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Bihar Engineer Shuns US, To Be Green Innovator






Electrical engineer Gyanesh Pandey, 35Electrical engineer Gyanesh Pandey, 35, has never met Shahrukh Khan. But, his story, which won international accolade on Tuesday, is remarkably similar to Khan’s portrayal of a NRI engineer providing water to his native village in the film Swadesh. Instead, of water, the 35 year old has given cheap and clean electricity generated from waste rice husk to 380 of the poorest villages in West Champaran district of Bihar and his work is now one of the five most innovative green projects in the world.

Ashden Awards for sustainable energy in London said Pandey’s company, Husk Power Systems provides clean, reliable electricity supply and cost less than the alternatives. “Husk Power’s 65 plants gasify rice husks and other biomass waste to supply electricity to around 180,000 people and, by replacing kerosene, they cut greenhouse emissions by over 8,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year,” said a statement issued by Ashden Awards.

Pandey, at the age of 31, quit his lucrative MNC job in Los Angeles, eight years after passing out from the Benaras Hindu University and pursuing a dream career like many of his contemporaries in United States.  All changed in 2006, when Pandey failed a Vipassana course in Los Angeles and his desire to carry out rural development work in his village and being “homesick” convinced him to shun is bright career option in the growing semi-conductor industry in US. “I was back in 2007 and discussed my dream with Ratnesh Yadav, my old friend,” he recalled and said the break came when an official in the ministry of new and renewable energy offered help to generate electricity from rice husk.

Later that year, on the anniversary of India’s 60th year of independence, the two set up their first unit in the rundown village of Tamkuha (meaning Fog of Darkness) — one of the three lakh Indian villages that don’t have electricity — in Dhanaha region of the district.

It was for the first time the villagers experienced electricity like a few others in Bundelkhand in Central India, benefited from a similar clean energy project.  For a monthly rental of Rs 100, 50 Watt of power, enough to light two compact fluorescent lamps and a mobile phone charger, is provided to each of the 32,500 households now. It has reduced monthly kerosene consumption by six to seven litres, translating into a saving of around Rs 200. The husk power system plant, which runs for eight hours every day, generates 35 KW of power and has a electricity distribution system to cover villages within two kilometers.  “It just a start,” said Pandey claiming that he was made for rural development and it was his mission now. The company plans to set up 1,000 such units from 65 by 2014.



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Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin



Nawaz sharif

Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told




The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus



Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.




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