I have seriously wondered if genius has genetic, hereditary roots. Or is it something geniuses eat?
Jeeves, the brainy genius of a “gentleman’s personal gentleman”, was fond of eating fish, which did a lot to energise his brain cells, Bertie Wooster always told us. Apart from the Curies (Marie and Pierre), my feeble mind cannot, off the cuff, recall other families where geniuses flourished. Oh, yes, the Marx brothers.
“Well, get to the effington post, will ya?”, you say, not without a less-than-benevolent look on your ugly face?

Well, here is the beef.

(Harsha with parents Kala and Ravi)

Harsha Ravi has been awarded, this very month, the title of the Australian Young Designer of The Year by Wheels magazine. He is, I am proud to say, my nephew. Hence the thought of genius being familial. Has mine rubbed off on him? A more reliable part of my brain asks me if there is any hope for his brilliance rubbing off on me, at an age when one fears that, tomorrow, one’s arteries could become stiffer than one’s sexual organs, especially in times of need.

What was the competition for the car design all about? Wheels said this before the competition:

On the 50th anniversary of the Fiat 500, we shall use the intervening technology to completely reinvent the urban vehicle. Functional, frugal and fun, our 500 will be a 2+1 design doubly true to its name: 500cc, 500kg. Design it.


Harsha just did that. And outdid himself, too.
Hear this from the judges and critics:

“[He has] applied technology in a way that made sense.”

Take, for example, its carbon-neutral, bioplastic body with 12 percent petroleum-based/88 percent corn-based plastic that reduces the energy needed to manufacture the panels by 30 percent.

The design presented as a wild concept, yet it brought thoroughly considered, integrated design with enough tech detail and illustration to flesh it out. Sargeant and Stolfo agreed: “He has obviously done a lot of research before even putting pen to paper.”

Despite its ahead-of-time technology — the zinc-air fuel cell, nano-paper battery and airless tyres were just the beginning — attention was also given to regional manufacture, right down to the illustration of a basket-weaver manufacturing the woven seat material, one of many touches that delighted and amused the judges.


What, essentially, is this car, GM Globetrotter, about?
Harsha says:

The GM Globetrotter is inventive as a lightweight, nimble urban vehicle aimed at various emerging and developed markets in 2017. A decade from now, the worldwide culture will be one of environmental consciousness, where increased awareness of climate issues will have engendered a scrutinising and well-educated Gen-Y consumer niche. They will demand aunthenticity and transparency in how a product’s lifecycle is managed
to reduce environmental harm.


Harsha goes on:

Given the likelihood that tomorrow’s consumers will be environment-sensitive, Globetrotter is designed from the ground-up and inside-out to be customisable and minimalistic at every step. It aspires to be functional, frugal, and fun, and gentle on the environment as well. The level of individualisation this offers to the consumer market allows for the car to seamlessly fit into virtually any global context.

What is it like to design a car? I asked Harsha.

The automotive design process begins by laying out vehicle architectures to act as templates for designers to start sketching over.
Car designers are often also art nuts, and have a profound understanding and appreciation of various creative media, which we draw upon for inspiration to create the visual surfaces of the car both inside and out.


He continues:

Once a 2D representation of the designer’s vision is seen to have potential, it is then translated by computer modelers into 3D space, a developmental process which runs in parallel with a tangible sculpture being carved out of a unique automotive clay. Often, it takes several iterations of the designer’s sketch, together with a dedicated team of designers, modelers, engineers, and software whizzes all combining their efforts over a 4-5 year period to ready the vehicle for manufacture.

Harsha says that automotive design is “deeply satisfying” for him, like a dynamic sculpture, “full of visual and emotive appeal.”

Now, considering that he is barely twenty, that is really insightful and philosophical. And lest I sound like the patronising uncle I don’t want to be, I shall stop right now.

Related reading: Harsha’s take on new car designs in Show And Tell, Wheels magazine.


  1. cool kid with a cooler design
    but will india have good roads by then?

    At least Kolkata will not!

  2. Wow! That is such a cool design. It amazes me that it was done by someone only about 20 years old.

    It is, isn’t it?

  3. So, when can I buy this car?

    I have started taking bookings. Please send me $25,000 through Western Union Money Transfer, so that I can book you right away for the car….

  4. Bravo! Apparently talent does run in the family. “carbon-neutral, bioplastic body” – music to the ears, but not available til 2017. Not unusual for concept cars, but tease they do.
    Regardless, Harsha and other Gen Y’ers are the more distant future. We just need to do our job stewarding the ship till he realises our dreams.
    One more comment – no fair that art and science is so well married in one person.

    Thanks for the comments.

  5. Rambodoc: Discussion of genetic basis of intelligence aside, it is great that you are consistent in your logical thinking 😉

    Quoting your wise words from elsewhere (yesterday):

    “to create a local flavor or give a new angle the natives will like. And the readership or viewership behaves predictably and generates more interest in these folks.”

    In other words, you are calling me an ass?!
    (“Consistency is the virtue of an ass”-GB Shaw)
    Where do you deposit your brains when you go off to sleep?
    If I had a brain like yours, my brain would heat up with all that wattage, and I wouldn’t have been able to sleep.

  6. impressive. But I want to know whether all those technical terms have “rambodoc” type innuendos – there must be a genetic connection in this regard too – right?

    But those comments were not Rambodoc’s. Said doc is only a sexually or textually transmitted disease, not a genetic or hereditary one.

  7. Rambodoc: I am not calling you anything… 🙂

    “Where do you deposit your brains when you go off to sleep?”

    It does not get deposited anywhere; it is at work when I sleep. And I sleep for 8-9 hours every day. Consistently 😉

  8. I’m amazed. Surely some of your brains transfered to him, perhaps through an airborne cloud of genius breath. To accomplish something like that at 20 is to set yourself up for the rest of your life. There’s no doubt in my mind that he, along with other bright minds, will lead the eco-friendly revolution years from now. And he’ll be rich as hell. 🙂

    Yes, feels great to think that, because the next best thing to being rich is to have rich relatives and friends.

  9. Plus the design is bangin’.

  10. Well, in the case of intelligence transference, I wish Shefaly would stand next to me for a while. I’ll buy the dinner 🙂
    Also, sleeping 9 hours daily – wow. Haven’t slept my usual 10 hours daily for a bit. Sleep is not compatible with healthcare.

    I wouldn’t invite Shefaly out to dinner at all, the wrong type, you know!
    I would have performance anxiety, and wouldn’t enjoy the food at all!

  11. Jackie: I suppose that is a compliment despite what Rambodoc says 😉

    To get those 8-9 hours, I regularly avoid British style of socialising (always involving lots of alcohol) though. It also helps that come 9:30pm, and I automatically start to snooze.. Makes me very poor company for dinner. Perhaps Rambodoc could eat once I am off to sleep? What say, Doc?

    “Perhaps Rambodoc could eat once I am off to sleep?”

    Now the world is witness to your propositioning me! Your place or mine?


  12. Sweet. That is one hot lookin’ set of wheels. And what is that Jedi light sabre like thingie near the rear view mirror? Dont tell me it’s a windshield wiper.

    I think it is that, plus a camera to tell you how far to back… but I have to ask Harsha!

  13. Rambodoc:

    “Now the world is witness to your propositioning me! Your place or mine?”

    Don’t even go there.

    It was _YOU_ who first expressed your worries about “performance anxiety” 😛

    And to answer your question: since Jackie is buying dinner, she will probably choose where we eat, eh?


  15. Pingback: Tumundoesonline (Clickseguros). Blog sobre gadgets, tecnología, internet 2.0, motor y medio ambiente » Globetrotter, el prototipo más ecológico

  16. Pingback: Inhabitat » GLOBETROTTER ECO CAR Wins Young Designer of the Year Award

  17. You rock Harsha
    I am really proud of you

  18. Pingback: WORLDS APART! « A Twist of Word and Mind

  19. Vivek Khadpekar


    //…the next best thing to being rich is to have rich relatives and friends//

    It’s not “next” best; it’s THE best. That way you have others to take care of all your material needs, while you go about doing (or not doing) whatever you wish to. Gandhi was a great exponent of the philosophy. I believe the managementwallahs call it “delegating”.

  20. Vivek Khadpekar


    //… since Jackie is buying dinner, she will probably choose where we eat …//

    I’m getting confused. Did you just induct a chaperone (in which case, for whom?) or are you invoking Oncken and Wass’s before-your-time-at-IIMA paper about the Management Monkey?*

    *For those who don’t know but would like to, you’ll find it at

  21. oooo, considering my son’s lego challenge this year is Climate Connections, wish I’d read this earlier. The boys were doing a whole project on CO2 emissions and effect on our climate so to speak. We’d have researched it and used it up. Tomorrow’s the tournament, so a tad late, but makes good reading nevertheless..!

    Good one doc, and congrats 🙂

  22. No more gas no more electric cars now this are much better and I hope this car can be build before 2017, awsome!

  23. Four people. Two boys and two girls. Each boy marries one of the girls. Two couples paying taxes, buying houses together and forming a bond. Noboty seems to have a problem with that. However, if the boys become a couple and the girls become a couple WOW! to some folks want to make an issue of it. However IT IS STILL TWO COUPLES.

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