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Obama-Sharif dialogue, India not touched upon

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Washington: India did not feature in the much hyped Barack Obama-Nawaz Sharif dialogue on Thursday which discussed a wide range of bilateral issues.

Welcoming Sharif to the White House, Obama said he looked forward to using the meeting as an opportunity to further deepen the longstanding relationship between the two countries.

“Obviously, the United States and Pakistan have a longstanding relationship,” he said. “We work and cooperate on a whole host of issues — not just on security matters, but also on economic and scientific and educational affairs.”

“And we’re looking forward to using this meeting as an opportunity to further deepen the relationship between the United States and Pakistan,” Obama said.

Praising “an extraordinary Pakistani-American community that is helping to build this country”, the president said: “And those people-to-people ties are part of what makes this relationship so special.”

Thanking Obama for inviting him to Washington once again, Sharif said “the Pakistan-America relations stand over 70 years” and it would be his “endeavor to further strengthen and solidify this relationship”.

He said he looked forward to a very constructive engagement with Obama “to add greater substance and depth to our relationship, as you’ve very frankly mentioned”.

Sharif was accompanied among others by Pakistan Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif and the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz.

Earlier Sharif met US Vice President Joe Biden over breakfast and discussed regional, political and security issues, particularly the cooperation on war against terrorism, according to official Pakistani news agency APP.

Ahead of his meeting with Obama, Sharif had sought to shift the focus of talks to India rather than counter-terrorism and safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons highlighted by US.

Sharif told US senators on Wednesday that the US would be the most relevant third party that could intervene to help resolve outstanding issues including Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

According to a statement issued by Sharif’s Office cited by Pakistani media, Sharif briefed members of Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his recent peace initiative towards India announced in the UN General Assembly.

“Members of Senate noted the prime minister’s proposal that given India’s resistance to bilaterally resolve outstanding issues including Kashmir, it would be imperative to have third party intervention for which the US would be most relevant,” it said.

Pakistan on Wednesday also handed over three dossiers to US Secretary of State John Kerry about alleged Indian involvement in subversive activities in the country, APP reported.

The dossiers were handed over to Kerry when he called on Sharif at the Blair House. Kerry, it said, was briefed about the alleged destabilizing role of Indian agencies in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Balochistan and Karachi.

Sharif, according to APP, also reiterated his commitment to seek normalisation with India.

However, State Department spokesperson, John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday he was “not aware that we have” received any documents relating to India from Pakistan.

(Arun Kumar, 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)