The Supreme Court’s observation that the Narendra Modi government “restore normalcy in the Valley” makes headlines on the front pages Tuesday. PM Modi’s “diaspora outreach event” (Hindustan Times) in Houston — “Howdy, Modi!” — is also in the news. Oddly, given TV news channels non-stop coverage, the front pages don’t mention Modi’s birthday although BJP leaders such as Home Minister Amit Shah write tributes to the Prime Minister.
Supreme Court on Kashmir
Newspapers Tuesday highlighted different aspects of the SC’s direction on Kashmir. HT writes, “SC asks for normalcy in J&K; CJI says may visit”; The Times of India states, “Restore normalcy in Kashmir, but protect national interest: SC”; The Indian Express chooses, “Formidable reasons for J&K curbs, but ensure normalcy returns: SC”; while The Hindu reports, “Govt. data on J&K terror justify lockdown, says SC”.
The court “asked the government to restore normalcy in the Valley as early as possible while keeping in mind national interest” even as the “Centre claimed the best possible steps were taken to prevent loss of life and property after the region was stripped of special status”, writes HT. It notes that Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said “the allegations people were finding it difficult to approach J&K high court as ‘very, very serious’ and said he would visit Srinagar if required”.
Express adds that the bench “allowed Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit four districts in J&K after he gave an undertaking that he will not hold any rally”.
The Hindu reports, SC found the “government’s statistics of thousands of instances of death, terror and violence” in J&K “from 1990 as formidable reasons for the 5 August, 2019 lockdown”. It says Attorney General K.K. Venugopal “reeled out numbers to prove that the restrictions stopped the bloodshed in the Valley, and there was no dearth of facilities for ordinary Kashmiris”.
Express’s lead story is on the detention of National Conference leader, Farooq Abdullah: “After plea seeks presence of Farooq, Govt slaps PSA, prolongs his detention”. The J&K administration “slapped the stringent PSA” on the detained former chief minister, “describing him as a threat to public order”, it writes.
Global oil prices
TOI’s Page 1 flap leads with a “spike” in global oil prices. This “sparked worries of an extended spell of market volatility hitting consumer sentiment by pushing up fuel prices” and “posing fresh challenges to the government’s recent efforts to revive the pace of economic growth”, states the newspaper. It notes that the global benchmark of Brent crude “rose to 19% to almost $72 per barrel after the market opened for the first time after the drone strike at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry”.
Hindu’s second lead highlights that the drone attacks “have impacted half of the country’s crude oil production and about 5% of the world supply”. It quotes the Ministry of Petroleum, “allaying Indian fears”, and adding, “Saudi Aramco officials told oil companies that the attacks would not result in a shortage of supplies.”
HT reports the White House confirmed that US President Donald Trump “will join PM Modi’s 22 September diaspora outreach event in Houston called “Howdy, Modi!” It writes, “Trump’s presence will send out a strong signal at a time when Pakistan is planning to bring up the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly.”
TOI underlines that the government “has intensified efforts to iron out trade differences with the US… ahead of PM Modi’s trip to New York and Houston next week.”
Express, HT and Hindu report that the SC-appointed “mediators in the Ayodhya title dispute… have submitted a memorandum to the CJI-led Constitution Bench seeking directions from the bench on two letters they have received” (Express).
It is also the only one to give space to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das’s “surprise” over the decline in growth rate to 5 per cent in the first quarter — he said this in an interview to ET Now and CNBC News 18.
The Hindu: In view of Home Minister Amit Shah’s remarks that Hindi should be part of the national identity, the Hindu writes that “a language of homogenisation is best avoided”. In “Undesirable and divisive”, it traces the sharp backlash from Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, DMK president M.K. Stalin, and former Karnataka CMs Siddaramaiah and H.D. Kumaraswamy. Imposing a language is the opposite of unifying national identity which is meant to “transcend linguistic and regional differences”, writes the Hindu. Shah’s remarks, it explains, do not take into account that regional languages have become official languages of states, and English has a “strong utilitarian value”. These comments come a few months after the BJP, known for “unbridled homogenisation”, tried to implement mandatory teaching of Hindi in schools.
The Indian Express: In “Public? Safety?”, Express finds it “astonishing” that former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah, “a reliable bridge between Kashmir and the Centre”, has been booked under the Public Safety Act after being detained for five weeks. The newspaper traces Abdullah’s “fealty to the Indian Constitution”, how he risked his life and career by allowing the Centre’s push for assembly elections in 1996 and successfully reduced militancy in the Valley during his six-year term as chief minister. Express also finds the court’s acceptance of Abdullah’s detention questionable. Ever since the abrogation of Article 370 on 5 August, “all has been justified in the name of keeping the peace”, it writes, while little has been done in bringing development to Kashmir.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi remained the talking point on most news channels. His joint event with US President Donald Trump, #HowdyPolitics — 50,000 people signed up for their joint appearance, in Houston — was debated on Republic TV.
Times Now asked, “Is Brand India under PM Modi stronger?”
To mark Modi’s birthday Tuesday, India Today presented a lengthy profile, “Modi, The Game Changer”.
NDTV 24×7 discussed Home Minister Amit Shah’s call for Hindi as a national unifier and former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah’s detention under the Public Safety Act.
CBNC News 18 and ET Now had simulcast interviews with RBI governor Shaktikanta Das in which he talked about the economic slowdown, GDP growth, rate cuts by the central bank, etc.
ET Now: “Growth is a matter of highest priority. It can no longer be business as usual, the economy needs something more. We recognised it so we went for 35 basis points rate cut. But the 5 per cent GDP came as a surprise,” said Das.
“A weak Q1 GDP came as a big surprise. We are now examining it much more closely.”
When asked about the recovery of the economic slowdown, he said, “I don’t want to give a timeline to recovery. We have to see the Q2 numbers, to see if the slowdown stays or there is an improvement.”
CNN News 18: On ‘The Right Stand’ anchor Anand Narasimhan asked, “Is India’s aura under PM Modi brighter than ever?”
Vijay Chauthaiwale, BJP’s foreign affairs department chief, said, “The current image and aura of our prime minister is attracting world leaders and they are looking at it as an honour to accompany PM Modi.”
“The value of the Indian passport has gone up several fold in the last five years,” he added.
Former diplomat Ashok Sajjanhar said, “Both sides (India and US) have to see that they have an advantage in this particular relationship. This has been PM Modi’s huge contribution to public diplomacy.”
ABP News: Anchor Rubika Liyaquat interviewed Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment Santosh Gangwar, who reportedly said that north Indian youth fail to secure jobs because of poor education.
“My statements have been presented out of context. I only meant that recruiters want to recruit skilled people…” He added that he never singled out north Indians.
BSP’s Satish Prakash ignored his denial and said that his statement showed “huge disrespect to the youth of North India”.
Zee News: #ModiTrumpKaDhamaka on ‘Taal Thok Ke’ saw anchor Aman Chopra discuss the upcoming ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston.
BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia was very excited: “The whole world has accepted the positive leadership of PM Modi”.
Major General K.K. Sinha (retd) was also pleased: “According to the programme’s schedule, Trump will speak first and Modi later. A big leader always speaks towards the end. This is not merely ‘optics’ but worth celebrating.”
Congress supporter Abdul Razzak had a number of objections: “In the previous term, PM Modi travelled to 68 countries spending Rs 2,300 crore but failed to bring investment worth Re 1. This is his 11th tour in past 10 days; Rs 230 crore have already been spent. Indeed he is being welcomed everywhere but is this working in favour of our country?” he asked.
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