Sunday, April 30, 2017


Time​ : Late nineties

My Job Function : Head of Semiconductors and Photovoltaics 

 It is a true incident but as this happened about two decades back; this is the best I can recollect.

Apart from the routine activities of production, engineering, purchase, commercial and marketing, we had to be on our toes to find out ways and means to improve efficiency and yield of our ​​products.

​ ​Therefore, any emerging technology having a potential to bring about even small improvement used to attract our immediate attention.

One entrepreneur,​let me call him ​X​,who was into a business of,​if I remember correctly, supplying polythene / packing materials to some industries,​approached me with a proposal to introduce me to a technology which could enhance the power rating of ​our ​solar photovoltaic modules by at least 20%.

Naturally, I jumped at it.

But when I prodded him to provide more details, he avoided me and was missing for a while. Then he appeared again and wanted to extract a promise from me that I should share it with at the most only 2 or 3 colleagues. He demanded to know the amount of compensation for sharing this technology.

​​By then, somehow I had become apprehensive about the whole proposal. So I put my foot down and told him that unless we test his technology ​there cannot be any further discussions.

He reappeared with a specific condition that before he parts with his 'secret' for us to do any testing in our company, we  should sign an MOU ​( Memorandum of Understanding) ​with him with an NDA (Non disclosure agreement)not to divulge the technology to a third party.

Well, fair enough. But then there was a problem. For signing such ​an agreement, even though I was a head,​I ​was not empowered. I needed to raise it to Director's level.

Well, to cut a long story short, we did sign an agreement.

Next,​X​  wanted to know ​the way we measure the power rating of a module. We took him to our test equipment known as Sun Simulator. This is standard test equipment, in which a solar module is exposed to a special lamp whose light 'simulates' sun and the power output is displayed.   
He seemed satisfied and told me that he would visit again on ​a particular 'auspicious' day. Well, having come up to this stage,​in spite of all my misgivings,​I wanted to conclude the matter quickly.

He came.

When he was sure that I was alone​in my chamber, he took out
an object in a cover and placed it on the table.

"What is it?", I asked.

"This is it", saying this, he opened the cover to reveal a pyramid shaped object.

​ ​"Well?" says a perplexed me.

"This is a pyramid having magical powers.​If you put this in your Sun Simulator​, you will be able to see module power enhanced by at least 20%." he said with a glowing face.

My face fell. My legs were itching to do something but.....alas.

"Please do try it out and ​then ​call me ​ so that we could work out other details", saying this he left.

​This was becoming too much. I was looking at the object and wondering whether flinging it out of the window will hit someone, when one my colleagues walked in. After listening to the whole story, he insisted to take it to the sun simulator and t​ry it out---- with a foregone conclusion.

​X​ ​phoned me up ​the next day and whispered confidentially," How much was the increase ​in power, Sir?".

“%$#@&*" I said.

This did not deter him," Sir, it is all a matter of faith. You must have belief in it."
“I am sad to say that, unfortunately,​our sun simulator does not possess it “, I blurted out.​

And that was it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

look at this !

I came across a blog by name sherlock ohms where readers share their experiences while working with electrical and electronic systems. Here is one incident.....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A quick remedy !

As is the practice, I.A.S.(Indian Administrative Service) Officers get routinely transferred from one department to other. These departments could be as diverse as they go.

Once, such an officer ,who was heading Rajasthan State Roadways Corporation was transferred as the Chairman of Rajasthan State Electricity Board ( RSEB).He was a dynamic officer and was eager to show progress.The progress of construction of Transmission lines was very slow and field officers failed to explain the reason.He called meeting of all top officials.

"Where is the bottleneck" The Chairman thundered.

" Sir, stringing can not be done with out Conductor." The Chief Engineer replied hesitantly.

" Don't worry.I think I can certainly do something here.I recently suspended 50 conductors working with Road ways.I will request The Chairman Rajasthan State Roadways Corporation to
reinstate them and transfer them to RSEB."

-------- Contributed By DN Joshi , Jodhpur

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


After 1977,when Mrs.Indira Gandhi lost the election,there was a sudden vacuum in politics and a number of new local political leaders had sprung up.

A 132 KV substation had just been commissioned and I was asked to operate it till a new Engineer was posted.
A newly born leader visited the substation.He was very skeptic about we engineers and held a notion that engineers were the cause of chronic power shortage. I took him around.

"Nicely constructed.Very good" He said
"Thank you sir"
"What is this?" he asked pointing towards the control panel.
"132KV supply Incoming from Jodhpur"
"And this?"
"33KV out going supply to Tiwari"*
"This ?"
"33KV out going to Mathania"*
"And the last one?"
"33KV outgoing to Osiyan"*
"33+33+33=99,What about the balance 33?"
"कुछ तो हमारे लिए भी रहने दीजिये " ("We need to survive too")
"Ok,ok. but it is too much. Reduce it to a reasonable limit. Availability of power to our cultivators is not enough."
( * Name of the places in Rajasthan)

-------- contributed by DN JOSHI

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Current" less water !

In the early sixties,a major Hydro-electric project was set up known as Bhakra Nangal Project.The concept of generating electricity from river was rather a novelty to the local community.The farmers in the surrounding regions were dependent upon water from the downstream of the project.
A group of farmers felt that there was a fall in the yield of the crop in their fields in the year immediately following the year of the commissioning of the project.They came up with an idea that the fields are being supplied with "sapreta"( a local term usually used for milk from which fat has been removed i.e. toned milk) water. The feeling was that "current"or "essence" has been extracted from the water rendering it "ineffective and incapable" of nurturing the crop leading to a drop in the yield.
As bad news travels faster, a panic like situation was created amongst the local community which could have culminated into a major agitation.

Fortunately local leaders intervened and explained the matter to the agitated farmers and thus a major crisis could be averted.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Meters without pointers !

I got a call and the caller sounded frantic. Normally, he is a very composed person and an extremely efficient store keeper. He explained to me that there was an inventory audit going on and the auditor was refusing to believe that the material shown matched its description. Not only that, he was threatening to report the matter to the higher ups. Ah, that was serious.

I walked over to the store and found that I knew the auditor because he had audited the inventory of equipment in my department - Quality Assurance, the previous year.

After the initial pleasantries, I asked him what the problem was. He became serious again and told me that the storekeeper was showing some tiny little stuff as potentiometers. I looked at what was offered and said that they were indeed potentiometers. He looked puzzled and asked me, "Then where is the pointer? Don't all meters have pointers?"

---- J.L.Anil Kumar

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Transformer Transformation

During the early part of my teaching career, I joined an engineering college near Bangalore and took over as the Head of ECE department.
There was an immediate requirement of 12 Nos. of small transformers for the laboratory. I was informed that the procedure called for taking the indent personally to the Director of the institution (a non technical person), who would scrutinize the indent and authorize the ordering.
This Director had a reputation for being very strict and abrasive. This being my first encounter with him, I entered his chamber with great trepidation.
He scrutinized the indent and read the title “Transformers-12 Nos.”
He thundered, “Do you know what you are asking for!!! ”
“Y-Y-Yes Sir”, I mumbled.
“Do you know what would each transformer cost? ” he continued in the same tone.
“Er….. about Rs.30/-, Sir.”
“What!!! Do you take me for a fool? Do you think you technical people can take me for a ride? Do you want me to believe that those big units that I daily see when I ride to college could be had just for Rs. 30/- .”
I immediately understood the situation. For him, transformers meant the large distribution transformers one can see installed by the road side.
“Sir, if I may clarify, these are tiny transformer units meant for use inside our laboratory.”
All of a sudden the tone of the Director’s speech changed. He appeared mellowed and embarrassed and said “Ok, please go ahead and order 24 Nos. if you want. I am all for giving you technical people full freedom in your activities.”

------ K Sudheendra

Friday, May 23, 2008

"Geared-down" to troubleshoot !

It was one of my earliest commissioning assignments. The job was ideal for a rookie. Just a 45 kW dc drive with very simple functionality. Start, stop and speed set potentiometer. The control panel was built with care and installed properly. All I had to do was to conduct routine checks and start the drive return home.
Cochin Kadalas (Kadalas means paper in Malayalam-Kerala, India) was the factory in which I had to do all this.
Everything went as per expectations. The only hitch was that the place was so hot and humid that, half an hour after I started my work, I looked as if I had fallen into a pool fully clothed and got out. I was sweating so profusely. When it became impossible to bear, I took my shirt off and that is the only time I have conducted official work so dressed, I mean, undressed.
When it was sure that the drive and the paper machine to it was driving were working as expected under no-load, paper pulp was made and conveyed to the machine. As soon as the pulp entered between the rollers the machine stopped. The ammeter indicated full rated current. I opened up the panel and increased the current limit to the rated overload limit. No change. The machine refused to work.
All kinds of investigations followed. But the situation did not change.
The machinery was installed by a man who barely spoke Hindi. All he knew was Bengali. With my broken Hindi and more broken Bengali, I tried to find out more about the machinery, with the hope of finding out the reason for the stalled machine. While we were having this conversation, he commented that he had very recently commissioned an identical machine successfully. I tried to interrogate him to find out if there was even a minor difference between that and this machine. He kept insisting that there were none.
While all this was going on, he let slip that the motor in the earlier case was a 750 rpm machine and that this one was ‘unnecessarily’ 1440 rpm.
Ah ha! The gearbox between the motor and the machine was also exactly as in the previous case.
Now it was clear that the motor was delivering half the power required because it was running at half the speed!
I had a tough time convincing the non-engineers that we either had to change the motor or the gearbox. Finally the latter was done and my one-day-assignment ended after nearly a week.

------ J L Anil Kumar

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Problem ---- watered Down !

My uncle told me this story from his own experience, a long time ago.He was a consultant to a beer manufacturing unit. The unit installed a new bottling plant and tried a dry-run. Everything went well except the bottle capping part. Bottle after bottle passed and the machine refused to cap them. After days of checking everything repeatedly, the man in charge sent for him.After taking a good look at the machine and how it operated, he placed a beer bottle filled with water. Promptly the machine capped it. The machine had weight sensors and was designed not to cap empty bottles !

-- J L Anil Kumar

Friday, February 15, 2008

Link to humour

Here is a link to an interesting site on humour