Hafta Letters: The illusion of a monolithic Hindu identity, timestamps, interview suggestions
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Hafta Letters: The illusion of a monolithic Hindu identity, timestamps, interview suggestions

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

By NL Team

Published on :

Hello, Abhinandan and NL team,

You guys are doing some great work, and I am a proud subscriber. I am a vocal advocate of your work, often forcing my family and friends to check out some of the great work you guys do.

I am currently a student pursuing my Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering in the US. As a student, I am looking forward to contributing to Newslaundry in more ways than just passively subscribing. I am especially interested in science-communication and spreading general awareness on science-related topics to a broader audience. Let me know if I can be of any help to NL on this front.

I must highlight that it is a pleasure to listen to other subscribers on NL Hafta. Listening to them articulate their views is such a treat — you have a diverse and fantastic subscriber base which you should leverage. I love the work you do with Hafta letters. It would be great if NL has a platform for further integrating subscribers (in writings, recordings, or podcasts) into their platform.

A few quick suggestions for Hafta:

Please include a timestamp for the various topics discussed in a Hafta episode. I often go back and listen to older episodes for specific topics of interest. Timestamps make looking to specific topics very easy.

I also think it would be great if you could let the subscribers know in advance (maybe even a day or hours in advance) who the guests would be in the upcoming Hafta. I desperately wanted to ask a few questions to some of the guests you had previously (Joanna Slater, Faye D'Souza, etc). I think this would be another way for us subscribers to try and reach people we otherwise would not be able to.

In the meantime, given the transfer of the recent Delhi High Court judge following the Delhi riots. I would like to pick the brains of the NL team on an important question. Why aren’t our institutions robust? Is it because the robustness of institutions happens over time (like in evolved democracies), and we are still a young country? Or we as a society lack moral leadership? In my opinion, the latter is not right, we have some great people, but this does not translate to the functioning of institutions as a whole.

Also, please feel free to reach out to me if you guys are ever in the US, I would love to be of any help if I can.

Keep up the great work, and looking forward to hearing from you.

Aniketh Kalur

***

Good day,

I have been meaning to write for years now, but being a muftkhor all these years (courtesy Apple podcasts) refrained from doing so (a proud subscriber now thanks to Chitranshu, who finally replied to my queries).

Two things stopped me from subscribing, glitches in your platform and Abhinandan.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very fond of Nikku. But Abhinandan talking of Highway On A Plate, all the documentaries he made, etc, really pisses me off. Dude, we all admire you. Stop being a JUICER (reference Varun Grover), don’t make it all about you.

For a long time, I was worried Newslaundry will end up being a media equivalent of AAP. But the nclusion of people like Mehraj, Manisha, Anand, Ayush, Basant and, last but not the least, Meghnad (loved his book, gifted 13 copies to people I adore) gives me hope.

I am a sailor and also a student of history and philosophy. To make up for all the freeloading I have decided to convince at least 20 people to subscribe to Newslaundry. Also, please figure out a way where we can gift subscription to others.

That is my solution to Abhinandan’s rant about bigoted loved ones.

Best,

Dipendra Singh Rathore

***

Hello Team NL,

I have been a long-time subscriber and NL Sena contributor. This is the first time I am writing to you.

What actually has pushed me to drop this email is the fabulous interview of TM Krishna by Mehraj on Krishna's book. I urge you to NOT put this interview behind the paywalls; this demands to be heard. At least make it a pinned post on your social media platforms for some time. This interview is the exact thing the liberals (including myself, I may say) need to listen to and learn a thing or two out of it. A big shout out to Mehraj as well, for conducting such an engaging conversation. It's great to have him in Hafta.

This book is definitely going to make it to my to-read list. In fact, some of the brilliant non-fiction books I read in the last couple of years are those I got to know about from NL interviews — such as Anatomy Of Hate, Mother, Where Is My Country and My Seditious Heart (an NL Hafta recommendation, I believe).

Besides the perennial technical goof-ups, I just have a few things to talk about:

- Is AAP becoming a second BJP, given their pre-/ post-election Hanuman frenzy?

- It would be great to have some reports or op-eds on various environmental and climate change-related issues. The Wire has a dedicated page on science but most of them are kind of taken almost directly out of international news and articles. Down To Earth and FII can be helpful. Especially in countries like India where energy infrastructure is still in a nascent stage, it's really important that we move in the right direction.

- When reporting or commenting on international news, don't just limit yourself to the mainstream international media. Independent media houses like Democracy Now will bring some nuance into this discourse.

- And lastly, with upcoming elections in Bihar and West Bengal, please intensively cover the regional media on TV Newsance.

I really hope Abhinandan doesn't discard my mail just because I am a Bengali. To be honest, I am kind of sick of his incessant Bengali bashing on Awful and Awesome. But I like his energy in Hafta and his interviews. Though I was disappointed to see the lack of research in his interview with Chandrasekhar Azad.

Apart from that, I thoroughly enjoy all the contents on the NL website that are in English. It would be good a give a summary of some of the reports you publish in your Hindi channel to your English page, and vice versa — for all those like myself who cannot read Hindi. I noticed in Hafta 266 when Abhinandan was giving a list of the WhatsApp groups in India, he didn't mention Kolkata/ West Bengal. Is this because you have very few subscribers from there? I am constantly nudging my friends and family to become NL subscribers :)

Keep up the good work. And please add me to the US (preferably in East Coast/ NY group, if you have any) WhatsApp group.

Sudarshana

***

Dear Newslaundrywomen/men,

Awesome work as always. This time I want to mention the NL Charcha team also, because they did an awesome job on the "Charcha 105: Delhi Riots" with DCP Vikram Singh. (My Hindi sucks, Charcha is like my very own hindi tutor).

Few inputs and suggestions:

1) Open an encrypted email for any confidential sources who want to inform or for generally paranoid people like me. (This one is free https://protonmail.com/)

2) Hindutva and Islamic issues in India.

As an agnostic/atheist spectator I am highly interested in this current religious climate because there is a small chance of me being collateral damage if this thing explodes.

As Anand and Kapil mentioned, an open discussion needs to happen about the historical context of religious tensions in our country to reach some catharsis.

Maybe you guys can start this process with some interviews of prominent Islamic and Hindu critics/experts. (I just randomly Googled these people)

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tufail_Ahmad

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_Warraq

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kancha_Ilaiah

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christophe_Jaffrelot

3) Degrading parliamentary functioning India

One of the arguments for the causes of degradation is the anti-defection law. Please report on this if possible.

https://prsindia.org/theprsblog/anti-defection-law-explained

4) My vote on Abhinandan attending news debates

A resounding yes. And please put them on YouTube under a banner of “Newslaundryman gaya news dhone”. 😂😂.

Take care,

Regards,

Chetan K

***

Regarding the discussion about lack of awareness about mediaeval atrocities by foreign invaders in our history and curriculum, I have a difference of opinion.

The underlying assumption is that the Hindu community was one monolitic entity during Indian history. For close to 3/4th of today's Hindu community, there was no such singular identity. I'm from a backward caste and I can say for sure that none of my ancestors tracing back to 2,000+ years had any access to the so-called" Hindu culture". Socially, economically, and religiously, they never shared anything with the upper castes; rather were kept out of it.

When the so-called great Hindu kings and kingdoms were defeated, looted and pillaged, for close to 3/4th of the population of that time, it meant very little as things couldn't have got any worse. They already had no access to land, religious places, social recognition or any kind of civilised culture. There was no torture, humiliation, or deprivation that an Aurangzeb or Dalhousie could have done to them that their upper caste overlords haven’t done to them.

That’s the reason why we didn’t have a Hindu nationalistic uprising against British India. What post-independent India did was for the first time in known history of India, this majority was considered as humans worthy of human rights. The flip side was that it has opened an illusion of a monolithic Hindu identity to the backward castes.

Most of the big temples started having an exponential rise is income and a Ramanand Sagar type of pan-Hindu identity illusion set in. So now we have this new-found Hindu nationalism which was never there before independence. For 75 percent-plus of Hindus of today, Islam and Christianity hasn't done any damage historically that castiesm hasn't done. If today, 80 percent of social economic and cultural capital is with 15 percent of upper castes, that has nothing to do with the East India Company or Mughals.

So I agree that theres a lack of awareness among the persecuted majority and a lack of acknowledgement from the perpetrators regarding the historical injustices. But we are looking at the wrong people.

Bimal Kumar

***

Hi team,

Congratulations on the great work that you are doing and your contribution towards keeping our society civil. I have two minor suggestions that might be useful for all the subscribers:

1. Timestamps: It would help if you can include timestamps for specific topics being discussed in the Hafta. Makes it easier to revisit certain topics.

2. Repository for verified data: Given that there are so many conflicting data points floating around, would it be possible to have a permanent section in the Newslaundry website with reputable and trustworthy sources showcasing latest numbers? (e.g. unemployment, GDP, Human Capital Index etc.) This would help all subscribers have an informed discussion / debate with others.

Thanks and best regards,

Piyush Wankhede

Newslaundry
www.newslaundry.com