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Dream to make India $20 trillion economy: Modi

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source: timesofindia.com
source: timesofindia.com

San Jose: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said he dreamt of making India a $20 trillion economy and that he was pleasantly surprised by the change of perception about his country in a short period of time.

Attending a question and answer ‘town-hall’ session with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg at their office at Hackers Square here, the prime minister also said that a lot had to be done to bridge the digital divide in India.

“We are an $8 trillion economy today. My dream is for India to become a $20 trillion dollar economy,” Modi said, adding: “Amazing, how perception about India has changed in a very short time. We have brought in a new level of confidence.”

Zuckerberg said India was personally very important to the history of Facebook.

“Early on, before things were going well, we saw Steve Jobs,” he said, referring to the legendary chief executive of Apple Inc, now deceased.

Modi also sought to tell Zuckerberg that India has other things to offer as well.

“When you came to India, you went to a temple. And look where you have reached today,” he said.

The Facebook chief had announced the Indian prime minister’s visit on his page earlier this month and invited users to post questions. Tens of thousands of comments were made in reply, with questions on internet expansion in India, unemployment and also Modi’s human rights record.

“We’ve received more than 40,000 questions for this town-hall,” Zuckerberg said.

Typical to the US, a town hall meeting refers to an informal public event, open to all, where those who attend ask questions from invited guests, generally public figures or functionaries, and also give ideas and seek their grievances to be redressed.

Modi said that in the last one to one-and-half years, “the perception of India has changed a lot”.

“If you look at tourism for example, India has tremendous potential. Technology has really helped the industry and has brought the world together,” Modi said.

Prompted by Zuckerberg to talk about his experience of being an early adopter of internet in India, Modi said: “I did not have the privilege to become a very educated person growing up. My world could revolve around a few words.

“But social media has filled the gap for me,” he said.

“You are associated with the service sector, and I have seen the power of it,” Modi said.

Before the townhall began, Modi and Zuckerberg had a one-on-one meeting.

Patriotic songs like ‘Des Rangila Rangila’ and ‘Dhoom Machale’ from Bollywood films played in the hall.

The insights wall at the Facebook headquarters flashed about its ‘India Connection’.

Earlier, as Modi, dressed in a white shirt and black pants and a black Nehru jacket arrived for the townhall, he was greeted by Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

In the background, the music of ‘Chak De India’ played to welcome Modi and the gathered crowd chanted “Modi, Modi”.

At the usually very casual Facebook headquarters, Zuckerberg came dressed in a black suit and purple tie. There were many others also dressed in suits and ties.

Ahead of his interaction with Modi, Zuckerberg changed his profile picture to support ‘Digital India’. Within minutes, Modi too changed his picture to thank him.

I changed my profile picture to support Digital India, the Indian government’s effort to connect rural communities to the internet and give people access to more services online. Looking forward to discussing this with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Facebook today,” posted Zuckerberg on Facebook.

Within minutes, Modi also changed his profile picture to thank him.

Zuckerberg’s new picture shows his side profile overlaid with the saffron, white and green colours of the Indian flag.

Modi’s new picture shows his front with the colours of India similarly overlaid.

(IANS)

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Diesel Exhaust Converted Into Ink by Indian Innovators To Battle Air Pollution

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

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representational image. VOA

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

In a cabin, young engineers pore over drawings and hunch over computers as they explore more applications of the technology that they hope will aid progress in cleaning up the Indian capital’s toxic air – among the world’s dirtiest.

While the millions of cars that ply Delhi’s streets are usually blamed for the city’s deadly air pollution, another big culprit is the massive diesel generators used by industries and buildings to light up homes and offices during outages when power from the grid switches off – a frequent occurrence in summer. Installed in backyards and basements, they stay away from the public eye.

“Although vehicular emissions are the show stoppers, they are the ones which get the media attention, the silent polluters are the diesel generators,” says Arpit Dhupar, one of the three engineers who co-founded the start up.

The idea that this polluting smoke needs attention struck Dhupar three years ago as he sipped a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside vendor and saw a wall blackened with the fumes of a diesel generator he was using.

It jolted him into joining with two others who co-founded the start-up to find a solution. Dhupar had experienced first hand the deadly impact of this pollution as he developed respiratory problems growing up in Delhi.

An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.

A new business

As the city’s dirty air becomes a serious health hazard for many citizens, it has turned into both a calling and a business opportunity for entrepreneurs looking at ways to improve air quality.

According to estimates, vehicles contribute 22 percent of the deadly PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi, while the share of diesel generators is about 15 percent. These emissions settle deep into the lungs, causing a host of respiratory problems.

After over two years of research and development, Chakr has begun selling devices to tap the diesel exhaust. They have been installed in 50 places, include public sector and private companies.

The technology involves cooling the exhaust in a “heat exchanger” where the tiny soot particles come together. These are then funneled into another chamber that captures 70 to 90 percent of the particulate matter. The carbon is isolated and converted into ink.

Among their first clients was one of the city’s top law firms, Jyoti Sagar Associates, which is housed in a building in Delhi’s business hub Gurgaon.

Making a contribution to minimizing the carbon footprint is a subject that is close to Sagar’s heart – his 32-year-old daughter has long suffered from the harmful effects of Delhi’s toxic air.

Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.
Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.

“This appealed to us straightaway, the technology is very impactful but is beautifully simple,” says Sagar. Since it could be retrofitted, it did not disrupt the day-to-day activities at the buzzing office. “Let’s be responsible. Let’s at least not leave behind a larger footprint of carbon. And if we can afford to control it, why not, it’s good for all,” he says.

At Chakr Innovation, cups, diaries and paper bags printed with the ink made from the exhaust serve as constant reminders of the amount of carbon emissions that would have escaped into the atmosphere.

There has been a lot of focus on improving Delhi’s air by reducing vehicular pollution and making more stringent norms for manufacturers, but the same has not happened for diesel generators. Although there are efforts to penalize businesses that dirty the atmosphere, this often prompts them to find ways to get around the norms.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

Tushar Mathur who joined the start up after working for ten years in the corporate sector feels converting smoke into ink is a viable solution. “Here is a technology which is completely sustainable, a win-win between businesses and environment,” says Mathur. (VOA)