India's Greatest Engineering Achievements

The Taj Mahal

How can we talk about India without mentioning one of its most iconic buildings. The Taj Mahal was built over 22 years in Agra, about 200 km south of New Delhi. It was built 450 years ago and is arguably one of the most beautiful works of architecture ever created. It's stunning white marble facade basking in the glow of the warm Indian sun is iconic.   T  reflected in the still linear pool. The building was designed with symmetry and repetition in mind, the still reflection pools providing an extra degree of symmetry.  The building is essential a cube with chamfered corners, topped with a huge self-supporting dome, giving the Taj a total height of 73 metres. The dome weighs over 13,000 tonnes and it is believed that over 1000 elephants were used to transport the materials from all over Asia. White Marble from the Rajasthan region in the North West of India and precious jewels sourced from Punjab, China, Tiber, Afghanistan, Arabia and Sri Lanka.

The building was constructed with a huge brick scaffolding system and materials are thought to have been lifted into place using a clever pulley system. It was a huge project for the time and has stood the test of time to become one of the UNESCO’s world heritage sites.

Discovery of Water on the Moon

India is one of the newest nations to develop a space program and it has been making amazing progress. In 2008 its Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter released an impact probe into the surface of the moon, making India the fourth country to touch down on the moon. The probe was designed to take mass spectra readings of the lunar surface and analyse them for evidence of water. This is exactly what it did. On 18th of November 2008, India became the first country to detect water on the moon, an incredible discovery.

Finding water on the moon is a big deal. It is estimated that one tonne of the surface material can provide nearly 1 kg of water a 1/1000 yield. This is admittedly small, but even a small amount of water would go a long way for any future lunar colonies.

The moon could also be used as a refuelling point for spaceships destined for deep space. Water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen, two vital ingredients for rocket propellant. The moon has a tiny gravitation pull in comparison to earth and would be an ideal pit stop to get humans even further into space.

Mars Mission

India didn’t stop their space exploration at the moon,evventured even further for a mission to Mars. They became the fourth country to successfully reach Mars, not only that but they were the first country to do it on their first try and it has been the cheapest mission to date at 74 millions dollars.  The American made Maven orbiter cost 10 times that. The Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi even joked that the that the mission cost less than the movie Gravity, so now it costs less to have a successful space mission than to make a movie about a failed one. That is an incredible achievement.

Narinder Singh Kapany - Founding Father of Fiber Optics

Narinder Singh Kapany was born in Moga, Punjab, India and is often credited as one of the founding fathers of fiber optics. He was one of the first men to invent a functioning fibre optic cable in 1954, although his achievement was over shadowed by Abraham Van Heel who announced a far more functional version at the same time. Van Heels fibre optic bundle featured a cladding material that allowed for a lossless signal, allowing his invention to be used to transfer data, this was the precursor for broadband. To add salt to the wound, Charles K. Kao was awarded the Noble prize in 2009 for his work in fibre optics, an award many felt Kapany deserved. Regardless of awards and accreditation, the work of Narinder Singh Kapany deserves praise and recognition. Narinder demonstated great foresight in the possible application of this technology in medical imaging, proven by the abstract from his 1952 paper below: 

An optical unit has been devised which will convey optical images along a flexible axis. The unit comprises a bundle of fibres of glass, or other transparent material, and it therefore appears appropriate to introduce the term ‘fibrescope’ to denote it. An obvious use of the unit is to replace the train of lenses employed in conventional endoscopes. The existing instruments of this kind, for example, cystoscopes, gastroscopes and bronchoscopes, etc., consist of a train of copying lenses and intermediate field lenses. They are either rigid or have only limited flexibility. Moreover, the image quality of these systems is poor, since they consist only of positive lenses which give rise to a very large curvature of field. In existing gastroscopes the total number of lenses employed may be as many as fifty, and in consequence the light transmission is poor, due to the total glass path and the number of air–glass surfaces, in spite of blooming. Even more important in this respect, however, is the need to use small relative apertures for such instruments, this being necessary if acceptable definition is to be obtained with such large field curvature.

An endoscope is a flexible tube which allows doctors to view inside the body, these are a vital tool in a doctors arsenal. Narinder worked extensively in this very important field and has published over 100 research articles. He even coined the term fibre optics.

India is Asia’s largest producer of Solar Energy.

India has been making a huge push for clean energy solutions in recent years and the crown jewel of these efforts is the Charanka Solar Park. Charanka is currently the 7th largest photovoltaic power plant (2nd largest when first built) in the world, with a capacity of 210 MegaWatts. The park is gigantic, taking up 4900 acres of land (about the size of 4600 football pitches) and offsets about 1 million tonnes CO2 emissions.
What is more impressive is this is just largest part of an even larger group of solar parks all located in the state of Gujarat. The total power generated by this larger system is 875 MW. The Indian Government recently announced further plans to develop a massive 2 GigaWatts of power over the next 5 years in the Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh regions.
India is setting an example for the rest of the world with these ambitious plans. These solar parks will create a better future, not only for India's citizens, but the entire world. Bravo India!