4,000 Kilometers Through My Own Country – An Engineer’s Viewpoint

Kumar Thangudu

January 11, 2017

5 years ago, I went 4000 Km-ish on motorcycles, trains, planes, and buses through India. I hadn’t been back to India in over a decade. If you were to travel my country as an systems engineer, you would be well accustomed to infant mortality, coal skies, lignite coal plants, distillation towers that were unmaintained, power grid failures, medical triage, and how India has become a country that’s unable to cope with its growth in a healthy way because of a lack of access to clean Nuclear energy. By 5/6, I witnessed the first farmer suicide. Dead bodies still don’t shock me. I’ve seen so many at this point.At 7, I was making ice cream with rock salt, sugar, and vanilla during power outages.At 11, my Uncle died from lung cancer. I wanted to do something about it. At 14, I supported a corrupt US congressman in the hopes of manipulating US political tectonics to expedite Nuclear policy in India’s favor. Tom Delay was indicted and now re-elected. He didn’t do anything, he was just trying to lock down the Indian American vote. At 24, I coughed my way asthmatically through my own country pissed off at the fact that even decades later, we still didn’t have Nuclear energy at the scale that would make a difference. At 27, I sat depressed as I read the reports of soil where I grew up for periods of time being polluted with high salinity, lead, chromium, nickel, zinc, arsenic and cadmium. If you ever ask yourself why doesn’t X country have Z. The answer is almost always primarily —- Energy. Energy is the source code for Nitrogen and Steel, the base chemical feedstocks of progress and scaling.  It is not religion, or that we are ass-backwards, or that we don’t have the intellectual capital. It is almost always a pure and utter lack of energy.

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