Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Steel Production in Perspective

Staying up-to-date is a quite a challenge these days. There is so much information floating around in the print media, and in cyberspace that its a constant struggle to separate the wheat from the chaff; the signals from the noise.

Take for instance the recent headlines in the Financial Express on global steel production. According to the news report, India has "registered a 6% growth in steel output in Jan-Sept... India remained the only bright spot among major steel-producing nations in the world."

Quite impressive to be the 'only bright spot' -- until you notice a graphic tucked away. Now this tells you that a growth of nearly 6% actually translates in an increase in production from 67 million tonnes to 71 mT. The exalted position of the "third largest producer of steel in the world" looks quite pathetic when you realize that the guy in the fist position has produced 604 mT of steel -- nearly 10x times the Indian production during the same period!

An increase of 4mT gives India an "impressive" 6% growth while just about the same increase (3mT) gives China a growth of "only" 0.4%.

Is there a better case of comparing watermelons and lemons?


- Financial Express (22Oct16) - India registers 6% growth in steel output in Jan-Sept. http://www.financialexpress.com/markets/commodities/india-registers-6-growth-in-steel-output-in-jan-sept/426301/
- World Steel Association - https://www.worldsteel.org/
- Top Steel Producers (2015) - https://www.worldsteel.org/statistics/top-producers.html

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Churning of Conventional Wisdom

I like books that yank me out of my comfort zones. The one I am reading right now - Sanjeev Sanyal's "Ocean of Churn" clearly falls into this category.

 Using the latest research evidence available - DNA profiles, population genetics and climate change data -  it punctures many 'historical facts' that have long been accepted as the gospel truth.

While one can find faults with the writing style, with Sanyal's lame attempts at being humorous, the book is certainly worth the hype on social media.

It collates and presents some startling new findings:

* Iron tools were being used in central India 3800 ago, in 1800 BCE  when the Egyptians and Mesopotamians were still in the Bronze Age (2500 - 800 BCE)

* Emperor Ashoka the poster boy for Ahimsa (non-violence) was anything but that. The great Kalinga War (262 BCE) was hardly an inflection point - he had already converted to Buddhism a few years earlier!
Also, the decisive battle may not even have taken place on the banks of the river Daya at Dhauli, but at Yuddha Meruda (Jajpur Distt) and the Kalingan capital city of Tosali (Dharmasala)

* The Sri Lankan Sinhala's have much stronger linkages to ancient Odisha than was known earlier

* In Peninsular India there have been instances of royalty being brought in from South East Asia...it was a two-way traffic of goods, people and ideas.


* Tiwari, Rakesh () - The origins of iron-working in India: new evidence from the Central Ganga Plain and the Eastern Vindhyas -- http://antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/tewari/tewari.pdf

* Das, Prafulla (2005): Exploring an Ancient Kingdom - http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2220/stories/20051007000106500.htm

* Book Review - Mint - http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/2GYBckosLVkNrM1TMSgRAK/Book-review-The-Ocean-Of-Churn-by-Sanjeev-Sanyal.html

* Book Review - Manu Pillai (Open) - Rim of Life - http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/books/rim-of-life