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India abstains from voting on UNHRC resolution against Israel

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New Delhi: Marking a significant change in stance, India abstained on a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution condemning Israel over a UN report into the alleged war crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza conflict.

credits: indianexpress.com
But India on Friday stated that “there is no change in New Delhi’s long-standing position on support to the Palestinian cause”.

The ministry of external affairs spokesperson said that India’s reason for abstention in the resolution A/HRC/29/L.35 was the reference to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“India is not a signatory to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC.

“In the past also, whenever a Human Rights Council resolution made a direct reference to the ICC, as happened in the Resolutions on Syria and North Korea, our general approach had been to abstain.”

“We have followed the same principle in our voting on today’s Resolution,” spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

Forty-one of the 47 UNHRC council members voted in favour of the resolution, including the eight sitting EU members: France, Germany, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Latvia and Estonia.

One country — the US — voted against the resolution.

India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Paraguay and Macedonia abstained.

Israeli daily Haaretz said: “The fact that India abstained reflects a significant policy change by Delhi; traditionally, India voted in favour of all anti-Israel resolutions in UN institutions. Friday’s abstention was another sign of warming ties between India and Israel since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.”

Officials at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office expressed their appreciation for the “principled” American position in opposing the “hypocritical condemnation” by the UNHRC.

The officials said that over the past few days Netanyahu spoken with the leaders of India, Kenya and Ethiopia, three of the five countries that abstained in the vote, said a media outlet of Israel.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Israel this year, in the first such by an Indian prime minister.

An independent UN commission of inquiry on Monday released its report on Operation Protective Edge, finding evidence that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during the war in the Gaza Strip last summer and calling the devastation caused in the Palestinian territory “unprecedented”.

The members of the commission, which was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, hinted in their report that the upper levels of the Israeli political echelon were responsible for the policies that led to some of these war crimes.

“The extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come” said the commission’s American chairwoman, Justice Mary McGowan Davis. “There is also on-going fear in Israel among communities who come under regular threat.”

The chairwoman of the commission urged the international community to act on the conclusions of the report – primarily by supporting an investigation by the International Criminal Court in The Hague in to the status of the occupied Palestinian territories.

In the 50-day war last summer, more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.(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)