Now I can’t think of a Pritzker winner without thinking of your analysis Conrad!
The link below is a latest post on the Pritzker win by the (already) famous and also Japanese architect, and is really a jab at Zaha Hadid @
Not fair Conrad. What would the world be if all the architects worked for only politically correct clients? How would you get the pyramids? Or the Louvre? Or the most beautiful of all, the White House?
Dirt on WAPCOS
After hearing a few officers complain about the quality of work turned out by WAPCOS, in fields as diverse as bridges and roads to dams and STPs; and since private consultants are anyway mentioning the chaos created by them, I set out to look at the bigger picture, trying my best to keep my views aside.
Water and Power Consultancy Services, with the mission ‘ To be a Premier Consultancy Organisation recognised as a Brand in Water, Power and Infrastructure Development for Total Project Solutions in India’ by their own claim, and a “MINI RATNA”.
On Emerging Markets Information Service (EMIS) website, WAPCOS Lts. is described as providing ‘Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services’, a Non-Listed LLP (Limited Liability Company). They further elaborate: WAPCOS Limited an ISO 9001:2000 Certified Company is a “MINI RATNA” Public Sector Enterprise under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Water Resources. Incorporated on June 26th, 1969 under the Companies Act. 1956, WAPCOS has been providing consultancy services in all facets of Water Resources, Power and Infrastructure Sectors in India and Abroad.
Wiki has more @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_and_Power_Consultancy_Services (retrieved today, 07.03.2014) and from the links one knows they have projects in Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Bhutan and Ethiopia. WAPCOS is everywhere. Studies of river basins, catchments, large Hydro projects, master plans, regional plans. And also we figure out that the word DPR figures prominently in their deliverables. Studies, reports, assessments on which to get clearances of various kinds. 550 crore turnover: not easy for smaller companies to beat them, and not difficult for them to enter any budding field and ruin it.
Like any big organisation, it has some very driven and competent people. They are also responsible for giving a few small organisations a chance to work on a scale they would not otherwise imagine. For profit, of course. All big consultancies have the structures of extraction worked out very well, they make sure they take all the profit, if there’s any to be made.
What about the quality of their work? Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy. This is the word I hear from all sides. From those who are sitting on the client side; and have to get work from them, those who have to implement projects devised by them, and those who have a modicum of sense in them…
Who can be the judge?
Mostly people who are ‘working’.
Here’s someone with a real issue with WAPCOS… Repeatedly they mention that WAPCOS is unreliable in their quality and conclusions:
Shoddy EIA by WAPCOS Tries to Push Unjustifiable Bansujara Irrigation Project in Madhya Pradesh
Many writers here have taken to tearing apart the work in question. With sometimes apt and at other times juvenile observations on the copy and paste job that the report is @ http://sandrp.in/Bansujara_Multipurpose_Nov_2013.pdf
A new one on the same blog, by another author:
Critique of Kalai II HEP’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Study and Environment Management Plan
Who is complicit?
So that is someone concerned about ‘How governments collude to violate laws’. And we know the state of mess out governance is. Water and Power are also some of the trickiest sectors, specially in developing economies with rich and endangered natural resources. Dams, development and shared resources pose some of the longest standing and most tenacious battles for our culture and politics. Hard choices have to be made, all the time. And justification for the same have to be given, even if it’s a scam. Technical matters, long range solutions are ever pitted against political urgency and the simplicity with which a non-technical decision maker would approach the issue. Citizens, who are capable of hugging trees, but not fixing their leaky tap, or pouring chemicals through the drain in an eco resort. Or plain contractors who need construction labour, often for corporates who need their industries to run. It’s a cycle, you see?
There are noises of Dam and Power Plant projects being approved without examining even basic data. This is not new, it has been going on and even for the project as big as Narmada Dam, with opposition from big people, and the battle being dragged to Supreme Court. Within the context of water crisis of five urban regions. The studies commissioned belatedly, with the threat on a consultancy that it will be blacklisted if they gave an unfavourable assessment. Its that elephant in the room. All consultants know how their work is created and sustained.
Everyone knows the people at Ministry (of Environment and Forests, MoEF) are no angels, and a developer is not interested in an impact assessment but rather in the result it produces – for a person who’s made up his/ her mind to execute an idea, this usually spells ‘clearance’. Dam(n) the environment. Build the apartment. (This is for future, on how environment clearances really work)
What is their context? It is primarily an Engineering Consultancy Organisation and they work with governments, at all levels, as well as with other semi government agencies, public as well as private companies and sometimes with groups of citizens. They are pitching for every kind of work that’ll come to them. And they are getting work through tenders and open bidding in most of the cases. That brings us to this question: should a company that does EIA Reports be more invested in the environment or in the report? Which one should you choose?
Now the Code of Conduct
The code of conduct is enforced since 10.30 this morning. A lot of work is going to slow down – in fact, much of government decision making is going to come to a standstill – everything postponed till the new government comes in… Who knows whom they will appoint, and what that will change.
Quite a change from all the hectic activity of past couple of weeks, the crazy turning of the sometime sluggish, mammoth wheels of government machinery. Those in the service of government, even when not directly, are tired and worn out. Everyone was working round the clock to the same end: To close as many books as possible; Complete or start decisively as many works as possible. The number of tenders put out in last month is equal to all put out in may be 6 preceding months. The smaller the government entity controlling it, the more the lack in organisation.
No more foundation stone ceremonies from government, no more dedication of public projects – from over-bridges to crematoriums. No more lotteries promising people poor and rich a house, or free education. Behind the curtain, no running barefoot for permissions scribbled hastily over files, inked on dates actual or past (back-dated is the word commonly used), no seniors working late, no frantic calls, no juniors burning midnight oil preparing notices or uploading tenders. And certainly no more consultants/ contractors/ vendors going bonkers collecting documents, putting together bids and having nightmares over who will win the contract.
Now the calm after the storm. Sort of a hush in offices government and private – at least some. Time to catch a breath and gear up for what happens after the new government is sworn in, takes hold, and is geared to continue or convinced not to continue a project, idea, culture.
Difference is obvious, from the haphazard shooting, to complete silence. The badgering, ‘setting’, aligning on small scale, to make tiny (ok, sometimes not so tiny as well) profits is over. So is the interface of citizens and government at minor scale. Now while the aachar samhita tells us the code of conduct it is time for big things. Big alliances, bid deals – living in hope, teeter totter. And from accomplishments, the focus will now turn to promises. Of better things, a corruption free nation, a just nation, a safe place, a place with a future.
Mr. Doshi is ever a delight to hear. And the family has come a long way from fighting for territories. They now stand united, and the sons in law now have clearer roles. They have made significant contributions to built environment, and to the world of education.
Come if you want to know the renowned family.
Design education at IITs, a step towards a better future
The following came from a senior design faculty at a premier institute, as all are fond of calling it…
“I read through fully the draft of the Design Manifesto prepared by the MHRD for the introduction of design education in institutes of higher learning in India. I wish we had access to such a paper from the DIPP which has already put four stones in the ground without sharing any plans or vision document so far. I wonder when these administrators will learn that India is changing and that inclusive planning can indeed make a better offering in the age of the internet and social media. …the MHRD note was stimulating and very encouraging indeed for all in the design community. Hope to see the draft in an final approved for in the near future. …I was immersed in the very exciting MHRD Design Manifesto, full credits to the leadership at the helm of the MHRD who have moved design to centre stage at the IITs and NITs across India.”
The ministry’s page itself, @ http://mhrd.gov.in/, is a sight to see. Design, in it’s broadest sense, is getting it’s due from the decision makers it seems. But even as you will find a better focus on design in general in MHRD’s outlook, CoA page is a stub. Neither any real vision, nor any attempt to pare architecture colleges with institutes like IITs and NITs is visible. I wonder with opening up of norms and lowering of criteria (To get more students, rather than through some enlightened perception of the Arts and Commerce students being worthy, in my guess), it will even be called technical education anymore.
And I wonder when the design related institutions will learn to put forth such vision. Some are new, bubbling with enthusiasm. Yet others are lost without a hope.
However, I will give it to these guys at Durgapur. If engineering institutes try to embrace design, why shouldn’t it happen the other way round? Most of the Architecture schools were strapped to engineering institutions anyway…
“Architecture engineering offer various career possibilities for qualified individuals. They can either practice from home or be actively involved in the following activities and/or industries:
The supply and distribution of electricity i.e. hydro-electric, coal-fired and nuclear schemes; basic industries like steel, mining, chemical and petrochemical; manufacturing and related industries like anti-pollution equipment, automatic control systems, medical equipment manufacture and mass production; measurement process engineering control; medical x-rays, ultrasonic scanners, electrocardiograph equipment and magnetic resonance imaging; microprocessors, personal and main-frame computers; aviation electronics; specification development/technical administration and management; technical training and education; computer industry i.e. fabrication, design and modification; microprocessor control of industrial systems; electronic systems used in steel works, refineries and large chemical plants; manufacturing or electronic components and equipment; air, sea and rail transport systems where electronic control or monitoring is involved; transmission and receiving of electronic signals; television and radio; communication via satellite, microwaves, closed circuit television and fiber optic links; military radar, communications and related operations.”
That came from Rani Rashmoni School of Architecture, of SET Group @ http://setgoi.com/college/rrsa/arch.do
MHRD, please pay some attention to ‘Design’ in the narrower sense of the term too?
Garba Garbad at CEPT: Part II and I
Garba Garbad Part III
It wasn’t about fake passes, but forced passes.
800 odd cops wanted Garba to continue because they had a handle on CEPT…
Some lost soul certainly did try to bring in prohibited substances. And was caught red handed. Sure, there was a scuffle amongst students’ councils from various schools. And much time was spent in these meetings, so much so that the student leaders chose to miss out on classes and submissions… But the biggest beneficiary were the cops, who, in return to not punishing the student further and sort of underplay the issue, managed to blackmail students into allowing them and their friends free entry into the campus festivities – where else could you find a safe heaven like this without having to pay?
And when the councils wanted to shut down the garba, the pressure was not from students but from these freeloaders – “Where would our families go then?” they asked. Those alumni who paid for the passes, those genuinely fond of the campus garba (or whose kids are safer here than elsewhere) protested too, specially when they didn’t know what was going on. But I say it was a good idea to stop the Garba and the fighting, and of course the blackmail.
Like I said, it is part and parcel of growing up. Hope the institute and the students evolve, and become better.
CEPT Logo Design Competition is now open:
‘The competition is open to Students, Alumni & Staff of CEPT University. It is also open to individuals who have taught or worked at the university. (The belief that educating professionals requires practicing professionals and academics to work closely together firmly underpins CEPT University’s pedagogic philosophy.)’
Other than the image of the logo, the entry is required to comprise:
1. Image depicting minimum ten different proportionally smaller sizes
2. Image of the logo composed on a letterhead (A4 sized paper), giving a contextual idea of how the logo may be used.
3. Polychromatic AND monochromatic (black and white) version
4. The original design files (editable digital vector files)
The winning entry will be awarded a prize of Rs. 25,000/-
For the prize of 25,000 Rs., a lot of work is expected of you. As the money is certainly not worth the effort, unless, perhaps, you are a student and out of work at the moment; it is a labour of love. And, what rules!
‘Clipart and pre-made templates should not be used. It could serve to be a ground for disqualification of the entry.’…
‘Any sign of any identifying mark on a digital / print submission shall be grounds for disqualification. Please ensure that file properties of digital files being submitted do not have any identifying marks.’
What about the scanner/ camera/ software signature? Also, half the people who might design good logos would not be conversant with the way digital world works. In a way, it is a young generation bias.
‘…there is no requirement for the type of program used to create the logo. Entrants are free to use any type of software to draw, paint and create but to allow the University to use the logo in all its digital glory, please follow the vector guidelines.’
That, is another catch. Most young people can’t have paid for the softwares required to fulfill the above demands. So, in a roundabout way, is CEPT approving piracy/ open source when it is very elaborate in terms of where it’s own copyrights lay?
‘The winner/s will surrender all rights of ownership of the logo to CEPT University. The winning entry/ies shall become the intellectual property of CEPT University and the designer shall not have any rights over the same. CEPT University retains the rights to enhance / edit / modify the winning entry/ies to prepare the final logo.’
‘All submitted work must be original and not based on any pre-existing design. Any signs of plagiarism will be grounds for disqualification of the entry.’
It has to be ORIGINAL. There, THERE. Now they are telling you they don’t want anything to do with the old one.
For the sake of whoever knew the story behind the ‘original’, I wrote this: http://architectureindeed.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/story-of-cept-logo/
With the elections coming up, corruption is finding a new high by the day.
And this is no news to anyone. Those 4000 people who called the helpline set up by Mr. Kejriwal have seen it. As they are part of the system, so are those officers who work hard all their lives and retire from small government jobs with meagre pension and benefits. But their life’s work is undone by those who don’t see it as a big problem. Till the time it IS too big for their pockets… Bhupati Shukla, a lone crusader against what he believes is wrong, and who fights everyday temptation to make his life easier, observes that: “There was a time when I thought our politicians are corrupt. My view has changed over the years. It is the people who are corrupt. As long as the common man agrees to pay, corruption shall continue to thrive.”
So everywhere there are people who yield to small demands due to a dearth of time or simply because they prefer paying under the table than spend their precious time in running from pillar to post, in his words. But then there are others. More ambitious, with a lot more at stake, or with a lot more to gain.
These are not the people who will log onto I Paid a Bribe to report what they have to do. These are people who are given work to do. They have to run their offices, hire a huge staff, produce reports and work hard to get the money they are going to get. And provide for others’ money within that, all sounding legitimate. Start with ‘investing’ before getting the work order, and go on paying a percentage at every bill. It doesn’t matter who one is dealing with – a Junior Engineer, or SE. The clearance comes all the way from CE and the Minister (and in this case, the Chief Minister). It isn’t easy for them: There are competitors lurking, willing to do the same. There are transfers, added costs, and the pressure to deliver the work. They too are worried about making ends meet.
But they have one less worry. They don’t have to worry about where this world is going. They are leading it there.
The bribe analytics on http://www.ipaidabribe.com/ showing a total of 41 lakhs paid as bribe make me laugh. If I don’t, I’ll surely cry.
This sculpture by Jaume Plensa, earlier meant to be on loan, is now gifted to MIT by an anonymous Alumni. MIT already has a rich collection of art and prides itself in it, even as it maintains it’s excellence in engineering fields.
Read the article here:
May be CEPT shouldn’t wait another 1o0 years… or wish it needn’t have to.