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Monthly Archives: December 2015

and now for something completely different

For a few years now, I have sneaked off every December for a relatively long bike ride. The brain gathers all manner of stresses and tensions as each year vends along, and it has seemed like a good idea to leave email, twitter and other horsemen of the ‘constant connectedness’ apocalypse behind and hare off somewhere on the cycle by the end of the year.

This year, two friends and I pedalled from Pune to Goa. Nine days of cycling, clean air, no email, simple food, kokum juice/soda, coconut water, sugarcane juice, homestays, heat, ferry crossings and old tar roads that rose and fell along the hills, plateaus and valleys of the Sahyadris.

A most delightful time was had. Especially up on the plateaus with their gently undulating roads, the occassional glimpse of distant ocean, and acres of golden wild grass growing amidst black basaltic rock. Cycling through these plateaus, with the heat in constant attendance, made for some meditative moments.

Am appending some pictures. Have to get some of these framed. Just so that I remember this ride. Especially those hours up on the plateaus. Those were almost transcendental.

Here is wishing you a restful end to 2015 and a great 2016.

why industry is leaving punjab

In his 50 years in Ludhiana, Harbans Singh Bhanwer has seen it all.

Around 1965, when he began making machine parts in Punjab’s biggest industrial centre, the town was booming. The Green Revolution was underway, and Ludhiana provided a large part of the engineering underpinning for that boom.

Some units made farm implements, while others processed locally-grown cotton into yarn and clothes. Companies like Bhanwer’s Craft Tools built the machines these factories ran on. Others operated in manufacturing sectors like cycles, sewing machines and auto parts.

In those days, says Bhanwer, Ludhiana was known as the “Manchester of India”.

The city, and the now ageing patriarch of a clan that has mostly relocated to Canada, grew together. They saw growth ebb due to bank nationalisation during the Emergency years of the early 1970s, and again in the early 1980s due to militancy. Each time, India’s Manchester dusted itself off and got back to the serious business of growing.

By 1991, Ludhiana was exporting to countries in the Gulf, and Europe. By 2002-’03, Bhanwer’s Craft Tools was selling its products – bearings, castings, hydraulic systems and motors – not only across India but also in the United Arab Emirates and Italy.

Over the last decade, however, Craft Tools has seen a steady slide. By 2005, it had lost its international clients. By 2012-’13, it had slipped into freefall. That year, the company’s turnover was Rs 85 lakh. The next year, it fell to Rs 55 lakh. In 2014-’15, it was Rs 37 lakh. This year, says Bhanwer, “About Rs 27-28 lakh” till date.

During the same period, Ludhiana has mirrored this slump. Its biggest companies are moving away. Its smaller units are shutting down.

try and understand why and you start understanding some of the reasons the people of punjab are unhappy with the ruling akali dal.