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Indian origin diplomat Australia’s new high commissioner to India

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Canberra/New Delhi:  A senior career diplomat of Indian origin, Harinder Sindhu, was on Thursday named Australia’s new high commissioner to India.

She will replace Patrick Suckling in New Delhi and will have non-resident accreditation to Bhutan as well.

She is the third Indian-origin envoy in India, after the US and Canadian envoys and the second Indian-origin Australian high commissioner in India.

“India is one of Australia’s closest and most significant partners in the Indo-Pacific region,” Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop stated while making the announcement.

“It is our 10th largest trading partner and our two-way investment is worth over $20 billion,” she stated.
Bishop said that Australia would continue to push for the conclusion of a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement with India, designed to take the economic relationship between the two countries to a new level.
“Australia also has strong strategic and defence ties with India, conducting our first bilateral maritime exercises in 2015. There are also over 450,000 people of Indian descent currently residing in Australia driving our strong education, cultural and tourism links,” Bishop said.

Sidhu is a senior career officer with the Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, most recently serving as first assistant secretary of the Multilateral Policy Division.

She has previously served overseas in Moscow and Damascus. Sidhu’s previous roles included first assistant secretary in the Department of Climate Change, assistant director-general in the Office of National Assessments and senior advisor in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

She holds a bachelor of laws and a bachelor of economics degree from the University of Sydney.

In a separate statement, the Australian High Commission in New Delhi said that it would welcome Sidhu to India as the Australian high commissioner-designate next week .

It quoted Sidhu as saying that she was looking forward to her new role in a dynamic country.

“India is one of the most exciting places for a diplomat to be at the moment. India’s economic prospects are bright and it is becoming a more influential and active international player,” she was quoted as saying.

“The Australia-India relationship has grown substantially over the past few years and I will dedicate myself to building that relationship further,” she said.

“At a personal level, I have always been fascinated by the country of my heritage and am keen to learn more about India – its language, culture and history – while I am there.”

Both of Sidhu’s parents are from Punjab and her father was born in India.

Sidhu was born in Singapore and settled in Australia with her family as a child.

She speaks a little Punjabi and Hindi but is looking forward to the opportunity to become more fluent, according to the high commission statement.

One of Sidhu’s first tasks in the job is likely to be hosting the Australian men’s and women’s cricket teams in India for the T20 cricket World Cup next month, it added.(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)