Archive for July, 2010

Energy usage: US and India

July 27, 2010 Leave a comment

I found, via comments on this blog,that the average US household uses 10656 kiloWatt-hours (kWh) per year according to the US Dept. of Energy. It appears from that report that this is only the electricity usage, quite a bit of natural gas is also used in most homes. According to the Daily Green, the average house in Nashville, Tennessee uses 15600 kWh every year. This data was from 2006.

After reading this I wondered about the energy usage in India. Since the disparity among Indians in terms of their living standards is so great as to be mind-boggling, the phrase `average household’ does not really have any meaning. A significant fraction of Indian households do not have any electricity, while a great majority gets by with one lamp in the house.

Anyway, I wondered about how much energy my household uses. Given that we would be considered middle-class (or even upper middle class) in this society, that might be a good point of comparison with the standard of living in the US. I looked up my recent electricity bills, and it turns out that we use about 1700 kWh a year on electricity. Since someone is at home all the time, and since we have an inverter to take care of the power cuts, this is on the higher side of usage among people in our income group. This is 1/6th of what the average US household uses in a year, or a ninth of what the average Nashville house uses in a year.

Some uses of energy are not included in this list, such as that of pumping the water into overhead tanks, although I doubt somewhat that homes in Nashville would need to have their own pumps putting water in tanks on the roof. Also not included is the amount of gas (LPG)  we use for cooking, which comes to about 10 cylinders or 142 kgs in a year. Using data from the planning commission, I can calculate that this is equivalent to another 1866 kWh in a year. Even then, the total comes to about 1/5th of what a Nashville house uses in electricity, disregarding any gas burnt for heating.

Why do they need so much energy, I wonder.

Laws and commandments

July 24, 2010 Leave a comment

It is strange to find Supreme Court judgments which read like a sermon.

“Like a gentleman and a decent person, he (Thakur) should have handed over the possession of the rented premises to the landlord. However, he continued with the possession through his sister-in-law. This is most improper behaviour on the part of a government servant.”  —  Supreme Court bench, quoted in the Hindustan Times.

Isn’t it the purpose of laws to prevent improper behaviour?

Categories: Law and governance

Harassing the hockey players

July 24, 2010 Leave a comment

The new twist in the ongoing sexual harassment saga at the Indian Hockey Federation is that, the committee probing the charges against women’s hockey coach Kaushik does not include any women, contrary to Supreme Court guidelines. Doesn’t anybody care about the law any more?

One hopes that this committee will be immediately replaced by another, moe appropriate one.

Google and Youtube hacked

July 16, 2010 1 comment

A couple of hours ago, i.e. around 9pm IST, both and were hacked. I have saved the screenshots, will upload them tomorrow.

Update: As promised, here are the screenshots. On second thought, maybe it is only my local ISP or some Indian gateway which has been attacked. I am guessing this since the links led to Indian companies. If so, I am impressed. This is a fairly large scale hacking operation — didn’t know there were enough Indian hackers, good enough and brave enough, to do something like this.

Categories: Uncategorized

The army and the people

July 3, 2010 Leave a comment

With so many deaths in the news every day, from Kashmir to West Bengal and from Manipur to Chattisgarh, one has got to wonder how badly wrong the policies of the government must be. We are suppose to be a democracy, a nation governed by the people. If the people keep dying in large numbers, the process of governance is clearly not working as it should.

One major source of failure in my opinion is the government’s policy of using an ever increasing amount of force, lethal force, in every situation wherever there is an armed response to the government. That escalates what might have been a mere law and order problem to a civil war, and elevates armed protesters to armed insurgents. India is not special in this, the same sort of response is emanating from every government in the world, sometimes not even in their own countries.

One way of keeping the government’s response in check is to apply the government’s own laws to its own armed forces. For India, the relevant law, the truly draconian one, is the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Wherever it is in force, like in Manipur, it essentially puts the armed forces above the law. So if the armed forces kill someone, they can walk away scot free. Of course, in some places, like West Bengal, the police do that anyway, but they are not as competent as some other sections of the armed forces.

Pratik Kanjilal has suggested that a particular clause of this law (or rather its predecessor from the British days) be brought back, one that requires all uses of lethal force be authorized in writing. I think this is a very good suggestion, one that the courts should force upon the government. But I also do not see our courts doing that in a foreseeable future, as our judges do not seem too keen to take the side of the `little guy’ — Bhopal being a case in point.