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West Bengal: Not new to violence towards journalists

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By Arnab Mitra

Twenty-one journalists from various media houses were attacked and injured on October 3, while they were covering the elections to the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation in West Bengal.

These attacks have once again brought forward the issue of freedom of press and the safety of the journalists working in the field.

According to Forbes Media, more than a thousand journalists have died since 1992 while covering crossfires, handling dangerous assignments, or in combat related fatalities but murder is by far the leading cause of the death of Journalists.

In the year 2015, 44 Journalists were killed in different parts of the world. In India, three journalists were killed and many were attacked while covering the news. In Madhya Pradesh, Aaj Tak Journalist Akshay Singh died covering Vyapam scam. Journalist Sandeep Kothari was killed in Madhya Pradesh after he revealed the illegal mining activities and the Shahjahanpur based Social Media Journalist Jagendra Singh was allegedly killed by the local police at the behest of the State Backward Classes Welfare Minister Ram Murti Verma in Uttar Pradesh.

Not only in India but in every corner of the world Journalists are routinely threatened or killed by powerful and influential people who fear the pen more than the sword. In Bangladesh, blogger Niloy Neel was mercilessly killed by the Islamic terrorists. In France, 12 journalists were killed in an attack on French Satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, on January 7, 2015 by two Islamist gunmen due to their controversial cartoon of Prophet Muhammad. The American Journalist James Folley and Steven Sotloff were beheaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) when they were covering the war in Syria.

In West Bengal there have been many incidents where the Government tried to choke the freedom of the Press. The black period of Indian Journalism was said to be during the Emergency from June 25, 1975 to March 21, 1977. The leading newspapers like The Hindu, The Statesman, and The Times of India had published newspapers with blank editorials as a mark of protest against media censorship. At that time, many journalists were tortured and sent to jail, including Barun Sengupta- the founder editor of leading Bengali Newspaper Bartaman, Gour Kishore Ghosh- founder editor of leading Bengali newspaper Aajkal, and Kushwant Singh.

In 1984, the Anandabazar office was forcefully closed down by congress hooligans for 51 days. Journalist Avijit Basu had to pay the price for unearthing the picture of ‘Real Democracy’ on August 13, 2000 when he covered the CPI(M) atrocities in Uttarpara-Kotrang municipal elections (Source: Anandabazar Archive). From Bidhan Chandra Roy to Mamata Banerjee, every ruler feared the pen and the incident at Bidhannagar again proved the hapless attitude of a coward government..

The recent attacks in Bidhannagar have been severely condemned by various journalists belonging to different media houses.

Professor Santwan Chattopadhyay, Department of Journalism, Jadavpur University said: “I totally condemn the attack on the journalists, but it is nothing new. Do not forget the attack on the woman journalist when there was a late night meeting in Subhaprasanna’s house before the change of government.”

Thirumoy Banerjee, Sub-editor, Times of India stated: “Not just as a journalist, but also as a common man, it pains me to see members of the media being beaten up like this.” Shantasree Sarkar, Assistant Producer, India Today called the attack as “atrocious” and added: “This is the death of democracy and silencing media will not stop their brutality.”

NewsGram condemns these attacks on the journalists in West Bengal, and we urge the government to remember that “The Pen is mightier than the sword”.

 

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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)