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‘Indian military aid to Afghanistan may lead to more Pathankot like attacks’

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French South Asian security expert Christophe Jaffrelot (second from right) at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Photo: IANS
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Jaipur: The Pakistani security establishment is unlikely to be happy with the Indian military aid to Afghanistan, and in the short run this could lead to more Pathankot-like attacks, says South Asia politics and security expert Christophe Jaffrelot.

“If India helps Afghanistan militarily, it could result in more Pathankots,” Jaffrelot, a professor at the Centre for Studies in International Relations at the Paris Institute of Political Studies and author of several books on India and Pakistan, told IANS in an interview at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Thursday.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kabul and agreed to provide helicopters to the Afghan forces, and the attacks on the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Pathankot in Punjab and the Indian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan followed, he said.

“The Pakistan Army has not taken the Indian offer of helicopters in a very good way. They already have a constant temptation to use jihadi groups against India,” said Jaffrelot.

“In the 10 years of (Congress rule), India gave Afghanistan aid but no military aid. You had talks, skirmishes, talks, skirmishes… India could live with that. It cannot live with a Pathankot every month,” he said.

On Pakistan, Jaffrelot, whose most recent book “The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience” (2015), dealt with the country’s curious paradoxes, said the world has to change its approach towards Islamabad.

“One solution will be to stop bailing it out… force it to reform its fiscal structure. The rich don’t pay taxes there. The state has no resources for development,” he said.

“The way must be trade, not aid,” he said, noting increased trade with Pakistan will also create more employment in the populous country. “This has to be among the first steps.”

Earlier, at a session titled “The Pakistan Paradox”, Jaffrelot maintained that a crackdown by the Pakistani security establishment on certain military groups makes “no real difference” for India.

“Recently, the head of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was killed in an ‘encounter’… The Pakistani forces only crack down on any group when it gets out of hand – and set up new ones. They still distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Islamists.”

Jaffrelot, who has also studied Indian politics, especially the Hindu right and has authored “The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics” (1996), “India’s Silent Revolution – The Rise of the Lower Castes in North India” (2003), “Saffron Modernity in India: Narendra Modi and his Experiment with Gujarat” (2015), also cautioned against the rise of majoritarianism in India.

“There is a risk of India becoming a mirror image of Pakistan… it would not be a very wholesome prospect,” Jaffrelot told IANS.

Noting it was a global trend with the success so far of Donald Trump in the race for the US presidential candidacy and right and far-right wing political parties in Europe, he said India had so far resisted this with its diversity and secularism.

“Majoritarianism, which would imply the majority community or Hindus are first-class citizens and minorities are not, can happen in practice, it dosn’t need a constitutional change. Israel is an example. They have not changed the law, but still,” he said, adding any such change would have implications.

“Things like ‘ghar wapsi’, beef ban, ‘love jihad’ and the like would lead to more estrangement, and ‘ghettoisation’ of the minority communities,” he said,

Apart from the security aspects of such an outcome, India would lose its “moral high ground” and its “soft power” would diminish,” he warned. (Vikas Datta, 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)