Saturday, January 31, 2009

One Asset the Government of India Should Buy if the US Government Sells it Off

There is a considerable amount of anti rail feeling in this country with even a magazine that is for low tech and good environmental policies critiqueing rail travel: Further, the $ 1 billion stimulus package for the US government owned rail system, Amtrak has attracted a lot of criticism from people who think that the US government needs to sell Amtrak off. Apparently, Amtrak has not made a profit in over 40 years. As far as freght trainsa re concerned, too, the Americans seem bad at managing them - most of the rail freight companies have been bought up by Canadian businesses and the Canadians seem to have made them quite profitable, thank you, where the Americans simply couldn't figure out how to make money from them.

I do think, here, that of the US Government decides to sell Amtrak off, the Indian Railways should seriously consider buying them. Coal India Ltd has been buying up coal mines in this country and that is an Indian government owned business. And Indian Railways know how to run and manage a rail business - they move more people than any other system of transportation anywhere else in the world, they employ more people than any single employer anywhere on earth and they make good profits even in bad years in India. If there is anyone who could make Amtrak profitable, it is them. This is not something that I am joking about - as a blog that looks at showing fossil fuel the fist, I do think that the railways are a superb way of reducing pollution and what the American government cannot manage could be run mroe profitably by those with an established record in this area. I hope this happens - it would be good for Amtrak, for the Indian Railways and for a world that is being polluted increasingly day by day.

Off Road Stunts on an Electric Motorcycle

Green Daily has this video of a guy clowning around with his Zero electric motorcycle: While the video is fun to watch and smile a little, the bike seems to be a really serious product. I hope to check some out - the Chicago Motorcycle fair should come up shortly at Rosemont, not very far from my place. And for those interested in electric motorcycles, there is a fantastic forum to register and participate on:

Can't praise the founder enough.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One of the Best Ways to Save Money - a $ 0 Utility Bill Home

I have written about Stitt Energy Systems and their high tech homes in the past: The company has a long record of building energy saving homes in the USA and Canada and their technology has been much reviewed and praised in some of the most prestigious technical journals available here. I learned about them from one of the best magazines in the business, the American Solar Energy Society's Solar Today: while working on a project some time ago at my university. I hsve since shown their website and directed audiences to it and hope to do this again in South Asia.

While the idea of near zero utility bills may be a very attractive one in the USA as an example of economizing on expenses in a difficult time, this technology would have vastly more applications in countries in South Asia where residents suffer from power shortages as long as 18 hours a day in some places. Just imagine a home where you do not have to bother about the vagaries of power supply from your local electricity board. Think of a home that does not end up in darkness because the local MLA decides to "borrow" your electricity for his campaign. The possibilities are amazing and well worth looking at for this reason as well. I daresay that whoever gets into this field of high tech housing in South Asia, will end up making more money than they could spend in several lifetimes. Right now, there is no one doing this. Period.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Shipping Industry Supersizes Container Carriers

I grew up as a boy in a seaside town, in a quiet street that was a few blocks away from one of the oldest ports in that part of the world. Roman coins are still found from time to time in Chennai (or Madras as the city was called when I was born and grew up, or Poompuhar if you want the original name for the region and Mylai for the specific town that later became one of the largest cities in India) and the Dutch, the British, the Danish, the Portuguese and french all came there seeking footholds in what was an ancient trading center for seafarers. The people of the region had themselves reached out and settled in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and other countries as we know them today, forming many of the vibrant Tamil and Telugu Chettiar communities around South and South East Asia. Other communities followed the Chettiar traders over the centuries and did equally well. I remember buying a fifty paise ticket to go to the port of Madras on Saturdays and walking around the docks in the old days. Most sailors were friendly and would get us boys some or the other goodies that they ahd brought back on their voyages to other lands - goodies like imported chocolate and Coca Cola which had been banned by the socialist government in India back then. There were steam ships and diesel ones and we learned to tell the difference from how they were named - SS for the Steam Ships and MV for the diesel ones in those not too old days. I even travelled to Sri Lanka in the TSS Irwin from Rameswaram to Talaimannar as a boy, a voyage that I have some lovely memories of even today.

And that brings me to this post - an article in the Wall Street Journal talks about some of the world's largest shipping companies investing to build huge container carriers: While shipping is a very cost efficient method of carrying goods from one part of the world to another, sadly, today, there are no emissions regulations on ships anywhere. This is equally true of the huge oil tankers and container carriers as well as of small private yachts that are used by people for recreation in the world. While I do think that the businesses that are building these monster ships would try and use the most advanced technologies possible to make them cheap in operation, it would be nice if this were a time when governments around the world led by the various industries bodies that work in shipping push for greater efficiency by regulation and force the industry to adapt more green practices.

I personally think that this is also a good time to look at building advanced sailships especially to carry valuable agricultural produce in small quantities. There are French companies that deliver wine to European destinations in sail ships - I can't see why tea clippers cannot be built these days. The old tea clippers were faster than the fastest steam ships of their time. There is no reason why new ones that are even faster, larger and modern competition to the diesel ships cannot be designed. I did not see any sailships when I was a boy, but, boy, what would I not give to see them back before I die!

Kohler's Save Water America Contest

This contest has been posted on several environmental blogs and it is one that I hope many people would participate in: For every person who participates, Kohler, one of the world's largest makers of taps, shower systems etc, would donate $ 1 to Habitat for Humanity to supply people with water saving devices. Their goal is to donate $ 1 million and I hope we could get them to do this asap.

Please enter and also forward this link to as many people as you can. Thank You.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Saudis Gear Up to Raise Oil Prices

I wonder if anyone remembers the humiliating trips that George W Bush made to Saudi Arabia several times as oil prices rose to their highest ever some months ago? How many trips did he make with his cap in hand begging the Saudis to help reduce oil prices - was it two or three? Whatever it was, it was a terrible humiliation for the Saudis to treat the President of the very country that saved their backsides from Saddam several times in such a shoddy way. And you have the Saudis gear up to do this yet again.

The Gulf News website has a piece here: sternly warning Barack Obama that Saudi - US ties are at risk over the USA's inactivity in the Gaza conflict. This comes a day after Obama appointed a special envoy who is renowned for finally making peace between the British and the Catholic Irish after some seven and a half centuries of fighting. Surely the Saudis don't expect miracles like NBC does two days after Obama got into the White House?

My feeling is that the new Saudi tone has only one implication - low oil prices are hurting the Saudis as they are other oil producing countries. The Saudis are hurting more than others because they produce so much more oil. This whole threat to Obama is the same, essentially, as their behavior with Bush. They want to use Gaza as an excuse to push oil prices up in order to pay fir their new Rolls Royces. Barack Obama would do well to see through the obnoxious Saudi behavior and concentrate even harder on alternative energy to make sure that this country could wave the Saudis a good-bye the next time they try this kind of stunt. I hope to write an article about this on a website that I do write occasionally for and I shall post a link here when I do.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In Praise of Pullela Gopichand

Some years ago in an incident that came to be forgotten by the media and the public at large, Indian Badminton champion Pullela Gopichand refused a contract worth millions of dollars to endorse Pepsi Cola and advised his fans to drink fresh fruit juice instead. I can understand the Indian media forgetting about this - it was convenient for them. They do make a lot of money, after all, from seling ad-space to the soft drink manufacturers. Outlook, one of India's most commercial magazines, even came out with an issue disputing the research that suggested pesticide content in colas being sold in the country piggybacking on a supposed British Laboratory where it got some bottles of soft drink analyzed.

But it is not just pesticides that are the issue - the process of manufacturing these drinks puts a lot of carbon in the air. That, of course, is the filth that this blog is dedicated to opposing. And this article from the New York Times suggests where this information is now being reluctantly offered by Pepsi to consumers who may want to know exactly how much they have harmed the environment in drinking their stuff:

The best part of this not-so-funny-joke is that Pepsi are most reluctant to post information about their packaged Tropicana (TM) orange juice. One more reqason to buy oranges and make the juice at home yourself? You bet!

When are We Going to See this on the Ganges?

Treehugger has this story about a Chinese project to clean up one of that country's polluted rivers: When last I remembered, the most polluted river in the world happened to be India's holiest - the Ganga. I remember Indian politicians from Indira Gandhi down claiming that they were going to clean it up. Forty years on, little, if anything, has happened other than ever louder claims being put forward as is done in India's Parliament and State Assemblies especially as far as the environment is concerned. My friend Mohan and I have discussed the sorry state of a much smaller "river" that runs through our home town - the Couum on this blog earlier.

I wonder if this is a time for the Govt of India to seriously get off their collective haunches and look at converting the filth that goes into the rivers into a valuable resource - which it most certainly is? The huge amount of sewage that goes out into India's rivers could be processed into biogas and used as a fuel and the slurry left behind processed into fertilizer. India imports crude oil as a fuel and also buys natural gas for its huge fertilizer industry. And the politicians have not bothered to look closer home for the resources that are directly available.

Hopefully, these days when the country keeps talking about competing with China, it would look at the better things that the Chinese are doing and not just emulate the worst that comes out of that country.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Some of the Best Resources on Solar and Wind Energy

I guess I have been more than a little late in posting the URLs of the websites that got me interested in Solar and Wind Energy. To be honest, I found these by doing something as simple as a Google search for a class paper in one of the courses that I had signed up for. The material was so utterly fascinating that I just became hooked and this blog came a few weeks after that particular course ended. The first is the website of the American Solar Energy Society: They have a particularly nice magazine Solar Today whose highlights you can read at:

As far as Wind Energy was concerned, there was the website of the American Wind Energy Association: While this is not as well designed a website as the ASES one, it also has an amazing amount of information on wind energy which is a lovely way to begin learning about this subject in case someone is interested. But then, you wouldn't visit here if you weren't interested in these subjects, would you? The FAQs and links on both websites are also extremely interesting and worth checking out when you have time.

Happy reading!

Cape Cod Offshore Wind Plant Gets Key Approval - Ted Kennedy Looks Like an Idiot

A long planned wind energy project off Cape Cod which was blocked by one of the Senate's oldest bandicoots, Ted Kennedy, found itself get key approval from a Federal agency which completley debunked the nonsensical arguments that the Senator had been putting forward, mainly that it was a threat to the environment and wildlife:

So what do the opponents of the project prefer? A nuclear powerplant in their backyard? A coal-fired one? Somehow, there are Luddites and sundry clowns who oppose anything and everything that they are unfamiliar with at the drop of a hat. And when one of those who does this is a powerful politician like Sen Kennedy, a project that could have been up and working eight years ago, has to go through unneccessary hoops before it finally gets approved. The senator needs to applaud the investigation and the project itself now that a major agency has cleared it on environmental grounds, if he has any sense of fair-play. And then, he needs to retire. Senility and power should not go together especially in trying times like those that we live in.

Friday, January 16, 2009

An Activism Request

I have a request from Denise Lerner a friend on Facebook who is a strong advocate for Renewable Energy. Her request is reproduced in full below:


I posted the residential solar proposition on the presidents transition team book (see link) . Title is The Solar Solution, under Energy and the Environment. If enough people vote on it, this becomes part of the Presidents to-do list. Can you help me blog this?

Please vote on this and help make it a priority as far as the coming administration is concerned. This is, after all, a small way that everyone would be able to help put renewable energy on the center-stage without spending anything mroe than a few seconds of their time. Thanks in advance.

Also, please sign up for the Residential Solar Freedom Act as proposed by Denise's friend Tom Mc Candless: The Southern States of the USA get enormous amounts of solar energy and some support from the government would help make this an everyday reality. In tough economic times of the kind that we live in, these businesses need all the support that they can get. Hopefully, they would also look at the rest of the world as a market to sell solar equipment and bring costs down - something that I am prone to talking about over and over like a scratched record, ha, ha!

Thanks in advance for voting on Denise's initiative and please pass this information on to as many of your friends as you can and request them to vote and pass it on further. Your help is sincerely appreciated.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bad News on Small Wind Turbines

Treehugger has this very interesting post which talks about British research that indicates that while small sized wind turbines may have applications in some cases, overall, their efficiency is not always as good as that of large ones: Again, it does becomes important to consider the environmental conditions at the location where a particular type of system of generation is used - in SOuth Asia it would be solar photovoltaics and solar thermal generators. In Vancouver as a comment on the Treehugger page says, it would be a micro hydro-turbine. Just more evidence, if you ask me, that experimentation is required across the board as far as all types of renewable energy are concerned in order to get the best results.

To use a fossil-fuel parallel, if people need to look at front, rear and four wheel drive cars and these in different body styles for different purposes, then why on earth shouldn;t they also look at developing different devices for specifically extracting clean power from different natural phenomena?

Why Skepticism is the Best Approach to Politicians and their Promises on the Environment and Renewable Energy

I have long been honest about the fact that I am a skeptic as far as anything that politicians say goes. Some friends tell me that working in the media has made me cynical, though I am not sure of that. I do find it difficult, though, to believe in anything that a politician says and that brings me to the coming President of the USA, Barack Obama and his Energy nominee, the Nobel winner Stephen Chu. The legions of left-wing Obama drum beaters hailed Chu's appointment as the greatest thing that happened after Obama got elected and saw visions of gasoline getting phased out and of the world getting together to sing kumbayya. Guess what? The new Energy nominee has revised his anti fossil fuel views very, very fast as this piece in today's New York Times shows: Yes, Dr Chu's job is a difficult one. No one denies that especially in a country that is deep in a recession. But it is the inherent contradiction between his two views about what fuel prices would have to be to make using gasoline a disincentive and encourage the development of alternative fuels that smacks of downright hypocrisy.

I hope he will change his mind again. If he did change it once, then there is hope - he could change it and go back to his earlier position again. If he does, I would be glad to change my opinion - which is shared by millions across the world in a fellowship that cuts across national boundaries, language barriers, ethnic and racial differences etc - which makes me spektical of politicians' pronouncements. Let's see how this goes.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Amid Continuing Bad Economic News, Some Promising New Ideas

Treehugger's piece on a Yale University viewpoint on how the USA could become the world's leading renewable Energy Power is a very interesting one: Somehow, it does seem as if there is light at the end of the tunnel that this country (and much of the rest of the world that depends upon it) is in - now, if only those who see the light run towards it instead of away from it . . . But the signs are encouraging. The Detroit Auto Show has shown an immense interest in future electric and hybrid cars with a range of concepts that are certain to lend their technology to future cars that you and I would drive. Just go over to and check these out. There is also good news on high speed new trains from treehugger: With the nuisance of going through two or three hour pre flight routines of driving to faraway airports, going through time consuming security checks etc becoming more and more a way of life as far as flying is concerned, this is a welcome and efficient alternative. Fortunately, states in the USA are doing their job too as far as rail travel is concerned. California has some major train investments planned connecting tis cities. New Mexico has trains connecting Santa Fe and other cities with Albuquerque. The State of Ill-Annoy, though, has cut back on train services between Windbag City Chicago and the suburbs and is certain to make bigger messes while going by the old socialist dictum of taking one step forward and twenty two backwards, all the while applauding . . .

Let's hope that pressure groups and engineering departments at universities and in companies hold the government's feet to the fire. If the USA moves in a clean-energy direction as the first Treehugger link suggests, much of the rest of the world will follow. That can only be a good thing. Yes, there is promising news, but, the most difficult thing about promises, especially the best ones, lies in keeping them. Let's hope that none of these get broken.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pakistan Decides to Focus on Solar Power

As a habit, I usually read all major newspapers in South Asia and today's edition of "The News" has this very encouraging editorial about a new official policy in Pakistan in looking at solar power: With much the same weather conditions that India faces, Pakistan is as ideally suited to harnessing the power of the sun as India is and it is good to see the country take this step. From the newspapers I know that Pakistani cities have the same problem of load shedding that Indian cities have - it is obvious that they have chosen to take a more practical approach to managing their power problems than India has, as a matter of public policy. I must wish them the best and hope that in the spirit of positive competitiveness, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other nations in the SAARC region follow this example.

I shall follow this development and blog about it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Huge Opportunity in Cleaning Up Electronic Waste

Go on Google and type in "electronic waste" and one of the options that it offers is "electronic waste and India." The reason for this, of course, is familiar to anyone who reads the newspapers or watches television - third world countries like India have become dumping grounds for electronic waste of all kinds. The problems that electronic waste causes are many - there are numbers of toxic metals that are involved in addition to plastics which are also a problem. SOme estimates from the USA suggest that electronic waste accounts of 40% of the lead and 75% of the heavy metals found in landfills. Of course, there are fears of this leaching into ground water and of it contaminating the soil around the landfills.

But, where there are problems, there are always opportunities. A section of scientists and engineers have come to regard these landfills not as waste disposal sites but as "mines" from which metals that have value may be extracted. Look at it this way - the older 286 and 396 computers have huge amounts of gold and silver in them. So do a lot of older electronic products. At the moment, metal prices, like all commodity prices, are down because of the current global recession. But they will soon be up again and the requirement for these metals is not going away anytime soon. That leaves a huge opportunity in recycling electronic waste. A collection system that takes care of new waste is one part of this. A "mining' effort that recovers e-waste from landfills is another.

Some companies are jumping in on extracting this waste and separating it for processors to take and separate. And advanced businesses like Umicore in Belgium are at the forefront of processing the metals recovered, separating them and offering them in pure form for reuse in industry. From some brief interaction with Umicore in the past, I know that the Chinese and the Japanese send them e-waste for reprocessing all the time. I was personally responsible for introducing one Japanese trader to Umicore. But, no Indian company really bothers to do anything in this area, unfortunately. I knew that CMC (now a part of the Tata empire) had a number of old mainframes at one time and that they were losing money paying for warehousing space to hold this junk in India. When I approached them at the time asking if they would sell any of these to me for scrap value, there was no response at all. Hopefully, with the recession and the corresponding need for them to make more money as revenues from software and services dries up, Indian companies would look at this potentially lucrative business. Mark my words - there's gold in that junk.

Friday, January 9, 2009

An Indian Manufacturer Brings Out Electric Scooters

A friend who does not want to be identified sent me this link to an Indian manufacturer of electric scooters: The company is located in the technology capital of Bengaluru (better known as Bangalore) and offers its scooters in a few states of the country. I did think that their location in Bengaluru was wholly appropriate because that once beautiful city has become one of the most horrendously polluted places in India. I have watched this deterioration over four decades and never failed to be horrified at this deliberate and gradual destruction of a once amazingly beautiful city.

Bengaluru's pollution comes from its unusually high number of two wheelers - one of the highest per capita two wheeler populations in the country, and most of them older vehicles with two stroke engines. If this new product is good and if the scooters sell well, they would reduce the pollution considerably. I can see two problems, though - Bengaluru's perennial power supply problem and the less than glamorous image of scooters in India compared to motorcycles. Unfortunately, the new image of environment-friendly products being glamorous as in the west has not reached India yet. That said, on a more positive note, Western trends usually reach India quickly. I hope that this takes off. If Eko Vehicles make good products, they deserve to succeed and wildly at that.

Best wishes to them!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Heirloom Foods and The Third World

It was some sad news today that prompted this post - a very good, old friend whom I had not met in years was diagnosed with a life threatening condition. Unfortunately, these past five years, we have been quite close to each other physically speaking and I had driven past his home-town several times at my previous job before I joined university full time. As we spoke about our time at university some twenty five years ago, the one thing I could not forget was the delicious meals that his mother would cook for us whenever we visited his place. It was a curious time in India's history - "modern" style agriculture was beginning to come in and the old ways were ending. But his mother belonged to the old school and she would ask us to go to the local market and buy "nattu" or "country" vegetables, specifically tomatoes, instead of the hybrid and later genetically modified modern or city vegetables that were becoming popular. The country tomatoes were old strains brought to India by the Portuguese some five hundred years earlier from the new world along with green chillies and both had become integral parts of the Indian diet. These were small things and they would look puny and more structured with a shape like the inside of a peeled orange beside the larger and round, almost shapeless new tomatoes that were coming in to the country, grown from industrially produced seeds sold by both domestic seed suppliers and also by multinationals. Their taste was something that you didn't know until you actually started using them. Every batch was a different taste and a part of my friend's mother's skill lay in how she would match the taste of a particular batch to whatever she was cooking. The newer, industrial tomaotes, of course, were consistent in their taste. You could pick a kilo up and read a recipe out of a textbook and cook whatever you wanted to without worrying about anything other than following instructions.

Wel, it turns out that these days, there is a new craze: heirloom gardening. Quite simply, this is the growing of old fashioned, natural foods and flowers for personal consumption. People who cannot find vegetables and flowers of the kind that they enjoyed in the pre-industrial farming era now grow them themselves. But the movement is forcing some small farmers to look at growing these plants and supplying them through stores as well. Right now, these vegetables and flowers are expensive because small farms do not get the kind of agricultural subsidies that alrge ones do. As this movement continues, I do think that the authorities will have to take notice and support this kind of cooking. I also think that there would soon be good budget restaurants selling heirloom foods to people who would like to try that kind of thing. The Chipotle chain already has plans to power all of is restaurants with wind and they use non-genetically modified foods throughout their menus. I do think that this is a movement that will move ahead in the USA at least as more and more people get fed up with the junk that you get in the stores as well as in all but some boutique restaurants.

Which brings me to the third world - there are still many heirloom foods being grown and heirloom flowers being sold in India, the country that I am most familiar with. This despite the assault on these traditional farming practices that have inevitably come in thanks to "modernization." I haven't been to India in a long time. I hope that when I do visit next, I still get to eat some heirloom foods. Indian food is an obsession with me - I do trace my personal ancestry back quite back in that part of the world after all, and cannot escape what is an Indian obsession. That said, I did see the beginnings of junk food coming into India with the major western chains setting up there. I hope they never overtake the traditional food that is available in that part of the world, or indeed, anywhere else.

For anyone interested, I would just suggest doing a Google search on "Heirloom Foods" or "Heirloom Gardening." You will get swept away with the wealth of information that is available. Do take the effort - good food is too important to ignore.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Small Wind Turbines Cut Electricity Consumption on NYC Apartment Building in Half - Will India Follow This Example?

Treehugger has this VERY interesting piece about ten small wind turbines cutting the power consumption in a five storey New York apartment building in half: Now New York homes, like homes across the USA, use considerably more energy than homes in India do. Without any specifics in hand, I would venture that a similar exercise could make an Indian apartment building vastly more energy self-sufficient than a home in New York, for example.

NDTV had this piece some time ago about Chennai, my former hometown in India, turning into a "world class city" with plans to build ever higher buildings: With the horrendous power shortages that the city faces at the moment and the very pleasant phenomenon that old Madrasis (yes, I prefer the old name Madras to Chennai anyday) can't stop talking about, the lovely sea breeze that defines what is best about this old city, I wonder how difficult it would be for the city authorities to write this into their code and make wind turbines and solar roofs mandatory? The terrible pollution that the city suffers would also be reduced if this were properly done. Now, how do I get this message across to the government, ha, ha!

Monday, January 5, 2009

A New Dutch Diesel Motorcycle

I must admit to a weakness for motorcycles of whatever kind - including the fossil fuel variety - though, of course, I do believe that electric motorcycles should be the way of the future. This is why this new offering of a diesel engined two wheel drive motorcycle by a Dutch company sounds very interesting to me: For the kind of power and performance that it offers, it should be as fuel efficient as an Enfield Bullet if not better at regular speeds, and, of course, vastly better behaved and capable on the roads. What underlines the bike's "renewable energy" credentials is the fact that it can be ridden on bio-diesel or pure vegetable oil. I'm not sure how really clean either of those options are and I won't even try to go into that. What I will do is check up on this and post back in the future.

Gizmag also has a feature on an LPG driven bike at: While there have been some dangerous experiments in India with mounting LPG cylinders on scooters and motorcycles, this tech couldbe a really good idea if some Indian motorcycle manufacturer wants to take it up.

Good opportunities, then, for someone who wants to use them. Will someone do this? Here's keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

As China Plans the World's Biggest Solar Project, Indians Stand and Gape

EcoGeek has this piece about the Chinese planning a 1 GW Solar Photovoltaic project combining thin film and silicon cells: This is, by far, the biggest project of its kind in the world and twice the size of the next sized one planned for San Luis Obispo in California. And what is India doing? Check the IL&FS website and the Delhi Dunderheads are out tendering for an extension to the Neyveli Coal Fired Powerplant. You might think that Tamil Nadu does not receive any sunlight at all and that it is possibly something like the dark side of the moon if you give the Indian establishment any credit for common sense. The problem is that the imbeciles do not have the slightest clue of what to do to wean themselves from the vampire-like hold that the Middle East and the world's coal producers like Indonesia, Australia and China have on them. It is almost as if the Indian establishment would rather see itself bleed to death and voluntarily at the hands of those who supply it fossil fuels to satisfy the nation's addiction to them. It is also as if the smell that defines Indian cities these days - the smell of rotting sewerage and untreated vehicle exhausts - is as addictive to the Indian planners as the smell of a drug is to an addict who smokes it.

Once again, the Indians are certain to be left looking like jokers while the Chinese power ahead. The tragedy is that this is going to happen even as India has the world's finest engineers, people more than capable of doing what the Chinese are doing - and then some.