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Remembering Jallianwala Bagh martyrs: How British Raj toyed with the lives of Indians

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By Subir Ghosh

In just about a week’s time, the country should observe the 96th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. On the afternoon of April 13, 1919, some 10,000 or more unarmed men, women, and children gathered, along with Baishakhi pilgrims,in the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab to protest against the arrest of two leaders. An hour after the meeting began, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, the military commander of Amritsar, arrived with a group of sixty-five Gurkha and twenty-five Balochi soldiers into the Bagh. Fifty of them were armed with .303 Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles. Dyer had also brought two armored cars armed with machine guns; however, the vehicles were left outside, as they were unable to enter the Bagh through the narrow entrance.

The Jallianwala Bagh was surrounded on all sides by houses and buildings and had a few narrow entrances. Most of them were kept permanently locked. The main entrance was guarded heavily by the troops backed by the armoured vehicles. Dyer—without warning the crowd to disperse—blocked the main exits. On his orders, the army fired on the crowd for ten minutes, directing their bullets largely towards the few open gates through which people were trying to run out. Dyer ordered his troops to begin shooting toward the densest sections of the crowd. Firing continued for nearly ten minutes. Cease-fire was ordered only when ammunition supplies were almost exhausted, after approximately 1,650 rounds were spent. Many people died in stampedes at the narrow gates or by jumping into the solitary well on the compound to escape the shooting. A plaque placed at the site after independence states that 120 bodies were removed from the well.

Dyer explained later that this act “was not to disperse the meeting but to punish the Indians for disobedience.”

Official sources gave a figure of 379 identified dead, with approximately 1,100 wounded. The casualty number estimated by the Indian National Congress was more than 1,500, with approximately 1,000 dead. Dyer was initially lauded by conservative forces in the empire, but in July 1920 he was censured and forced to retire by the House of Commons. He became a celebrated hero in Britain among most of the people connected to the British Raj, for example, the House of Lords. The poet Rabindranath Tagore, as a mark of protest, renounced his knighthood (the title Sir) that the British Government had conferred on him a few years back. Let us forgive but not forget.

True, Dyer met his nememsis in Udham Singh, the great martyr and revolutionary, in a London street in 1940.

(The writer is a Principal at Bharatiya Vidya Bhaban, Asutosh College of Communication and Management in Kolkata)

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  • Note- ten thousand strong crowd. One white English with sixty-five Gurkha and twenty-five Balochi. This is parallel to Sultan Mahmood’s expedition from Gazni (Afghanistan)to India as many as fifteen times and as far Gujrat. This shows total and absolute contempt for any kind of resistance capacity of Indians that gets back to antiquity. Is there any reason to believe that things have changed today. Sheer majority is of no significance since one single hyena is enough to disperse a flock of thousand sheep or one sickly ringmaster is capable of whipping fifty lions in a circus ring. The brutal fact is- the present day Anglophonic Education and training designed for the rich and little education for the poor are creating an equivalent of a flock of sheep who can be dispersed by a single hyena.

  • Note- ten thousand strong crowd. One white English with sixty-five Gurkha and twenty-five Balochi. This is parallel to Sultan Mahmood’s expedition from Gazni (Afghanistan)to India as many as fifteen times and as far Gujrat. This shows total and absolute contempt for any kind of resistance capacity of Indians that gets back to antiquity. Is there any reason to believe that things have changed today. Sheer majority is of no significance since one single hyena is enough to disperse a flock of thousand sheep or one sickly ringmaster is capable of whipping fifty lions in a circus ring. The brutal fact is- the present day Anglophonic Education and training designed for the rich and little education for the poor are creating an equivalent of a flock of sheep who can be dispersed by a single hyena.

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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)