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Kailash Satyarthi first Indian to receive Harvard humanitarian award

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Washington: In another recognition of his contribution in the field of child rights and abolition of child slavery, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Kailash Satyarthi has become the first Indian to be honoured with Harvard University’s prestigious “2015 Humanitarian of the Year” award.

The child rights activist received the award during a ceremony organised at the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Friday.

“I humbly accept the award on behalf of millions of left out children, for whose rights we strive to work for. Let us all pledge together to eradicate child slavery from the world,” Satyarthi said in his acceptance speech.

“We believe that your notable contributions to Indian child rights deserve special recognition,” wrote S Allen Counter Jr, director of the Harvard Foundation, to Satyarthi in the recognition letter.

The annual award is given to an individual whose work has served to improve the quality of life of people and inspired them to reach greater heights.

Recently, Satyarthi succeeded in getting child protection and welfare-related clauses included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The crusader for child rights expressed the hope that he would “see the end of child labour” across the globe in his lifetime.

“I am positive that I would see the end of child labour around the world in my lifetime as the poorest of the poor have realised that education is a tool that can empower them,” Satyarthi had told IANS on the sidelines of a media interaction organised at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club last year.

“Hence, they are educating their children while the number of child labourers are gradually decreasing around the world,” Satyarthi added.

Quoting figures from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), he said the latest data has shown that the number of child labourers around the world is 168 million as compared to 260 million in the mid 90s.

Calling children his religion, Satyarthi said the issue of child labour has received a lot of attention after he won the Nobel prize but the momentum should be maintained.

“I never go to temples but when I see a child I see god in them. Children are my religion…This issue must not die. The children need a voice and they need everybody’s support especially the media,” he told IANS.

He tweeted that him being the first Indian to receive the Harvard Humintarian Award was because of his activist friends as he dedicated the award to the nation.

Satyarthi, along with Pakistan’s Malala Yousufzai, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

In January this year, Satyarthi met US president Barack Obama during his three-day visit to India to attend the annual Republic Day parade in Delhi.

He told Obama that he felt “tremendous moral pressure to work even harder than before” after winning the Nobel.

Satyarthi has worked for child rights for over 30 years through the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO which is credited with freeing over 80,000 children from bonded labour across India.

(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)