Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Linux Mint 18.1 Serena, 10 top things to do ..

My 'text based" Unix journey started in 1988 at Govt. College of Engineering, Goa, though my computer experience started much earlier on the IBM Main Frame computer at Govt College of Engineering, Trivandrum (CET) in 1983. My Gnu/Linux journey started around 1996 before going to IIT Bombay. Since then there has been no looking back. Its been Linux, Linux and Linux all the way. Solaris at IITB was again a great experience ..

My Gnu/Linux journey was interesting .. With great support from Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation, earlier it was Redhat, Debian, Mandriva, Fedora, Knoppix,  and then came Ubuntu. From Ubuntu 12.1, I recently migrated to Ubuntu 16.1 and then to Linux Mint 18.1 Serena on my laptop. A big jump, but very cool and comfortable .. The beauty with Gnu/Linux is that once you start working, there is no going back to any other OS.

Linux Mint 18.1 is a very easy and configurable distribution (Ubuntu based) ..

Here is the list of things one needs to do to have a terrific experience on linux mint ...

Good Luck ..


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Synthite Industries, Kochi, a shining example of spice-based entrepreneurship from Kerala..

This article on Synthite ( is basically done from an academic view point. 

Spices was what enticed the Romans, the Egyptians and the Chinese to come to Kerala for trading.. Spices have been a part of Kerala culture and traditions for millennia ... By this article we are trying to understand how a Kerala based spices company from Kochi has made it to a global brand in a commodity which Kerala has  been famous for ages ..

Synthite Industries Limited manufactures and exports spice oleoresins and essential oils. It manufactures a range of spice products, including oleoresins, essential oils, natural food colors, health ingredients, herb extracts, organic extracts, fair trade extracts, floral concretes, absolutes, and spices. The company's products are used in processed meats, savories, beverages, baked goods, sweets, confectionery products, dairy products, pickles, masalas, sauces, ketchup, seasonings, and dips for the food processing industry. Synthite Industries Limited was incorporated in 1970 and is based in Cochin, India. - Bloomberg, 21 Feb 2017.

What makes Synthite Industries in Kochi a big name in spice processing in the world ?

Chairman, Shri. C V Jacob
Kerala has been the spice capital of the world for centuries. The marketing route by sea for spices from Kerala two thousand years back to the outside world to China and Arabia was called Spice Route while the land route connecting China to the rest of the world was called the Silk Route. (Click here to know more about the spice route and silk route of 200 BC..)

When an industry thrives in Kerala, the first question that comes to our mind, is how did this happen in a land known for its labour militant policies and political irresponsibility, opportunism and instability ?

Most of the people exploit the society for their personal needs. They make use of political parties and petty politics to grab money, political clout and influence. But to know of a closely held family owned industrial group, not yet gone public, doing quite well and doing global business worth rupees one thousand and five hundred crores in Kerala is a great achievement.

Kerala, the spices capital of the world ..
The only other industrial group from Kerala, bigger than Synthite would be MRF tyres group from Mammmen Mappillai Kandathil group, from Kottayam, with main operations outside of Kerala, my former employer .. The main reason why the Synthite group has been able to function well is that most of their dealings are with the Central government in Delhi than with the state government, which causes least interference. 

Separating oleoresins from spices is a technology acquired from Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore, Karnataka, India and marketing is done by Synthite to major food processing companies across the world. This has made Synthite a name to reckon with globally. (Click here to know of the different spices available in Kerala, the spice capital of the world , their English names with pictures..)

What are oleoresins ?  (to know more click here
Spice oleoresins represent the complete flavour profile of the spice. It contains the volatile as well as non volatile constituents of spices. Oleoresins can be defined as the true essence of the spices and can replace whole/ground spices without impairing any flavour and aroma characteristic. Oleoresins are obtained from spices by extraction with a non-aqueous solvent followed by removal of the solvent by evaporation. Spice oleoresins guarantee superior quality of flavour and aroma. They are complete and balanced, consistent and standardised.
                                                                                                  Courtesy : Spices Board of India.

Cayenne pepper oleoresin extract ..
Oleoresins preserve the natural properties and qualities of spices in a powder form, food grade and can be mixed with food products and other products for beauty enhancement and other applications ..

Synthite, which originally started as a urethane foam company in 1970, moved to the area of oleoresins and spice processing, after acquiring technology to make oleoresins from CFTRI, Mysore. Synthite now holds 35% of global market in Oleoresins and has a turnover of INR 1500 crores, exporting to 85 countries ..

Employing about 1800 people near Kochi, Synthite presently produces over 500 products, spice based, from 6 production centres in India. They also produce from overseas company owned production centres in United States, Europe, China and Sri Lanka. In brief, it is a successful MNC from Kerala.

What does the future hold for this company ? Synthite, the $250 million spices processing company in Kerala, known for its environment friendly policies that protect the environment and the culturally diverse social lifestyle in society, is poised to make great global impact in the coming years.

A word on entrepreneurship for prospective entrepreneurs - no time is too late ..
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."                                                                                                        - Chinese proverb.
Thanks to the Western Ghats and monsoons, Kerala, the small stretch of land in the Southern tip of Asia, made famous because of the exotic spices produced there, will continue to produce the same high quality spices, plenty for the world for another thousand years ! 

The global spices market being too large and the spices kingdom of the world being Kerala, there is no better time for entrepreneurs from Kerala and India to venture into this new area, than now ..


Monday, February 20, 2017

Theory of Constraints in Lean Production ..

Identifying the bottlenecks and giving maximum attention to remove the bottleneck is the most important aspect of Theory of Constraints.


The forgotten Irish slaves .. British cruelty .

A painting of a white slave auction in progress ..
While we know that slave trade by itself was against the human race, against humanity and was manipulated by the British for material wealth, the fact that there existed white slaves besides black slaves, adds insult to injury. Why should the senseless white man wrong his own people for some money ?

Does it all point out to the pitiable english statee of mind that existed a mere three centuries back ? Was the Industrial revolution that started from England a blessing for the world or a curse ? How many millions of people have been harmed by the British before British tyranny all over the world was put to rest by great world leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela ?

History tells us that there existed just black slaves, what we've never come across in the last four hundred years, were the stories of Irish slaves enslaved, tortured and killed in thousands by the God-fearing, civilized British !!  What a shame on Britain !!

Sad to know about the ancestors of Henry Ford, Jack Welch, 22 US presidents incl Roosevelt, Theodore Wilson, John F Kennedy, Clinton, Carter, Bush, Nixon, Raegan, personalities like Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock, John O'Hara and more .. 

Like the Jews, they too have been enslaved, tortured and murdered and forgotten, but they have overcome all of the past and are shining in the Western world. Let us not forget it were the same Jews that controlled world slave trade for almost 2000 years. The fact that they had to face the ignominy of their own kin, 6 million of them being killed during the second world war, adds insult to injury.

Here is the video by the author of the book, Irish Slaves, Rheka Akamatsu, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform ..

Here is another video link on how Jews controlled the slave trade in the world for almost 2000 years ..
The breakaway faction from the Indian Christians group, the Marthomites were followers of christian revival movement from the British. Sad to know that the Marthomites of Kerala inherit the Christian faith from the blood soaked hands of British tyrants and followers of the cruel and violent, black and white slave trade ..

Friday, February 17, 2017

How things change overnight !!

US never would have imagined things would change so fast and NYT would have to eat its own words !

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why US, Russia and ESA need to be wary of India, the new kid in town !!

ISRO PSLV C37 ready for launch with 104 satellites ..
India's total cost for the much successful PSLV C37 launch of 104 satellites on 15 February 2017 was a paltry $15 million. This is $ 5 million more than the cost to insolate Kochi international airport, 9 million traffic, the world's first and only, and yet to be challenged,  100℅ energy neutral, solar energy international airport in the world. Click here for more details on Kochi airport ..
PSLV C37 being assembled ...

Elon musk's much talked about Space X would have sent these 104 satellites for about 4x costs at $60 million and ESA, Japan, China and NASA for a cool and reasonable $100 million each, about 6.5x Indian costs. 

Wonder why others are getting very expensive, less competitive and losing the spirit to innovate on costs ? 🙏

Primarily the most important reason for this losing out is not lacking the technical competency, but according to me, there are two main reasons.

The first one is the naturally higher costs inbuilt into the system, due to societal pressures and living a sophisticated, artificial, extravagant, lavish, wasteful life from the beginning. A less sophisticated life would have seen all of us living with nature.. The players are not even willing to introspect as to why their costs are skyrocketing and try to reduce the costs. These players perceive that superior performance and improved functionality (almost all the time) is all that matters, regardless of the costs. Their perception fails to retain their clientele. More often than not, they fail to catch up with the lower cost players, customers switch sides and losing business ..  These major players eventually fade off and get pushed out of the market.

The second reason is the feeling of complacency, the feeling that they (the incumbents) are too big for others to even touch them ..

Prof. Christensen of Harvard calls it disruptive innovation, (click here to read more on Prof Christensen and disruptive innovation), where new players beat incumbents on costs and slowly capture the market till they finally drive the incumbents out .. examples are global large scale steel industry giving way to smaller plants, Japanese auto makers disrupting US automakers and so on.   

Unless the incumbent old space players do something like buy out smaller nimble companies, they will be driven out of business by the lean newcomers like India ! 👍🙏🙏


How can ISRO's selfie cameras launched to space help transform global logistics ?

ISRO launched 104 selfie cameras to space this morning from Sriharikotta, a record number which the rest of the world will take a long time to overtake, if at all they are smart ..

How can this help in efficient management of physical logistics of large and small manufacturing and retail firms is an interesting topic we could take up for discussion.

If we could find out the number of cars outside a Tata Star Bazar in India and decide on whether the store needs to relocate to a less congested place or it needs to move to  the city centre, from the images passed on by these cubesats in space, it helps Tata in better locating their store outlets.

Pictorial images and real time monitoring of traffic details across different sectors in the city can help decide on the routes to be taken by ambulances to ferry injured patients in case of an accident.

1. Charting efficient purchase and distribution side logistics for large firms to control their supply chain logistics costs. 
2. Helping avoid densely populated areas while transporting dangerous and explosive chemicals 
3. Helping delivery or supply trucks to avoid heavy traffic roads to reach destinations. 
4. to chart easier routes and reduce transportation times and costs 
5. to plan offer discount sales on low traffic days 
6. to decide whether milk runs would reduce costs or not 
7. to measure radial distances between source and destinations 
8. to help plan light load transportation by drones

These are some of the supply chain benefits that could accrue from these selfie eyes in sky.

Still the clearest resolution still will be the Indian IRNSS satellite camera eyes that will have a resolution of 0.6 metres compared to 2 metres for GPS and 5 metres for the cubesats.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Is Indian home-grown automotive sector maturing fast ? The case of Tata and Mahindra ..

Indigenous automobile production from the idea conception, design, prototyping,  manufacturing and withdrawal stage in the country happens only with two major manufacturers, Tata Motors and Mahindra.

Jamshedji Tata will be proud of his great grandson, Ratan
Of these we find Tata Motors has been moving at a pretty fast pace. starting from the Tata Indica model which is still very popular because of its low maintenance costs to Tata Nano, the compact low cost model with for the first time in the world, under the rear seat 660 cc petrol engine to different SUVs and LCVs etc.. Tata's acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) from UK spearheaded by the former visionary Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata, was the game changer for Tata, as after that we have found there has been no looking back for Tata Motors. (Click here for the June '16 writeup in Telegraph UK of Jaguar revival). Even though like every automobile manufacturer, they have had their regular ups and downs occasionally, the year 2017 looks very promising.

During the past one or two years, Tata has released Zest, Tiago models which are quite popular and is helping Tata slowly push itself to the list of global automobile manufacturers in a big way. The expert way in which Tata Motors helped guide its acquisition of the British Jaguar LandRover to move from heavy losses to heavy profits in a matter of 3-4 years is a phenomenal turnaround story every business school should discuss and every business student of the world should be made  aware of.

The 2017 Jaguar XE, from Tata Motors
Tata's managerial style of delegating the operational management and operational decision making of JLR to local British managers, with only higher level financial decision making with Indian managers ensured minimum interference in the company's operations. Financial decision making was in the control of Tata Managers. Just the profits of JLR in 2012 was equivalent to what Tata Motors paid to buyout JLR from Ford in 2008, British Pounds 1.5 billion.

JLR has been doing exceedingly well, as a showcase of superior Tata management style. On the financial side, in 2016, they had revenues of almost BP 22.2 billion, with production of 500,000 vehicles annually, about 70% being in the diesel range. The Chinese economic slowdown of  late and the British revival has seen Juguar making a comeback in its land of origin. Tata's Kite 5 to be released in March '17 is definitely going to make heads turn around both in terms of stylish design, costs and utlity.

2016 model of Jaguar XE
Mahindra has also been doing well , its acquisition of the Bangalore based electric car manufactyrer, Reva has helped it to broaden its range and offer diverse models with an aim to grab a good portion of Indian sales and global sales.

Even though the Indian automobile industry has turned truly global with all major global automobile manufacturers in the country, from Toyota to VW, Renault, Ford, GM, BMW, Audi, Nissan, Honda, Suzuki, Hyundai, Mercedes Benz doing local manufacturing and assembly, it has been a tough task for the local players like Tata and Mahindra to make great cars and outperform competition both in terms of performance and costs.

The to-be-released Tata Kite 5 sedan model ..
As India slowly moves to become the world's largest economy by 2040 AD and dominate global manufacturing and economic growth, we expect global manufacturing to shift to India and Indian companies to outperform western, Japanese and Korean automobile manufacturers.

As throughout history India has been dominating both the intellectual and materialistic world over more than 8000 years and being one of the two oldest civilizations on planet earth, it's control and dominance over the rest of the world in the modern digital, manufacturing and knowledge age is not too far either !


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Raghavan, the new NORKA boss !!

Rajagiri HS Ernakulam, Kerala, in the late 70s, was a great place to do schooling.

While at Rajagiri, I had a classmate who used to be very active, be it on the field or in the classroom in studies. He was tall, handsome even then. One striking difference from the rest of the class was that Raghavan was a very sincere, humble character, helpful and jovial, mad for cricket !!

After school we parted ways. But the tall handsome Raghavan's image remained etched in my memory quite strongly. Later I came to know that he had gone to study at the Govt Medical College in Calicut, Kerala to pursue the very noble medical profession, while I went down to Trivandrum to study and pursue a career with machines and computers.

Dr KN Raghavan, who passed out of Calicut Medical College with flying colours was cut out for greater honour and service. His passion to serve the society in more effective ways saw him clear the civil service exams and join the Indian Revenue Service in the eighties. As former Chief Commissioner, Customs and Central Excise, Kochi, he made a name for himself and motivated the staff to function more effectively and be more customer friendly.

Raghavan has now been posted as the new chief of Non-Resident Keralite's Affairs (NORKA) based out of Trivandrum, Kerala. The non-resident Keralites living abroad have always depended on the govt to bail them out in times of trouble, like for example, the Kuwait war and Iraq war etc. The Kerala govt through this department was showing its care and concern to it's citizens, who are the greatest source of revenue for the state. My b-i-law Jiji Thomson, former Kerala Chief Secretary was at this post for some time, years back. Raghavan, you can always fall back on him for any advice and wise counsel. My cousin Rajan P George, IRS always had high opinion of Raghavan ..

Like you excelled in Customs and Central Excise, I am sure Raghavan, with your sincere approach, you will be able to do wonders to help the Non-Resident Keralites around the world, to help in their resettlement and reemployment back in Kerala. 

Your future path is clear. You are climbing great steps and may you, by the blessings of Almighty, reach the pinnacle of your career soon. May God bless you to achieve your dreams and goals (also to follow your passion, to umpire at a couple more International ODI cricket matches)..


Friday, February 10, 2017

A resurgent India surging ahead ..

Why is US upset with India's economic growth ? Will India be able to sustain its economic growth under Modi ? Is Trump as US President an indirect blessing for India ?

Donald Trump taking over as the 45 th US President is watched with great trepidation and fear by the rest of the world. An inward looking Trump, boasting of the strengths of a highly debted nation (crossing $ 19 trillion dollars in national debt), openly speaking against later immigrants and flexing muscles against China, the present top global economy, made painful reading .

The gravitating shift of global power equations from the West to the East made top news yet again. For the great Indian democracy, the main point of concern, after demonetising Indian currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination on November 8, 2016 was, would the present Indian Prime Minister Modi be able to sustain the economic growth started by former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and take India forward or do we need Dr MMS back in charge to take India to great heights ?

When the globally acclaimed economist Dr. MMS took Indian economy from #10 global rank in 2004 to #3 global rank in 2014, the world took note and wondered to what great heights India would move. The bubbling Indian democracy with a change of government was poised to scale great heights. China at $21.5 trillion and US at $18.5 trillion were only ahead of India's $8.6 trillion GDP at PPP. Modi as PM presently had a great responsible and noble task before him. 

The Demonetization drive as mentioned above was a good move aimed to strengthen Indian economy, though in the short term the outlook may appear grim. It had great potential for the country to get rid of black money and illicit wealth, unless it causes a stagnation of the economy with people being cautious at spending. The first  results of Demonetization has not yet been officially announced except for the fact that more currency came back to the banks than what was known to have existed, a big shock and shame !

Being a #3 global economy, Indian efforts firstly should be to set right the injustice at the global level where economic growth of any country is pegged on the US dollar. It should be able to garner global opinion to change the global economic system from focusing only on US Dollar and instead on a basket of global currencies including the Chinese Yuan, Indian rupee, Japanese Yen, the Deutsche Mark and the British Pound (?). Second, let our national goal be to climb up as #2 global economy with the motto, "India, always for progress". With the excellent lead provided by Dr MMS, PM Modi and FM Jaitley as a team, are capable of helping put India on track to progress, if not achieve this goal earlier.

The Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank Global World Wealth Report 2012 - highlights India to be the largest global economy  by 2050 AD, surpassing China by 2050.(click here for the report), go to page 11, table 1.

With the world reposing faith in India's economic might, PM Modi has been very lucky, he inherits a vibrant economy. He should be able to guide an economically mighty and strong India to lead the world and should also seek advice from the former PM and world renowned Economist Dr Manmohan Singh to become an economic giant, overtaking China. 

The Indian PM, good in  his personal intentions for the country, has to be vigilant that he not be carried away by petty rabble rousing, big talking, regressive minded, communal thinking politicians, pulling the country behind and instead focus on the progress and prosperity of the masses.

The more rabble rousing Trump does (characteristic of Republican Presidents in US), the worse it is for US and the better it is for China and India, the oldest civilizations of the world !

Ge ..