21 September, 2013

Things I Loved about Kashmir Valley


Pair of Chinar Trees


  • Bright and colorful
  • Fat and Happy


  • Use of mountain slopes for water flows
  • Royal
  • Ancient tradition

Lakes and Mountains
  • Calm and serene waters
  • Pristine
  • Rapid rivers with ice cold water


  • Shiny

Art and Architecture
  • Wooden Walls
  • Homes for Winter


  • Thousand years old
  • Multiple religions and beliefs
  • Tragedy of India Pakistan partition


  • Rural, Shy and humble
  • Deeply Religious
  • Happy and relaxed (thanks to great climate, in spite of violence and military presence in the region)
  • Longing for Peace (Aman) and real democracy (self rule)

01 May, 2013

Hot Summer Afternoon in Pune

Last few days have been incredibly hot in Pune with temperatures reaching 41 degree Celsius. Right now as I type in this blog post, it is 41 degrees and it feels like it. Just to give you some perspective if body temperature goes above 40 degrees, you will get at heat stroke. It means right now my body's temperature control mechanism and ceiling fan (and power supply) is working OK.

There are very few things that you can do when it is hot, dry, dusty and everything just looks tired under incessant energy from that big shiny ball at 149 million KMs away from here.

Some of the things I have been doing since morning are:
  • I wonder how they measure temperatures, I mean do they measure it in shadow or in sun shine?
  • I wish that my company office had more trees so that everyday at office I could park my car in shadow, so that when I use the car in the evening it does not feel like sitting in an oven.
  • I did some research (Google based) on use of tree shadows to lower the temperatures of areas around homes and offices.
  • Protect precious things: I don't use air conditioning at home, so I just put some wet cloths on the most precious thing in my home: my computer. If heat brings it down, it is an emergency for me.
  • Good things: I have tried to put a good spin on hot weather. With such high temperatures and wind, I have most powerful cloth drier in the world. Washed clothes are dried in 15 minutes. Thermo-regulation for computers.
  • Good things: Pune climate has advantage of wind from west that helps to reduce the temperatures in the evening. Make sure that you open windows of you house and let wind take away the heat (called as convective heat transfer).
  • Good things: Many places in Pune have good density of trees, not to mention river (they are very small) that flows through, helps cool down the air. However if "new citizens" of Pune are not sensitive to this fact, we could slowly loose this.
  • I wonder what happened to those "solar stoves" (called Suryapethi) that I saw in my childhood.  Using those stoves (flitted with lenses) cooking rice took few minutes.

30 March, 2013

Student and Industry Collaboration to Solve Unsolved Problems

Back in January 2010, punetech.com had a simple contest : How can we improve students and industry collaboration on innovative projects?. For a long time now I have been passionate about quality of education and research done in colleges in India, to solve real world problems. So I submitted by ideas and my entry won a prize (along with 4 others). Following was the content of my entry:

Contest problem :
Assuming all statements in the blog post are correct, propose a plan to positively affect innovation.

My Proposal :
My proposal is simple and it involves :
+ Students : Students studying (voluntarily, not forced by parents) in any year of science and engineering.
+ Mr. Innovator : Engineer working in Industry who have deep expertize on a particular topic, have list of unsolved problems, innovative ideas, good communication skills.
+ Mrs. Academia : Professor teaching at the college, interested in more interaction with Industry.
+ Companies : Mr. Innovator’s employer. This company has lots of money and believes that applied research is one of way to increase profits.
+ Colleges : Colleges where students are studying. This college is believes that collaboration with Industry is good. 

Initially, companies and colleges non-critical role in this plan. So plan can be executed even without them. Following are the stages of the plan : 

1. Guest Lectures
Most important part of the proposal is great technical lectures by Mr. Innovator. Arrange guest lectures by Mr. Innovator at the college. Mr. Innovator will conduct this lectures, show demos, talk about interesting problems and ideas not found in the books.

2. Forming Team and Bonding
After one or more lectures, interested students and Mrs. Academia will meet Mr. Innovator. They will form a team, Mr. Innovator can pick best students and team will continue meeting for further discussions. Team will decide how they can work together.

For example : In case of a software program, Mr. Innovator may set up the project website and arrange infrastructure for students.
3. Funding (Optional)
Mr. Innovator’s employer (or Mr. Innovator himself) will pay decent remuneration to (Mr. Innovator), students and Mrs. Academia after producing useful output.
For example :
+ In case of innovative mechanical design, Mr. Innovator/company (whoever funds) will own the design and file for patent.
+ In case of software, copyright etc.

For achieving the scale, i.e. to encourage students to work hard, funding (financial incentive) will be important factor.

Ironically, the proposed plan to increase innovation is not at all innovative or ground breaking, because there is no silver bullet or ready made recipe to increase innovation (See reference). To increase industry-academia collaboration, people in academia and industry must become pro-active, collaborate, create win-win situations at different levels.

So this plan is combination is internship programs (like TechStart), summer project (Google SoC), industry sponsors contests, consultancy services offered by academia to industry. 

The plan has one new aspect i.e. Mr. Innovator spending time at campus, giving great lectures about things not covered in the books and forming a team.

Why do I mention this entry now in a blog post?. It is because recently I got an opportunity to play a role of Mr. Innovator at MIT Pune. On a mailing list I volunteered for conducting a workshop on OpenGL and Professor at MIT, CS department agreed.

It was my first time at MIT, Kothrud Campus and they are really good campus (grandiose architecture of some of the buildings and lots of trees) and hills in the backdrop. As expected it was exciting and challenging to talk in front of very bright students. I managed to explain most important concepts of OpenGL and wrote sample programs using GLUT.

If I guess the feedback from students, I think they were excited about the power of OpenGL concepts and 3D animations that could be created with it by them. Due to time constraints I could not cover light, colour and animation, but hope students will explore on their own.

Finally I challenged students to solve one of unsolved problems that I know of involving 3D animation and that is "Road modelling and traffic Simulation for Pune". Can we full to the scale 3D full model some Pune locality and simulate vehicle traffic on the roads etc.? Solving such real problems is likely to bring out lot of innovative application of existing technology.

Here is a nice letter I got from the department. Thank you very much.

I strongly recommend to all engineers, domain experts to get in touch with various engineering colleges in Pune region. Check with them if they are willing to participate in a collaborative effort, starting with guest lectures of topics of your expertize.
It is a fun and satisfying experience to share your knowledge with next generation of young engineers who hopefully will dare to solve difficult problems around us !

11 February, 2013

Cycling is Part of City's Culture

Every city should have its own vibe, it should feel different from other cities. "Different" makes them beautiful. Cities evolve differently based on its location, weather, history, architecture/buildings, traditions and more importantly values/priorities, skills and dreams of majority of people living in the cities.

Not all cities wants to be a mere "job creating" machine, where people somehow manage to get to office, slog for 8 to 10 hours and then disappear into the comforts of their homes. Some cities value various combinations of nature, art and music, education, fine architecture, romance and quality of life over other things that are opposite of these things.

How do I decide what vision is best for city? It is quite possible that you are a new citizen of a city (migrated just few years ago from other place). If you take a look at some of the most beautiful cities in the world, then may be it will help you finalize your vision for your city.

Copenhagen, Denmark 

Source: Sonia's Travels

Bangaluru, India

Citizens should have a vision for city they live in and should make their voice heard. Ashwin Mahesh from Bangaluru has great dream (shared by many others) for his city.  He recently described as part of this dream as a Facebook post. I quote:
Am happy to see the Namma Cycle program at IISc stabilising over time. We're reaching a stage where every event that is held on campus also becomes an opportunity to promote NC, and a lot of visitors are also interested in using the bikes for a tour of the campus. Murali and others have finished mapping the demand pattern for bikes inside the campus, and more pick up and drop off locations are also being established.

The next step is to connect the in-campus program to residential communities around and near IISc, and also to major bus stops like the 18th cross location in Malleswaram. If you happen to live near IISc, please engage with the NC to see how bicycling can be promoted in your neighbourhood.
For more: Read Ashiwin's Facebook post. For more about Namma Cycle Program click here.
Pune India
Citizens of Pune also share a dream of cycling friendly city.
  What is your vision for your city? Is your city's culture different than other cities?

08 February, 2013

First Free Software, Next Open Data

I plan to give a talk on "Open data" at GNUnify 2013, SICSR Pune.

The talk will be based on my experience and attempts to make public data available on the Internet in standard format. Specifically:
+ Public transportation data in GTFS format
+ Accidents Statistics (various reports)

As Internet users in India grow, it becomes tremendously important to make useful public data available for citizens. Informed citizens is basic assumption of real vibrant and active democracy. Else few people will yield power and citizens will remain in dark.

I will give some examples of Govt. agencies who refuse the publish public data
+ RTO of any city like Pune should public vehicle registration and driving license related data. They have a page under construction for last 3 year.
+ Municipal corporation is supposed to public various useful map layers (gardens, no development zones, schools etc.)
+ Census information
+ Election voter registration statistics

It is not easy to find answers to these questions. This must change, and this talk is about how to achieve that change.

21 January, 2013

Thank you @Google+ Team

+Vic Gundotra and team at Google for making it possible to link to +Google+ profiles. Now I can advertise myself +Vijay Patil in my blog posts :-) 

Reuse existing railways tracks for Pune Metro

DMRC Report (2009) on Pune Metro

According to latest news article Centre okays metro, asks Pune Municipal Corporation to plan mono rail, Pune metro route will be based on DMRC report (2009).

Official documents related to Pune Metro including DMRC report (July 2009)  on the PMC website for Pune citizens (and elected representatives) to study, understand, think carefully.

I spent some time studying first 3 chapters of the document, with
expectation to find clear description of :
  1. What is current traffic/transportation situation in Pune region?
  2. Why metro is needed for Pune region?
  3. How best routes for the metro are identified?
  4. How metro is guaranteed to solve traffic problems and how to
    measure the progress/improvements in quality of life?
  5. I also expected that PMC would append it's own report to the DMRC report, about how other modes of transportation (PMPML, BRT, Cycle tracks, 2 wheeler Parking etc. etc) will be integrated with proposed Pune Metro. What are targets/objectives/goals to be achieved before finalizing Pune metro.
Please go through the DMRC report and related article to check if you find answers to above questions and if they satisfy you.

In this blog post, one specific aspect about proposed Pune Metro project is discussed.

Reuse of existing railway tracks

How we can improve public transportation capacity and quality, with maximum probability of success and minimal investment? What if Pune metro is created reusing existing railways tracks. 

Re-using existing tracks for Pune Metro
Note: BRT and cycle tracks shown in above figure are approximate just to illustrate the integration with other project.
Note: PMRC stands of Pune Metro Rail Corporation (just for example)

As shown in the above figure:

+ Concept involves taking over Indian railways tracks in central areas of Pune region and converting them into Pune metro (above ground local trains). Full capacity will be used. If needed additional capacity could be added (TODO: How?).

+ What happens to long distance trains of IR? Indian railways is requested to create a new track on the out skirts of the city. New railways stations will be constructed, one for Pimpri chinchwad and other for Pune. New modern Railway Stations will be connected to city by Pune metro and BRT.

+ What happens to long distance connectivity? Western part of Pune region is already well connected to other regions due to NH4. New track by IR will connect eastern part of Pune. This is good balance.

Note : I do not have any degrees in Urban planning or transportation. This
is a suggestion that needs more thought and official response/explanation.

If I get time, I would like to discuss this idea with officials and like to hear the counter argument. Feel free to print this post and discuss with relevant people.