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US media riled by Biden comments criticising it during Modi meeting

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New York, Sep 28: US President Joe Biden’s remarks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi disparaging the US press and calling the Indian reporters “better behaved” has riled up the US media.

As they sat down for their meeting on Friday and before reporters were ushed into the Oval Office, Biden was recorded on video telling Modi, “I think what we’re going to do is bring in the press. The Indian press is much better behaved than the American press. I have to watch out.”

He added, “I think, with your permission, we could not answer questions because they won’t ask any questions on point.”

Reporters raised the remarks on Monday with Biden’s Spokesperson Jen Psaki, who defended her boss saying he didn’t mean to be a hard on them.

But she pointed out that the US reporters tend to ask questions unrelated to the topic he is talking about.

Psaki said, “I think what he said is that they’re not always ‘on point.’ Now, I know that isn’t something that anyone wants to hear in here. But what I think he was conveying is, you know, today, he might want to talk about COVID vaccines; some of the questions were about that. He might want to talk about… and some of the questions are not always about the topic he’s talking about on that day. I don’t think it was meant to be a hard cut at the members of the media people he has taken questions from today and on Friday as well.”

Another reporter objected to the comparison between Indian and US media.

She said, “The Indian press is ranked 142nd in the world, according to Reporters Without Borders, for press freedoms. How does he say that about the US press compared to the Indian press?”

Psaki defended Biden’s commitment to a free press globally and also mentioned the number of times he has spoken to the media as president.

She said, “Having now worked for the President — serving in this role for nine months, having seen that he’s taking questions from the press more than 140 times, including today and Friday — that he certainly respects the role of the press, the role of the freedom of free press.”

“We ensure that we have press with us, of course, when we travel; that we have press with us for sprays in foreign — in foreign capitals; and we will continue to. And I think that should speak to his commitment to freedom of press around the world,” she added.

The France-based Reporters Without Borders index is often cited by some in the Indian media and by western organisations as an authoritative ranking.

In fact, it is only an unscientific opinion poll of pre-selected persons that produces some bizarre rankings.

The US is itself ranked at 44, below Burkina Faso, and Gabon.

A more thorough study by Freedom House lists those two countries as “Not Free”.

Even western countries like Britain and Germany that are listed above the US have more restrictive media laws and censorship in some cases.

Biden has criticised reporters as being “negative”.

After his meeting with Russian President Vladimit Putin in Geneva in June, he told US reporters, “Look, to be a good reporter, you’ve got to be negative. You’ve got to have a negative view of life, it seems to me,” Biden told reporters. “You never ask a positive question.”

Modi does not hold open news conferences and face the media like Biden.

Biden has a prepared list of reporters that he calls up at his news conferences and refers to notes as he answers, although he also sometimes calls up reporters spontaneously.

He also has spontaneous encounters when he chooses to after making a statement or when he is going to someplace.

A rotating group of reporters and other media staff put on a roster by the White House Correspondents Association always tails the president and shares its reports with the rest of the media.

Biden’s media crew tries to limit his media encounters to avoid any remarks that may go off the script and cause problems or embarrassment.

Biden’s media encounters are in sharp contrast to that of his predecessor Donald Trump who was more spontaneous — but sometimes produced gaffes, dubious facts and muddled policy pronouncements.

Trump had a very hostile relationship with most of the US media and this often erupted in personal attacks by both sides.

Trump also gave the Indian media backhanded when he met with Modi in 2019.

“You have great reporters, I wish I had reporters like this. You are doing better than anybody else. Where do you find these reporters? This is a great thing,” he told Modi after Indian reporters shot several questions about Pakistan and terrorism.

He appeared to consider their line of questioning supportive of Modi and patriotic, unlike the US media which was highly critical of him and his policies.

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Air India goes to Tata Sons, Ratan Tata tweets, Welcome Back!

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New Delhi: Finally, Air India has gone to Tata Group which emerged the highest bidder. This was a much-awaited deal for the Government of India which wanted to sell this national career from a very long time. Welcome back, Air India, tweets Ratan Tata on Tata Sons winning the bid for Air India.
An SPV of Tata Sons – the holding company of conglomerate – has emerged as successful bidder, Tuhin Kanta Pandey, secretary to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) — the government department responsible for privatisation, said.

The international service was among the first public-private partnerships in India, with the government holding 49 per cent, the Tatas keeping 25 per cent and the public owning the rest. In 1953, Air India was nationalised. The government is selling 100 per cent of its stake in the state-owned national airline, including Air India’s 100 per cent shareholding in AI Express Ltd and 50 per cent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.

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Powerful earthquake in Japan injures 32, disrupts train services

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Tokyo, Oct 8: Authorities in Japan said on Friday that a powerful earthquake which jolted the country the previous day left 32 people injured, while also disrupting train services in the Tokyo area, affecting around 368,000 passengers in total.

The earthquake that struck the capital region at 10.41 p.m. on Thursday night reached upper 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in parts of Tokyo and Saitama prefecture, reports Xinhua news agency.

The last time that people in central Tokyo faced such an intense jolt was during the massive quake of March 11, 2011, which devastated northeastern Japan and triggered a tsunami and nuclear disaster.

According to East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), the strongest earthquake for the Japanese capital in a decade caused services on the Shinkansen bullet train and 16 local train lines cancelled or delayed from late night Thursday to about 3 p.m. (local time) on Friday, resulting in many late-night train passengers stranded and a commuter disruption in the morning.

JR East have resumed train services, but many passengers were forced to wait at stations due to delays.

After a train derailed in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward, one of the areas hit hardest by the temblor, the operation of the Nippori Toneri Liner, a driverless guideway transit system in Tokyo, might remain suspended for several days, according to its operator.

The Japan Transport Safety Board has sent officials to investigate the derailment.

According to a tally by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, two in Saitama Prefecture and one in Chiba Prefecture sustained severe injuries among the 32.

Around 250 houses in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward briefly experienced power outages due to the earthquake, and water stoppages and leaks were reported in central Tokyo.

The earthquake also caused 28 cases of people being trapped in elevators in Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures, but all cases have been cleared according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism.

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India to showcase its art, culture, tradition and business prospect in Dubai

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Dubai: India is out to showcase to the world its arts and culture, rich history and tradition and opportunities that exist for individuals and corporates with its biggest pavilion of the 192 participating countries in the Expo 2020 Dubai.

The six-month-long Expo kicked off on October 1 with Dubai expecting a large number of visitors despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With the number of daily infections now well below 200 for the past week, the city has opened itself to the world. Most of the visitors are allowed to travel with a valid negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours.

However, India is still in the category that requires a valid negative PCR test certificate (with a QR code) for a test conducted within 48 hours, and a rapid PCR test report with a QR code for a test conducted at the departure airport within six hours of departure. The pavilion features a kinetic facade of 600 individual colourful blocks. The panels rotate and the facade presents a different look with each rotation, a unique representation of the country’s theme at the Expo, ‘India on the Move’.

The Indian pavilion was officially inaugurated by Piyush Goyal, Minister for Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, and Textiles who said the Pavilion “shows an India on the move, it describes a new India rejuvenated, reinvented and revitalised, which can convert any adversity into an opportunity”.

As the country comes out a deadly second wave of the pandemic, India is eager to make an impression on the world and the Expo is a great platform. Aman Puri, Consul-General of India in Dubai, said: “India at Expo 2020 Dubai will present a new and dynamic India with its never-ending opportunities.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given us a clarion call for action to all stakeholders to give a renewed push to boosting exports and Expo 2020 will provide an important platform in driving forward this national agenda.”

While art and culture has always been a staple of India’s exhibitions in foreign countries, there is a big push for innovation and industries in Dubai. The India Innovation Hub, a specially designed mobile platform, was recently launched. It showcases innovations by Indian startups and corporates across various cutting edge fields like artificial intelligence, machine learning, mobility, robotics and space. As many as 15 states and eight Union Territories are taking part in the Expo, most of them displaying food, art & culture and business opportunities. Also, present and various ministries, like textile, space and energy, as well as some of the leading business houses like Tata, Reliance, L&T and Adani.

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