At Delhi, I attended today a workshop on ITS (Intelligent Transport System) organised by Ministry of Urban Development. We were told of the very many experiments going on in USA, UK, Japan and South Korea. Here is a link of a video from the Korean experiment that we were shown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ7AbusMATE . I suggested, however, that external examples must be tuned to Indian reality and that simple solutions like periodic announcements in FM radio about traffic conditions may also be taken into account. I also talked about introducing ITS in New Town Kolkata as a pilot scheme. The organisers agreed to come to Kolkata for detailed discussions soon.
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In the afternoon, I attended a meeting at the French Embassy on promoting Indo-French collaboration at the State / ULB level. I alluded to the close parallel between La Defence near Paris and New Town near Kolkata and remarked that in terms of urban planning there could be a lot to share. Mr Mani Shankar Aiyer was also there and talked about the fundamental difference in democracies of India and Europe (In Europe it evolved over centuries and in India it was 'devolved' from the top suddenly, he said). His speech was quite impressive and I complemented him by saying that one wished if it could be recorded !
While at the French Embassy, I recalled my last visit to the same building in 2003 when I had to appear for an interview (which was held after a written test that I had to clear) for being considered for a training at ENA (Ecole Nationale d'Administration) in France. I'd got a diploma in Public Administration (Public Finance) in 2004 after a stint in ENA Paris and Project work in Strassbourg. All course was in French and I didn't know a word of French before landing in France! I shared this with the Embassy diplomats today, who are, it seems, compiling a directory of ex-ENAs from India, of which there was another in today's meeting who'd done it a decade earlier (Ms Sneh Lata Kumar, IAS, Resident Commissioner MP)
Bon jour !
Returning Kolkata this evening.