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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Daily Briefing: Revisiting India’s Board toppers over the decades; Farmers announce resumption of talks

From the future of the futuristic Hyperloop transportation system in India, to the MP government's tough 'love jihad' bill; here are today's top stories

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | December 27, 2020 8:49:30 am
top news briefing today, top news today, india latest news today, air india express crash, air india kozhikode crash, air india plane crash, india china border news, sushant singh rajput suicide cbi probe, bihar floods, ayodhya ram templeA look at the top news today, January 23, 2021.

Good morning!

Big story 

One’s a cancer physician in New York; another is a PhD fellow at MIT; one is a Harvard professor; one a hedge fund manager in Singapore — and as many as 11 are working for Google. Ambition and talent has taken some of India’s national school board toppers to places far and wide. In part-1 of an investigation by The Indian Express, we look back at the last two decades to find out where they are now. 

From the Front Page

Farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders have announced they will resume talks with the Centre on December 29. Farmer unions warned that the agitation, which is now a month old, will be intensified  by increasing blockades on highways of Delhi NCR if the talks do not lead to a tangible solution.

Describing the just-concluded maiden District Development Council elections as “a moment of pride” for India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the BJP had pulled out of the J-K government on “the issue of panchayat elections”. He also took a swipe at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi pointing out that municipal and panchayat elections have not yet been held in Congress-ruled Puducherry despite Supreme Court orders.

The CBI has filed a contempt plea before the Supreme Court, seeking to link Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with some of the accused and charging her government with showing “constant, deliberate and wilful non-cooperation” in the Saradha chit fund scam probe. It also said that one of the accused in the case  “revealed that the Chief Minister, West Bengal, and promoter of M/s Saradha Group Shri Sudipta Sen had very good relationship”

Only in the Express

“We are not all about speed…We don’t sell speed, we sell time,” said Josh Giegal, co-founder of American firm Virgin Hyperloop and one of the first people in the world to take the transport system involving levitating test pods travelling at high speeds. It may not be long before the futuristic mode of transport connects cities in India. But many hurdles stand in its way. 

P Chidambaram writes on work, wealth and welfare: “In a democracy, good or bad, the cause being external factors or internal developments, the government must bear responsibility. The government may be well-intentioned, get the best available advice or may have committed unintended errors, but the buck stops with the government.”

Must read

The MP government claimed to have set into motion “the most stringent” law in the country against ‘love jihad’. With jail terms and fines going up to 10 years and Rs 1 lakh, it proposes higher penalties as compared to the law in UP. It also lays down a provision for maintenance to the woman concerned and the right to father’s property for a child born to a couple whose marriage is declared null and void as per the bill. 

Indians are not new to social and physical distancing. Long before the pandemic, there were separate lifts and staircases for “service” staff. Private gardens restricted access to “non-residents”. It is no secret that most upper-caste households keep separate cups and plates for domestic workers. Annie Zaidi explores the politics of touch. 

As the farmer agitation at the Singhu border enters its second month, the scale of the protests grows bigger by the day and so does the paraphernalia around it. The latest addition? Farmer unions have installed eight CCTV cameras to monitor the crowd. “These cameras give us a bird’s eye view of the protest since there are so many people coming in now,” says Gurdeep Singh of Sanyukt Kisan Mocha, who manages the CCTV department. 


In an attempt to move away from unrealistic cut-off marks for admissions to universities, the UGC set up a seven-member committee to consider the issue of holding a common entrance test at the undergraduate level in central universities. 

Responding to the controversy over media reports that Visva-Bharati University has named him among those “occupying additional illegal plot”, Nobel laureate and economist Amartya Sen said that the land is registered in records and is on a long-term lease.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut called for expanding the scope of UPA and said that more parties need to be brought under its fold to strengthen the opposition and take on the dictatorial tendencies of the BJP. 

A was hacked to death allegedly by his wife’s father and uncle in Kerala’s Palakkad district on Friday night in a suspected case of “honour killing”. Both of them have been arrested, police said.

A series of explosions hit the Afghan capital of Kabul on Saturday morning, killing at least two police officers and wounding another two plus a civilian, officials said.

And Finally

If the Rashtrapati Bhavan is an architectural marvel, the 15-acre Mughal Gardens surrounding it are its soul. The lush landscape, designed to display colonial power and style, was once a secluded oasis for the private enjoyment of the viceroy. This was reoriented to serve the sovereign democratic republic after Independence. Pawan Kumar Sain writes about the rich history of the Rashtrapati Bhavan gardens. 

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

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