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Four months into the last year of its tenure, the Narendra Modi government took its first meeting on affirmative action for SCs/STs in the private sector at the Prime Minister’s Office on 22 September, as reported by The Indian Express, probably in deference to its own slogan of affirmative action.

This was the first meeting of the coordination committee on affirmative action for SCs/STs in the private sector under the NDA government.

If Modi is to return to power, he knows he needs a substantial pie of the 19 per cent Dalit vote. First constituted by the UPA government in October 2006 under the chairmanship of the principal secretary to the Prime Minister, the committee had seven meetings till May 2014.

It took massive “nationwide protests by several groups — Dalits, Jats, Marathas and upper-castes — over a range of issues, from quotas in jobs and promotions to alleged dilution of the law meant to protect Dalits” to remind this government about the existence of such a committee.

It’s no coincidence. This government appointed its principal scientific adviser only in March 2018. The other two scientific advisory councils are lying more or less defunct. The economic advisory council to the Prime Minister was constituted only in September last year. So, the Prime Minister was taking economic decisions for three and a half years without being assisted by any economic advisory council.

No surprises, we are still clueless how demonetisation, one of the most radical economic policies in the history of Independent India, happened.

Not just the government of India, but all the major newspapers too heaved a sigh of relief as opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the Maldives presidential election.

All the major English dailies have put the news on the front pages with pictures of crowds or Solih cheering. The Times of India led with a report headlined “Beijing’s grip on Maldives slips as Yameen loses polls”. The Indian Express reported, “Cheer, relief in Delhi as Maldives Opposition wins Presidential polls”.

The cheer is not unfounded. As The Indian Express reported, “Yameen had asked India to take back two of its Army choppers, placed curbs on hundreds of work visas for Indians, and signed a new Free Trade Agreement with Beijing.”

Yameen had a reputation of being pro-China, which made India restless and nervous.

No one has speculated about the possibility of Solih, whose candidacy was supported by former Maldivian presidents Mohamed Nasheed and Abdul Maumoon Gayoom, taking a u-turn. Citing people close to Nasheed, The Times of India reports that Prime Minister Modi could get an invitation for Solih’s swearing-in.

Exiled former president Nasheed, in an interview to The Hindu, said, “I can’t speak for the coalition, but my own views remain the same. None of the projects made business sense. You cannot foist infeasible projects on developing countries.”

Meanwhile, it took rescue teams from three nations — India, Australia, and France — to save Navy commander Abhilash Tomy from his wrecked vessel three days after he was stranded in a remote part of the Southern Indian Ocean by a storm.

The storm had left the sailor with an incapacitating spine injury. Without help or company, Tomy stayed afloat, but just barely.

On Tuesday, newspapers gushed about his rescue. “Circumnavigator Tomy, injured and drifting in the high seas, is rescued”, read The Indian Express headline.
Hindustan Times led with the story, delivering to its readers the urgency and intensity of the operation in its very first paragraph: “A dramatic rescue unfolded in one of the remotest spots on Earth on Monday, with the crew of French patrol vessel Osiris hauling out a severely injured Commander Abhilash Tomy from his crippled yacht.” 

“Fittingly”, notes The Times of India, “in Egyptian mythology, Osiris is the god of rebirth”. Tomy may not have gone around the world as he set out to do — he has already achieved the feat once, in 2013 — but he certainly played a part in bringing it closer together.

Prime Time

BJP on backfoot over questions regarding Rafale deal
On India Today TV, senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai conducted a discussion on the BJP’s handling of former French President Francois Hollande’s claim on the Rafale deal.
On 21 September, Hollande, who cleared the intergovernmental deal when he was in office, was quoted as saying that New Delhi had “proposed” that Dassault choose Reliance Defence as its partner for the Rafale deal offset contract.

BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said, “There is complete accountability and transparency in the Rafale deal.”

Muhammad Khan of the Congress retorted, “The only consistent thing that has come out from the BJP government over the Rafale deal is a set of audacious lies.”

Pakistan should stay away from Indian politics

Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami asked whether it was by “coincidence or design that top Pakistani politicians had started to campaign for Rahul Gandhi”.

Former Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik, in a series of tweets, expressed support for Gandhi as India’s next Prime Minister.

Invited as a panelist, Malik said on the show, “The notion and the preamble being formed about Rahul Gandhi is absolutely wrong, he has the capacity to become a great Prime Minister.”

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra hit back: “There has been a consistent effort by Pakistani politicians to poke their nose in Indian politics.”

News it’s just kinda cool to know

Art and science have come together for an exhibition in Melbourne that explores an age-old question: What does it mean to be perfect? “Curated by a panel that includes a particle physicist, a computer scientist, a plastic surgeon and a musicologist, Perfection (the exhibition) offers a set of reflections, calculations and speculations that engage with ideas about the perfect body, mathematical precision, quantum physics and a post-human world,” The Conversation reports.

With inputs from Simrin Sirur

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  1. He is the most idiotic PM in the history of India..a complete self centered buffon who can go to any extent for power and Adani,Ambani


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