A tale of broken promises

Before I venture out I would like to share with all one of my old classic favorite songs –

It’s a beautiful soft song and there are many such songs that were composed in the 1960’s. This specific song is from the movie ‘Woh Kaun Thi’ . The original song was sung by Indian Nigtingale Mrs. Lata Mangeshkar. The newer sound that you hear though is of Shreya Ghosal.

At this time the election scenario has been where all promises have been broken. While in the last blog post I had promised I will share some of the issues lot of events have taken in-between and there also had been lot of memories of broken promises by the ruling party which has lead not just me but probably lot of Puneties unhappy and disappointed. I will try and share some of them.

2014 Water pipeline promises

Pune has been facing water shortages since the last decade or so. In fact the situation has turned from bad to worse. The previous government promises they will make lot of pipelines and were voted to power. There was water pipeline scam and the Government changed in 2014. From 2014 to 2019 the water crisis has worsened. In my own home, we get water for only 2-3 hours daily. We have not been able to entertain any families for more than a day because of water issues. The only fortunate part is that I have to walk at the most 20 meters to take water while in some places people have to go miles or do dangerous things such as one I’m sharing below.

As can be seen they are going 60 feet down a well without any support structure or even a rope which means they can fall, injure or even die at any moment, a false step. And this they do everyday in order to get water for their families. This place is around 100 – 120 kms. from Pune. More than 1/3rd of the state has been declared as drought hit

Now we have the present ruling Government in Central, State as well as Municipalities but still the water projects are at the same place since 2014. In fact last year they raised 200 crore rupees saying we are short of funds for the project. Luckily I didn’t participate and I will share why I say luckily. Instead of INR 200 crore, people gave between INR 400-500 crores and this was raised in 2-3 days when the municipal bonds were going to be there for 2 weeks. It was made to imply that the investments would be under sovereign guarantee of Government of India . After the money was collected, it was told that neither the Center nor the State takes any responsibility for the money that was collected. The last I heard on the issue is that apparently the money has been kept in a Fixed Deposit Account (no reason given) .

Apart from the monetary issue, why did it take them 4 years to know that Pune has a water problem when that was their political plank which they had sold to Puneties. Of the several projects that are supposed to happen, the Bhama Akshad Dam project has been hanging fire since 2010. In fact it has its own page on wikipedia so it’s one of the notable water projects. The less I say of the other projects, the better.

Pune Municipal Transport or PMT

One of the other electoral promises that the current Government had made was that there will be a huge improvement in lot number of areas of PMT’s functioning. Accountability, number of buses, number of routes, less breakdowns and less corruption. Neither of these promises have been implemented. PMPML which also a webpage on wikipedia clearly shows that number of breakdowns, while unoffically the number is probably one and half times than what has been reported. As can be seen the last stats. are of 2016-2017, there are no stats. either of 2017-18 or 2018-19. This shows at the very least negligence and lack of transparency on the present Government. This is the same Government which has put spent close to 5,200 crores on advertisements (probably even more) as shared by Rajvardhan Rathore in a Lok Sabha reply in July 2018. And the amount that was spent within July 2018 – May 2019 would probably be about around 2000 crores or something as they spent a lot in ads this year, so the final tax payer and black money must be around 7,200 crores. It is possible that some estimates could be made by PRS and Election Commission, although the less I say about the EC, the better.

Pune Metro Project

This is and was one of the projects I am and was looking forwards to. The Pune Metro was going to make it easier just like Delhi Metro makes it easier to travel from point A to point B without waiting for a bus which when it will come is not known. To keep updated on the project I followed the Pune Metro project twitter handle. The twitter handle is and was useful as it used to keep me updated about how the Pune project is doing. I am one of those who used to check the twitter page daily just to know if they had posted something new just because I have fascination about transit systems, rails, planes, buses you name it. From 18th March 2019, the twitter handle stopped sharing any new news. The first week or two went by and I thought it is possible that due to Election Comission rules they might not be sharing. But even after Pune voted i.e 26th March, 2019 there were still no updates. Somehow I felt something is fishy and on a hunch I tried to see if the Nagpur Metro Rail handle was also showing similar.

To my surprise, the Nagpur Metro Rail were sharing, giving updates even though there is and was a huge section of Nagpur who didn’t feel the need of a metro. Pune does. So I dug a little deeper and found out that HCC has been terminated out of Pune Metro . Just to share a bit of history, this route is the most crucial part of the project as it is the first phase. Just to put a bit of context here HCC used to be a Navratna status public-private company which used to be at the bourses around INR 40-44/- which has now come to INR 13/- and will probably slide to something like INR 10/- . While I do not really want to get into how they have destructed public limited companies and it would probably need a blog post or two to share all the public limited companies they have systematically destroyed let’s leave that for another day.

As far as Pune Metro is concerned, I don’t see anything now till whatever the New Government comes into power anything will happen. This may happen in a month or two from today. Let’s say whatever Government does comes to power, there is also no guarantee that the team that is/was driving the Pune Metro will be managing then. If there is a new team it will again take its own sweet time. Even if the old team is given responsibility it will take close to 6 months to a year for replacements to come by as they would have to re-issue a global tender all over again giving an updated picture of the work done, the work yet to be completed and so on and so forth. We know the delay is going to be so severe that an ardent Pune metro video blogger whom I know, Yogi Logic shared just how things are without saying much as there is nothing left to say 😦

While I could go on sharing lot more deficiencies on the local, Municipal and State level, forget the center but that will have to be for another day.

Update 06/05/2019 – Few friends asked me to aslso share the work that Paani foundation has been doing and the transparent way they have been doing it.

Paani Foundation

Paani Foundation is headed by Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao. You can see the Paani Foundation’s website as well as the places where they are working. Now my question is, if a non-profit can show where they are doing things, show videos and stuff, also be available to answer queries and one can go and investigate then why not the Government. One thing I need to point out is that they are doing these things very cheaply. While Aamir and his team provide the expertise, the villagers spend their own money, get the materials, do shramdhan i.e, donate an hour or two from your life to make the watershed dam. While they wanted to do this since 2014 but due to bureacratic hurdles and what not, they could only start in 2017. There was an interview in which he shared the above. He also shared he learnt it in WOTR, a pune-based organization.

There is another thing as well. I think I had shared adventures travelingr with a friend when he wanted to look up houses, while he is still on the hunt, lot of projects that we together have now got some sort of RWH (Rain Water Harvesting projects) but that also seems interesting although whether this is too little, too late, only time will tell. I did see this also a few days and was wondering if the situation has turned so desperate. Because it’s the onion dunno if one should believe it or it’s a hoax. Even in the true/fake news the white man should live while Africans should die 😦

Reviewing Agent 6

The city I come from, Pune has been experiencing somewhat of a heat-wave. So I have been cutting off lot of work and getting lot of back-dated reading done. One of the first books I read was Tom Rob Smith’s Agent 6 . Fortunately , I read only the third book and not the first two which from the synopsis seem to be more gruesome than the one which I read, so guess there is something to be thankful for.

Agent 6 copyright - Tom Rob Smith & Publishers

While I was reading about the book, I had thought that MGB is a fictious organization thought of by the author. But a quick look in wikipedia told that it is what KGB was later based upon.

I found the book to be both an easy read as well as a layered book. I was lucky to get a big print version of the book so I was able to share the experience with my mother as well. The book is somewhat hefty as it tops out around 600 pages although it’s told to be 480 pages on amazon.

As I had shared previously I had read Russka and how had been disappointed to see how the Russian public were disappointed time and again for democracy. I do understand that the book (Russka) itself is/was written by a western author and could have tapped into some unconscious biases but seemed to be accurate as to whatever I could find from public resources, that story though I may return to in a future date but this time would be for Agent 6 .

I found the book pretty immersive and at the same time lead me thinking on so many threads the author touches but then moves on. I was left wondering and many times just had to sleep, think deep thoughts as there was quite to chew on.

I am not going to spoil any surprises except to say there are quite a few twists and the ending is also what I didn’t expect.

At the end, if you appreciate politics, history, bit of adventure and have a bit of patience, the book is bound to reward you. It is not meant to be a page-turner but if you are one who enjoys savoring your drink you are going to enjoy it thoroughly.

Debian 9 release party at Co-hive

Dear all, This would be a biggish one so please have a chai/coffee or something stronger as it would take a while.

I would start with attempt at some alcohol humor. While some people know that I have had a series of convulsive epileptic seizure I had shared bits about it in another post as well. Recovery is going through allopathic medicines as well as physiotherapy which I go to every alternate day.

One of the exercises that I do in physiotherapy sessions is walk cross-legged on a line. While doing it today, it occurred to me that this is the same test that a Police inspector would do if they caught you drinking or are suspected of drunk driving. While some in the police force have now also have breath analyzer machines to determine alcohol content in the breath and body (and ways to deceive it are also there) the above exercise is still an integral part of examination. Now few of my friends who do drink have and had made expertise of walking on a line, while I due to this neurological disorder still have issues of walking on a line. So while I don’t think of a drinking party in the near future (6 months at least), if I ever do get caught with a friend who is drunk (by association I would also be a suspect) by a policeman who doesn’t have a breath analyzer machine, I could be in a lot of trouble. In addition if I tell him I have a neurological disorder I am bound to land up in a cell as he will think I’m trying to make a fool of him. If you are able to picturize the situation, I’m sure you will get a couple of laughs.

Now coming to the release party, I was a bit apprehensive. It’s been quite a while I had faced an audience and just coming out of illness didn’t know how well or ill-prepared I would be for the session. I had forsaken/given up exercising two days earlier before the event as I wanted to have loose body, loose limbs all over. I also took a mild sedative (1mg) the day before just so I will have a fit night sleep and be able to focus all my energies on the big day. (I don’t recommend sedatives unless the doctor prescribes) and I did have a doctor prescription so was able to have a nice sleep. I didn’t do any Debian study as I hoped my somewhat long experience with both Ubuntu and Debian should help me.

On the d-day, I had asked dhanesh (the organizer of the event) to accompany me from home to venue and back as I was unsure of the journey as it was around 9-10 kms. from my place and while I had been to the venue about couple of years back, I had just a mild remembrance of the place.

Anyways, Dhanesh compiled with my request and together we reached the venue before the appointed 1500 hrs. As it was a Sunday I was unsure as how many people would turn up as people usually like to cozy up on a Sunday.

Around 1530 hrs everybody showed up

The whole group

It included couple of co-organizers with most people being newbies so while I had thought of showing how to contribute via reporting bugs or putting up patches, had to set that aside and explain how things work in free software and open-source world. We didn’t get into the debate of free vs open-source or free/open-source/open-core as that would have been counter-productive and probably confusing for newbies.

We did however share the debian tree structure

debian-tree-structure-discussion

I was stumped by /var and /proc . I hadn’t taken my lappy as it is expensive (a lenovo thinkpad I love very dearly) and I was unsure if I would be able to take care of it (weight wise). Dhanesh had told me that he had Debian on his lappy + zsh both of which are my favourites.

While back at home I realized /var has been relegated to having apache/server logs and stuff like that, I do recall (vaguely) a thread on debian-devel about removing /var although that discussion went nowhere.

One of the bugs that we hit early on is that nobody had enough space on their hdd to have Debian comfortably. It took a while to get an external hdd and push some of the content from somebody’s lappy to the external drive to have space for the installation.

I did share the /. /home, optional swap while Dhanesh helped by sharing about having a separate /boot partition as well which I had forgotten. I can’t even begin to remember the number of times having a separate /boot partition has helped me in all of my systems.

That done, we did try to install/show Debian 9 without network but were hit with #866629 so wasn’t able to complete the installation. We had got the latest 9.0.1 as I had seen Steve’s message about issues with the live images but even then we were hit with the above bug. As shared in the bug history, it might be a good idea to have the last couple of RC’s (Release Candidate releases) as pre-release parties so people have a chance to report bugs and get them fixed. It was also nice to see Praveen raising the seriousness of the bug shared above.

The next day I also filed #866971 as I had mistaken the release to be a regular release and not the live instance. I have pushed my rationale and hope the right thing happens.

As installation takes a bit of time, we used the time to share about Google’s Summer of Code and absence of Debian from GSoC this year. I should have directed them to an itfoss article I wrote sometime ago and also shared that Debian is also looking to having a similar apprenticeship within Debian itself. There were questions about why Debian would like to take the administrative overhead, my response was that it probably had to do with Debian wanting more control over the process. While Debian has had some great luck getting all number of seats that it asks for in GSoC, the ball is always in Google’s court. Having that uncertainty off would be beneficial to Debian both in short-term as well as long-term. One interesting stat that was shared with me was that something akin to 89 students from India had been selected this year to GSoC even with the lower stipend and that is a far cry from the 10-15 students who are able to complete GSoC every year. Let’s see what happens this year.

One of the interesting fact/gossip I shared with them is that Google uses a modified/forked Debian internally which it probably would never release ever.

There were quite a few queries about GSoC which resulted into how contributions are made and how git had become the master of all VCS (Version Control Systems). While I do have pet bugs about git (the biggest one being for places/countries having not big bandwidth git fails many a times while cloning). I *think* the bug has been reported enough times but haven’t seen any improvements yet. There is a need of a solution like wget and wget -c so git just works even under the most trying circumstances (bandwidth wise)

We also shared what a repo is and Dhanesh helpfully did a git shortlog to show people how commits are commented. It was from his official work so he couldn’t show anything apart from the shortlog.

I also shared how non-technical people can help with regard to documentation, artwork but didn’t get into any concrete examples although wiki.debian.org would have been a good start. I also don’t know if it’s a fact or not but it seems/seemed that moinmoin (the current wiki solution used by debian) seems to have got sectional edit feature which I used sometime back. If moinmoin has got this feature then it is on par with mediawiki, although do know that mediawiki has lot more features going for it.

Dhanesh did manage to install a Debian 8.0.7 (while 8.8.0 was the last release) which might have been better. The debian-installer (d-i) looks the same even though I know there are improvements with respect to UEFI and many updated components.

There are and were many bugs which I wanted to share but didn’t know if it was the right forum or not, for e.g. #597176 which probably needs improvements in other libraries along with the JPEG 2000 support #604859 all of which I’m subscribed to.

We also had a talk about code documentation and code readability, python (as almost everything in Debian is based on python) I had actually wanted to show metrics.debian.net but had seen it was down the day before and again checked to see it is down now as well, hence reported it, will hopefully come on Debian BTS some time soonish. The idea was to share that Debian does have/uses other programming languages as well and is only limited by people interested in a specific language and be willing to package and maintain packages in that specific programming language.

As Dhanesh was part of Firefox OS and a Campus Ambassador we did discuss what went wrong in Firefox OS deployment and Firefox as a whole, specifically between the community and Mozilla the Corporation.

In this there were lots that was lot that I wasn’t able to share as had become tired otherwise would have shared that ncurses debian-installer interface although bit ugly to look at is still good as it has speech for visually differently abled people as well as people with poor sight.

There is and was lots to share about Debian but was conscious that I might over-burden the audience and my stamina was also stretched.

We also shared about automated builds bud didn’t show either travis.debian.net or jeankins.debian.net

We also had a small discussion about Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and how the outlook for people coming in Computer Science looks today.

One thing I forgot to share we did do the cake-cutting together

Dhanesh-Shirish cutting cake together

Dhanesh is on the left while I’m on the right.

We did have a cute 3-4 year old boy as our guest as well bud didn’t get good pictures of him.

Lastly, the Debian cake itself

Debian 9 cake

We also talked about the kernel and subsystem maintainers and how Linus is the overlord.

Look forward to comments. I am hoping Dhanesh might recollect some points that I might have missed/forgotten.

Update 07/07/17 – All programming languages stats. can be seen here