patna floods
A flooded street in Patna, Bihar | PTI file
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Front Page 

The announcement of local council polls in Jammu and Kashmir on 24 October is the lead on the front page of The Indian Express Monday and the The Hindu reports it below the fold. Oddly, Hindustan Times and The Times of India don’t report it on their front pages.

The Centre’s decision to ban the export of onions also makes headlines. Also, the fury of the floods especially in Patna and parts of Bihar is captured in page 1 photographs across newspapers.

It’s a good day for HT and TOI as Amazon and Flipkart advertisements give them a fillip today.

The Express has a special pullout on its annual survey of the ‘Most Powerful Indians’ in ‘IE100’. No prizes for guessing the two most important people in the country.

J&K Polls: Express’ lead reads, “Amid lockdown and detention, J&K announces local council polls Oct 24,” while Hindu reports, “Block-level elections in Jammu & Kashmir on Oct 24.”

Express states that, “at a time when most senior leaders of mainstream parties in the Valley are under detention,” the J&K State Election Commission “announced that Block Development Council elections would be held along ‘party lines’ on 24 October.” It notes that the counting of votes will be held the same day.

Hindu refers to it as the “much awaited elections”, which will see “26,629 elected Panchs and Sarpanchs elect 310 chairpersons in the first phase.” The elections “will empower grassroots leaders” and “will create a new political class in J&K,” it writes.

Onion prices soar:  “As prices soar, Centre bans onion exports and imposes stock limits,” writes Hindu as Express links it to the upcoming assembly elections – “Two key state polls looming, Centre bans onion export,” – while HT says, “Govt bans export of onions as their prices remain high.”

Hindu says that “In the light of skyrocketing prices,” the government “prohibited exports until further notice and imposed limits on the stocks that can be held to prevent hoarding.”

HT recalls, onion prices have “more than doubled from their usual rates in many cities since August.” It notes that retail traders can now “stock no more than 100 quintals and wholesalers can stock only 500 qunitals in all states.”

Express is concerned about this ‘unusual’ move in the light of the upcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana. “This is the fourth decision taken by the central government this year to control the price hike in onions in a bid to control the retail price hike across the country,” it writes. In its Explained box, Express says, “The export ban is the latest in the series of measures aimed at increasing the availability of onions in retail markers.”

Bihar floods: HT and TOI highlight the plight of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states with rains continuing unabated. HT reports, “at least 134 people have died in rain-related incidents across the country in the past three days.” TOI underlines that this “vigorous” and “relentless” monsoon rain “has put this month on course to be the wettest September India has seen in 102 years and lifted the June-September seasons rain to 9% above normal, barely a percentage point short of excess monsoon rainfall.”

Amit Shah’s address: Home Minister Amit Shah’s address at the Samkalp Former Civil Servants forum makes it to page 1 in these four mainstream newspapers although they highlight different aspects of his speech. HT says, “India’s Article 370 move has support of the world: Shah,” Express chooses, “Restrictions only in the mind, not in J&K: Shah,” TOI and Hindu’s banner are in agreement, “Nehru approaching UN on J&K was more than a Himalayan blunder: Shah.”

Opinion

Express: In “A win for diplomacy”, Express describes how PM Modi’s successful and “intensive bilateral diplomacy” at the UNGA to communicate India’s stance on Kashmir won’t last forever. Apart from China and Turkey, India garnered support from the international community “but the world is unlikely to hold its peace forever”, it writes. At the UNGA, Modi resisted the “temptation to wrestle in the mud with Pakistan”, despite Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s attack on Modi, BJP and RSS. It, instead, urged a global campaign against cross border terrorism, “putting Pakistan in the dock”, and climate change. However, Kashmir is still in question and if Imran Khan’s predicted “bloodbath” in Kashmir comes true, India may become “indefensible,” writes Express

Hindu: In ‘Trust deficit’, the newspaper criticises RBI’s move of 24 September to restrict consumers of Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank (PMC) from withdrawing more than Rs.1,000 from their accounts for six months, only to raise the limit to Rs. 10,000 Thursday. The move came after “financial irregularities” in PMC came to its notice even though PMC’s latest annual report looked promising, writes Hindu. The RBI, therefore, must explain why it increased the limit “ten-fold within 48 hours, lest it be seen as a politically weighted move ahead of the Maharashtra election”, it notes. Hindu says the RBI shares regulatory oversight over such banks with States’ Registrar of Co-operative Societies. The newspaper calls for “a systemic overhaul” to prevent a return to black money.

Prime Time 

Television news studios were flooded with reports of rains wreaking havoc across the country. CNN News 18, Aaj Tak, NDTV 24×7 and India Today reported on the crisis in Bihar as rains inundated the capital, Patna.

India Today: Home Minister Amit Shah said at the Samkalp Former Civil Servants Forum at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi, there are no restrictions in Kashmir. He added that PM Nehru committed a “Himalayan blunder” by taking Kashmir to the United Nations. Anchor Pooja Shali discussed these remarks.

“Home Minister Amit Shah is not only criticising Jawaharlal Nehru but he is also condemning the UN,” observed political analyst Chetan Singh.

To this, BJP spokesperson Niti Jain said, “So you are admitting that a mistake was made at the end of the day? Amit Shah also said… that mistakes are made, but one must learn from them which is what the Congress isn’t doing.”

Senior journalist Majid Hyderi commented that, “BJP has been trying to villainize Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.”

Republic: #ModiStyleDiplomacy was the headline on Arnab Goswami’s 9 pm debate.

BJP spokespersons Nupur Sharma said, “At the UNGA we were leading by example….”

JD(S) national spokesperson Tanveer Ahmed was less impressed:  “Ideologically, Modi and Trump are the same,” he said.

Activist Feroze Mithiborwala had a more balanced view: “There are certain things Modi has done well and there are some things which I do not agree with. For example, we are not buying oil from Iran under US pressure.”

Aaj Tak:Anchor Chitra Tripathi on `Halla Bol’ compared the rousing welcome PM Modi received when he returned to New Delhi with the response to Khan in Islamabad.

Qamar Cheema, analyst from Pakistan, said that Pakistan is proud of how its PM represented the Kashmir issue on an international platform, like a lone warrior. “The difference is that PM Modi was received by RSS members while PM Imran Khan was received by Pakistanis and Kashmiris”, he added.

BJP’s Prem Shukla referred to Modi’s successful trip to US: “Nobody is ready to support Imran Khan including United States and even Saudi Arabia. Apart from China, the only country that was seen showing solidarity with Pakistan was Turkey”.

NDTV India: The channel moved away from politics to matters of the heart on World Heart Day,29 September.

Anchor Naghma Sahar claimed that in India an average of 272 per 10,000 people suffer from heart diseases which is higher than the global average (232).

Dr Nishit Chandra, cardiologist from Fortis Escorts, commented that lifestyle choices and lack of awareness have caused heart problems in young too. “Alcohol and smoking consumption is a major reason…. Also, India is the diabetes capital of the world. A diabetic patient has two to four times higher chances of heart disease.”

Dr Rahul Patil, heart specialist, said that the ethnicity of Indians made them prone to cardiac diseases. “Lifestyles have worsened, making us more prone to cardiovascular diseases,” he added.

Dr Shikha Sharma, founder of Nutriheath, said: “Our diet lacks important nutrients such as proteins, minerals and vitamins which are required for healthy functioning of the heart. People also brag about having less sleep these days- 6-9 hours of quality sleep is essential for a healthy heart.”

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