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We will work together to build the Silk Route of the 21st century: PM Modi in Kazakhstan

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Astana: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called for closer defense and security cooperation between India and Central Asia to defend peace in the region and defeat terrorism and extremism.

In his address at the Nazarbayev University in the Kazakh capital, Modi also said that India’s engagement with Central Asia has been short of promise and potential, and added that he is determined to change it with closer cooperation.

Speaking at length on terrorism and extremism, he said: “We live at the frontier of instability. We live close to the crucible of extremism and terrorism.

“We see terrorism spawned by nations and groups. Today, we also see cyber space become a platform without borders for terror to draw recruits to its cause.

“From theatres of conflicts to the calm neighborhoods of distant cities, terrorism has become a global challenge as never before.”

Modi said India and Central Asia would combat terrorism through the “strength of our values, and our commitment to humanism”.

He said India is the new frontier of opportunities for the world, and Central Asia is a region of immense resources, talented people, rapid growth and a strategic location.

“So, I am here to start a new era in our relationship with Central Asia. India is prepared to invest more in a new partnership of prosperity,” he said.

Modi said India’s membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization will deepen the regional partnership.

“And we have begun a study on a Free Trade Agreement with them and also spoke about boosting physical connectivity for trade, transit, and energy.”

He expressed hope that all of Central Asia would become members of the International North South Transport Corridor and said that India is keen to join the Ashgabat Agreement on trade and transit.

He said India’s upgradation of Iran’s Chahbahar Port would open up routes into Central Asia. “I also hope that we can restore the traditional route to Central Asia through Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

“India is at the crossroads of Asia’s land and sea routes. We understand our responsibility and we are working with a sense of priority to connect ourselves to the East and the West by land, and success of connectivity through and across Central Asia is important.”

He said both sides would work together in the sector of minerals, industry, pharma, engineering, and small and medium industries.

Modi also called for Central Asia to regain its central role in Eurasia. “From Europe to Asia, all nations must foster a climate of cooperation and collaboration, not competition and exclusion, in this region.”

“The region must remain stable and peaceful, free from conflict and the violence of extremism and terrorism,” he said.

“We will all work together to build the Silk Route of the 21st century. We will connect through space and cyber as we will by air, land and sea.”

Later, he inaugurated the India-Kazakhstan Centre of Excellence in Information and Communication Technology.

Earlier, Modi held talks with his Kazakh counterpart Karim Massimov after his arrival here on Tuesday from Uzbekistan on the second leg of his Central Asian tour.

(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)