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Automobiles go green
By Priyam Kumar



Auto industry has realized the importance of developing technologies that help to minimize vehicular pollution and is now bringing out 'green' models.

The10th edition of India’s Auto expo saw a bevy of magnificent automobiles that proved to be more than feast for the eyes. People crazy about bikes and cars received the perfect gift for the New Year - a range of green machines. Leading automobile manufacturers presented bikes and cars that don’t run on petrol, diesel or any carbon based fossil fuels. Electric cars were launched by the likes of Toyota, Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Hyundai, Mahindra & Mahindra and so on. Hydrogen was explored with the launch of the world’s first hydrogen-fuelled, zero-emission motorcycle by a UK company. Even students from various colleges across the country pitched in to give their share of green contribution to the auto expo by inventing stylish two, three and four wheeler eco-friendly vehicles.

Hydrogen seems a relatively new unconventional source as compared to the solar energy that has been much talked about, though not yet implemented on a large scale.

Like the sun, hydrogen is everywhere, in almost everything and all around us. It is a light and commonly occurring element in the universe. It can be obtained from water by electrolysis, or produced from algae and bacteria that utilize sunlight. It is a good energy carrier and as compared to petrol that has 11,000 calories per gram, it has 34,000, which is three times as much as petrol. So, in all, it is a good, clean energy producing fuel. The best implementation of hydrogen in automobiles is using fuel cells. Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that convert chemical energy in a fuel, e.g. hydrogen in a hydrogen gas mixture and oxygen from air, into electrical energy.

The electrical energy can power the vehicle. The waste product is then water, which is not so bad. It means that one is driving a vehicle and giving water back to earth. This is the technology that has been implemented in the hydrogen based vehicles showcased in the auto expo. Hydrogen vehicles have an advantage over the electric vehicles as hydrogen is being used to create electricity rather than directly using electricity from our scarce resources. Nevertheless, as proper potential of hydrogen is yet to be realized, electric cars are a major boon to us if they can provide a pollution free transport.

The development of solar technology can solve the problem of carbon emission from coal for power generation. If in the years to come, we are able to reduce the dependence on coal and use the sun, wind and other renewable forms for producing electricity, then usage of electric vehicles would not be a problem. Hence we need to slowly weed out the usage of coal for producing electricity, so that our means of electricity as well as the vehicles we use are pollution free.

The point is that the automotive industry has put in a lot of thought and effort to produce them. Sensing the need of the hour, the same manufacturers who produced the carbon emission vehicles for ages have altered their approach.

 

The advent of the Metro in Delhi and the NCR region, and the fleet of low floor buses have definitely helped in reducing the carbon emissions in the Capital. The adoption of CNG by autos and local buses has also helped a great deal in reducing the vehicular pollution in the country. But the question about private modes of transport following the same path always bothered all.

The auto expo has not presented the complete solution to our woes, but surely provided an answer to the question. The carbon emissions in the country will not suddenly cease, and the temperature of the planet will not fall below the 2 degree Celsius mark immediately. But yes, there is a chance. That is the answer to the vital question. As long as there is a chance, there is hope. And the world survives on hope.

Nonetheless, it is important that we use mass public transport more than private vehicles. The companies that have launched the private vehicles should collaborate or work independently to create mass public transport similar to Tata, which makes private automobiles and also designed the eco friendly bus for Delhi. The approach shown by the companies in the auto expo is important, but the stress should not only be on private vehicles but mass transport as well, owing to the colossal traffic crisis being faced by all the major cities due to rise in number of private vehicles.

However, on the brighter side, as long as there is a thought, approach and inventive minds, nothing can stop us from attaining a pollution free country, and a pollution free world.

Priyam Kumar  |  priyamwriter@gmail.com

Priyam Kumar is an Engineering student.

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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