Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sikka's "unfortunate" exit from Infosys ..

The recent Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka's exit from Infosys made great news. Here are few moves from Sikka which Murthy (NRN as he is popularly called) felt ran counter to the popular Infosys culture

1. Raising personal salary or getting the board to raise his annual salary to $11 million, app INR 70 crores
2. Setting unhealthy precedence by giving a hefty separation bonus to former CFO Rajiv Bansal of app INR 17 crores
3. Traveling to meet clients in chartered planes 

These are some of the allegations raised by NRN against Sikka which NRN felt were against the initial entrepreneurial spirit that got Infy blooming to this scale 36 years before in Pune in 1981.

The culture of extravaganza and splurge initiated by Sikka and team with the resultant loss in social esteem and prestige, NRN felt, was divergent to the values the founders of Infosys had envisioned for the company in the long run.

While Sikka wanted everything to be seen solely though the mirror of financial performance of the organization, NRN raised the plates a lot higher, deviating from the usual run-of-the-mill type of organization, expecting the organization to be a role model for the entire  entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country, upholding high standards of fiscal discipline, fulfilling social commitments and being a global role model in corporate governance. 

NRN felt Sikka had failed completely in pulling his team up to be able to meet, even partially, the lofty goals and objectives Infosys had set for itself. 

Looking at the other side of the coin, the point which NRN completely missed was the level of commitment an employee has towards an organization as different from that of a founder. All employees cannot have the "founder mindset" and work selflessly for the growth of the organization, risking the employee's personal life. The employee is as much bothered of his well-being as he is about the organization he serves.

The case of Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon is an example NRN should try to understand. Though Bezos draws a very modest salary, he ensures that all his employees are paid a bomb. The employees are motivated to give their best to the growth of the organization.  

Bezos understands that money is what motivates his employees. In the final run, indirectly we find Bezos benefits, his employees have made him among the top ten richest people on Earth by virtue of the value of the Amazon stock he holds. The remuneration Bezos gets from Amazon is a pittance compared to the value of the Amazon stock he holds.

The other example for non-interference is from NRN's family itself. NRN's famous co-brother Gururaj Deshpande, the serial entrepreneur, who is known to start great companies in US, like Cascade Communication, Corel Networks, Sycamore networks, Tejas Networks, a123systems, airvana .. After it becomes a roaring success, he used to leave it for the professionals to manage, and set his mind on the next great entrepreneurial idea.. Click here for a detailed writeiup ..

Sikka's exit may not affect the Infosys stock value for long, it is sure to rebound, but the dent it has made in the employee minds of not being an employee friendly organization and of not being a pay master, is sure to pull down Infosys repute and impact it's growth in the long run, though NRN would differ.

It's high time founders keep off and allow professionals to run the organization .. . Is it fair to expect ordinary employees, even 36 years after starting, to have the same zeal, commitment and founding spirit attitude as the founders, especially when Infosys is very cut and dry with initial recruits and looks only for exacting professionalism in them ?

George .. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Hoysaleshwara temple rock carvings ..

Photo courtesy Alamy pjhotos
Images of rock carvings from Hoysaleshwara temple, Hassan, Karnataka.  

Exquisite, par excellence !! (zoom in for the details). 

Done during 1100 -1150 AD ..

This temple also has the famous pillars which have been exquisitely turned, (the turning process as on a lathe) .. But where on earth did they have turning / lathe technology 850 years back ? Simple marvellous and unexplainable ... Click here to watch a video on how the pillars have been turned ....

The necklaces are not one, but indeed two, so exquisitely carved out of rock with barely 3 mm gap between the two necklaces ..

Lot of unexplained developments, either the Hoysala sculptors were far more advanced than the most advanced CNC machines or robots of today or mankind has taken a lot from knowledge gained 900 years back.


Were it not for the destruction by the Muslim rulers and Mughal emperors,

Frustration and inability to add value, the impact of Lean thinking..

Simple and brilliant illustration of lean thinking..
Frustration is a state of mind when one is unable to add value to the tasks he/she is set to complete.
What are the factors impeding adding value to a process or product ? Though the discussion is focused mainly on manufacturing, all the concepts are equally applicable in the services context too.

James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones in 1996 propounded Lean Thinking as the absense of waste either in a product, process or technology. More often than not, waste creeps into almost all of our activities. Though Womack and Jones classified only seven wastes, an eighth waste that has been discussed and researched much is the waste of human capability, resources and skills in underemployment.

An effort is made here to classify the prioritise the wastes for removal according to the impact it has on our society.

1. Over Waiting - When a client in a litigation has to endlessly wait for the court to deliver the verdict, there is waiting, which is a waste of time. When morning commuters wait at a busy traffic junction for the lights to turn green, again it is waiting, a waste of time as there is improper matching of demand, traffic and commuters to capacity, the limitation on vehicles that can pass through a lane and speed limitations to avoid accidents. An ambulance carrying a critically injured patient to hospital waiting at a traffic signal can be fatal for the patient.

2. Excess Transport - Producing a resource at one place and consuming it at another place, (in the case of manufacturing) or trying to get the provider of a service and it's consumer at the same place (as in service organisations), is what drives the necessity of transportation across the world. If the provision of a product or service and its consumption can be brought closer, it would totally eliminate the need for transportation. Transportation according to me is the second largest generator of waste in the world.

The crux of the Lean Thinking process ..
3. Excess Inventory - inventory costs on an average almost 30% costs in a manufacturing environment and less in a service environment. Keeping inventory in check by responding to demand almost every time. Inventory is held to overcome the pressures of uncertainty, uncertainty in supply, uncertainty in transport, uncertainty in storage, uncertainty in the conversion process, uncertainty in the ability of the work force to add value, uncertainty in customer demand, uncertainty in government policies and what not. All these reflect on inefficiencies of the system and are reasons for us to keep some stock of inventory in order not to disturb the value addition process. Imagine how much inventory is piled across manufacturing and service organisations around the world

4. Under utilisation of human resources - More often than not we find highly skilled and qualified people occupying less challenging roles in organisations across the world. The skills of the employee are being under utilised, though for a shorter period of time, as promotions and transfers to more challenging environmtns do take care of such anomalies.

5. Over processing - The next major source of waste is over processing, be it products or services. Be it patients entering a hospital, as a source of revenue, hospitals do over-process or over-treat a patient in the hope of generating revenues to the hospital, though actually it is generating waste. In the process of boiling milk, the pasteurisation process has taken care of 99% of microbes in the milk, still we boil it to kills the remaining 1% bacteria, though it may be an inefficient process.

6. Defects/Reworks - due to poor quality of machines and material, poor skills of workers or improperly maintained work or storage environment, we find lot of waste being generated across the world. Controlling these defects help save raw materials, machine time, worker time etc. We find the workers are more relaxed and focused on the necessary and urgent tasks to be completed.

7. Over production - Due to improper demand forecasts or bull whip effect (amplification of demand), we find production more often exceeding actual demand, generating waste and resulting in unsold stocks forcing disposal of stocks which could turn out to be very detrimental for the profitability of the supply chain.

8. Excess Motion - Needless repetition of a process results in waste of time, effort and costs. Machine intervention works well here, but involves additional costs. For example automation is a clean substitute for needless repetition of motion but entails great costs. The ideal thing would be to do simple work study of the process and eliminate unnecessary and all non-value adding tasks.

Having identified the prioritised ranking of wastes, the study needs to look at finding the priority of wastes for different industrial sectors. Knowing the priorities for wastes it becomes easy for managers to decide where to concentrate their limited managerial and technical resources to extract the maximum benefit from deploying lean thinking in the shop floor.


Ref :
1.  May, Mathew, Its time to wage an all-out war on waste, HBR, December 2012.
2.  Womack,Thomas, Daniel Jones (1996), Lean Thinking, Simon and Schuster, NY.
PS : The wastes ranking has been done with inputs from an MBA student group with limited industrial exposure but excellent practical exposure.        

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Diesel vs. Petrol, environmental pollution ..

Modern research states that if you are owning a diesel car, you are polluting the environment four times more (4x) than a petrol car and doing a great disservice to your society and surroundings.

SUVs and other high powered vehicles run on diesel and pollute the environment heavily. Look at the situation practically, do private commuting vehicles require all that power ?

Though Diesel has a higher calorific value and Diesel engines are more efficient than Petrol engines, Diesel engines have higher emissions of NOx and particulate matter in comparison to Petrol vehicles with catalytic converters. (Catalytic converters help mostly oxidise the CO to CO2 besides NO to NOx and unburnt hydrocarbons which otherwise cause smog)

Especially when these toxic emissions like NOx and SOx, have higher fatal health repercussions, diesel cars are a disaster ! In addition, the cost of fatal health repercussions like cancer is immeasurable !!

The general public look smartly at the parochial picture, at keeping the running costs of vehicles low. To help industrial use, public transportation and to control costs, most countries price diesel cheaper than gasolene (petrol) by way of subsidies, for instance it costs less for diesel than petrol in India, unmindful of the bigger picture of the damages it does to the environment..

Contrasting with earlier reports which found CO and CO2 to be detrimental to human health, recent research points to NOx emissions which are the main culprit in deaths related to automobile emissions. Click on this Guardian newspaper link to read of how almost 38,000 people across the world (maninly from China, Europe and India) die every year to diesel pollution (or diesel vehicles meeting pollution regulation standards and failing to meet pollution regulation standards). Thee study also points to the fact that excess NOx (having escaped regulators lenses) will still be responsible for about 70,000 deaths annually by 2040 AD.

For unit pollution, every diesel-km a vehicle runs is equivalent to four petrol-km.

Let us be more responsible and leave enough of our beautiful environment for our future generations to enjoy and live in healthily. Let us dump those beasts and go for Petrol vehicles, still better electric vehicles in the very near future .


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cheruvally Estate and the new Sabarimala International airport

KPY with his family

It has been very shocking to find out how K P Yohannan, the self-proclaimed preacher and his relatives from Tiruvalla had purchased the Cheruvally estate from Harrisons Malayalam plantation in 2008. The deal itself was flawed as Harrisons did not have any right to sell leased land to KPY. Though on paper it is only for Rs 80 crores in white, we are not sure how much more money has been paid under the table. KPY's Gospel for Asia is under scrutiny for having received Rs 1050 crores+ from US for missionary work which has been illegally diverted for purchasing land.

The Rs 2500 crore joint venture Sabarimala international airport between NRis and state govt is going to be a prestigious project for Kerala state and the state authorities should lose no time and effort to take over the 2263 acre Cheruvally estate for the purpose of building the airport which will benefit devotees visiting Sabarimala, Lord Ayyappa's shrine in Perunad, Pathanamthitta dist, 48 kms away at an altitude of 1260 m above MSL, situated among the 18 hills comprising the Periyar Tiger Reserve. In comparison the nation's third largest airport (in terms of infrastructure and fourth in terms of passenger traffic) at Kochi is on just 2000 acres of land while the nation's fourth largest, Bangalore International airport is on 4500 acres of land.

KP Yohannan who has been masquerading as a preacher is a self anointed religious leader who through his US entity Gospel for Asia has been amassing huge amounts of money from US to be used for helping the needy and downtrodden through his domestic entity called Believers Church. Yohannan has been using the foreign funds to amass real estate assets for the church and his family members. He is a married man and has no rights to establish a church claiming power from the throne of St Thomas. He needs to be exposed and taken to task.

Let us hope the Kerala govt gets a little more serious in exposing KPY and putting him behind bars.These are some people who bring bad name to all of us ..

george.. (photo courtesy The Hindu newspaper)

Ref :

Friday, August 11, 2017

Drip irrigation - Basics and prospects in india ...

Drip Irrigation - the basics

We have heard of how Israeli agricultural scientists turned the deserts of Sinai into greenlands producing fruits and vegetables, making Israel one of the largest producers of oranges in the world from the desert sand.

Details of a drip irrigation system, courtesy Jain Irrigation Systems,
As per a TOI newspaper report, Hungund taluk, Bagalkot dist in N Karnataka in India has about 11,000 hectares of farmland under drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is gaining in importance across the world especially since we have been observing erratic patterns in rainfall and precipitation and falling river and reservoir levels necessitating more efficient and effective use of existing resources of water.

Drip irrigation is a type of micro-irrigation that has the potential to save water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface. The goal is to place water directly into the root zone and minimize evaporation. Drip irrigation systems distribute water through a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters. Depending on how well designed, installed, maintained, and operated it is, a drip irrigation system can be more efficient than other types of irrigation systems, such as surface irrigation or sprinkler irrigation. -
An Israeli drip irrigation farm

Simply speaking drip irrigation is a system of providing water to the roots of the plants through a network of pipes to increase irrigation

Drip irrigation which was started commercially in Israel during the 70s has now become an accepted practice in arid and semi arid regions of the world. In northern parts of Karnataka, drip irrigation is used for floriculture, cultivation of fruits and vegetables and possibly maize and jowar ...

Drip irrigation saves anywhere from 30% to 60% of water used for irrigation purposes. Drip irrigation saves labour and electricity, controls soil erosion and even saline water can be used for irrigation,

In any drip irrigation system one needs to be worried about two aspects of the system, the design of the system and its maintenance.

Design of the system :

1. Water sources and the pump -  either from a borewell or well, pond or river.

2. Filtration of the water - depending on whether the water is from a borewell (only screen filter) or whether it is from an pond, well or river, we require a sand filter and hydro cyclone filter besides the screen filter.

3. Network of pipes - has a system of main pipes, sub pipes and laterals spread across the field to which the drippers are connected (or end tubes). The mains and sub mains should be submerged 45 cms below the surface for safety of the pipes from being trampled upon by farm animals. To prevent rats and squirrels from damaging the pipes, it is recommended to keep bowls of water in the farm so that the drippers are not damaged.

For drip irrigation we need a pressure of 1.5 to 2 kg/sq cm in the lateral pipes while for a sprinkler system we need a pressure of 3-5 kg/sq cm. For widely spaced plants, the drippers need to be of 12 mm dia laterals which can carry 250-300 liters of water per hour while for closely spaced plants, we need 16 mm dia laterals which can carry between 450-500 litres per hour.The drippers should be placed at a gap of 30-40 cm for closely spaced crops.

Drip Irrigation Systems, courtesy FAO, United Nations.
Maintenance : 

Maintenance of the system is of great importance to ensure high effectiveness and longevity of the system. Use of high quality ISI mark pipes and valves made from virgin plastic instead of the cheap recycled plastic can ensure longevity of the system for upto ten years if the pipes are exposed to sunlight for upto 800 hours a year.

Clogging of laterals and emitters prevents the flow of water to the roots of the plants. This happens because of algae deposits, sand, organic material, Calcium Carbonate etc. Acid treatment and chlorination ate two methods by which clogging can be prevented. Filters are to be cleaned of impurities daily and flushed cleaned weekly of impurities. End caps of sections and laterals should be opened for upto 30 minutes occasionally once in a couple of days. Adding Hydrochloric acid at 25% concentration is an effective way of cleaning pipe from clogging of organic impurities. Maintaining a pH value of 4 (acidic) throughout the pipe for upto 24 hours, is a good way to do this.

This is an excellent video which University of Agricultural Sciences  Bangalore of 30 mins duration, which states all details about the drip irrigation system and the problems that can arise while operating it in Indian conditions.

Jain Irrigation Systems is one of India's top drip irrigation company. Click here for the more commercial details.

As per the Times of India, the world's largest drip irrigation project is coming up in Bagalkot in Karnataka.  Covering about 35000 hectares of arid farmland in two phases, the Rs 768 crore scheme will benefit almost 15,000 small and medium farmers in the area. The scheme will help the farmers in the area to double the production of maize and jowar in the area. After the first five years of operation and transfer of ownership based on a BOOT model, from the Jain Irrigation group, the farmers will pay a meagre charge of Rs 1330 for each acre to the Water Users Associations, who will help maintain the system in the long run.

The success of the Bagalkot project will give the needed boost for other drip irrigation systems in the country and abroad. With dwindling precipitation noticed in certain areas of the country, especially North Karnataka and the impact of the seasonal El Nino Southern Oscillation across the world once in seven years, it is all the more important that drip irrigation systems are given the needed fillip and encouragement across the country to help build the needed food stocks for food security in the country.

George Easaw

    Ref :
       1. FAO, Drip Irrigation, Last accessed August 2017
       2. Jain Irrigation Systems, Drip Irrigation, , Last accessed Aug 2017.
       3. Times of India, World's largest Drip Irrigation Project, Aug, 30, 2016.
       4. University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India, Drip Irrigation a detailed overview, Your agri channel, Youtube, 2014.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Understanding the water and energy intensity of industries ..

Modern day industries depend heavily on water and energy, the two vital components of survival.

We use water in all our daily uses preparing food, for agriculture that gives us food, livestock that gives us proteins, meat etc and industrial use. It is said that more than 70% of water use in developing countries is for agriculture while it is about 30% in the developed countries. Combined with water, the other important component of growth, development and human life is energy. We need energy to power up our homes, kitchens, automobiles that guzzle non-renewable resources like fossil fuels and finally for private and public transport and industrial uses. 
The graph given here , courtesy Ross et al, HBR, gives us a measure of the energy and water intensities of use across industries in developed countries.

First of all we come up with three areas A, B and C in the graph.

Area A (bottom left) where the the water intensity (measured in units of cubic metres of water per million US dollars of sale) against the energy intensity (measured in units of Megawatt per million US dollars of sale) is linearly proportional, ie, in the region between 100 and 500 cu m of water and 100-200 MW of energy per million US dollars of sale. This Area A (green class) includes Technology companies like IBM, TCS, Accenture, Google, Infosys etc. All telecommunication companies like China Mobile, Vodafone, Airtel etc  fall in this group. Once the telecom infrastructure is in place, we find these companies need very less inputs in terms of water and energy. Defence, Manufacturing, automobile manufacturing like Toyota, Renault, VW etc and health care including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies fall in this category. We can also call them the green industries, to signify the relatively low levels of water and energy usage intensity per million dollars of sales. 

Area B (orange class, centre) includes industries where the water and energy usage is slightly on the higher side, we find in these industries like food processing (Brittannia, Nestle etc), beverages (Coke Pepsi etc) , hospitality, oil, gas and coal industry that includes conventional transportation industry, the water intensity is in the region of 1000-7000 cu m of water per million dollars of sale while the energy intensity is in the range of 300-1000 MW of energy per million dollars of sale. We call these industries the orange group of industries as they have greater pollution potential than the type A green class of industries. A society should try to invest in less of these industries for better sustainability of the environment.
Area C (red class, top right) includes industries that have water usage intensity in the range of 10,000 to 90,000 cu. m. and energy usage intensity in the range of 2000-8000 MW of energy per million dollars of sale. The industries that fall within this category are energy utilities like thermal, nuclear and hydro electric power plants and metal processing and chemical industries, which includes tyre, paints, chemicals etc.

We find technology industries like Information technology, chemical technology etc use the least of both these resources while the oil and gas industry uses energy on an average scale while energy utilities in organisations have the highest combination of use of both these resources. The more modern electronic commerce class of Industries also fall in this category as they have less warehousing needs (Alibaba model) and thus energy needs and slightly higher transportation energy needs, with very less water consumption intensity.

In densely populated cities and urban areas and societies which are very concerned about environmental pollution and safety hazards, it is better to have industries of the Green class or Type A industries that are technology based, automobile, defence, manufacturing health care etc. In areas less populated, the orange and red class of industries can be setup.

Employment potential is higher in the case of green class industries in comparison to orange and red classes of industries.

Airline industry is a vast and important sector in any economy and we find its water intensity is very less (in the range of 40-50 cu m of water usage/million dollar sales) while energy usage intensity is on the higher side (in the range of 5000-6000 MW of energy usage/million dollar sales). The same can be said about the retailing sector as they have huge warehouses,  transportation networks to power up with comparitively  less usage of water  We put them in the orange class of industries considering their higher energy intensity over water intensity.

The above chart is plotted for industries that are supplied by the conventional non-renewable sources of energy like thermal, oil and gas etc. As industries get supplied by renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, tidal etc, which is more efficient in generation and transmission compared to conventional forms of non-renewable sources of energy, the points get closer to the Y-axis, or the slope of line joining the industries increases, or the line becomes more vertical. Usage of electric driven vehicles in transportation is thus a big game changer in the transportation sector.

As industry develops and energy gets cheaper and widely available, we find water still remains the bottleneck as mankind is yet to produce great technologies that help reduce water consumption in major industries, Unless we are able to come up with a really cheap industrial class desalination technology to convert salty seawater for potable use in homes and industries, we are still at risk in future of running into water scarcity.  Really as James Ferguson in the April 2015 Newsweek article highlighted, the next global war will not be over boundaries or economic might, it will be over water.

george ..

Reference : 1. Ross, Kevin and Deborah Frodl, Solving the twin crisis of water and energy scarcity, HBR, Jan 2016

Sikka's "unfortunate" exit from Infosys ..

The recent Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka's exit from Infosys made great news. Here are few moves from Sikka which Murthy (NRN as he is p...

My popular posts over the last month ..