Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Bombay trains: Close to eight people die a day on the network; in the first 11 months of 2018, 650 passengers died falling from trains alone, & even more were killed crossing the tracks

‘You Have to Actually Cut Open Mumbai’s Belly’—Inside One of the World’s Most Audacious Transit Projects. Corinne Abrams. The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 6, 2019. https://www.wsj.com/articles/through-monsoons-around-slums-under-templesmumbai-builds-its-first-subway-11546803877

More than 8,000 workers keep construction going 24 hours a day to finish the line that will speed 1.6 million riders beneath one of the world’s most crowded cities

India's financial capital, Mumbai, has taken on its biggest-ever infrastructure project to build a subway in a city where more than seven million commuters cram onto its creaky suburban railways.


MUMBAI—One of the most challenging projects in the world is being attempted beneath one of its most densely packed cities.

If it works, Mumbai will become the planet’s most crowded metropolis to build an underground subway.

More than 8,000 workers and a fleet of 360-foot-long boring machines are working 24 hours a day—even through monsoon rains—to finish the 27-station, 21-mile subway through some of the world’s most densely populated neighborhoods, around the edge of one of Asia’s biggest slums, below an airport and under temples and colonial buildings to end at a green edge of forest where leopards still roam.

The train is also cutting a path through the country’s religious traditions, legal system and every layer of its society, with challenges at each stop.

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd.—a joint venture between the state and central government, which is building the subway—has had to negotiate with thousands of families and businesses to get them to move and has fought residents in courts over noise, land rights and even whether the subway will sully sacred ground.

Despite the difficulties, the subway, which was started in 2016, is now getting built at a pace of just over one mile a month. So far, 9 miles are complete. The $3.3 billion “Metro Line 3,” Mumbai’s first underground train, is on track to be finished and open by the end of 2021.

With a general election due by May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is eager to demonstrate he is delivering even the most difficult infrastructure projects for the country’s 1.3 billion citizens.

Mr. Modi said in a speech last month that by 2024 the city would have 170 miles of metro lines under and above ground. The government is “making your lives better and easier” with its metro plans, Mr. Modi said in his speech.

A spokesperson at the prime minister’s office declined to comment on opposition to the metro.

More than seven million commuters a day cram onto the city’s existing creaky suburban railway network. Crowding is so extreme Indian authorities describe it as a “superdense crush load”—meaning trains are often carrying almost three times their capacity. Close to eight people die a day on the network, according to rail officials. In the first 11 months of 2018, 650 passengers died falling from trains alone, and even more were killed crossing the tracks, rail officials said.

The new train will be the first line to cut through the heart of the city, with air-conditioned carriages speeding around 80 feet underground, while carrying an estimated 1.6 million riders a day.

The unlikely driver of this stunning megaproject is a 48-year-old woman who grew up in a small town 200 miles outside Mumbai. Ashwini Bhide aced the notoriously difficult civil-service exam in 1995 and rose through the ranks of Indian civil service to become one of the few women at the top.

“You have to actually cut open Mumbai’s belly at so many locations and then start constructing,” said Ms. Bhide, managing director of the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, the MMRC.

Wearing a deep blue kurti, a traditional Indian shirt—one local media group named her the city’s “Most Stylish Bureaucrat”—Ms. Bhide took calls from her desk phone and sent messages from her cellphone recently as she coordinated her mostly male team, who call her “Madam.”
Total deaths 2,734
Crossing tracks 1,476
Falling from trains 650
Natural death 491
Suicide 31
Electric shock 20
Struck by pole when leaning from a train 18
Others 48

Data is for January to November 2018. Source: Mumbai Railway Police

“There is a desperation,” said Ms. Bhide. “We really need to do it. It should have been done yesterday.”

Her office shelves are stacked with awards, a rock from the metro digging and a miniature model of a boring machine. Her walls are a patchwork of maps, plans and diagrams.

The city formerly known as Bombay has always been one of India’s most cosmopolitan and diverse. With a greater metro area population of 18.4 million, almost every religious, ethnic and caste community is represented somewhere along the peninsula. The city’s stock exchange BSE Ltd. shuts down to observe 12 religious holidays, including those observed by Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

India’s tiny Parsi community of 57,000 people—descendants of the Zoroastrian religious minority that came to India from Iran starting centuries ago—are a powerful group with property and temples across the city. At the center of each temple of the 3,500-year-old religion is a holy fire that has often been kept burning more than a century.

The new subway line is set to pass below two of the temples’ grounds. Only Parsis are allowed to enter the temples. Some worry the subway could interrupt prayers and desecrate holy ground, fearing that if nonmembers or menstruating women pass below while riding on it, the sanctity of the temple will be destroyed. Others are concerned tunneling and station work could damage the temples or drain wells on the temple sites.

“It is too close for comfort,” said Jamshed Sukhadwalla, a Parsi who has taken the subway builders to court. “There should not be interference above or below.”

More than 50 Parsis, including priests wearing traditional white robes and hats and women wearing headscarves, turned up at the Bombay High Court during a hearing in July. The lawyer for the MMRC warned the tunnel could collapse if boring stopped for too long.

After a six-month pause in tunneling near the temples, the court in November granted the MMRC permission to restart.

Mr. Sukhadwalla and fellow petitioners appealed in the Supreme Court in New Delhi. Last month, it ruled that work could go ahead as long as measures were taken to avoid damage to the temples.

“To rethink the alignment is virtually impossible,” said Uday Umesh Lalit, one of the judges.

Mr. Sukhadwalla, the Parsi opponent, said after the hearing, “You can give assurances, but if damage occurs” to the temples “it will be irreversible…I’m totally upset.”

The MMRC has faced around 65 court cases related to the construction of the metro, about half of them still open. Among the cases are petitions about land and property rights, noise, religious freedom and from people trying to protect trees along the length of the metro line.

To finish the line as fast as possible, 17 tunnel-boring machines—each almost as long as a football field—are simultaneously grinding through rock below the city.

To get the machines from the port and through Mumbai’s narrow roads, specialists had to divide the machines into parts and transport them on trailers. They cut off shop fronts to fit the machines down streets. The machines were reassembled underground.

Only the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka is more crowded than Mumbai, according to the United Nations. Dhaka is building an aboveground metro. Mumbai has an average of around 82,000 people per square mile, three times the population density of New York City.

Ms. Bhide isn’t moving the line away from packed neighborhoods; she’s steering straight at them.

“These areas, if they really need to be rejuvenated, they have to have metro connectivity,” she said. The city’s old lines will continue to exist above ground. In addition to the new underground subway, routes are also being constructed above ground.

South Mumbai’s streets are lined with poorly maintained buildings put up during colonial times. The MMRC surveyed thousands of structures before construction took place, reinforcing ones in danger of falling over.


Lawyer Robin Jaisinghani’s apartment peers into the station’s crater and he says the 24-hour construction was keeping his young daughters up at night. More than once he visited the construction site in the early hours of the morning to ask them to stop.

The MMRC put up a sound barrier, but sitting in his apartment, Mr. Jaisinghani said he could still hear the noise through the double-glazed German windows he had installed to block it out.

He represented himself in court, saying the noise violated his constitutional right to life and personal liberty, and got an order to stop construction between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. For more than a year, the station near his home was the only train construction site in Mumbai that halted at night.

Courts ruled in August that the building of this crucial infrastructure was more important than the inconvenience of residents. Construction is back to 24 hours a day.

At the other end of the line and the economic spectrum lies the final stop of the metro, Aarey Milk Colony, a rare expanse of green once known for its dairy business.

The stop, and a depot for trains, is being built over an area where families lived in simple brick homes, raising chickens and farming in the surrounding government lands.

Around 42% of Mumbai residents live in slums, according to 2011 census data, the most recent available, on land they don’t own and sometimes in teetering little towers. Relocating residents is a complex process.

Laxmi Ramji Gaikwad, in her 70s, lived on what was officially government land. The settlement was on land that flowed into a sprawling nature reserve, home to more than 20 leopards that occasionally attack locals. In 2017, a leopard attacked and killed a child.

When officials came to evict her to make way for the train, Ms. Gaikwad said she threatened to set herself on fire. She said security guards removed her possessions and destroyed her home. She finally agreed to relocate to a small apartment on the 12th floor of a government building.

Her legs have swelled from inactivity since moving, she says, and she feels dizzy when she looks out the window. She has always used wood fires and isn’t sure how to use a gas stove to make tea.

“I don’t know what benefit the metro will bring,” she said.

The MMRC has moved more than 2,800 families and businesses along the subway route. It says all moves are “legally done under supervision of relevant government authorities after alternative accommodation is provided.” It says it helps families adjust, teaching them how to pay bills and look after their new homes.

Ms. Bhide said she devours old books about how infrastructure was built during the colonial era. People died to build the railway lines Mumbaikars depend on today, she tells her team. No one has died building her subway line.

“People have taken a lot of pains, and a lot of lives were lost building the infrastructure we see today and we have been using for the past 150 years,” she said. “We have to have that patience.”

—-Debiprasad Nayak, Karan Deep Singh and Eric Bellman contributed to this article.

[links, graphs, charts, interesting data, full text, at the link above]

Having moral employees & leaders can come with many benefits; there can be offsetting costs associated with an internalized moral identity (reduced humor & subsequent likability in the workplace)

Yam, K. C., Barnes, C. M., Leavitt, K., Wei, W., Lau, J., & Uhlmann, E. L. (2019). Why so serious? A laboratory and field investigation of the link between morality and humor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000171

Abstract: Previous research has identified many positive outcomes resulting from a deeply held moral identity, while overlooking potential negative social consequences for the moral individual. Drawing from Benign Violation Theory, we explore the tension between moral identity and humor, and the downstream workplace consequence of such tension. Consistent with our hypotheses, compared with participants in the control condition, participants whose moral identities were situationally activated (Study 1a) or chronically accessible (Study 1b) were less likely to appreciate humor and generate jokes others found funny (Study 2), especially humor that involved benign moral violations. We also found that participants with a strong moral identity do not generally compensate for their lack of humor by telling more jokes that do not involve moral violations (Study 3). Additional field studies demonstrated that employees (Study 4) and leaders (Study 5) with strong moral identities and who display ethical leadership are perceived as less humorous by their coworkers and subordinates, and to the extent that this is the case are less liked in the workplace. Study 5 further demonstrated two competing mediating pathways—leaders with strong moral identities are perceived as less humorous but also as more trustworthy, with differentiated effects on interpersonal liking. Although having moral employees and leaders can come with many benefits, our research shows that there can be offsetting costs associated with an internalized moral identity: reduced humor and subsequent likability in the workplace.

Microscopic description of chaotic systems' synchronization: Gradual process of topological adjustment in phase space, in which the strange attractors of the two coupled systems continuously converge

Synchronization of chaotic systems: A microscopic description. Nir Lahav, Irene Sendina-Nadal, Chittaranjan Hens, Baruch Ksherim, Baruch Barzel, Reuven Cohen, and Stefano Boccaletti. Phys. Rev. E 98, 052204, https://journals.aps.org/pre/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevE.98.052204

Abstract: The synchronization of coupled chaotic systems represents a fundamental example of self organization and collective behavior. This well-studied phenomenon is classically characterized in terms of macroscopic parameters, such as Lyapunov exponents, that help predict the system's transitions into globally organized states. However, the local, microscopic, description of this emergent process continues to elude us. Here we show that at the microscopic level, synchronization is captured through a gradual process of topological adjustment in phase space, in which the strange attractors of the two coupled systems continuously converge, taking similar form, until complete topological synchronization ensues. We observe the local nucleation of topological synchronization in specific regions of the system's attractor, providing early signals of synchrony, that appear significantly before the onset of complete synchronization. This local synchronization initiates at the regions of the attractor characterized by lower expansion rates, in which the chaotic trajectories are least sensitive to slight changes in initial conditions. Our findings offer an alternative description of synchronization in chaotic systems, exposing its local embryonic stages that are overlooked by the currently established global analysis. Such local topological synchronization enables the identification of configurations where prediction of the state of one system is possible from measurements on that of the other, even in the absence of global synchronization.

Why would Parkinson’s disease lead to sudden changes in creativity, motivation, or style with visual art?: A review of case evidence and new, contextual, and genetic hypotheses

Why would Parkinson’s disease lead to sudden changes in creativity, motivation, or style with visual art?: A review of case evidence and new, contextual, and genetic hypotheses. Jon O. Lauring et al. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.12.016

•    Case evidence suggests PD may lead to interest, creativity, change in produced art.
•    Occurs in both established artists and those without prior desire toward art making.
•    We review case evidence and relate to current knowledge on PD symptoms/neurobiology.
•    Propose hypothesis of selective damage + agonist overstimulation of mesolimbic areas.
•    Also relate to context, personality, genetic differences offering window into artistic brain.

Abstract: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a devastating diagnosis with, however, potential for an extremely intriguing aesthetic component. Despite motor and cognitive deficits, an emerging collection of studies report a burst of visual artistic output and alterations in produced art in a subgroup of patients. This provides a unique window into the neurophysiological bases for why and how we might create and enjoy visual art, as well as into general brain function and the nature of PD or other neurodegenerative diseases. However, there has not been a comprehensive organization of literature on this topic. Nor has there been an attempt to connect case evidence and knowledge on PD with present understanding of visual art making in psychology and neuroaesthetics in order to propose hypotheses for documented artistic changes. Here, we collect the current research on this topic, tie this to PD symptoms and neurobiology, and provide new theories focusing on dopaminergic neuron damage, over-stimulation from dopamine agonist therapy, and context or genetic factors revealing the neurobiological basis of the visual artistic brain.

Better to overestimate than to underestimate others’ feelings: Asymmetric cost of errors in affective perspective-taking

Better to overestimate than to underestimate others’ feelings: Asymmetric cost of errors in affective perspective-taking. Nadav Klein. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 151, March 2019, Pages 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2018.12.009

•    Errors in perspective taking are common but little is known about their consequences.
•    Is it worse to overestimate or underestimate the intensity others' emotions?
•    Seven experiments find that underestimating emotions is costlier than overestimating.
•    This occurs because underestimation is thought to indicatelower effort and empathy.
•    Stereotypical emotions and socially undesirable emotions moderate these results.

Abstract: Accurately assessing other people’s perspective in general, and other people’s emotional responses in particular, is essential for successful social interaction. However, substantial research finds that accurate perspective taking is the exception rather than the norm. Although errors in perspective taking are common, little is known about their consequences. Is it worse to overestimate or to underestimate other people’s emotional responses? Seven experiments find that underestimating the intensity of other people's emotional responses leads to more negative evaluations than overestimating others’ emotions (Experiments 1–5). These results replicate across emotional valence and across observers and targets and occur because people believe that underestimation is indicative of lower effort and empathy in trying to understand the target. Additional experiments identify moderators of these effects, including stereotypical emotions and socially undesirable emotions (Experiments 6–7). The cost of errors in affective perspective taking is asymmetric, leading to important implications for social coordination.

Found that vegetarian dietary patterns were associated with a higher incidence of morbid obesity culminating in bariatric surgery; refined and processed vegetarian food consumption should be discouraged

Which Is a Good Diet—Veg or Non-veg? Faith-Based Vegetarianism for Protection From Obesity—a Myth or Actuality? Sanjay Borude. Obesity Surgery, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11695-018-03658-7

Introduction: India ranks first among nations with the largest population of vegetarians, and 40% of Asian Indians are vegetarian. There seems to occur a “nutrition transition” among vegetarians in India with a decline in the consumption of whole plant food content and replacement with processed foods, fried foods, and refined carbohydrates. This study evaluates the association between the consumption of a vegetarian diet and the prevalence of morbid obesity necessitating bariatric surgery in Asian Indians.

Material and Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study analyzing records of 235 Indian patients suffering from morbid obesity and who underwent bariatric surgery at our center through the years 2015 to 2017. Pearson’s chi-square test for independence of attributes was applied to analyze the difference between a number of vegetarians versus non-vegetarians undergoing bariatric surgery.

Results: The difference in the number of vegetarians versus non-vegetarians undergoing bariatric surgery was not significant for years 2015 and 2017, but the number was numerically higher for vegetarians. The difference was significantly higher for vegetarians in the year 2016. The difference in female vegetarians versus female non-vegetarians undergoing bariatric surgery was not significant for the year 2017 but was significantly higher for vegetarians during the years 2015 and 2016. The difference in male vegetarians versus non-vegetarians undergoing bariatric surgery was not significant for all the years.

Conclusion: In an Asian Indian cohort, we found that vegetarian dietary patterns were associated with a higher incidence of morbid obesity culminating in bariatric surgery. Our study is a myth breaker that all vegetarian diets are healthy diets. Our findings can be utilized to discourage refined and processed food consumption and promote healthy vegetarian food choices.

Keywords: Vegetarian Non-vegetarian Diet Bariatric surgery Morbid obesity Meat Vegan Asian Indian

The Mona Lisa Illusion—Scientists See Her Looking at Them Though She Isn’t

The Mona Lisa Illusion—Scientists See Her Looking at Them Though She Isn’t. Gernot Horstmann, Sebastian Loth. i-Perception, https://doi.org/10.1177/2041669518821702

Abstract: If the person depicted in an image gazes at the camera or painter, a viewer perceives this as being gazed at. The viewers’ perception holds irrespectively of their position relative to image. This is the Mona Lisa effect named after the subject of Leonardo’s famous painting La Gioconda. The effect occurs reliably but was not tested with Mona Lisa herself. Remarkably, viewers judged Mona Lisa’s gaze as directed to their right-hand side irrespectively of the image zoom, its horizontal position on screen, and the distance of the ruler that was used for measuring the gaze direction.

Keywords: gaze direction, Mona Lisa effect, picture perception