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Monks bringing peace and harmony between India and Myanmar

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Yangon: The relations between the two neighbouring countries India and Myanmar linked by old ties of religion and culture are getting better as Indian Buddhist monks are sowing the seeds of peace and harmony.

As Myanmar moves towards forming a new government, the monks of India and Myanmar have taken upon themselves the task of the smooth transition of the powers to the democratically elected government but through the spiritual route.

“We are basically here for peace and harmony. Since everyone wants to live in peace, we from the Drukpa Lineage are praying for peace in this country which has strong roots with the Buddhism,” Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche said.

Thirty-year-old Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, who is leading a foot journey with 60-odd monks and participated in the peace summit, is the spiritual regent to the Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of the Drukpa Order with over 1,000 monasteries across the Himalayas.

“This time, we have decided on a peace ‘padayatra’ (journey) in Myanmar as we did in many places in India. We have also brought a sacred bone relic of the Buddha in this country to bless people. In the past one week, the relic some 2,600 years old got the overwhelming response from the locals,” said Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche.

Tens of thousands gathered at the 2,500 years old Shwedagon Pagoda, which enshrines strands of Buddha’s hair and other holy relics, to pay homage to the bone relic.

Sitagu Sayadaw, the elderly spiritual guru of Myanmar, said the visit of the Indian monks would help strengthen the relations between the two countries.

“The Buddha relic comes from India, the birthplace of Buddhism but not the birthplace of the Buddha. The Buddha spent 45 years in India. Therefore, this is a very significant sign of the peace and stronger relationship between the two countries Myanmar and India,” he said on being asked about the relationship between India and Myanmar.

Indian Ambassador Gautam Mukhopadhaya, who also attended the prayer sessions in the Shwedagon Pagoda, said this would definitely help strengthen India-Myanmar relations.

“It’s a rare opportunity and definitely a meeting point of two traditions the Vajrayana and Theravada schools of Buddhism,” he said.

On bringing the sacred Buddha bone relic to this country, Mukhopadhaya said it was rare that the relic had been brought out of the Hemis monastery, the oldest monastery of the Drukpa Order in Ladakh.

“It’s very rare that the bone relic of the Buddha has gone out of the country. The people of Myanmar have a lot of faith in Buddhism. This event offers a platform of religious faith between the countries. This will strengthen the historical relations that have been there since the colonial period,” he added.

The bone relic arrived in Mandalay by plane on January 21 and it was carried across many prominent towns and villages by the monks of the Drukpa Order. It will return to India on January 29.

Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, who is also the chairperson of Druk Padma Karpo Educational Society which runs the famous Druk Padma Karpo School of the Hindi film ‘3 Idiots’ fame, said he prayed that the ties between the two countries would be better and more strengthened.

Founded in the 17th Century, the Hemis Monastery in Ladakh in India’s Jammu and Kashmir houses the most famous holy relics which are thousands of years old.(IANS)(Image-wikipedia)

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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)