Amit Paranjape’s Blog

‘वसंत व्याख्यानमाला’ (Vasant Vyakhyanmala- Spring Lecture Series) – A Great 143 Year Tradition

Posted in Current Affairs, Pune, Uncategorized by Amit Paranjape on April 20, 2017

The 143rd edition of  the month long ‘Vasant Vyakhyanmala’ (Spring Lecture Series),starts April 21 at Tilak Smarak Mandir. This lecture series was originally started by Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade in 1875.

I had written an article about this great 143 year tradition few years back, and I am reproducing a version of that below. I have also included the schedule for this year’s lecture series (click on the images at the end of this article). Do try to attend as many lectures as you can! Do note, many of the lectures are in Marathi (a few are in English). Please use the hash tag: #VasantVyakhyanmala or #वसंतव्याख्यानमाला when you tweet about these lectures.

This year’s schedule covers a series of topics including politics, governance, history, civic issues, music, literature, healthcare and many more. Good line up of speakers this year with a variety of different experience.

Some of the interesting speakers to look forward, over the month: Former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan, Mayor of Pune, Mukta Tilak, Dr. Madhavrao Gadgil, Pramod Choudhari and many more.

___________________

(blog-post from 2012 about Vasant Vyakhyanmala)

In recent years, TED and TEDx events are getting quite popular. They do a great job of presenting ideas from various experts and thought leaders. The first TED India event was very well received and many TEDx events have been held in various cities in India over the past year.

But did you know that an event similar in concept, but covering a broader range of topics, has been going on in Pune for 136 years! The great tradition of the ‘Vasant Vyakhyanmala’ (translation: ‘Spring Lecture Series’) was started by Justice M.G. Ranade in 1875. The idea was to present a variety of lectures, across various topics to the people. In those days, newspapers were in their infancy (Kesari had not yet started) and live lectures were the most effective medium for knowledge transfer.

Since the 18th century Peshwa era, Pune has always been a center of knowledge and education. Post the fall of the Maratha Empire in 1818, Pune city witnessed a tough period lasting for a few decades. The city’s economy was in shambles. Many scholars and learned experts left the city. Things started to improve towards the later half of the 19th century, under visionary leaders such as Justice Ranade (and later on Lokmanya Tilak).

Ranade, Tilak and other leaders of that period clearly saw the value of ‘Information’. The citizens had to be educated and informed. The Vasant Vyankhyanmala initiative was born out of the need to disseminate information and create awareness. Justice Ranade delivered the first lecture in 1875 in English. Over the years though, most lectures have been delivered in Marathi. Through its rich 137 year history, there have been very rare occasions, where the series had to be cancelled. For many years,  the Vasant Vyankhyanmala was held at Hirabag and Belbag. It has been held at its present venue – Tilak Smarak Mandir, for many decades. Today, this series covers wide ranging topics such as Culture, Arts, Economics, Science, Health, Governance, History, etc.

While I have followed this lecture series over the years through media coverage, this was my first year attending it.  The event format and the organization was very good. The only negative in my view was the number of attendees (probably less than 500). In the pre-independence era, 1000s attended these lectures. Today, there are many other media sources for getting information, but an informative and thought-provoking live lecture is still a very powerful source. If you are in Pune, you should definitely try and attend at least some of these lectures, over the next 3 weeks. The lectures are virtually free to attend (Single lecture ticket costs Rs 5 and the season ticket is Rs 100).

There is a need to get the word out regarding Vasant Vyakhyanmala. More media publicity and social media presence will definitely help. I do hope that in the next few years, this great tradition that started in 1875 will continue to thrive, and reach much bigger audience.

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Vasant Vyakhyanmala 2017 - Schedule

Vasant Vyakhyanmala 2017 – Schedule

Vasant Vyakhyanmala 2017 - 2

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Pune Metro Rail – Need to plan future corridors looking at requirements for 2030 and beyond

Posted in Infrastructure, Pune by Amit Paranjape on October 18, 2016

After nearly a decade long delay, it looks like the Pune Metro Rail project is finally going to see the light of the day. The PIB (Public Investment Board) approval came in last week, and the final approval from the Central Cabinet is expected later this month. Following this approval, the official launch of the project is expected soon thereafter.

 

pune-map-1

Pune Metro Region (image via Google Maps)

 

Like with many infrastructure projects in Pune (airport, ring road, etc.), the Metro too is many years behind schedule. Today, the Pune metropolitan region has a population of over 6 million, and this is expected to approach 10 million in the next two decades. From an economy perspective, the Pune region will be among the top 5/6 metros in the country by 2030 – with major economic activity in both manufacturing and services.

 

At present, Pune has one of the worst public transit systems, among large cities in India. The percentage of private vehicle ownership is among the highest in the country. The city is adding over 1,000 new vehicles on the road each day! Big traffic jams, a rarity in Pune not long ago, are becoming the norm. With each passing year, they are getting worse. Improving public transportation is a critical need for the city.

 

Public transport needs to be enabled through multiple modes: Suburban/Light Rail, Metro Rail, BRT, Bus Service, Mini-Bus Shuttles, Pooled Rides, etc. All these modes have their advantages and disadvantages, and are relevant for specific use cases. This particular blog-post is focused on the Metro Rail. I have written before on Pune’s bus transit system before and will be writing more in the future.

 

Projects like airport, metro rail need significant investments and need to have a 30-50 year planning horizon outlook. These projects need to account for Pune’s current needs as well as the future growth. The present plan for the Pune Metro consists of two corridors:

  1. Swargate – PCMC
  2. Vanaz – Ramwadi

 

This plan was originally conceived many years back. Given the present situation in 2016 and looking at 2030 and beyond, it is important that we upgrade this plan right now, without any further delay.

 

Here are my suggestions to extend the existing plan (note: I am not proposing any major changes in the existing plans for the two corridors).

 

  1. Corridor 1

Expand Corridor-1 further north beyond PCMC Building to Nigdi, Akurdi and Dehu.

Create an expansion corridor branch (I will call it Corridor 1A for now) that stretches from PCMC Building to Moshi/Bhosari, and onwards to Chakan.

Expand Corridor-1 further south beyond Swargate to Gultekdi, Dhankawadi, Katraj.

A further expansion can also be made to extend beyond Katraj (through a tunnel) to the new proposed airport at Pargao-Memane (near Saswad).

 

  1. Corridor 2

Expand Corridor-2 further north-east beyond Ramwadi to Kharadi and Wagholi.

Create a branch of Corridor 2 (I will call it Corridor 2A for now), which extends to Karvenagar and Warje (from Paud Phata Karve Road, along the river). This will also enable relatively easy access for people living on the Sinhagad Road side as well (across from Rajaram Bridge).

Expand Corridor-2 further west from Vanaz to Bavdhan/Chandani Chowk, Bhugaon and Pirangut.

 

  1. Corridor 3 (new)

The new Corridor-3 should start from Hinjawadi Phase-3/4 in the north-west.

It should cover Hinjawadi, Wakad, Aundh, University, Shivajinagar, Pune Station, and  then stretch further east to Cantonment Area, Magarpatta and Hadapsar.

 

Other general points to consider for this planning:

The need for at least 3/4 corridors is necessary, given the circular geography and population clusters of the Pune Metro Region.

It is critical that access is provided to IT Parks and Industries in Hinjawadi, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Chakan, Kharadi, and Hadapsar.

Connectivity to Railway Stations (Pune, Shivajinagar, Hadapsar, and Pimpri), Intercity Bus Terminals and Airport is critical.

The end points of the metro rail corridors should be located near (or beyond) the proposed outer ring road of the city. This will enable fast multi-modal transit.

BRT, Bus, Mini-Bus routes should be suitably adjusted to provide good multi-modal connectivity to the stations along these metro corridors.

Suburban Rail corridor should also be utilized from Lonavala to Daund (I have discussed this in my earlier blog-posts). This can be effectively the 4th Metro Corridor.

 

‘वसंत व्याख्यानमाला’ (Vasant Vyakhyanmala- Spring Lecture Series) – A Great 142 Year Tradition

Posted in Current Affairs, Pune by Amit Paranjape on April 19, 2016

The 142nd edition of  the month long ‘Vasant Vyakhyanmala’ (Spring Lecture Series),starts April 21 at Tilak Smarak Mandir. This lecture series was originally started by Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade in 1875.

I had written an article about this great 142 year tradition few years back, and I am reproducing a version of that below. I have also included the schedule for this year’s lecture series (click on the images at the end of this article). Do try to attend as many lectures as you can! Do note, many of the lectures are in Marathi (a few are in English). Also, do share this schedule via social media. Please use the hash tag: #VasantVyakhyanmala or #वसंतव्याख्यानमाला in your tweets.

This year’s schedule covers a series of topics including politics, governance, history, infrastructure, music, literature, healthcare and many more. Good line up of speakers this year with a variety of different experience. These include politicians, historians, doctors, researchers, artists and others.

Some of the interesting speakers to look forward, over the month: Manohar Parrikar, Prithviraj Chavan, Prakash Javadekar, Dr. Vikas Amte, Prakash Ambedkar, Kunal Kumar (Pune Commissioner), Dr. Uday Kulkarni, Mahesh Kale and many more.

___________________

(blog-post from 2012 about Vasant Vyakhyanmala)

In recent years, TED and TEDx events are getting quite popular. They do a great job of presenting ideas from various experts and thought leaders. The first TED India event was very well received and many TEDx events have been held in various cities in India over the past year.

But did you know that an event similar in concept, but covering a broader range of topics, has been going on in Pune for 136 years! The great tradition of the ‘Vasant Vyakhyanmala’ (translation: ‘Spring Lecture Series’) was started by Justice M.G. Ranade in 1875. The idea was to present a variety of lectures, across various topics to the people. In those days, newspapers were in their infancy (Kesari had not yet started) and live lectures were the most effective medium for knowledge transfer.

Since the 18th century Peshwa era, Pune has always been a center of knowledge and education. Post the fall of the Maratha Empire in 1818, Pune city witnessed a tough period lasting for a few decades. The city’s economy was in shambles. Many scholars and learned experts left the city. Things started to improve towards the later half of the 19th century, under visionary leaders such as Justice Ranade (and later on Lokmanya Tilak).

Ranade, Tilak and other leaders of that period clearly saw the value of ‘Information’. The citizens had to be educated and informed. The Vasant Vyankhyanmala initiative was born out of the need to disseminate information and create awareness. Justice Ranade delivered the first lecture in 1875 in English. Over the years though, most lectures have been delivered in Marathi. Through its rich 137 year history, there have been very rare occasions, where the series had to be cancelled. For many years,  the Vasant Vyankhyanmala was held at Hirabag and Belbag. It has been held at its present venue – Tilak Smarak Mandir, for many decades. Today, this series covers wide ranging topics such as Culture, Arts, Economics, Science, Health, Governance, History, etc.

While I have followed this lecture series over the years through media coverage, this was my first year attending it.  The event format and the organization was very good. The only negative in my view was the number of attendees (probably less than 500). In the pre-independence era, 1000s attended these lectures. Today, there are many other media sources for getting information, but an informative and thought-provoking live lecture is still a very powerful source. If you are in Pune, you should definitely try and attend at least some of these lectures, over the next 3 weeks. The lectures are virtually free to attend (Single lecture ticket costs Rs 5 and the season ticket is Rs 100).

There is a need to get the word out regarding Vasant Vyakhyanmala. More media publicity and social media presence will definitely help. I do hope that in the next few years, this great tradition that started in 1875 will continue to thrive, and reach much bigger audience.

__________________________________

 

VV2016-1 (1)VV2016-1 (3)

Why the Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail (HSR) corridor should be extended to Panvel-Pune

Posted in Current Affairs, Pune by Amit Paranjape on December 12, 2015

Pune – Mumbai is one of the busiest urban corridors in the country. It connects two metro regions with populations of over 6 million and 20 million, respectively. Today, the commuters rely on the expressway and the train corridor. The traffic on this corridor is expected to grow significantly in the coming decade. There are already plans in place to expand the expressway from 6 to 8 lanes, and to improve the Bhor Ghat section via an alternate road alignment.

1024px-JR_East_Shinkansen_lineup_at_Niigata_Depot_201210(Shinkansen (Bullet Trains), Japan. Image Credit: Wikipedia)

However, given the future growth in this area (Pune metro region may cross 10 million by 2030!), an alternative high speed rail corridor is also critical. The present rail corridor is restricted to 110 km/h (..and to a much slower limit in the Bhor Ghat section), and more importantly has a severe traffic congestion, thanks to the Mumbai suburban rail traffic. The Deccan Queen took less time to travel between Mumbai-Pune in 1930s (when launched), than today!

 

In addition to catering to the inter-city traffic, the high speed rail corridor can also support the new Navi Mumbai Airport in Kharghar (Panvel). The HSR corridor from Pune-Panvel-Kurla will support rapid access for Pune and Mumbai travellers to reach this airport (reducing the need for the new airport in Pune, which has been in a limbo for a long time). It will be possible to travel from Pune to Panvel (120 km) in under 45 min, and from Kurla, Central Mumbai to Panvel (30 km) in under 15 min.  This will enable a great access to the new international airport from both cities.

 

I understand that the Pune-Panvel HSR corridor will be a bit more expensive and challenging given the mountainous Bhor Ghat section…but these challenges have been addressed in many other places in the world. More tunnelling will be required. One advantage of tunnelling is that, it may reduce some land acquisition issues.

 

The Ahmadabad-Mumbai HSR corridor entails a huge investment of 100,000 crores. For a small fraction (less than 25%?) of this investment, the corridor can also support excellent high speed connectivity between:

 

Pune – Navi Mumbai (Airport)

Mumbai – Navi Mumbai (Airport)

Pune – Ahmadabad

 

I hope the concerned authorities (Maharashtra Government, Central Government, Railways and others) consider this HSR corridor as a top priority and start work in this direction. Also, Pune, Mumbai industry and commerce bodies need to lobby for this aggressively.

Pune needs more traffic cops!

Posted in Cars, Current Affairs, Pune by Amit Paranjape on May 18, 2015

Pune traffic mess worsens every day. Road infrastructure is woefully inadequate for 3+ million vehicles. But what exacerbates this further is the massive traffic indiscipline. And this traffic indiscipline/anarchy is growing everyday.

One key reason for indiscipline is the lack of enforcement. There is no fear in the minds of signal/one-way violators that they will get caught. Visitors to Pune from other metros in India, routinely describe the traffic lawlessness on the streets here as much worse than their home towns.

Many will be surprised to know – Pune has more vehicles than Mumbai! (Most of these being two-wheelers, which actually worsen the traffic indiscipline issues…).

The traffic in Mumbai is a lot more homogeneous (4/6 wheelers), while that in Pune is a lot more heterogeneous & chaotic (2/3/4/6 wheelers). 80+% of Pune’s vehicles are 2-wheelers, and due to their small size and flexible maneuverability, they are often the biggest offenders when it comes to traffic violations. Narrow roads in Pune also add to the problems.

Like in all other infrastructure and development areas, Pune has woefully inadequate traffic police strength for the 3+ million vehicles (AND growing at 1,000+/day!). Note, Mumbai has 3x (or more) traffic police personnel as that of Pune. (I am researching exact numbers… also trying to find benchmarks with other cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai…Any pointers would be appreciated!).

Instead of constantly blaming Pune traffic (I do too…) we should also lobby the authorities for additional enforcement capacity. The Pune Police have made these demands about additional strength at multiple points of time.  The citizens of Pune need to lobby their elected representatives at all levels regarding this demand.
And yes, structural changes are needed in penalties (increasing fine amounts) and driver licensing tests…but those are medium and long term measures. Long term measures should obviously also focus on better public transit (and reduction in private vehicles…). But, short term for Pune, additional traffic police manpower is absolutely essential. Also, immediate deployment of camera based enforcement is critical. Wherever technology can help in better enforcement, it has to be actively used. Enforcement needs to done not only at signals but at random spots along the roads. Traffic violators should worry about getting ‘caught’ anywhere, and at anytime. Discipline culture will take a long time to build… it starts with fear of law: If you break a traffic law…you will get CAUGHT and FINED!

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