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Prime Minister Modi’s busy day in New York, meeting 40 Global CEOs and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, is on the front pages of mainstream newspapers Friday. Hindustan Times and The Hindu are also concerned with the upcoming smog season owing to stubble burning in Punjab.

PM Modi in New York: Newspapers cover different aspects of the PM’s engagements. HT’s headline reads , “India, Pak PMs set to take showdown to UN stage today,” Times of India writes, “Govt will try to balance privacy & data security: PM to US CEOs,” Hindu, which carries the report beneath the fold says, “Modi meet Rouhani, discusses Chabahar,’’ while in The Indian Express an entirely different scenario unfolds: “Pak FM boycotts Jaishankar at SAARC meet, India calls it drama.”

 TOI highlights PM Modi’s statement to over 40 global CEOs where he said, “individuals have ownership of their personal data, stating that the government will strive to strike a balance between data security and privacy with openness.”

 HT observes Modi “resolutely focused on positioning India as a key player in changing global order in the face of repeated attempts by Pakistan to internationalise the Kashmir issue.”

 Hindu reports, Modi and Iranian President Rouhani “discussed progress on Iran’s Chabahar Port, which India is helping to develop.” It notes that the “meeting comes at a difficult time” since India “stopped orders for Iranian crude since 2 May following U.S. Sanctions that kicked in last November.”

 Express is more concerned with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who did not attend the SAARC Foreign Ministers meeting in New York “as long as External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar was present at the meeting.” It quotes him as saying, “Do you think I will sit down with the butcher of Kashmir?”

 EC on voters:  Express also reports the Election Commission’s statement that, “Registered voters left out of NRC will not be marked ‘doubtful’”. It explains that Doubtful or ‘D’ voters are a “category of voters in Assam who citizenship is uncertain or under dispute.” In `Explained’ it writes, “This Election Commission’s decision is a win-win for all. From the BJP government that pushed NRC to civil society groups which opposed it, the 19.06 lakh number has pleased few.”

 Express also features a story on the village in Madhya Pradesh where two Dalit children were beaten to death for defecating in the open and reports on the “deep caste faultlines in the village”.  Its ground report found, “several markers of discrimination based on caste: shunning of the last rites, children being asked to wash their hands after coming into contact with Dalits, and a list of SC and OBC students on the blackboards of the primary and secondary schools.”

Chinmayanand: Chinmayanand features in The Hindu with a story on opposition parties, “slamming the UP government and BJP for arresting the law student from Shahjahanpur who accused former union minister Swami Chinamayanand of rape.”

Punjab fires: Hindu also reports, “a spike in agricultural fires – a phenomenon that’s known to worsen air pollution – in Punjab in September.” It says the month saw 201 fires between Septebmer 24-26 while there were only 11 fires during the same period last year.

Opinion 

HT: In ‘When caste, sanitation, impunity come together’, HT suggests India redefine its Open-Defecation Free campaign and take caste realities into account. It refers to the case of two Dalit children beaten to death for defecating outside a Panchayat building in Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh Wednesday. The fact that the accused were from the same village and were aware of the victims’ caste shows how “Indian sanitation is linked to caste dynamics and notions of purity”, writes HT. It also criticises the “reluctance of law enforcement” to take on the accused. The number of Indians defecating in the open has significantly reduced in the last 4-5 years, yet a “rather explicit caste dynamic” exists on the ground, writes HT.

TOI: Modi invited foreign investors to the country saying it was a “golden opportunity to partner India” at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York Wednesday but TOI asks how stable India’s business climate actually is. In “Modi’s Money Pitch”, it focuses on the growth slowdown and reduced manufacturing production due to the US-China trade war. Also, the “erosion of competitiveness” will not be helped by the recently reduced corporate tax rate since the cost of kick-starting a business in India remains high, it writes.

TOI calls for legislation that can improve the ease of business in areas like land acquisition, hiring and red-tapism. “Entrepreneurial animal spirits” can be unleashed with streamlined GST and education reforms that can unlock entrepreneurship capabilities among India’s youth. “Modi 2.0 must deliver a reset to the business climate” if he wishes to reach a $5 trillion economy by 2024.

Prime Time 

News channels looked forward to PM Modi’s address to the UNGA today.

Also, NDTV 24×7discussed the Finance Minister’s statement that there is no fundamental liquidity problem in the Indian economy and “in some sectors, demand remains high.”

Times Now discussed the Bhagavad Gita controversy in Tamil Nadu after Anna University introduced it as part of the philosophy syllabus for engineering students.

Mirror Now took up RBI’s move that increased the withdrawal limit from Rs.1000 to Rs.10,000 for PMC Bank customers.

CNN News 18: Tamil Nadu’s Anna University has decided to include Philosophy as a subject for undergraduate engineering students in the academic year 2019-20 and the syllabus predominantly includes the Upanishads. The decision sparked a debate on `The Right Stand’ with Anand Narasimhan.

CPI leader Professor Dinesh Varshney appeared philosophical about the decision: “Philosophy is logic, it is not theology. It is not a religious philosophy, it involves all aspects of life.”

The DMK and the Left had criticized the move, with DMK chief M K Stalin saying it amounted to “imposition” of Sanskrit. To this, BJP spokesperson Narayanan Thirupathi said, “DMK is trying to do dirty, filthy and arrogant politics in Tamil Nadu.”

Academician Geeta Bhatt emphasized that in a courtroom the oath is taken on the Gita and said, “The Bhagavad Gita is an eternal book of karma, a universal guide to the various eventualities of life.”

Republic: The channel looked forward to PM’s speech at the UN even as External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar accused Pakistan of terrorism.

“People are anxiously waiting in Sindh, the only hope is PM Modi. I hope he speaks about their issues,” Sufi Laghari, Sindhi Foundation of America, told Republic’s editor Niranjan Narayanaswamy, who was reporting live from New York.

Author Tarek Fatah said, “I would hope the PM of India tells the rest of the world that we are facing danger from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”

Sushil Pandit, Kashmiri activist, referred to `Howdy Modi’ event in Houston: “In America, on US soil, no foreign or domestic leader has addressed this big a crowd in living memory. It is unprecedented.”

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, “As far as diplomacy is concerned, it is not a shop that we immediately after an event think of what did we get.”

Zee News: #ImranRahulSathSath trended on ‘Taal Thok Ke’ as anchor Aman Chopra  talked of Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s reference to the Congress party’s allegations that there were human rights violation in Kashmir, at the UN.

BJP’s Gaurav Bhatias mind, however, was elsewhere: ‘Shri Donald Trump’ comparing Modi to Elvis Presley…” It is a matter of pride for us”.

Former MP Shahid Siddiqui said: “Congress should understand that BJP’s move to abrogate Article 370 was right in the present context.”

Political analyst Ashutosh said, “Trump knows that PM Modi and Imran Khan both are ‘birds of same feather’. Rahul Gandhi has clearly said that Pakistan has no say in Kashmir and it is a global terror state.”

He targeted Gaurav Bhatia saying, “If a Prime Minister is compared with a ‘Nachne gane wala’ , then it should be a matter of shame, not pride”.

India TV:‘Kurukshetra’ was not a verbal battlefield today; instead panelists discussed the PM’s address at the UN today.

Former ambassador Kanwal Sibal said, “He will raise the issue of climate change, millennium development goals and universal health coverage”, while Retd. Gen G D Bakshi said, “I would suggest that India should ignore talking about Kashmir. It is our internal matter. Period.”

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