Bhuwan's Ramblings

Friday, February 15, 2008

Quest for Fire

We all know that the world is currently riddled with numerous problems like wars, terrorism, environmental degradation and scarcity of resources. I still, however, consider myself lucky to be born in this modern scientific age because we can laugh, play and think freely; in other words, we can live. Would we have fared better if we had been born 80,000 years ago when there were no wars, no environmental problems and abundance of resources?

I recently saw the 1981 motion picture Quest for Fire (based on the French novel La Guerre du Feu, written by J.H. Rosny aîné in 1909) that helped me to answer this question. The movie depicts the life of humans present on this planet about 80,000 years ago. It is shown that both the Neanderthal man (homo neanderthalensis) and Humans (homo sapiens) coexisted during that time. The sole objective of all the human tribes was survival, which meant the possession of ‘fire’. The movie provides insight into the life of Neanderthal man and the problems he faced due to the lack of knowledge of creating fire. Different human tribes attacked each other to obtain fire, which saved them from becoming ready meals for animals.

The movie effectively shows the difference between surviving and living. Without the knowledge of creating fire, humans perpetually lived in fear (of losing it) and thus could not think beyond surviving. The first time humans looked beyond surviving was when they learned the art of creating fire. This opened innumerable possibilities to actually use their brain and make discoveries. One of the most startling discoveries they made was ‘humor’ and ‘laughter’ apart from the realization of the feeling of love over and beyond just a mating exercise.

The movie does not have dialogues in any modern language. The prehistoric humans speak an invented language instead, developed by the zoologist and ethologist Desmond Morris. This language (a combination of signs and speech) along with the natural setting was one of the high points of the film.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Gurgaon Toll Issues from Live Mint

An edited version of my views on smoothing the traffic on the Delhi Gurgaon Toll Road from Live Mint can be seen here or by clicking on the image below.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Tatas and Green Cars

My eyes did not open to see the hybrid or greener version of Indian cars, but they did open to a promise of the same, at least from the Tatas.

They have envisioned delivering the greener version of their flagship car Indica (and, of course, their buses & trucks) in eight years. These vehicles are, in fact, planned to go beyond just a gas-electric hybrid and use different technologies like CNG, blended fuels and hydrogen-based hybrid engines.

The important point here is to develop a greener car without sacrificing on the luxuries of space, style, air conditioning/heating, power steering/windows, music player, cameras and other gadgets. A simple electric car already exists in terms of the Reva. The challenge is to develop a car that goes beyond just transporting a couple of persons for short distances.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hybrid/Green Cars in India

I am not sure if it was the Indian government or Times of India that got inspired by my previous posts about hybrid cars, but according to a TOI report the government is considering incentives for ‘green’ cars in India.

ok ok … I know that my blog post has nothing to do with their decision, but the underlying thought is the same … a cleaner environment.

I have been reading about Honda and Toyota planning to launch their hybrid vehicles in India since the Delhi Nano Show. The bad news, however, is that the price of a Hybrid Honda Civic is expected to be Rs. 20 lakhs (compared to a regular version at Rs. 12 lakhs), thanks to a 100% customs duty. Seeing a similar situation Toyota is still waiting on a decision to launch their most successful hybrid car till date, the Prius, in India.

I do support the customs duty on imported cars because it protects the Indian car industry and also encourages foreign car producers to set up manufacturing plants in India. I am, however, supportive of a reduction/exemption of customs duty for hybrid/green vehicles; and to address the concerns of protecting our own car industry, this reduction/exemption can be phased out over the next 5 to 10 years. This would encourage the car manufacturers to transfer and develop this technology in India.

I am glad that the Indian government is at least thinking about it and taking a progressive step towards preserving clean air, whatever little of it is left! I hope that my eyes open to find hybrid/greener versions of Marutis and Tatas running across the country.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hybrid Synergy Drive

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Hybrid Synergy Drive