An onion storehouse in Lasalgaon | Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg
An onion storehouse in Lasalgaon | Photo: Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg
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Prime Time

Rising onion prices took a backseat on prime time Tuesday — only NDTV 24×7 covered it — as channels focused on the meeting between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. India Today says the two got down to business: “Days after bonhomie in Houston, Modi-Trump discuss trade”.

Times Now, repeatedly, discussed the “unprecedented stand-off” between the NDA government and Twitter after the latter refused to cooperate on a sedition probe against Kashmiri activist Shehla Rashid.

Mirror Now revisited the communication blackout in Kashmir in the context of the earthquake that struck Pakistan.

Zee News: On #ModiSePuchaHai, anchor Aman Chopra joked about the 6.3 magnitude earthquake, saying “the tremors are being felt in Pakistan ahead of the Modi-Trump meet”.

Panelists went on with the joke. “I will not connect the natural calamity to politics but Pakistan has always felt the tremors wherever they went, whether it is the United States or United Nations,” said Sambit Patra.

Tasleem Ahmed Rahmani, President of Muslim Political Council of India, pointed out that the elation over ‘Howdy Modi’ overshadowed the grim reality of Kashmir. “Around one crore people are still locked down in our country. Why aren’t you feeling the tremors of their pain?” he asked.

At this, M.S. Bitta, Chairman of the All India Anti-Terrorist Front, aggressively asked, “Being an Indian you are favouring Pakistan? Have you ever chanted ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’?”

India TV: Here too the earthquake was used to discuss ‘Pakistan me hadkamp, PoK mein bhookamp’ (Stir in Pakistan, earthquake in PoK).

Former ambassador Shashank said, “Donald Trump cannot completely ignore Pakistan as US needs Pakistan’s help to get its soldiers out of Afghanistan.”

BJP’s Sudhanshu Trivedi dismissed the claim, saying, “There is no state of comparison between India and Pakistan” when it comes to relations with the US. “Apple has started production in our country, Amazon is opening one of its largest offices in Hyderabad. Pakistan’s image is of a trouble-maker. The US will have to deal with it.”

CNN-News 18: On The Newshour with Anand Narsimhan, the channel contemplated whether Modi could “crack” the equation of “Trump and Trust” in the context of Kashmir and trade.

Richard Rossow, Wadhwani Chair in US, India Policy Studies, Centre for Strategic & International Studies, said, “I think both sides are aware of the trade disputes each has. The fact that commerce minister Piyush Goyal made a last-minute trip to New York tells me that India will put something meaningful on the table.”

“Trade is a small matter in Indo-US relations,” said Ambassador Rajiv Dogra, adding that “the big picture for Trump is the Nobel Peace Prize, and he sees Kashmir as one possible gateway for it.”

BJP’s Syed Zafar Islam said, “Such personalised equation between two leaders helps facilitate something which is otherwise impossible.”

Republic also went the Modi-Trump way. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra told host Sucherita Kukreti that “India is achieving a great feat. How many times has it happened in history that an Indian leader introduces a US President in his own country?”

“Why did America, the UN, Russia stand with India after abrogation of Article 370? It’s because of successful diplomacy,” he said.

“Let us leave our hate for PM Modi, he is no longer seen as a regional leader, he is seen as a statesman. It is a time for us to celebrate this,” said political analyst and lawyer M.R. Venkatesh.

Front Page

The bilateral meeting between Trump and Modi makes headlines Wednesday. And for a change, there’s international news on the front pages as UK’s Supreme Court struck down Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament.

Modi-Trump bilateral meeting: Mainstream newspapers choose to highlight different aspects of Modi-Trump meeting.

The Indian Express headlines, “Great if Modi, Imran can work out something on Kashmir: Trump”, Hindustan Times is more concerned with terror, “Modi can handle Pak terror, trade deal soon, says Trump”, The Times of India reports, “‘Father of India’ Modi will take care of terror, Kashmir: Trump”, while The Hindu is, the only one to look at the trade talks: “India, U.S. trade deal falls through”.

HT reports the US President “affirmed faith in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ability to handle terrorism emnating from Pakistan”. TOI notes that Trump “suggested that Modi be known as the ‘father of India’ because of his success in uniting the nation”.

Express said Trump insisted Modi and Imran Khan “get together and working something out on Kashmir.” It writes, Trump “stopped short of blaming Pakistan for supporting terrorism, and pointed to Iran as the biggest state sponsor of terror.”

Hindu says that “despite Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal’s presence in New York to conclude a trade package with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the two sides failed to bridge the gap in their positions”. It quotes Trump, “We will have a trade deal soon. We will have a bigger trade deal down the road.” Hindu adds that “the prospects of an agreement unravelled due to the failure to reach an agreement on Information and communications technology products”.

UK Supreme Court verdict: Hindu writes that “in a humiliating rebuke to” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the UK Supreme Court ruled that his “decision to shut down Parliament for five weeks in the run-up to Brexit was unlawful”. Express states that this decision “badly undermined Boris Johnson’s authority”. It adds the “historic move by Britain Supreme Court offered a ringing endorsement of Parliament’s sovereignty and slapped down what it viewed as Johnson’s attempt to use executive power to silence the legislature”.

In its ‘Explained’ box, it adds that the UK SC “has underlined the supremacy of Parliament over the Executive and the authority of the Judiciary to rule on the lawfulness of government action”. HT and TOI give this news a fleeting mention.

Indian Supreme Court: The Indian Supreme Court also makes it to the front pages of HT, TOI and Express for. TOI reports that SC “waded into uncharted territory, asking the Centre to frame guidelines to regulate social media and put in place a mechanism to track origin of fake news, rumours and objectionable material like pornography on social media platforms.”

Chinmayanand case: TOI reports the shocking development in the Chinmayanand case: “Chinmayanand case: Drama as SIT tries to ‘whisk away’ law student”. It reports that the special investigation team tasked to probe two cases involving BJP leader Chinmayanand caused a scare to the 23-year-old complainant,” when they “stopped her while she was on way to court and tried to ‘whisk her’ away”. Hindu, HT, too makes notes of this news.

Only Express reports that “three members of the family of Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa are under the scanner of the Income Tax”.

Opinion

HT: In ‘It is time to act on the climate threat’, the newspaper describes PM Modi and young Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, as “two persuasive speakers” who spoke at the United Nations Climate Action Summit last week in New York.

Thunberg warned world leaders that “business as usual strategies” won’t solve the climate crisis while Modi raised the point of “less wasteful behaviour”, explains HT. Despite Modi’s bold speech, the Indian government still needs to “strengthen its climate adaptation plans”, writes the newspaper, given that only a fraction of the Union Budget has been allocated to the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC) and is 16 per cent lower than what was allocated in 2018-19.

HT recommends a trifecta of “policy, budgetary support, and a people’s movement”, which can do well to alleviate the poor and marginalised who are most affected by climate crisis.

TOI: In ‘Oneness Fixation’, TOI criticises Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent remarks on the efficacy of an all-encompassing smart card, especially when the cost effective Aadhaar project has been widely-accepted. “There is no merit” in the idea of having a singular smart card, writes TOI. It identifies the theme of oneness in Shah’s proposition “but oneness cannot be a universal panacea” as it can threaten the “diversity [that] runs in India’s DNA”. PM Modi showcased this diversity in Houston by saying “everything is fine” in different languages, notes TOI.

The government should focus on data protection and privacy “through appropriate legislation”, writes TOI, instead of single, unified databases that are more vulnerable to data breaches.

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