In response over text to a friend that shared this:

I think we have to factor in exponential growth and then some. For example the Bombay metro should look to 100x, not 10x today’s local train capacity.

That seems to be how the Chinese think. What they do defies imagination literally. If one were to imagine how many daily Beijing Shanghai high speed trains existed I’d have said 3 or 4. Never 35.

We are thinking of one ‘bullet’ train between Bombay and Ahmedabad five years from now. Why not plan for one every 20 min like a Bombay-Poona bus from day one?

Public infrastructure is almost always a case of build it and they will come. Instead we build private infra unscrupulously and with abandon, then pressurising politically some bare bones public infra to be built, the design bad scope of which is beholden to and limited by what exists. This is effectively then privatisation of public infra. Case in point is all of the excess real estate in Poona built right up to the literal edge of the national Poona Bangalore highway.

Speaking of China, I’d read this on a blog post:

“That’s the distance from Hong Kong to Beijing, and if you’re on a train that cruises at 306km/h, you can leave at 8:05AM and arrive one minute past five in the afternoon. The train has a number and a Wikipedia entry: G80”

Packed, uncomfortable train rides to undergrad college had had a few of us thinking about the impact of near-universal high speed trains in India: it wouldn’t just mean shorter travel times, but changes beyond that as well. There would be no sleeper cars. Railway food and support infra would be therefore vastly more efficient. Shorter times = more predictable arrival times => you could book hotels + trains together like you do with flights today. Housing changes altogether. Many more people could live in, say Aurangabad and Ahmedabad and even Belgav and commute to Bomay in a hour or so. Pressure on flights reduces. It’s crazy.

Blog that links to songs I like

Just started publishing Radio Station In My Head, where I’ll do exactly what the post title says, along with some basic info about the song. The mobile WordPress app makes this super-easy. And the idea is to mostly leave out songs that are mainstream. Follow it if you’re the sort that likes Bollywood songs from the early 60s to the mid 80s.

India and its experiments upon independence

A comment online about an article on India allowing several forms of identification when voting

“Funny how a nation of 1.3 billion people does democracy better than the U.S.
Meanwhile, idiots comment stuff like “But muh Murica is 9000x the size of Norway! So it will never work here”

This made me think of the several conscious choices the leadership made at independence in ’47:

“Even though we’re a civilisation five or six thousand years old, we’re a super-young modern nation-state, having achieved independence from Britain in 1947.

From what I’ve read – and for that matter heard from people two generations older, who were adults around then – India’s equivalents of your founding fathers adopted several bold, forward-thinking policies that were at odds with both history and the state of the population then: a parliamentary democracy. A federal structure. A republic. Separation of church (and temple and mosque and gurudwara and…) and state. A mutually independent triumvirate of legislature, executive and judiciary. Non-political armed forces. A written constitution. Universal adult franchise. Non-alignment with both the US and the Soviet spheres of influence. Retaining English as a national-level official language.

These were all massive experiments at breathtaking scale for a nation of some 400 million people living in abject poverty resulting from sustained plunder over 200 years of British rule. All of these experiments have succeeded and endured.

And all of these are recent enough for most Indians – urban or rural, man or woman, English-speaking or not, religious or not – to look at successful models, political or economic, abroad, shrug and say “yeah sure, why not?””