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India offers additional concessional credit of $10 billion to Africa

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Photo: Indian Express
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New Delhi: In its biggest ever engagement with Africa, India on Thursday sought to recharge its ties with all 54 African countries, announcing increased interaction in areas like energy and agriculture while offering an additional concessional credit of $10 billion.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described as “historic” the summit, attended by 41 heads of state and government including of South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Liberia and comprising two kings, 25 presidents and six prime ministers besides six vice presidents, foreign and trade ministers and senior officials.

The third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) – the largest international gathering of leaders in Delhi after the Non-Aligned Movement summit in 1983 – was held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, allowing all the leaders to sit as equals at a horseshoe shaped table.

According to Indian officials, Africa had never been present in such strength in any of their interactions with other world power or groupings – an indicator of their expectations from India and the country’s growing international stature.

Prime Minister Modi, who was dressed in his usual Kurta with a pale blue sleeveless jacket and Churidar, in his closing remarks, said: “This has been a truly historic day. We had the opportunity to listen to the whole of Africa.”

He said closer defense and security cooperation, especially in capability development, will be a key pillar of their partnership, which was so “natural” as their “destinies are so closely interlinked” and “aspirations and challenges are so similar”.

Announcing that the next IAFS will be held after five years, Modi stressed Africa will remain at the center of India’s attention and engagement with it will remain “intense and regular.”

The summit adopted a Delhi Declaration seeking a decisive push for United Nations Security Council reform and calling on all countries to ensure that their territories were not used for cross-border terrorist activities, while also adopted was a Framework Agreement on Strategic Cooperation.

Commemorative coins and stamps were also released, and President Pranab Mukherjee later hosted a banquet for the visiting leaders.

On the sidelines, Modi also had bilateral meetings with 10 African leaders, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Modi, who met 19 leaders on Wednesday is slated to have more bilateral on Friday.

In his opening address as the summit host, Modi sought to strengthen the India-Africa partnership by announcing 50,000 scholarships in the next five years.

“It is a meeting of dreams of one-third of humanity under one roof,” Modi said as he outlined a roadmap for increased Indian interaction with African countries in a wide gamut, including connectivity, infrastructure, power and agriculture — his speech evoking loud cheers from the leaders – in a bid to enhance Indian influence in a continent where China had stolen a march with over $200 billion investments in the last 15 years.

He also called for a comprehensive agreement on climate change at a global conference later this year. No one, Modi said, had contributed less to global warming than India and Africa, adding that “the excess of a few cannot become the burden of many”.

The summit, in which the visiting leaders were treated to a cultural extravaganza at the start including African dances, also saw the dresses and images of Africa come alive with many of the leaders sporting traditional costumes and headgear, including Liberian President and Nobel Peace Prize Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and African Union Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and many speaking in their native languages.

IAFS is a major initiative of the Modi government to reach out to the continent which has rich resources, is witnessing faster growth and has a similar demographic profile. African countries see the large scope of cooperation with India in diverse areas such as agriculture and education.

South African President Jacob Zuma described the relation between India and the African countries as an embodiment of South-South cooperation and dwelt on the roles “played by your visionary former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi”.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe strongly pitched for reforms of the UN Security Council and said Africa should get at least two permanent seats.

Apart from the concessional credit in addition to the $7.4 billion India has already committed, Modi said India would also offer a grant assistance of $600 million, which would include an India-Africa Development Fund of $100 million and an India-Africa Health Fund of $10 million.

He said India and Africa would deepen their partnership on clean energy, sustainable habitats, public transport, health care, telecommunications and climate resilient agriculture.

(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)