Hafta Letters: On JNU, Transgender Persons Bill, and more
NL Dhulai

Hafta Letters: On JNU, Transgender Persons Bill, and more

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

By NL Team

Published on :

Hello NL team,

Please don’t mention my name.

I am a ‘long time” (I subscribed for a short period of time a long time ago and I have subscribed again recently as I am currently living outside India) subscriber and I appreciate your work. Although I fit the stereotype of a Newslaundry subscriber Abhinandan believes in, I am basically a moron.

1. Firstly, regarding the Science vs. Arts debate,

Did you guys start this debate just to engage your audience and get responses? Just asking.

I have studied Bachelor in Design(Artsy wala design not engineering design) at an IIT. I went in through JEE and even though I wanted to study Theoretical  Physics, I had to choose Design because of pressure from family and “mentors”. They associated physics with a dead-end lecturer/academic job and they have heard that Design pays well. I believe the bias is not against STEM & Business vs Arts, it’s just high-income vs. low-income prospects. This is true in other societies as well, for example, lawyers and law students in the US.

I concede that many of the students from IITs end up pursuing money, but there are a few exceptions as well. UPSC 2019 AIR 1 and AIR 2 are both IIT grads, I happen to know that the AIR 2 guy had a 15-20 lakhs/annum job offer from Samsung R&D in 2017 and gave it up to prepare for UPSC. Even the IIT/IIM grads who end up working in IT jobs for their entire life are not after luxuries, just the fees you pay for an IIT/IIM degree in 2019 is about 9/20 Lakhs respectively and 3-5 years of coaching for JEE is not cheap. Even at a 15 lakh annual salary, it will take over two years to recoupe the money and buying a basic apartment 2-3 years after graduation will tie them to the job for another 8-10 years.

One of the panellists view on the left brain vs right brain is uninformed, science requires creative thinking and the ability to imagine abstract ideas. Mathematical reasoning and Language are both represented on the left hemisphere of the brain which makes it crucial for studying liberal arts and sciences.

2. Why is your tech so bad?

Everything from the UX to loading speed is sub-optimal and I found an obvious bug in your payment flow (the most crucial part of the business I am guessing) that should have been easily caught by QA. I have even sent an email regarding the bug from the same email id in case you want to look it up.

3. Can someone please let me know what happened to Anand R.?

Thanks and regards,



Hi Manisha,

You mentioned income tax collected in India is 3% and the rest are indirect taxes. Please see the link below for a detailed break-up.

I understand the emotive issue around students of JNU. But it’s important to give the right facts. I am for student subsidies, but to say only 3% of income tax comes from tax collection is preposterous. If your dear friends Sudhir, Navika and Arnab had given wrong data like this, you would have roasted them. Probably you made this error without knowing the facts( which is ok)and others (mainstream media) peddle lies openly. That is the main difference. Keep up the great work team.




Hello team NL,

During the JNU discussion, you have completely dismissed the ’student age’ argument, with 2 valid points

1. It does take a long time to complete a PhD/MPhil etc.

2. Not all people are privileged enough to have an early, and uninterrupted education.

But, I think most people who make the ‘age’ argument, are talking about the third category of students who join the institution, and then, do not complete the course in time. They linger on in the institutions more than twice as long as it takes an average student to complete the same course. (We even have movies references like DJ in Rang de Basanti fantasising about staying in college forever.)

We all have had such friends, who are such ’super senior’ thugs who run the college student bodies/gangs.

I think it will be good if you clarify that

1. Most institutions have rules which prevent such behaviour. e.g. our engineering course had a limit of 8 years, after which you’ll be disqualified

2. The number of such students is so low that it hardly matters. If possible, maybe you can get the number from JNU to justify how insignificant this is.


Swapnil Luktuke


Hi team NL Hafta,

Was listening to the Transgender Bill debate. I’m not familiar with the bill so would restrict my observation regarding how/who should identify whether someone is transgender or not. I heard Abhinandan commenting about the issue of transgender athletes.

That very issue highlights the problems with the self-identification of transgender individuals. Gender, as we know is an identity unlike sex of a person which is a biological binary with few exceptions in intersex. Like all identities ( caste, race, nationality etc), gender too, is a social construct with no true essential nature inside in it. Meaning just as there is no true Indian, true black person etc there’s no true gender stereotype.

But unfortunately, we need valid methods for categorising whether a person belongs to a particular identity or not if we have to make sure that affirmative actions intended for them aren’t misused by those who are not part of that group. There’s a passport stating nationality. There’s a caste certificate for caste-based reservation.

The problem in athletics today Is that We don’t have unisex sports. The reason why we don’t have it is cuz there’s a reservation category in athletics which we call a woman’s category. The general category is men’s category. So there are only two ways out of it. Make athletics unisex or make sure that “ men” are not competing in “ woman’s” category.  Most gender issues in athletics today are cuz of “self-identified” trans woman competing in woman’s category making the women competition almost obsolete for cis women.

The same issue is going to come up once affirmative actions are stated for transgender people.  People are just gonna misuse the self-identification process to gain access. So there has to be a valid point of identification for transgender. If the government or any agency has to recognise an individual as transgender what identification method you think will be a valid one?