Category Archives: Design

In India, how can we save a lot of public money?

Recently, a report about a teenager’s suggestion to US government to change font in their stationery from Times New Roman to Garamond estimated that it could save some $400 millions of the government due to reduction in ink use. Even though the authenticity of the claim is yet to be established and counter arguments are out to prove this wrong, India, too, can save a lot of money if some obviously simple things are done more sensibly. Here are some suggestions.

1) By putting proper signs on roads

A lot of precious time and fuel can be saved and a lot of accidents can be avoided if the quality of road signs in India improves. The signs on inner roads and highways are either missing, or they are too small or at obscure locations which are impossible to spot while driving. At most of the places, the Einsteins in charge of NHAI and other road infrastructure authorities have put so ridiculous signs at completely meaningless locations that they appear just too late, leaving no time for action. The only sensible and timely signages are found on expressways. Why can’t all Einsteins think similarly?

2) Making the commonly used information accessible

A huge amount of time and energy is wasted in finding some simple information regarding government and its offices and companies. A web site like can save a lot of money. The only condition is that somebody should actually pick up the phones of which numbers are mentioned. In India, helplines are generally not helpful because most government helplines just keep ringing.

3) By putting timers on traffic signals

In cities like Mumbai and other metros, sometimes we need to wait for 20-30 minutes at some junctions when 3-4 iterations of signal changes pass before we finally get through, thousands of litres of fuel can be saved by shutting down vehicle engines if timers indicating seconds to reopen the signal can be shown.

4) By putting signals or traffic police at every crowded junction in cities

A lot of avoidable traffic jams are caused by vehicles which break traffic rules at an unmanned junction. In the absence of regulator or a disciplining reference, India’s smart drivers prove their enormous smartness and agility by sneaking through impossible places, risking their own and others lives and creating a complete chaos and traffic jams. India has a lot of unemployed. The cost of employing people to control traffic will be many times compensated by the saving in terms of time, energy and fuel.

5) By sensibly designing coins

The recent coins introduced by the Einsteins of RBI are so confusing that people have to spend a lot of time just figuring out whether it is 1, 2 or 5 rupee coin. The similarity of new Rupee symbol with number ‘2’ adds to the meelee.

6) Privatize all Government companies

Yes. Privatize or close down all Government companies. Business can’t be mixed with charity. History of Indian PSUs has shown that Govt can’t do a good job at business because of its temporary nature. The bosses change every five years. Where is consistency required for implementing a stable mission? Most of the government companies are hotbeds of inefficiency because of the callousness from top to bottom. Examples like telecom, aviation, infrastructure and metal industries have proved that the fear of customer disadvantage due to privatization are completely misplaced and the contrary is true.

Most of the money wasted in India is due to unaccountability of the Government and its machinery. This rot from top must stop. If the government is divested of all other activities than pure governance, it will be a blessing for India.

Indian Railways’ Bad design = Bad Customer Experience # 1

Indian Railways (and many other Indian Government departments) have a large number of Einsteins sitting in their dusty offices. These Einsteins come out with innovative designs and process solutions which, instead of improving the quality of service, increase the hardships and troubles of the passengers.

Railways has installed some modern escalators at local train stations in Mumbai. At Dadar, one such swanky escalator on platform no.2 on Western side is not much used by people. It is always deserted. Very few people use it preferring the staircase next. Why is this so in a heavily crowded station like Dadar, where people should have loved to use such modern facility?

The escalator leads to a foot over bridge which is truncated up to Western side only. The unassuming people willing to go to East side or Central Railway who climb up the escalator have to first climb down from that bridge and climb up stairs all the way again….! Result ? The escalator is useless for 70% of the commuters.

Some among the Einsteins should have seen the place before coming out with such half-baked modern solution wasting huge amount of time, money and energy. Bad designs result into bad customer experience. At least we should learn this from the wasteful expenditure of our government.

These Einsteins don’t have to pay from their pockets so they can afford all such idiosyncrasies.
We can’t.