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India launches a Virtual UN Peacekeeper’s Memorial Wall

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United Nations: India has launched a virtual memorial wall to honour the UN peacekeeping heroes who died in service as the first step towards building a permanent monument at the UN headquarters.

Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji unveiled the digital memorial wall on Friday at a reception India hosted here to honour the 125 recipients of the Dag Hammarskjold Medal awarded posthumously to peacekeepers on the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

Two Indians were among those awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Medal at an earlier ceremony presided over by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the UN.

They are Raju Joseph, a civilian who died while working for the UN operation in South Sudan, and Lance Naik Nand Ram, who served in the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At the Indian reception attended by defence officers from around the world in a kaleidoscope of international military ribbons, medals and uniforms, Mukerji invited them to contribute the names of their heroes to the virtual wall that is now hosted by the Indian mission at www.pminewyork.org.

It now has the names and details of 161 Indians who died in peacekeeping operations.

Eventually, a UN Peacekeepers’ Memorial Wall is proposed to be built at the headquarters with the names of the heroes engraved on it.

In a message to the event, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said: “India is justifiably proud of its own long and rich tradition of contribution to the UN peacekeeping operations towards the preservation of international peace and security.”

India has contributed over 180,000 troops to 44 UN missions so far. Currently, 8,112 Indian personnel drawn from the military, police and civilian ranks serve in seven UN operations.

“India has been one of the great peacekeeper contributor countries,” said the Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous.

Welcoming the initiative for the memorial wall, he added: “the heroes deserve our admiration for their courage.”

Under Secretary General for Field Operations, Atul Khare, who is from India, paid tribute to the Indians who gave their lives for the UN and noted that they represented more than five percent of all those who died serving the organisation.

“I am delighted with the virtual wall. The real wall will become a reality,” he said.

Mukerji said that the Security Council’s permanent members have failed to have face-to-face meetings with the troop contributing countries while designing the mandates for the operations, even though the UN charter calls for it.

The South Asian countries have highly professional military leadership and the Council could use their expertise, he added.

India, Pakistan and Bangladesh contribute the three largest contigents to the UN operations.

At another ceremony, three Indian military officers and a police officer were awarded UN Headquarters Medal for service to the world organisation at the department of peacekeeping operations.

They are Lt. Col. Bharat Sirohi, Lt. Col. Rajneesh Duseja, Lt. Col. Bharat Bhalla, and Deputy Inspector General P.S. Knegi. (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)