This week on NL Hafta, it’s an all-Newslaundry panel of Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Raman Kirpal, Jayashree Arunachalam and Anand Vardhan.
The discussion kicks off with how Covid hasn’t affected voter turnout in the Bihar Assembly election. Anand doesn’t think the turnout of 54.26 percent is “significantly higher” than the past but it’s good enough, given the apprehension that the pandemic would discourage voting. “Far from discouraging voters, it encouraged more to come out,” he says.
Talking about Tejashwi Yadav’s electoral campaign, Anand says, “He recognises that the argument of Nitish’s government being corrupt...will not cut any ice after some time. So, he’s trying to infuse political freshness by showing himself as the face of development.”
In the context of a student being killed outside her college in Faridabad, Abhinandan brings up the kind of news that makes headlines. He says that since this crime was caught on camera, it led to it going viral on social media. Jayashree comments on the “love jihad” angle, saying: “Whenever a Muslim is involved in a crime, it turns communal...The right-wing ecosystem seizes the opportunity...It also appeals to the Islamophobia in the country, as the villain is a Muslim.”
Moving on to developments in France after a schoolteacher was beheaded, Manisha says there are many nuances to what happened. While Abhinandan points out that criticising Islam is not Islamophobia, Manisha explains the power imbalance between the Muslim population and the white population in France. “In a racially divided society like France, the (Arab) population is already alienated and will feel more alienated.” On the other hand, she adds, there’s a long history and culture of satire in France that also needs to be taken into account.
The panel also discusses the 2+2 India-US meet, Pope Francis on same-sex civil unions, and a lot more. Listen up!
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00:00 - Introduction and headlines
10:09 - The shooting at Munger and Bihar's election dynamics
33:02 - Subscriber letters
41:54 - The pope's statement on same-sex civil unions
45:55 - College student’s murder in Faridabad, media coverage
58:47 - Subscriber letters
01:01:49 - The 2+2 meet, Indian-Americans’ influence on the US election
01:06:57 - Controversial ABVP leader appointed to AIIMS Madurai board
01:13:11 - Subscriber letters
01:29:17 - France's culture of mockery and its relationship with the Islamic world
01:46:25 - Subscriber letters
01:48:16 - Recommendations
Social coalitions in Bihar - and
Produced by Aditya Varier and Lipi Vats, recorded by Anil Kumar, edited by Harshula Sharma and Samarendra K. Dash.
Transcription by Sukriti Vats.