Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thekkady Boat Tragedy

Thekkady Boat Tragedy – Will we learn this time?

One more tragedy to this long list of mishaps that has been happening in Kerala waters - I am hoping that this is the tipping point for actions to prevent any future incidents to take place. These may include legislation to make stringent rules, execution to ensure that these rules are enforced, and a culture to follow the safety norms.

It would be unreasonable to pass any comments on how the tragedy occurred without going through the detailed investigation on the design, construction, testing, operation as well as the event itself. However, it would be appropriate to suggest a checklist for the investigating committee.

Let us go through the sequence of activities preceding the event on 30th September. The sequence would be something like this - boat design, construction, testing, and operation.

Starting with the boat design. Contrary to what some reporters on TV (with scant knowledge on what they are talking as well as a lack of desire to know them), fiberglass boats are not less safe just because they are light. A boat, irrespective of the material used (the strength rules are not standardized in case of wood), need to meet the requirements with respect to strength, stability, and performance. Just because the material (fiberglass) is light does not mean that the boat itself is less strong. Fiberglass as a material is stronger than steel for the same weight. Hence a same sized boat (same strength) would be lighter if made of fiberglass. With regards to stability, just because it is lighter it tends to have its center of gravity higher than steel boat, however, it still need to meet the requirements, compensating by a better hull shape or better distribution of weights.

Note that I stressed the material wood. There are no rules specifying the strength of such boats either in our Merchant Shipping Act (applicable for sea-going vessels) or in Inland Vessels Act (applicable for vessels plying in rivers, lakes, and other water bodies except sea). Let us forget these kinds of boats for the time being. That would be a digression from the topic in hand.

Coming back to fiberglass and steel boats, how many of us are aware that the Inland rules we follow in Kerala are the outdated Canal Act of Travancore Cochin States, which were more relevant in 1912 and not in this day. It even refers to Maharaja of Travancore and Cochin ! Our successive governments never bothered to have a proper Inland Water Rules applicable for vessels plying in Kerala waters. To the credit of the current government, and a possible outcome of the previous tragedy - Thattekad incident, there was an attempt to enact such a rule. There was a committee of experts and many organizations and experts contributed to prepare a draft rule that is now awaiting legislative approval. If that rules is enacted, and enforced, probably boats would be much more safer.

Talking further about the Canal rules, note that the rules specify only one relevant aspect to check ship's safety - freeboard. It does not have any means of checking the stability of a vessel. There are no test procedures for that. The stability test would include assessing the position of center of gravity of the vessel by means of an inclining experiment, further based on that result predict the static stability, dynamic stability (response to waves, wind and passenger heeling). Unfortunately the outdated Canal rules do not talk of any of these. So, when we say that, the boat has been tested as per the rules, then it is totally meaningless statement to assure us of its safety when the rules one speak of is the Canal rules of Kerala State .

Indian Register of Shipping (IRS), a third-party non-governmental organization that assesses and certifies the vessels strength and safety is another party in this whole chain. IRS has excellent rules for sea-going vessels and they have great experience in approving such designs as well as construction process. However, their Inland Vessel Rules are incomplete since it does not talk of vessel stability. That means IRS do not have clear criteria for inland vessels. So, again, when we say that a boat was built and certified as per IRS rules, then we can be assured of the vessels' strength, but we can never be sure of its stability. Only in scenario when the vessel is IRS built and registered with states that have their own reasonably adequate inland rules with respect to stability (like in case of Maharashtra) , we can be certain of stability aspect.

So, in short, when we assess the boat's design, we must check the following aspects. How was the vessels' stability assessed? In the design stage, we do a preliminary Stability assessment. In this, we estimate the center of gravity of the vessel, and check its static as well as dynamic stability for various cases. These cases ideally should reflect all possible scenarios that can happen to the vessel in operation. There was one gentleman (expert) who was quoted saying, "...since all passengers moved to one side because they saw something the boat toppled and capsized." I sincerely hope that he was misquoted. All passengers moving to one side is a very normal scenario in a passenger tourist boat (that is why they are going in the first place!). So, that means in our preliminary Stability assessment, this is a definite condition to check. If it is double decked (like in this case), surely, we can check what will happen if all passengers go up and move to
one side. That is why I mentioned- all possible scenarios should be evaluated.

Another important issue in the existing rules is the sub-division of vessel in to compartments. All of us are familiar with the scene in the Titanic movie when after the iceberg incident, the Ship's Naval Architect explains to Captain and Rose (Kate Winslet) how when water enters the compartments it gets filled and it overflows to the next until the whole vessel gets flooded. The lesson learnt in the incident was the importance of watertight bulkheads (it was 1912) and our rules still allows boats without sufficient watertight bulkheads (compartments) to ply. Most of the vessels plying in our backwaters are unsafe from this point of view and it is surprising despite knowing how fast a boat can sink if there is a damage in any one area!

Now coming to construction, there are various stages where compromises can be made in terms of the quality of materials used and method of construction. One way to ensure quality in these two is to have independent surveyors to do testing during construction as well as to assure of the material quality by testing. Our Canal rules nor the Irrigation department have means of ensuring that. So, a sub-standard vessel can easily pass through these processes and pass itself as a "safe vessel". IRS (or other Classification Societies), however, has a rigorous means to ensure quality of materials as well as process of construction. Hence if there is a certificate from IRS then we can be assured of the two areas.

Along with various other tests, one test that is most important one to assess the stability of the vessel is the inclining test. This is done after (most of) construction is complete and vessel is (nearly) ready. The previously calculated center of gravity is updated with this actual value from the test and the Final Stability analysis is done. Again in our Canal rule, there is no provision to perform this test and assess the stability. This test, though, is mandatory in case of vessel built under IRS. However, as explained above, the rules of IRS are inadequate to make the assessment for stability.

The next stage is the vessel during operation. Although in the design stage and construction stage (after testing) we can assure of the vessel strength and stability in a predicted scenario, it depends on the operators to follow the guidelines. Most of the operators do not understand the importance of capacity of a vessel - in case of cargo vessel it is the deadweight and in case of passenger vessel it is the passenger capacity. In either of the cases, when there is an overload, the vessel will immerse in water more than it is designed and two important effects can happen. One is with regards to strength. All the structure of the vessel is designed as per a draft (immersion level in water) called maximum draft. When the draft increases, the load on the vessel structure increases (as depth increases the pressure increases and therefore force acting on the vessel sides), and a scenario may happen that the structure may give way. In case of wooden boats, it
is usually the caulking between the planks that give way and water enters the compartment. The other aspect is with regards to stability. If a proper assessment was done in form of an authoritative Stability analysis, then when there is an overload, say 50% more, the whole scenario changes and the vessel may not be stable in a particular condition like all passengers moving to one side. That needs be ascertained. Other operational aspects include providing adequate number of life jackets and life buoys when would be inadequate when there is overloading.

The last important aspect is the safety culture. That is not a scope of this discussion, however, if people appreciate that, then surely many incident of overloading, under capacity of life saving equipments, etc. may not happen.

In this incident as well as other accidents, the common thread is the inadequacy of the rules. Our legislators must, instead of taking credit for rushing to the accident spot, pass the pending Inland Vessel Act, have a qualified Kerala Maritime Board, and save people from such unsafe vessels and avoidable accidents.

There are some of the aspects to be considered in this investigation and a detailed analysis would be taken up when sufficient data is available.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Fresh Fish (Inspirational Story)

The Japanese have always loved fresh fish.

But the waters close to Japan have not held many fish for decades.

So to feed the Japanese population,
Fishing boats got bigger and went farther than ever.

The farther the fishermen went, the longer it took to bring in the fish. If the return trip took more than a few days, the fish were not fresh. The Japanese did not like the taste.

To solve this problem, fishing companies installed freezers on their boats.

They would catch the fish and freeze them at sea. Freezers allowed the boats to go farther and stay longer.

However, the Japanese could taste the difference between fresh and frozen and they did not like frozen fish.

The frozen fish brought a lower price. So fishing companies installed fish tanks. They would catch the fish and stuff them in the tanks, fin to fin.

After a little thrashing around, the fish stopped moving.

They were tired and dull, but alive. Unfortunately, the Japanese could still taste the difference.
Because the fish did not move for days, they lost their fresh-fish taste.

The Japanese preferred the lively taste of fresh fish, not sluggish fish.

So how did Japanese fishing companies solve this problem? How do they get fresh-tasting fish to Japan? If you were consulting the fish industry, what

Would you recommend?

Scroll down for answer :




Here is How Japanese Fish Stay Fresh:

To keep the fish tasting fresh, the Japanese fishing companies still put the fish in the tanks.

But now they add a small shark to each tank. The shark eats a few fish, but most of the fish arrive in a very lively state. The fish are challenged.

Have you realized that some of us are also living in a pond but most of the time tired & dull,

So we need a Shark in our life to keep us awake and moving?
Basically in our lives Sharks are new challenges to keep us active and lively.....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Indian Foods in Various States

Who is this 24 Carat Indian Politician?

His Capabilities......?

1. Only lived in Capital---- Delhi

2. Only use branded costumes----simple elegant cotton from Raymonds, Park Avenue.
3. Studied abroad on Scholarship....In all capitalist countries with corporate imperialist scholarship aid and assitance--Intelligent student hood.
4. Travelled only in flights & AC coaches--Comfortable Globe Trekker
5. Wooed and Married a beautiful air hostess from filthy rich family--Romantic Socialists
6. Pretented and acted as Marxist communist in Post Modern India- JNU Style intellect.
7. Started as a copy writer of Veteran Communist EMS Nampoothiripadu--Political Struggle.

His Achievements....?

1. Became CPM Polit Bureau Member with no effort.
2. Became CPM All India General Secretery with no effort.
3. Incoporated Wife into CPM Polit Bureau strategically.
4. Denied Prime Ministership to Com. Jyothi Basu by forming young turks group in PB.
5. Subottaged the plan to join the Manmohan cabinet- still dream of central ministry berth.
6. Supported & shook hand with Mrs.Sonia Gandhiwith out any ideology.
7. With drawn the support for UPI with out any cause.
8. Declared Poor Mayavathi as the future Prime Minister and her statues as cabinet ministers.
9. Greeted and Shook hand with Com. J.Jayalalitha for political & ideological support.
10. Belongs to DINK- Double Income No kid Group among urban socialite.

His biggested Credentials...?

1. Never contested an election in the people's democracy---Not even a panchayath election in the village in which he was born.

2. Never formed a trade union or labour movement--- Not even a simple CITU unit.
3. Never successfully lead a strike or done a satyagraha---Capitol celebrity in Page3 4. Only faced TV cameras and reporters---Studio to Studio.
5. Tata & Nano are the need of population- No profit in agriculture and labour hood.
6. Political Friends and Advisors--- Amar Singh, Mulayam, Mayavathi,Jayalalitha, Farooq Abdulla.
7. His proclamtions-All corruption cases are Politically motivated- White Collar Corporate Marxist Idealogue.

Latest Action...?
1. Lead CPM to a complete failure in the Parliment election.
2. Leading CPM to a complete vanishing in Bengal.
3. Expelled Com. V.S. Achuthandan from Polit Bureau of the CPM.

Who is this Gentle man?

Lateral Thinking..A nice Story

Once upon a time in a small Indian village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the farmer's beautiful daughter..

So he proposed a bargain.

He said he would forgo the farmer's debt if he could marry his Daughter. Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. So the cunning money-lender suggested that they let providence decide the matter.

He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag. Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag.

1) If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her Father's debt would be forgiven.

2) If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her Father's debt would still be forgiven.

3) But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into Jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the farmer's field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.

Now, imagine that you were standing in the field.

What would you have done if you were the girl?

If you had to advise her, what would you have told her?

Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:

1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.

2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the money-lender as a cheat.

3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order To save her father from his debt and imprisonment.

Take a moment to ponder over the story.

The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking.

The girl's dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking. Think of the consequences if she chooses the above logical answers.

What would you recommend to the girl to do? .... C below!!

Well, here is what she did.....

The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without Looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

"Oh, how clumsy of me," she said. "But never mind, if you look into the Bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I Picked."

Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the money-lender dared not admit his Dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.

Moral of the story:

Most complex problems do have a solution. It is only that we don't Attempt to think.

Seven Ways to Identify a Liar

1. Consider the person's recall: Liars never forget what they have to say but they may stumble when telling a tale by making contradicting statements. They're also eager to change the subject.

2. Observe the person's overall body language: Liars can look ill at ease, fiddling with their hair, stroking their throat, or rubbing their eyes. With their body often turned away from you, you may notice hand or leg fidgeting. Liars also have trouble swallowing and may shake their heads after a point has been made. When the subject finally gets changed, they appear happier and more comfortable, maybe laughing nervously.

3.Take notice of any defensiveness: Liars will often take offence to any indication that they're under suspicion. They're likely to throw any accusations you throw at them back at you. They will also talk too much, feeling the need to over-explain themselves

4. Home in on facial expressions: Liars fail to control their micro-expressions. While fibbing, you may notice nervous twitching. Their hand may be covering or touching their face. People also tend to touch the mouth when feeling guilty or anxious. They're particularly good with fake smiles.

5. Don't overlook the Pinocchio reaction: When a human tells a lie, extra blood gets pumped through the body and the nose swells by a fraction of millimeter. Liars may subsequently touch the tip of their nose unconsciously.

6. Concentrate on the eyes: A liar has a troubled brow and downcast or darting eyes. They have trouble directly engaging your gaze. They also give you eye-accessing clues. If the person is telling you the truth, he'll look up and to the left since that's the side of the brain we use for recalling information. If she's lying, she'll look up and to the right, which is the creative side of the brain, because she's mentally constructing something that hasn't happened.

7. Note the person's voice: The higher the stakes are, the more the liar has a fear of getting caught. With this, the liar has a harder time controlling his body language or her voice. The pitch or rate of the speech may change, with the individual giving a lot of "umms" and "ahhs." Often, a liar will appear stilted and monotone. Answers may seem rehearsed.

Mammootty in Pazhassi Raja -Shooting errors