Will Google Driverless Cars save lives in India?

WHO claims more than 2.3 million yearly deaths in India(2013): Google driverless car should test-drive their cars in India! With a high rate of accidents in the country, it will help save lives and prove to be great testing grounds for Google cars. What do you think?

WHO claims more than 2.3 million yearly deaths in India(2013): Google driverless car should test-drive their cars in India! With a high rate of accidents in the country, it will help save lives and prove to be great testing grounds for Google cars. What do you think?

In a country where one serious road accident takes place every minute and 16 people die on Indian roads every hour, can Google’s autonomous cars bring down the rampant number of death on Indian roads?

In the US, LA may be one of the most traffic-congested cities, there are other major US cities where car drivers suffer from nasty traffic congestions regularly—–San Francisco, Honolulu, New York, Seattle, San Jose, Miami, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Portland, as per the annual traffic index conducted by navigation system maker TomTom in Burlington, Mass. Car owners in the US have a reason to smile now! Google’s self-driving car running on test drives will be launched for the public within 2 to 5 years (as per Chris Umrson, head of driver-less cars, Google) ! In January 2015, Google announced it had begun discussions with most of the world’s top automakers to speed up its efforts of launching self-driving cars in the market by 2020.

Google believes that these smart robotic cars will reduce accidents due to errors made by human drivers owing to its robotic system for which drivers won’t need to worry about distractions and typical reaction time. This belief found roots this summer when the search giant revealed that its driverless cars has completed 300,000 miles of testing without a single incident.

While there is still some way before the cars hit the road in terms of testing hours and implementation of legal framework and establishment of government regulations for self-driving cars, the making is in the process. While India’s minister of road transport and highways seems to think that it is not possible to copy cent percent road safety laws similar to countries like the US, UK or Canada, one cannot deny the rising road accident deaths in the country. With rising affluence, owning a car is no longer a luxury in India. India may have more cars but it also has bad drivers, poor regulations, and faulty road designs. Speeding, running lights, drunken driving, riding motorcycles without helmets, and lane violations are commonplace.

While it looks like a long way before the robotic cars can start operating in India! Apart from technology and legislation, road infrastructure, poor traffic rules and bad traffic, there may be some boon in the idea of test-driving Google cars in India.

Why? The Indian auto industry is one of the largest in the world with an annual production of 21.48 million vehicles in FY 2013-14. Technology exchange and robotic cars can bring down the number of road accidents.

What do think? Is India ready for Google cars?

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Does India need a “Cash for Clunkers” scheme?

Schemes like ‘cash-for-clunkers’ in the US have been a success in the US! Similar schemes in India will not only encourage car owners to sell their old cars, but it will also push the drive with cash incentives to help car-owners to replace their old ones with more efficient cars! The National Bureau of Economic Research estimate that the program resulted in 360,000 automobile purchases in the US during July and August 2009.

Schemes like ‘cash-for-clunkers’ in the US have been a success in the US! Similar schemes in India will not only encourage car owners to sell their old cars, but it will also push the drive with cash incentives to help car-owners to replace their old ones with more efficient cars! The National Bureau of Economic Research estimate that the program resulted in 360,000 automobile purchases in the US during July and August 2009.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) extended its stay till July 13 (2015) on its order banning 10-year-old diesel vehicles from plying in Delhi-NCR. One big factor for all the uproar for car-owners in NCR seem to be that the ban does not give them enough time to switch to another vehicle. It may be imperative that diesel is the prime source of air pollution in Delhi. But interestingly, most big vehicle scrappage programs around the world, similar to US’s ‘cash for clunkers’, happen to offer different incentive for car switches.

While the ban has raised questions for car users in Delhi, there have been scrap drives for older vehicles in the US with several incentive schemes. The Car Allowance Rebate System or CARS, popularly known as the ‘cash for clunkers’ scheme was floated as a $3 billion US federal programme with a clear aim to offer economic incentives to Americans for purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles and trading off less fuel-efficient old vehicles. It was vigorously promoted offering a stimuli to the economy by boosting auto sales, and putting up better, greener and efficient vehicles on the road.On the success of the program, the DoT reported that the programme resulted in 690,114 dealer transactions submitted, requesting a total of $2.877 billion in rebates.

The National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that the federal government paid automobile dealers between $3,500 and $4,500 each time a customer traded in an used old and less fuel-efficient vehicle to purchase a better and fuel-efficient vehicle. The rebates totalled up to $2.877 billion were passed on to customers as a purchase incentive. The program was tailored to boost automobile sales and stimulate the economy.

Similar scrapping schemes have been carried out in Europe— France, UK (with finance of upto £2000 by private car manufacturers), Germany and Italy with varying incentives/time frames for cars and other vehicles. With the car-manufacturing giant Japan, the government announced a series of incentives for its car industry which include a 250,000-yen ($2,000) scrappage incentive.

Is it time for India to invest in schemes similar to ‘car clunking’ and make a signature start as a green initiative for curbing pollution and set an example for other metro cities?

What do you think?

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Using Bollywood to foster diplomatic ties

SanjayBlog

They say that Indians have two Gods: Cricket and Bollywood! It seems to me that foreign diplomats are figuring that out. The German Ambassador and his wife sung a medley recently with the former Foreign minister of India from a very successful Bollywood movie Kal Ho Na Ho showcasing the diplomatic star cast from India and Germany as a tribute to Bollywood movies!

I wonder if Bollywood producers and directors are aware that their movies have impact in these far corners of the world? Modern-day diplomacy is about finding novel ways and experimenting with things. If traditional diplomacy was more comfortable with government-to-government relations, I see people-to-people contact as the new trend with modern-day diplomats who are also people-savvy, social-media savvy and comfortable with the idea of experimentation. Bollywood is a way to reach out with a message in a country full of Bollywood fans!

Maybe it is one reason Michael Steiner, German Ambassador to India, and Salman Khurshid, former Foreign Minister of India, decided to take it in the stride and experiment with re-enacting the popular Bollywood triangle movie – Kal Ho Na Ho. Together with Eliese Steiner and under the direction of Sumit Osmand Shaw.

On the line of Bollywood re-enacts for diplomatic relations, how about Dostana for India-Pakistan ties, Padosan for India-Nepal relations and New York for US-India? In times when trade, boundaries and people-to-people exchange is gaining momentum, it would be good to see Bollywood re-enacts to foster new friendship on common likings.

I wonder what movie will it be for Indo-China relations? Which one do you suggest and why?

Write to me.

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Clothes diplomacy: A new way to inspire world leaders?

'C' for Clothes-Diplomacy: Michelle Obama's floral blue printed outfit during India visit by an Indian designer did make a statement! Exchanging clothes as a token of friendship seems to be the new trend: A Mysore silk shawl presented to Obama (left) and Pakistan's PM Nawaz Sharif's gift of saree to Modi's mother (extreme right) are all signs of successful diplomacy!

‘C’ for Clothes-Diplomacy: Michelle Obama’s floral blue printed outfit during India visit by an Indian designer did make a statement! Exchanging clothes as a token of friendship seems to be the new trend: A Mysore silk shawl presented to Obama (left) and Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif’s gift of saree to Modi’s mother (extreme right) are all signs of successful diplomacy!

Clothes maketh a man. Man maketh new friends.

Michelle Obama’s outfit during Obama’s India visit caught the eye of many Indians worldwide, and (most likely) turned Bibhu Mohapatra (the Indian designer who created Michelle’s outfit) into a celebrity overnight! Michelle seems to have an eye for designers creating fashion clothing in different countries. She sure has a novel way of inspiring friendship in the countries that the couple visit. US President Barack Obama was also presented with a Mysore silk shawl during the Republic day celebrations in India. It makes me think of clothes’ exchange as a great way to connect world leaders.

Raising a toast on clothes diplomacy, I am reminded of a moment last year when PM Modi connected with his counterpart, Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif. Modi was pleasantly surprised when PM Sharif gifted a white sari to his mother just after his party’s historic win in 2014. The tweet elaborated this connection between the two leaders- “Nawaz Sharif ji told me he stays in Islamabad but goes to meet his Mother once in a week.” Reciprocating the friendship, Modi sent a shawl for PM Sharif’s mother as a gesture acknowledging this connection. In times when the world is divided over serious differences, I see this as a chance for world leaders to connect, build upon and pass it on as a customary (clothes) legacy!

On exchanging good will, I recently read that Obama sent in a richly embroidered ‘chadar’ (holy cloth) at the mausoleum of the Garib Nawaz on the inaugural day of the week-long Urs at the popular Ajmer Dargah Sharif, where people from different religions come to pay respect. The ‘chadar’ was handed over to Haji Chishty “on behalf of the US government and Mr Obama by US ambassador Richard Verma, deputy chief of mission Micheal Pelletier and other officials” on Friday morning (24th April). Ajmer’s Dargah Sharif has been a favorite shrine for several rulers, kings, emperors, and in recent years, other leaders from Pakistan and other countries.

If clothes were a token of respect, cultural exchange and friendship, it is time to spread this wave and make real bonds. A new chapter in diplomacy?

What do you say? Clothes make the difference? Write to me.

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