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os supersonic cruise missile from a stealth destroyer of the Indian Navy, intelligence agencies investigating schools in Jammu & Kashmir and an expert panel giving hope on controlling the minimal active symptomatic infections by February-end, are some of the stories that made headlines today.

Here is a look at the top 10 news stories from the day

1

BrahMos supersonic cruise missile successfully test fired from INS Chennai

A naval version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully test-fired from an indigenously built stealth destroyer of the Indian Navy in the Arabian Sea on Sunday, officials said. The missile was fired from INS Chennai, a stealth destroyer, and it hit the target with pin-point accuracy after performing “extremely complex” manoeuvres, they said.

In the last few weeks, India has test fired a number of missiles including a new version of the surface-to-surface supersonic cruise missile BrahMos and anti-radiation missile Rudram-1.

2

Lens on J&K schools ‘motivating kids to become terrorists’: DGP

Some school-cum-religious-education-centres in Shopian and Pulwama are under the watch of intelligence agencies and Jammu & Kashmir police for allegedly using the facade of formal education to identify vulnerable pupils and motivate them to work for terrorist outfits active in the Valley, TOI has learnt.

“Many schools in Shopian and Pulwama belt are inspired by Deobandi ideology and/or are affiliated to Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI). JeI J&K was declared an ‘unlawful association’ under UAPA in February last year.

3

Sunil Narine cleared of suspect bowling action

In a big boost for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), their ace spinner Sunil Narine was on Sunday cleared of a suspect action by the IPL authorities, almost a week after he was reported for chucking against Kings XI Punjab.

4

Covid-19 peak over, India can control pandemic by Feb 2021: Govt-appointed panel

A committee, headed by IIT professor M Vidyasagar, constituted to evolve a national supermodel for Covid-19 progression in order to help the government make short term and medium-term plans and decisions, on Sunday concluded that India has already crossed its Covid-19 peak in mid-September and will record minimal active symptomatic infections by early next year if safety protocols are followed.

The committee said that Covid-19 pandemic can be controlled with minimal active symptomatic infections by February-end next year if all safety protocols are followed, a government-appointed committee has said.

5

Desi scientist’s work on ‘extreme’ life key to decoding existence on Mars

For a decade, Dr Ram Karan has been looking for the answer to one question — how does life survive, and thrive, in extreme conditions? While he looked for answers on earth, the discovery of liquid “water” bodies (as opposed to frozen) on Mars with exactly the kind of extreme conditions he analyses means his work could hold the key to understanding extraterrestrial life.

The 37-year-old enzymology research scientist at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia has been studying extremophiles, microorganisms that thrive in inhospitable conditions — no oxygen, sub-zero temperatures, salt content that would kill most organisms — of the Red Sea, Antarctica and others.

6

Maharashtra governor could have been restrained in choice of words to Uddhav Thackeray: Amit Shah

Union home minister Amit Shah on a Saturday frowned upon Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s ‘secular’ jibe against chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, saying he should have been restrained in choice of the words he used in the letter.

“I have gone through the letter. He has made a passing reference. However, I also feel that he should have been more restrained in the choice of his words,’ Shah said in a TV interview.

7

India sees eight IPOs worth $850 mln in Sep quarter: Report

Eight Indian companies came out with IPOs worth USD 850 million in the three months to September and the second half of this year is likely to be “significantly better” in terms of raising funds from the primary market, according to an EY report. EY India IPO Trends Report Q3 2020 also showed that real estate, hospitality and construction and technology and telecommunications were the most active sectors with two IPOs launched in each sector.

8

Pakistan fails to fulfil 6 key mandates of FATF

Pakistan’s failure to fulfil six key obligations of the FATF, including action against two of India’s most wanted terrorists Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed, and the sudden disappearance of more than 4,000 terrorists from its official list will most likely lead to its continuation in the ‘grey list’ of the Global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, officials said on Sunday.

9

US, EU block India’s fight for IPR waiver for Covid drugs

The US, European Union, the UK and Switzerland, along with Brazil, have not supported India and South Africa’s proposal at the World Trade Organisation for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights to address drug and other issues related to Covid-19.

10

After fuel, power consumption up 11% in 1st half of October

India consumed 11 per cent more power in the first fortnight of October than it did a year ago, underlining an uptick in industrial and commercial activities. Government data pegged power consumption at more than 55 BU (billion units) in the first half of the month against 49.67 BU during the previous comparative period.

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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