Monday, September 25, 2017

Mt. Agung volcano in Bali, Indonedia ready to erupt anytime now ..

Mount Agung ready to erupt !!

Last time Mt. Agung, 3000 m high, in Bali, Indonesia erupted in 1963 for almost a year, the debris flew 10 km to the air at a speed of 700 km/hour and killed 1100 people. 

This time around a 12 km radius almost 16,000 people have been evacuated.. The ash debris after eruption, is expected to be of 1.6 km thickness.

Hope it does not get too active and cause great damage to life and property.

Watching closely ! click here for more details .


Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Tourist Guide to Kerala - Where to visit and what to do in Kerala ?

Chinese fishing nets at Fort Kochi
 Most tourists agree with National Geographic Traveler "10 top places of the world to visit in one's lifetime", when they visit the only Indian place in the top ten - Kerala. Legend has it that when Parasuraman threw his axe to the sea, water cleared out till the place it landed, and there out of the sea was born Kerala.

Here is a short description of important historical, cultural and religious places in Kerala. Kerala was part of the famous spice route of 200 BC and is known for it's friendly people, greenery and scenic beauty. 

House boats of Alleppey
Kerala has three ancient kingdoms or regions, Malabar (north), Kochi (central) and Travancore (south). The official state of Kerala came into existence in 1956. Till then Kerala was only Tirukochi, Malabar came under Madras Presidency.

Cranganore (ancient name Muziris) in, central Kerala had trade with Romans, Arabs and Chinese from around 100 BC in spices and Ivory. Then on silting of Cranganore port because of heavy floods in Periyar river around 1400 AD, trade shifted to north in Calicut and south to Kochi, Alleppey and Quilon. 

Munnar, the Switzerland of India
There are two hill stations, Munnar (1500 m above MSL) in central east Kerala and Wayanad (2100 m above MSL) in North Kerala.  Both are great  places full of tea estates and spices plantations. .. 

Alleppey and Kochi are ancient seaside cities and ports and have famous backwaters and houseboats for overnight stay. Bolgatty islands in Kochi has the Kochi royal palace.

Padmanabha Swamy temple, Trivandrum
Kumarakom on the banks of the famous Vembanad lake in central east Kerala near kottayam is a favourite tourist spot for boatrides. Beatles visited here decades back in the 60s.

Down south in Trivandrum is the world famous Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple, richest in the world with underground treasures of diamonds, gems, gold and precious stones (got from the exploits of the first war of the Travancore King Anizham Tirunal Marthanda Varma with the Dutch at Colachel near Trivandrum) worth a trillion dollars. Kovalam beach is a very famous beach near Trivandrum. 

Light house and beach at Kovalam
South of Trivandrum, in Tamil Nadu is Cape Comorin, the point where the Bay of Bengal and Arabian sea merge with the Indian ocean.

While Kochi is the comercial capital of Kerala, Trivandrum is the political capital and Trichur the cultural capital.

Onam which is celebrated as the harvest festival comes by end of August / September and is celebrated by all Malayalees irrespective of casre, creed or religion. Trichur hosts the famous Trissur Puram during Onam time, mid September and is one of the great places in Kerala to be in to witness the fireworks and world-class percussion, Pulikali (tiger dance), elephants exchanging decorated umbrellas and the fanfare.

Pulikali, (body painting) in Trissur Puram
Cashew nuts, is an important cash crop of Kerala, was brought to India by the Portuguese around 1500 AD. Cashew factories processing cashews are found mainly around Kollam in the Southern part of Kerala. Rubber plantations abound in the districts of Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Idukki.

Kochi boasts of having the world's first and only 100% solar energy powered International airport (the third largest in India). So if you are flying down to Kochi, you have already experienced the luxury of clean and green energy.

Sabarimala shrine of Lord Ayyappa
Even though the three main religions are Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, Judaism came here from the first century BC. The Paradesi synagogue, established around 1560 AD in Mattancherry, Fort Kochi is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth countries. The Ayyappa temple, nestled among the eighteen hills in Perunad Pathanamthitta district of Kerala is a very popular devotional pilgrimage destination for Hindus across the world during the Makarajyoti festival during the second fortnight of January every year. It is supposed to be among the most popular pilgrimage centres of the world with almost 100 million pilgrims on an average visiting every year. 

Jewish synagogue, Kochi
Kerala has 100% literacy rates from 1991 onwards, the highest literacy rate in the country. Women on an average have literacy rate of > 90%, men > 94% because of which women enjoy a high social status. The standard of living in Kerala is the highest in the country (due to the heavy inflow of foreign exchange remitted by Malayalees settled in the Gulf region, Europe and US) and is equated to the state of New York in US. The highest sale of luxury brand foreign cars in the country, BMW, Mercedes etc happens in Kerala.

Athirapally falls, near Chalakudi, Trissur ..
Educational facilities are top class in the state with an Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Calicut or Kozhikode, an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Palghat and a National Institute of Technology (NIT) too at Calicut.

Athirapally waterfalls near Trissur, beats Hawai in flora and fauna and is a beauty to visit in the monsoon. The silent valley in Palghat is one of the most preserved, diverse and rich ecological parks in Kerala.

Edakkal cave inscriptions, Wayanad of 6000 BC
A concept which has failed in the most advanced and modern nations of the world, the world's first carbon-neutral village is coming up in Meenangaadi in Wayanad.

Early history of Kerala dates back to 6000 BC and is the only state in the world to enjoy a very cool, comfortable, pleasant climate, humid at times, throughout the year blessed by two monsoons, the South West and North East from June to Sept and Oct to November respectively every year.

Thekkady wildlife reserve on Periyar river
Kerala also boasts of the famous medical treatment system of Ayurveda, three  millennia old and the famous classical dance forms of Kathakali and Mohiniattam.  The Periyar wildlife sanctuary at Thekkady near Kumili having elephants and the tiger reserve, bordering with Tamil Nadu and the lime stone 113 year old Mullaperiyar dam are also great places of interest.

A visitor who comes to this God's own country, will never be disappointed because he indeed is visiting God's own land, blessed and nurtured for millennia !!


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, interview after release from Yemeni captors ..

Having been brought up in a Salesian school (Don Bosco Irinjalakuda, Kerala), I feel so elated at the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil from the hands of Yemeni captors after 18 months of detention (March 4, 2016 - Sept. 12, 2017) for helping refugees in war-torn Yemen, after help and negotiations by the Vatican and government of Oman ... 
While his colleagues, five nuns were shot dead, Fr. Tom was spared. Here is an interview he gave to ANS after his release.

(ANS – Rome) – Father Tom Uzhunnalil answers a few questions, an ANS exclusive.

*How have you spent these 18 months in captivity and how did your captors treat you?*

It was a long waiting and I did not know what to do except to pray.

My hand and legs were tied and my movements limited for a few days only.

I have spent my time praying as much as possible, for as many intentions possible. I used to sleep, pray, think of my technical classes and prepare some lessons etc and go to sleep each night. Each day used to go like that and I had no communication at all from the outside world, nor did I know where I was put up also.

My captors did not ill treat me or torture me. They gave me food all the three times and they asked me one time details about me, my family, the places visited, the people I know etc. I was their captive and the whole day I used be sitting on the ground on a sponge like material with my hands and legs tied, and when I am tired, I used to sleep a bit or lay down, and my days went like that.

*How did you feel when you came to know about the death of the sisters and the others in the attack in Aden?*

It was on 4th of March 2016, Friday, after the Eucharistic Adoration and Eucharistic blessing in the morning for the five sisters, I had breakfast. Then I spent some more time in the chapel for personal prayer. Around 8.40 am, I just came out of the sister's house. I heard a gun shot almost immediately, and one of the attackers held my hand and I declared I am an Indian. He made me sit in a chair, near the security room, near the main gate of the campus of the institution. The sisters were already at their place of work with the old people. The main man of the attackers went to the place of work, and brought out two sisters first, and went back again and brought another two sisters near to the main gate. He went and looked out for the fifth sister but could not trace her in the campus. Then he returned back to the place near the main gate, where the sisters were kept. Then he took two sisters first, moved them to some distance out of my sight and shot them, then he came back and took the other two in my vicinity and shot them,  all these took place within the campus. I only prayed to God to forgive the sisters and the persecutors and have mercy on them. I did not cry, nor did I have any fear of death.

Then he took me and put me in the boot of the car, which they parked near the campus, and closed the door of the boot of the car. He entered the sister's chapel, brought the tabernacle with the blessed sacrament in it and threw it in the boot of the car, where I was closed and kept in. They drove away the car with me in it.

I was experiencing a great distress. I prayed to God to be merciful to the sisters and the others who were killed and to forgive the killers. I prayed to the Lord to give the grace and strength to accept his will and remain ever faithful to God, till I am faithful to the mission, he has for me in this life, here on earth.

*How much did your life of prayer and Salesian Charism help you in this experience as a captive?*

The major part of my time be it day or night whenever I was awake was dedicated to prayer. I used to start the day with the angelus, followed by one our father and hail mary for each of the sisters who died, then go on to pray for my province, congregation, parish, family remembering as many as possible and praying for them. I used to pray also for my captors and ask the Lord to forgive them and pray for their conversion. I had no host or wine, nor any missal or lectionary, but I used to celebrate a spritual mass everyday. I used to offer it to the Lord, and for the readings each day I used to take some incident of the old testament or the new testament, and for the gospel some miracle, or parable or some episode in the life of Jesus and meditate. I used to also pray for all the deceased salesians, family members, parishioners and all people I knew. I used to keep on praying for as many intentions I could pray for. I also prayed that if it was the Lord's will that I should be freed, I prayed for my deliverance also. I used to pray the rosary often. Sometimes, I could not pray also, because they used to talk in Arabic and I could not concentrate on anything, in my mind.

*How were the videos of your appeal for liberation made?*

It was well planned by them. They used to tell me in advace that they were making a video to make an appeal to get some money, I had no other go than to obey them. They used to also shoot as if they were hitting me, and make some noise, but they never harmed me. They were hoping that these clippings would fetch them the ransom quickly.

*How do you feel after you have been released?*

The Lord has done a great miracle for me and given me another life. If he has saved me, it means he has still some plan for me and he wants me to live for Him and be a witness. I want to thank God the alimighty, the Church authorities both in India and Vatican, the Salesian Congregation, the family and to each an every single person who has been praying for my release. Definitely it is because of the prayers, that my life was spared.

*How do you feel after meeting the Holy Father?*

This is also a big grace bestowed on me because of my captivity.  I wept profusely before him sharing with him my experience. He was so sympathetic, compassionate and concerned and he kissed my hand twice. I cannot expect anything more than this, I have been given a new life and I requested the Holy Father to thank all the people for the prayers offered for me all over the world.

*What are your next plans? Are you going to return to India immediately?*

Right now, I feel physically weak, but with the medicines and food I am also beginning to feel better. I need to do a couple of medical tests and I hope I will be able to recover soon. When I was in Aden, I used to weigh 82 kgs and after my release when I checked my weight, I was 55 kgs and now with the food and medicines that I am taking the last two days, I am improving. I am sure I will feel better, because God's grace and the prayers of the people are helping me.

I have no plans except to do God's will, and that will be expressed to me through the Superiors of the Salesian Congregation. I would definitely love to get back to India and thank all the people and meet all my people, but I shall wait till the doctors certify that I am fit to travel. It may take some more time, and I am ready to wait for some more time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Service providers, facilitators and customers ..

This chart gives us some of the world's largest service providers. It is an eye opener at the trend of global things that will emerge in the coming years, it also reminds of the great events that befall planet earth and its commercial world in future.

All of the service providers mentioned here act as middle-men and have been enabled by the Digital world and e-commerce. These companies have great unparallelled networking capabilities that connect the service provider and the customer .

One important player missing here is Google Tez, the Indian Unified Payment Interface (UPI). Without really having much money, Tez would in future control global payments acting as the middlemen between banks, businesses and customers not only within India but around the world

Impacts : 

1. With less of middle men, expenses are less, but often profits are huge. 
2 More consolidation and centralisation of money and power.
3. Streamlined, efficient, well laid out and clear procedures
4. Low risks involved
5. Networking brings more customers and service providers online making the middle-men stronger, more profitable and productive..
6. Small players (middle-men) vanish or are pushed out
The most important lesson this tells us is - the player who has the maximum networking ability is going to control the businesses of the world. 
Where will this global trend lead us to ??

George .

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Total Quality Management - basics

Concorde Motors alongside Tata Motors, Dairy circle, Bangalore, India.
A very efficient and customer friendly shopfloor environment that I have seen is the Tata Motors Service showroom of Concorde Motors in Dairy Circle, Bangalore. 

The moment you enter, these is enough communication media that tells you where to go and whom to contact. The ambience of the place is great and there are enough areas for the customer to sit. In front of the customer representatives there are enough chairs to make him comfortable. The counter clerk is an enthusiastic young lady. The coffee machine has an attendant to serve the customer or the customer can self-operate it any time. The customer representative notes down systematically the customer issues and directs him/her to the right department. An accurate analysis of the work involved is arrived at by the employee along with the approximate rates and delivery dates and informs the customer who then takes leave.  

This is an environment which nobody can find fault with. So comfortable, cool and customer friendly..

Total Quality Management (TQM) is based on the Deming Cycle famously referred to as the PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act). It is also completely based on customer satisfaction ..

The eight elements of TQM are as follows -

1. customer-focused
2. total employee involvement
3. process centered
4. integrated system
5. strategic and systematic approach
6. continual improvement
7. fact-based decision making and
8. communications

If you look at the 8 processes and try to find what are the functions of each of these and how they contribute to the whole, we find TQM is nothing but an orderly and disciplined customer-focused, employee enriching fact-based control system that has a relentless focus on improvement and great communication. 

What are the pre-requisites one needs to acquire and master before embarking on a journey of Total Quality Management. ?

Of late we have Quality Management Systems which are systems that help organisations be systematic and orderly, but rarely it beings focus on customer satisfaction and employee enrichment. Even the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Awards or the Deming Prize concentrate fully on orderliness, processes, and customers, with a very small emphasis on employees ..
The six critical areas where any organisation implementing TQM needs to focus is
1. customer focus (feedback analysis)
2. total employee involvement (quality circles)
3. process-centred (5S, JIT, VSM)
4. continuous improvement (Kaizen) and
5. fact-based process-control ( Ishikawa diagram, Pareto analysis, SQC) and
6. Communications (Visual systems and posters)
For a University aiming to be among the top 20 of the world by 2030 AD, what are the planning and activities it needs to carry out ?

Click here for great ASQ TQM resources..


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Is Nature paying US back ?

Harvey and Irma in 3 minutes ! 

Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria after US bombing, looks better, than after this natural bombing of Texas and Florida !!  sad ..

Is nature paying back ?? The devastating US bombing in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria was over years back. 

Is it that the natural bombing of US has just started ??

George ..

Mt. Agung volcano in Bali, Indonedia ready to erupt anytime now ..

Mount Agung ready to erupt !! Last time Mt. Agung, 3000 m high, in Bali, Indonesia erupted in 1963 for almost a year, the debris fle...

My popular posts over the last month ..