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NEW YORK: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the high-level meeting to mark 75th anniversary of the United Nations and the General Debate next week and the vision he outlines will be truly significant, especially on the eve of India entering the Security Council, according to India’s envoy to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti.

The annual session of the UN General Assembly begins on September 21 with the high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

To mark the historic occasion, the 193 UN member states will adopt a forward-looking political declaration, negotiated through an intergovernmental process, on the theme of ‘The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism.’

“Prime Minister’s address to the UN and the vision he outlines will be truly significant, especially on the eve of our entering the UN Security Council,” Tirumurti told PTI.

Tirumurti said on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the UN, as a founding member of the UN, he recalls with “pride the significant and, in many ways, the pioneering contribution of India to the success of UN’s work and for peace and development across the world.”

Modi will address this special event through a pre-recorded video statement. The General Debate will commence on September 22 and run through September 29.

Modi will deliver the national statement on September 26 through a pre-recorded video statement.

The vision Modi outlines at these two high-level meetings will be closely watched as it comes ahead of India taking a seat at the powerful UN Security Council as an elected non-permanent member for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2021.

An effective response to international terrorism, reforming multilateral systems, comprehensive approach to peace and security, technology with a human touch and inclusive solutions to foster development are India’s priorities for its UNSC tenure and these are reflected in the declaration that the UN will adapt to mark 75 years of its founding.

Last year, Modi travelled to New York to attend the high-level annual General Assembly session after addressing a mega diaspora event ‘Howdy, Modi!’ held on September 22. US President Donald Trump also addressed the gathering of over 50,000 Indian-Americans.

This year, for the first time in the UN’s 75-year history, Heads of State and Government will not be arriving in New York for the General Assembly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have submitted pre-recorded video statements for the various summits and sessions that will be played in the iconic General Assembly hall.

Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change Prakash Javadekar will address the UN Summit on Biodiversity, which will be convened by the President of the General Assembly on September 30 under the theme of ‘Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development’.

India is a leading contributor to “climate action” and over the past few years, it has reduced 38 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

In the course of the last decade, around 3 million hectares of forest and tree cover has been added, which has enhanced the combined forest and tree cover to 24.56 per cent of the total geographical area of the country.

Going forward, India aims to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land and achieve land-degradation neutrality by 2030 and the country has set additional targets of eliminating single-use plastic by 2022 and installing 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030.

Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani will address the High-level meeting on the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women – Beijing +25 on October 1.

The theme of the event, coming in the 25th anniversary year of the historic world conference in Beijing on the advancement and equality of women, is ‘Accelerating the realisation of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls’.


This week, in a significant victory, India got elected as Member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the principal global body focused on gender equality and women empowerment, beating China in a hotly-contested election in the year that marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing World Conference on Women.


A High-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons will be held on October 2.


The landmark 75th anniversary of the UN comes amid the Covid-19 pandemic raging across the world that has in 2020 so far infected more than 30 million people and will soon reach a grim milestone of over a million deaths.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

EC action against BJP’s Imarti Devi over poll code violations

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NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Saturday imposed a 24-hour campaign ban on BJP leader Imarti Devi due to poll code violations.

“BJP leader Imarti Devi has been barred from holding, anywhere in MP, public meetings, public processions, public rallies, roadshows and interviews, public utterances in media in connection with ongoing elections for one day on November 1,” the poll panel said.

Earlier this week, the election commission had issued a notice to Imarti Devi, who is contesting a bypoll in Madhya Pradesh, for allegedly describing an unnamed political rival as “insane” and making remarks against women members of his family.

Devi, who is also a minister in the Madhya Pradesh government, did not name the political rival in a video on social media.

According to the transcript of the video, Imarti Devi said after the person left the chief minister’s post in Madhya Pradesh, he became “insane” (pagal).

Devi was involved in another incident earlier when senior Congress leader Kamal Nath called her an “item” during an election rally. Following his remarks, Nath was served a notice by the EC and later removed as Congress’ “star campaigner”.

Bypolls to 28 Madhya Pradesh assembly seats will be held on November 3.

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INDIA

Covid-19: Indian students speak of depression and isolation at UK universities under lockdown, some plan to return to India

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LONDON: Indian students in Manchester have spoken of their isolation and depression at being stuck in their rooms all day since all teaching went online and the city moved into a harsh lockdown owing to rising Covid-19 cases.

Five joined a protest outside the university offices holding placards saying “Are we paying £22k for this?” and “Was it worth me flying from India to attend an online class?”. The students want greater offline social activities, blended teaching, mental health support and a reduction in fees.

“I have not experienced 5% of university life this year. It was our last year to have fun and live university life. Now everything is ruined,” said Danish Hussain (21) of Ajmer, in the final year of his £15k-a-year undergraduate degree in tourism management at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). He returned to India in the spring, when Covid cases were rising, and returned in September expecting teaching to be blended.

But on October 7, the University of Manchester (UoM) and MMU moved all teaching online after young people accounted for 55% of Covid-19 cases. On October 23 the city went into a Tier 3 lockdown.

“I don’t know why they can’t divide us into groups and do face-to-face learning with social distancing. The teachers come on video chat but I’m not getting to interact with classmates. We don’t have anywhere to go. You can’t meet new people. Everyone is stressed,” he said. “There used to be so many house parties in Manchester, now it is dead.”

He is staying alone in a house-share as less students have come because of Brexit and Covid-19, he said.

MMU told TOI it had increased investment in its counselling services and from November 2 it will offer up to three hours of on-campus activity each week.

“The isolation is the worst part. It makes you feel so demotivated. The main struggle is not money, it is mental health,” said Shubhi Verma, 25, from Bhopal, who is doing an intellectual property masters at the UoM costing £19,500 a year. “I could have done this in India and saved a lot of money. There are no contact hours with the professor. How can you create a relationship online? Online teaching is on Zoom but there is a lack of interaction. We have to stay in a bubble and can only interact with people we live with. We want more pastoral support. The societies have become WhatsApp groups. We are sat in our rooms and it is depressing,” Verma said.

“I think if you meet people in person you feel more pressured to do your work. Now no one feels bothered. People are not doing their work properly. I am just watching Netflix, eating and sleeping,” she said.

The UoM said online teaching would be reviewed on November 11, that the campus remained open, and insisted there were lots of activities.

“Many Indian students want to go back to India at Christmas and stay until the spring. They don’t see the point of being here as their courses are all online, student bars are closing and a lot of events are online. Already 50% didn’t come back in September,” Indian National Students Association UK president Amit Tiwari said.

Ahaan Gupta, 20, a third year undergraduate student of PPE at LSE, is doing just that. He went back in March and has not returned.

“I am at home with my parents and there is less chance of catching it here whereas in the UK there are so many possible interactions in a student halls of residence. The quality of teaching at LSE is really good online. It is the same as offline,” he said. Ahaan is paying £19,000 a year but doing the course from his parents’ home in Delhi.

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After slamming NHAI officials for ‘inefficiency’, Gadkari says his remarks meant for just a few

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NEW DELHI: Barely days after hitting out at NHAI and terming a section of its senior officials as “inefficient” and slamming them for adopting delaying tactics, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday said his remarks were aimed at only a few officials.

The minister said he was pained at the inordinate delay in completing construction work for a new NHAI office building.

Addressing an event of industry lobby ASSOCHAM on “Advanced Digital Technology & Policy for Infrastructure with special focus on Tunnel Engineering” on Saturday, Gadkari said a few days back he had pulled up NHAI officials while inaugurating the new NHAI building as its construction took eight years while it should have been done in two years.

“I was deeply hurt due to the inordinate delay. There are good people in NHAI, my ministry and NHIDCL including the NHAI chairman, secretary in the ministry and managing director of NHIDCL. There are hundreds of good engineers. My unhappiness was against only a few people,” he said.

The minister said while the NHAI was accelerating to complete the Rs 1 lakh crore Delhi-Mumbai Expressway project in three years, it was a bad show to complete such a small building project in eight years.

The minister’s comment had left several NHAI officials disheartened. “There was a lot of misconception as the minister’s speech went viral on social media. The highway construction has increased in recent years, which is the main parameter to assess performance. NHAI is not a building construction agency. Ideally, this project should have been assigned to a agency which is into construction of buildings,” said a senior NHAI official.

NHAI had recorded highest ever highway construction in 2019-20 at 3,979 km and the highways ministry as a whole had recorded maximum ever highway construction at 10,855 in 2018-19. Last year, it reduced marginally to 10,237 km.

During his address at the ASSOCHAM event, Gadkari said private contractors, after getting works, should not adopt tactics to “delay works, escalate costs and then go for arbitration to extract more money” from the government. He urged them to bag more work and earn profit by completing the projects in time.

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