, but I loved every moment of that intellectual renaissance, more so because of some great teachers.

Starting of 2001 a unique challenge (or lets call it opportunity ) confronted me. I was to drive ISO 9001 implementation for Compudyne. It was quite an experience for a professional with very limited software proficiency to train & lead all the software developers on ISO procedures & requirements. But it gave me confidence in my ability to convert complex concepts (ISO 9001 Requirements) into an easy to explain & implement - Grid or Matrix and drive a project to closure. TUV Rhineland was our auditor and we got certified in the very first attempt in August 2001.

(Was awarded the Australian MBA Degree (Major in Finance) in 2003, though my dream of completing the last semester in Australia did not materialize, for real good reasons. And I continue to convert whatever is thrown at me into grids, graphs, diagrams, tables and matrices!!)

May 2001 at an uncertain age of 25 I got married.

Meanwhile in early part of 2001 as part of the strategy to leapfrog Compudyne into the future, we acquired a visual effects (VFX) business – Vision Art Studios in US from Santa Monica Studies for a consideration of Rs. 20 crore. It was a high-risk strategy as we were taking a lot of debt on our balance sheet to finance the acquisition. The strategy could have failed only under the most strenuous of circumstances.


But year 2001 was going to be anything but ordinary.

The World Changed forever....

In the wake of 2001 September 11th terrorist attacks in US; all the large production houses as a sign of solidarity, put on hold movies depicting violence (the mainstay for any VFX company). What could have been a spectacular strategy becomes a case study in acquisition going wrong. Well actually nothing wrong with strategy it was only bad karma.

The bust in 2000 prior to 911, the attack on the Indian Parliament in December. The financial scandals that resulted in the collapse of Enron & World-com that followed in quick succession. The World economy was staring squarely in face of a looming recession. ‘The bubble had burst’. And a phrase ‘Irrational Exuberance’ originally used by Alan Greenspan became the epitaph to the bygone era of stock market excesses. After a decade of super growth, the Indian IT industry in general and Compudyne in particular had hit an air pocket. A black hole from where Compudyne was never to recover. ( And in my life, "history repeating itself" is not just a cliche , 7 years later in 2008 world economy will plunge into yet another recession and almost have equally devasting impact)

The discovery of faith…

As a strategy to offset lost revenues overseas we increased our business development activities in India, but years of high profitability had attracted thousands of entrepreneurs and there was glut in the domestic IT sector. Though we had some successes it was evident that it was a flawed strategy. Like any other emerging economy, India is primarily a product market and not a project market, while we were primarily a project company and had no IT products worth their salt.

For me 2002 was the longest year in living memory. (Until 2008 that is) Cash reserves of Compudyne had all but dried up and we had to borrow money every month to hand out salaries. Though as a Manager I had kept the spirit of my team, I could not insulate them any further. To protect the company from going bankrupt we had to reduce our fixed cost (headcount – salaries). It was probably the worst part of my life, having to tell people they were no more required and with a tacit understanding that it could be my turn someday. I felt like ‘Andrea Gail’ in the eye of the perfect storm.

That October, it was a Diwali to remember; my parents had come to celebrate with us in Bangalore. And not to worry them I had not shared any information about the challenging environment that we found ourselves in, hoping, that it will sort itself out by than. But once they understood the hard realities, they become my pillars of strength. They showed me the path of faith. This traumatic period was to be a turning point in my belief system. And it was this ‘new found faith’ that kept me going inspite of every conceivable odd in the years to come. But this period did leave its vestige, emotional scars, deep enough that they might never heal.

(Compudyne today is in a state of insolvency and has a debt of over Rs. 32 crore. Their shares stopped trading in 2005. Whenever I go to Bangalore and see the Compudyne building, I cannot help but wonder, what if?)

We bring good things to life...

In all this gloom & doom of the international financial turmoil, there was one silver lining - the Indian rupee. Over the past 2 years the rupee had consistently got devalued to almost Rs. 48 to a dollar by 02. Globally organizations still reeling under the economic slowdown were looking for cost reduction. At then prevailing exchange rate along with cheap bandwidth, STPI tax sops and millions of young English speaking Indians - presented a great opportunity for significant labor cost arbitrage. What followed was nothing short of a gold rush to offshore work to India. Therefore though the IT sector was still gradually recovering, it was ‘opportunities galore’ in ITES.

In Dec 2002 came a break thru - a right type of job opportunity at GE Capital in Hyderabad. In those days GE had probably the most rigorous regime of hiring managers. 6 Interviews and several telephone conversations later; 16th Jan 2003 I started my third innings at GE Capital and relocated to Hyderabad. With motley of feelings I left Bangalore, a city where I came, I saw, I conquered and I lost. ( 6 years later history would knock on my door once more, I would leave Hyderabad for Chennai under almost identical circumstances)

the GE Capital / Genpact Years

October 5, 2010

Human Anatomy & the Atomic Theory

In Biology we studied about the Cells -the building blocks of all living organizms, but in Physics we were taught that everything is made up of Atoms, so for quite some time I was unable to integrate Human Anatomy with the Atomic Theory. If that was not enough had also to deal with organic compounds - proteins, carbohydrates, numerious vitamins,the much despised fats, the inorganic compounds - minerals,ions and the most fasinating anotomical discovery of the last century - Nuclei acids (RNA / DNA).

To top it up I also read about particle physics (particle physics research is focused on subatomic particles such as electrons, protons, and neutrons (protons and neutrons are actually composite particles, made up of quarks) and to stir up the plot further we had Quantum Mechanics (the branch of quantum physics that accounts for matter at the atomic level) with its sci-fi theories -string theory,multi-verse, parallel universe, anti-matter et al.

And so it was with tremendous courage I set about to put this myriad concepts into one narrative. Using resources from the internet, have provided the appropriate credit & acknowledgement . So here is my attempt to connect Human Anatomy to the Atomic Theory

The cell is the functional basic unit of life. It was discovered by Robert Hooke and is the functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and is often called the building block of life.Some organisms, such as most bacteria, are unicellular (consist of a single cell). Other organisms, such as humans, are multicellular.

Humans have about 100 trillion cells; a typical cell size is 10 µm and a typical cell mass is 1 nanogram. The largest cells are about 135 µm in the anterior horn in the spinal cord while granule cells in the cerebellum, the smallest, can be some 4 µm and the longest cell can reach from the toe to the lower brain stem (Pseudounipolar cells) . Althought there are different types of cells, most cells have the same components. A cell consists of a nucleus and cytoplasm and is contained within the cell membrane, which regulates what passes in and out. The nucleus contains chromosomes, which are the cell's genetic material, and a nucleolus, which produces ribosomes. Ribosomes produce proteins, which are packaged by the Golgi apparatus so that they can leave the cell. The Cytoplasm consists of a fluid material and organelles, which could be considered the cell's organs. The endoplasmic reticulum transports materials within the cell. Mitochondria generate energy for the cell's activities. Lysosomes contain enzymes that can break down particles entering the cell. Centrioles participate in cell division.

Related cells joined together are collectively referred to as a tissue. The cells in a tissue are not identical, but they work together to accomplish specific functions.The body's functions are conducted by organs. Each organ is a recognizable structure—for example, the heart, lungs, liver, eyes, and stomach—that performs specific functions. An organ is made of several types of tissue and therefore several types of cells. For example, the heart contains muscle tissue that contracts to pump blood, fibrous tissue that makes up the heart valves, and special cells that maintain the rate and rhythm of heartbeats. The eye contains muscle cells that open and close the pupil, clear cells that make up the lens and cornea, cells that produce the fluid within the eye, cells that sense light, and nerve cells that conduct impulses to the brain

Now we will approach the human body at a atomic level, the average 70 kilogram adult contains about 67 Octillion ( followed by 27 zeroes) atoms and is composed of 60 chemical elements.

Out of which 98.5 % comprises of 6 elements in terms of Mass ( Oxygen - 65, Carbon-18, Hydrogen - 10, Nitrogen - 3 , Calcium - 1.5 and Phosphorous -1)For the entire list of 60 elements and their proportion in the body refer the link

First we looked at the cells and later the elements that make up the Human body, but none of these elements exist in its original elementary form , they exist as complex compounds (In chemistry, a compound is a substance that results from a combination of two or more different chemical elements, in such a way that the atom's of the different elements are held together by chemical bonds that are difficult to break. These bonds form as a result of the sharing or exchange of electron s among the atoms. The smallest unbreakable unit of a compound is called a molecule).

This is the estimated composition in terms of the chemical break up of compounds in one cell

Water - 65 % ( Hydrogen & Oxygen)
Other Inorganics - 1.5 %(ions like sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, phosphate)
Lipids - 12 %
Other Organics - 0.4 % -Carbohydrates such as glycogen and glucose
Protein - 20 %
RNA -1.0 %
DNA - 0.1 %

Human body : There are two systems that make up the structure of the human body: the skeletal system (206 bones) and the muscular system (with over 600 muslces. The skeleton is made up of the axial skeleton, which is the skull, spinal cord and rib cage and the appendicular skeleton which includes the arms and legs. The skeleton protects vital organs and serves as points of attachment for muscles.

The muscular system is made up of muscles, tendons, and ligaments and is responsible for flexing and extending which allows the body to move. Muscle cells contain contractile filaments that move past each other and change the size of the cell. They are classified as skeletal, cardiac, or smooth muscles. Their function is to produce force and cause motion. of the thigh. Muscles are predominately powered by the oxidation of fats and carbohydrates.
Every human body part is made of several chemical compounds & mixtures -
Teeth - hydroxylapatite, calcium phosphate, proteins
Blood - blood in itself is not a compound - it's a mixture of Plasma, which constitutes 55% of blood fluid, is mostly water (91% by volume and contains dissolved proteins, glucose, mineral ions, hormones, carbon dioxide.
Hair - hair fiber is keratin. Keratins are proteins, long chains (polymers) of amino acids
Muscles - made of fibres. Each fibre is made up of long thin cells which are packed in bundles. The fibres have two kinds of protein, myosin and actin
Bones - Organic material a protein called Collagen and Inorganic -calcium phosphate / carbonated hydroxyapatite.

So atoms of various elements (Oxygen, Carbon, Nitrogen etc) make up the compounds (Proteins, Fats, Inorganic compounds, Water) that help create the various types of cells that builds various organs that make up the Human Anatomy... atoms to anatomy ..

And inspite of the fact that no two humans look and usually (think) alike but at a cellular level we all have the same 100 trillion cells and at an atomic level consits of 67 octillion atoms of oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, calcium, phosphorous etc. In Conclusion I can state "Though we would like to consider each one of ourselves as unique & different but at an atomic level we are all the same" !!

And the force of attraction between two humans is similar to the force of attraction that keeps the atoms in our body attached together in an molecule --- Chemistry !!!

August 1, 2010

My Dad's story - Making of independent India's first tractor (Part 1)

Several summers ago while enjoying a leisurely evening tea with my Dad, conversation drifted to his early days. I was fascinated about his involvement in the pioneering efforts in the 60s to indigenize the tractor (hitherto imported from US / Europe. He was a key-member of the team that was entrusted with the responsibility of giving India its first self manufactured 50 h.p tractor. From design drawings of tractor components, jigs & fixtures to travelling behind the Iron Curtain to Czechoslovakia in 1984 for technology transfer from Motokov / Zavody Jana Svermy ( their technical collaborators). My dad's tryst with tractors that began in 1961 lasted till he retired in 1998, a career spanning 37 tractor-years.

Since that evening, I was urging my dad to write about his experience, thinking it would make up for some interesting reading. So,, here you go ..

My Dad's story - Making of independent India's first Tractor (in his own words)

Background --

India was under British colonial rule for over 300 years. At the advent of the 20th century, post industrialization in Europe, several Indian trading houses started heavy industries / manufacturing in India, prominent among them were the Tatas, Birlas, Walchands, Dalmaias, Wadias etc. Still the majority of goods sold in India were manufactured in England, partly because of the policy of the British Raj to use its colonial possessions like an captive market for its British patrons. Several Indian businessmen took benefit from this situation by signing up agencies to import & sell those goods in India. Everything from bulbs to bicycles was imported.

Though India was largely an agrarian economy, use of mechanized tools for agriculture was limited. Animal power being abundantly & cheaply available, was extensively used for tilling the land and other activities associated with crop cultivation. As our imperial masters depended on the vast arable land in India to feed its masses with food grains and factories with cheap raw material back in England, they started importing tractors & various other farming equipment to improve the yield of the land. ( Not in response to the plight of the impoverished Indian farmer but to extract maximum output from the land to export back to England)

In 1947, India gained independence and with it began a new chapter in its monumental history. In the following years the government passed the industrial policy resolutions in 1948 & 1956 respectively, making a distinction between public sector and private sector enterprises thus saddling India with a mixed economy (Thas was to survive for the following 4 decades). From hereon heavy industries, civil aviation, power generation, banking, infrastructure would be the preserve of the public sector, while consumer goods, agriculture & allied activities, international trade (import / export) would be open for the private sector participation. And even in the private sector there would be significant government intervention in terms of controls - price controls (government administered price) and capacity( manufacturing quotas)

In 1946 ,Pashabhai Patel, a charismatic Gujarati businessmen from Karamsad, a hamlet near Surat and a relative of Sardar Vallabhai Patel formed his own private limited firm in Bombay to import, sale & service tractors and other farming equipment from Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company of US. Pashabhai was a super salesmen & a shrewd businessmen and soon achieved significant financial success in this venture. An enthusiastic follower of Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom movement, he saw an dual opportunity in trying to manufacture tractor locally instead of importing. It made economic sense and it also helped India become self-reliant.

And so in 1960 his company entered into a technical collaboration with Motokov (state trading firm) and Zavody Jana Svermy (manufactures of Zetor brand of tractors) both state enterprises of Czechoslovakia. This paved the way for the technology transfer to start manufacturing of the 50 hp tractors in India. And thus Hindustan Tractors was born near Vishwamitri ( an suburb of Baroda). The first assembled tractors from the imported CKDs (completely knocked down units) rolled out from this new plant in 1963.

Parallel an entirely different team of which I was a member was involved in planning for the phased import substitution of the tractor, with complete localization expected within 5 to 8 years.

And the race to indigenize from headlight to tail-light began in earnest ....

July 17, 2010

The Story of Genpact..

In the last few weeks I noticed several of my fb friends adding Genpact in their likes. It prompted me to share this letter I had written to Pramod last year while working in Mexico . Its not an exaggeration to state that over 50 % of contacts on my fb list have had their lives transformed for the better because of Genpact. Even though I moved out recently, I still feel 'the Story of Genpact' needs to be be told ...
From: Bhasin, Pramod
Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 5:13 AM
To: Konnur, Samir
Cc: Smith, Lynda
Subject: RE: The Story about Genpact !!

I think this is a great idea—not sure which author could do this but we should find a way to really capture the full start up—and employee stories will be a great way to do it.
Lynda we should really get this done—the employee story part would be terrific—see what you and Jyoti can do .


From: Konnur, Samir
Sent: Monday, July 13, 2009 11:31 PM
To: Bhasin, Pramod
Subject: The Story about Genpact !!

Hi Pramod,

Over the last decade Genpact has grown from a small back-office supporting GE into a 35,000 employee, billion dollar; NYSE listed-Institution operating out of 32 locations in 12 countries across 5 of the 6 inhabited continents. We are the undisputed thought leader, visionary and harbinger of change in the industry that is rapidly expanding in depth, width and geographical reach.

In this epic journey we have not just transformed an industry but lives of millions of people across the world (myself included).

Ours (Genpact’s) is an incredibly inspiring, thought-provoking and equally compelling business story of an organization, its leaders and its people, their shared history & heritage.

Therefore I strongly advocate sanctioning an accomplished business writer to document our story to share with the world. Likes of Thomas Friedman / Fareed Zakaria / Ram Charan / Jack Trout / Michael Lewis etc are the few names that come to my mind.

The book would be in a narrative style describing the evolution of Genpact, from its formative years as GE Capital, to the GE divestment, to acquiring the first Non-GE customer to listing on the NYSE. Since 1990’s most of the NY Times and Business Week best-sellers have been business books that went behind the scenes in capturing the essence of an organization.

Part of the book can be reserved for contribution from our employees across the poles. Their personal stories documenting the influence Genpact had on their lives.

It will help us
•Most of our employees don’t know the true story about Genpact (what went thru the minds of our leaders, how strategies were conceived)
•Great way to market ourselves to prospective customers, investors
•Hiring talent globally

Also our presence on the Internet needs to be overhauled. Our site does not give an impression of the type of dynamic, Go-getter Company we are.

We also need to explore ways of leveraging –Facebook, Twitter, You-tube to build our brand presence further.

Let me know your thoughts and I would be very interested in participating in any of the above initiatives.

Thanks & Regards

Samir Konnur
Assistant Vice President - Doc Man COE
Juarez, Mexico
US Cell # 915 667 1426

May 8, 2010

letter of hope !!!

As I reflect on the letter written 2 years ago, it reaffirms my belief in the mysteries of our life, and the eventual conquest of Hope over despair -- a letter of hope !

From: Konnur, Samir (Penske)
Sent: Friday, June 13, 2008 8:45 AM

To: TMS Team

Subject: the End of History !!!

A little less than three years ago.. a group travelled .. it was a slightly overcast evening,,, the flight was already delayed by an hour.. they eagerly awaited the boarding announcement . .. as they all headed for an uncertain future ahead of them ….. but that was 'just the beginning' of a remarkable journey…. most of you joined them in that quest in the months to follow.. the day 30th June - year 2005. ( the rest as they say is history…)

Now three years later, that journey that we all began together is coming to an end for me … the End of History !!!

(As it is my farewell note from TMSS to the original TMS LP Team -- taking liberty of writing a rather lengthy one, so read it at leisure)


legacy for life

It would be an understatement to call the last 6 months since my return from US, challenging, because they weren't, they were brutal. Settling back in yet another project, I realized that my role offered very limited challenge but severe limitations. Inspite of making desperate attempts to keep my 'grey cells' engaged it was not to be …

• Passport blues -- a US trip was exactly ' what the doctor prescribed' .. but my renewed passport which was supposed to be dispatched on 25th April, has not appeared on my door step till date . Following up on my passport at the passport office was one of the most harrowing, depressing experience in recent memory. And that delay costed me dearly and threw a wrench in all my plans.

When the force of destiny collides with your dreams, sometimes resistance in futile !!! But the most enduring legacy of the past 6 months is the erosion in my self-respect, as I was forced to 'stay-put' as a guest inspite of being a 'persona non- grata'

Somehow I kept up the spirit by dressing-up.. that was the only way I could express defiance to my destiny instead of totally succumbing to it. I fought the blues (literally) with every color in my arsenal (wardrobe). Though it offered me little inner solace... but for so many people who looked upto me for inspiration.. it made a difference… so I put up a dazzling show of confidence on the outside.. while from inside I was pretty much finished… long back…… the cookie had crumbled !!!!

Career interrupted…learning curve falls thru the floor

Nothing can be more punishing than to sleep without a dream and wake up without a goal

As I kept exploring roles post my third rotation .. it was unnerving. Over the last few months opportunities across the world materialized … Bangalore, Mexico, Gurgoan , Philippines.. but by the time I prepared myself & my family for relocating, it fizzled out

Every time I thought it was the beginning of the end, it was merely the end of the beginning.

'after leaving my baggage in the stationary train, I disembarked to buy something. I returned to find... the train had started. And inspite of my best efforts, it left , leaving me stranded on the platform' . And I woke up , pulse racing, sweating profusely, panic stricken.. and it happened with alarming frequency.

Close friends who inquired I just had one message ' es raat ki subah nahi' , and as the stalemate extended from days to weeks to months,, the message changed to ' es raat ki subah hi nahi'

Reason for sharing with all of you ….

Crest & troughs in life are inevitable. and we have to take them in our stride. You can run from your karma but you cant hide. So each one of you will go thru the same ebb & tide but never lose hope and surround yourself with friends who believe in you. In every moment of trial there is an inherent triumph. For me that was triumph of friendship. Because it was that fabric of friendship,, that cheer, warmth from so many of you that helped me kept going. (And still does)

And I am so grateful for spending time with me helping me deal with it , the release of emotions thru the sluice gates protected the dam from bursting , it helped steady the ship as it was being ravaged by storms and rocked by the high seas.

Pick up the pieces..

The Ferrari of the mind that I drove back from US hit so many brick-walls in the past 6 months that it has shattered into a million pieces, only remnants left. And I have no illusion of what it will take me to pick up the pieces… and redeem myself. But it is not possible without the well-wishes of the team who meant & gave me so much , so as to have changed the course of my life. So please Wish me luck…

Today the clock turns backward by 3 years and on 30th June 2008 I start another journey all over again, albeit alone !! ( On 30th June my third rotation and role in the BCP project for TMSS officially ends, severing the umbilical cord forever.)

But I leave TMSS with no regrets for I am enriched beyond measure for the time I have spend with such wonderful people.

And end the note with a 'last 'thank you' salute' to all of you. THANK YOU ALL

February 6, 2010

The incongruity of 'Avatar'

As curtains rolled down and credits rolled up , cinema-goers world over applauded the triumph of an ancient civilization (Na'vi people of Pandora) over its more technologically advanced, commercially savvy adversary (Sky people from Planet Earth). It was a conquest of righteousness, simplicity, harmony with nature over infinite greed and uncontrolled lust for wealth without any conscience. The movie is set in year- 2154

Peru, 1528 AD - Incas have build one of the largest empires ever known to mankind,stretching from the present day Columbia in the north to Chile in the south. Largely peaceful by the standards of that era, Incas are industrious, peace loving, economically successful society. They do not practice human sacrifice or any such savage acts ,which are attributed to tribes in the North (Especially Aztecs in present day Mexico). Incas build highways, cities all across their vast empire. Machu Picchu is by far the best preserved of their ancient cities.

There is a striking parallel history has to offer, albeit between fact & fiction - In 1532 (2154), Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish Conquistador (RDA Executives )- arrives in Peru (Pandora) with a royal approval to conquer the Inca civilization (Na'vi species). The objective - loot all the Gold
.(RDA Corps charter to mine Pandora for unobtainium). Underline the word 'all' for the Spaniards can get plenty of gold without having to necessarily destroy the Incas ( RDA is already mining unobtainium , but they want all of it) Greed has no full stop.

At about the same time in the Southeastern United States, near Jamestown in present day Virginia there was an Indian tribe by the name – Powhatan. Its here that we also located the real version of Neytiri (Pocahantas who like the movie, saves a British Officer from being killed ) Inspite of all the friendly gestures of Powhatan confederacy, they cannot contain the insatiable appetite for land of the settlers.

Returning to Peru, though far larger in strength,Incas (Na'vis) are no match for the Spanish technological superiority and cunning. And the Spanish knew it. Canons,guns, swords and horses (Most advanced weaponry) easily overcome any opposition offered by arrows and primitive spears of Incas. This is where the fiction (avatar) makes a departure from facts. In 40 short years Inca civilization is decimated by diseases brought by the contact with the Europeans, warfare and total collapse of their way of life. ( a la 'tree of souls').

Such exploitation & destruction of the indigenous people was not restricted to the new world, in India too, Adivasis (Original inhabitants or dwellers) suffered the same fate as the more organized Aryan or Dravidian communities expanded thus pushing the tribal's into remote areas, likewise in Africa it was the Bushmen & Pygmies.

And this by no means is an exception, as a matter of fact over the last two millenia not even on an exception basis did a older civilization survive the expansion of more technologically advanced, intelligent rivals. Whether that can be attributed to 'survival of the fittest' or 'natural selection', the arguments need more examination.

So when we cheer the victory of the Na'vi people, I find that rather absurd ,considering that had that happened in reality here, in most likelihood the world would have been a different place. Think about all those indigenous tribes living deep within Amazon rainforest or on the Andaman & Nicobar islands, without any contact with the outside world their life has hardly changed in thousands of years, not an exciting prospect by any measure though.

We in reality are the Sky people having plundered to ruin, many a civilizations to put the 'way of life' as we know it today into dominance. I am not too sure if everyone had realized it, we would have cheered as much at the end of the movie for Na'vis. There in lies the incongruity of 'Avatar'

Though it is almost certain that some time in the future once we have sufficiently destroyed our planet it will dawn upon us that our ' way of life' is not-sustainable and we might return to our roots - living in harmony with nature the Na'vis. Hope that happens before its too late !!!

To end with a quote from Gandhi “ World has enough for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed” I guess Na'vis on Pandora had already realized it. But till the time Sky people on Earth dont get it, its unlikely that Na'vis would ever win in reality.

January 10, 2010

What is "Luck" ?

1st Oct -- Final contenders for hosting the 2016 Olympic - Tokyo, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Chicago eagerly await the decision of the IOC to declare the winner of the bid

2nd Oct -- 2016 Olympic Annoucement - Rio de Janeiro is chosen as the host city of the 2016 Summer Olympic beating Madrid in the final round of voting.

11th Oct -- Diogo Pires Fire - Intense blaze roads through the slums in Sao Paulo. (Sao Paulo is scheduled to host football matches at the Morumbi Stadium during the 2016 Olympics)

17th Oct -- Twelve dead and police helicopter downed as Rio de Janeiro's drug gangs go to war

12th Nov -- Power failure blacks out much of Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro

31st Dec -- Casualties mount as mudslides hit Rio de Janeiro

I love Rio de Janeiro ...and wish it all the luck in the world to host Olympics successfully.. And China 2008, Brazil 2016, India 2032 ?? May be ...
(In case you did not get the irony.. had any one of the events - Drug wars, mudslides, fires, power outage happened prior to 2nd Oct, it is most likely that Rio would not have won the right to host the 2016 Olympics. That is Luck !!!)