Hafta letters: Changing nature of Hyderabad, France and Islam, journalists and sources

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

ByNL Team
Hafta letters: Changing nature of Hyderabad, France and Islam, journalists and sources
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Hi all

I'm a recent subscriber to Newslaundry, though I was under the impression that I was one for the longest time. And only when I tried to access an episode of Hafta at the beginning of the lockdown and was prompted to subscribe did I realise that I wasn't.

I paid the subscription fee immediately and since then, I've been hooked, not just to Hafta but podcasts in general. So thank you, NL team, for that.

I was also impressed by your campaign to get subscribers to sponsor subscriptions of students. That was a great idea to build a feeling of community.

You should also have a campaign to get people to gift subscriptions, an option I believe you're introducing. As a professional advertising copywriter (I know, the hypocrisy!), I'd like to contribute with a three-ad campaign. The jpgs are attached.

If you like them, please use them in any platform, perhaps Twitter. You can, and should, redesign these (I tried my best, but I'm no graphic designer, I'm afraid.)

As compensation, I'll accept a set of your sab ki dhulai soap set 😐.

Namit Saxena

***

Dear Newslaundry,

It’s been long since I wrote or have been a subscriber. I regret not being a subscriber. While I had my reasons, I still felt I should have renewed it earlier. I write this letter from a flood-affected Hyderabad, sitting on a rooftop with no power for the last eight days. Yeah, it has been eight days since I saw the power indicator blink and right now, it will feel like nothing short of a miracle if it happens.

I moved to Hyderabad in 2009 and have seen so many changes in 11 years that sometimes, I don’t recall the city I fell in love with so many years back. Hyderabad has become everything I hated about Bangalore: unchecked traffic, countless high-rise apartments killing the ever so small green of the city, the government and municipality looking to make a buck from every corner, and lastly, the crowd who will be happier to trade hundreds of trees for a few pubs and breweries.

The city has lost its soul while indulging in a rat race to attract billion-dollar corporates who could not care less than the devil. In the last four years, I moved from three different places in the city due to waterlogging and yet I ended up at a place that's been waterlogged between four and six feet for over six days. What was the most astonishing part was everywhere I asked, when citizens complained, the MLAs and counsellors gave a rat's ass about the issue and requested us to have "patience".

We might all be debating 24x7 about the government's inability to handle heavy rainfall but I can assure myself that despite various talks, nobody will actually be talking about climate change or working to better it. I have see green pastures near my office being flattened to build IKEA, ITC hotel, large offices, and multi-million dollar apartments, and all these resulted in the nearby lakes flooding after heavy rainfall, while the not-so-fortunate citizens living nearby suffered the wrath.

My brother-in-law, who works in the government's oceanic department in Hyderabad, has hundreds of stories where delegates of countries wasted hours and money discussing climate change while the government slept on those reports. Lastly, I believe as citizens, if we don't understand climate change and its impact, the talks of it on news channels or podcast shows won't make a dent.

Regards

Tariqur Rahman

***

Hi,

First time writing in. Love your work yada yada yada. Manisha is the best et cetera et cetera. Don't wanna spend too much time stating the obvious.

Recently came across this article (comic?) by the Ken. I'm sure you know how fantastic the Ken is though I'm not sure if they would count as a competitor to Newslaundry.

Please, please, please find the time to go through this. It offers great insight into the media industry and why it is so broken. Everyone keeps saying media is broken, media is broken, but I have never seen anyone point this out before.

I would love to see this discussed on Hafta.

Haroon Beg

***

Hello Newslaunderers,

Congratulations on the new website, can't wait for it to come up. No ill will but the current website really needed the overhaul.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Hafta 298. It is nice that you have increased the diversity (and the sagacity) of the panel with the addition of Jayashree, and that you are giving more discussion time to South-related news, although I do think you could have focused a bit more on the Jagan versus Justice NV Ramana issue rather than just mentioning it in passing, 'cause I was looking forward to your opinion on that, and the media gag issued by the Andhra High Court. It's really blown up into a big issue here.

Also, have you considered allotting time slots for discussing issues related to the South and the Northeast? That way you won't be accused (like I just did) of leaving out any important information from any region. Other than that, great job and keep up with the good work.

PS: Tell Manisha that she is my favourite.

Cheers,

Prerana S

***

Hi NL,

This is with respect to the latest Hafta, but it is mostly stemming from what Manisha has said in the past about schools and education.

The 12-year-old student who contacted you is at a very impressionable age. Honestly, advice like schools are bad, teachers are bad, textbooks are bad, etc is harmful (what Manisha has said many times in the past Haftas). I absolutely don't mind Abhinandan's advice of enjoying this phase of your life though.

VA, I too have had a rebellious school time. Our whole class was once asked to stand out of our school because we didn't agree with something. But my buddies and I also studied and played hard. My classmates now hold positions in defence, some have gone on to become respectable teachers, professors, doctors, musicians, etc. Some of us played for our city's sports teams while we were in school. (Our school was truly awesome, even if I didn't agree with everything.)

Each of us has a finite amount of time here. You want to be able to create maximum impact with your allotted time. The best way to do that is to get to a position where you can induce maximum change and shape lots of lives, like being a teacher, a politician, a policymaker, etc. Thus, taking your studies seriously while being very conscious of the outside world (which you are doing) is definitely a great way to go.

VA, it already sounds like you are in a school with a decent infrastructure, more than what most Indians can afford. Take all the good that it has to offer you, and be cognizant of what is not so good.

Schools and education are very important! We want good, well-informed and well-rounded leaders.

Shashank Kanade

***

Hello NL Hafta team,

This is my second email to you as your last episode (299) gave me a lot to think about regarding the parallels between science and journalism. I will not be able to delve into the specifics of it due to the word limit but what really got me thinking was the discussion on sources and Abhinandan mentioning that information from sources needs to be corroborated in other ways to present a good story. This is similar to working on a research project where one experiment does not provide sufficient evidence to support a given hypothesis. A good scientific story is one where a hypothesis is rigorously tested from multiple angles to reach firm conclusions. I would also like to know: when journalists are starting out, how do they go about establishing credible sources? Do the motives of sources matter while building a story?

I love watching Newsance, even though Manisha has to pay a heavy price for it. As a neuroscience researcher, if given unlimited time and resources I would love to have Manisha as an experimental subject and make her sit in an fMRI machine while she watches Republic and observe the different brain regions being activated. I think this would make for a great scientific study. I also suspect that over a period of time, constant exposure to Republic TV will lead to loss of a substantial number of neurons in the brain region (sorry, that went dark quickly!). I hope Manisha is being compensated fairly just for that and it is essential that she is allowed to take vacations more frequently.

I love the work you are doing and listening to NL Hafta keeps me informed of major issues in India (being in Memphis for the last six years) and also provides me with unique perspectives. Thank you for that!!

PS: Does Chetan Bhagat have some dirt on all of you that he keeps getting called on NL and is defended so vigorously by Abhinandan? If that is the case, I totally get it and will not hold it against the NL team.

Best wishes

Tanushree Pandit

***

Hi Hafta team,

Just wanted to opine on Abhinandan's query on why the BJP is strong in Karnataka but not in Kerala, though there is a strong RSS presence in both states. There are a couple of reasons.

One is demography. Kerala has less than 54 percent Hindus while Karnataka has 85 percent Hindu population. The other reason is that Kerala does not have a history of Muslim rule while Karnataka has had centuries of it, especially in the north of the state, so it's hard to motivate the Hindus of Kerala with historical grievances when none exists.

The same lack of historical grievance is also present in Tamil Nadu which again had minimal Muslim rule. On the other hand, Karnataka and the two Telugu states are ripe for BJP expansion. It's a general pattern in India. Where there has been historic Muslim rule, the BJP is strong (north, west, some parts of the south), and where there is none, the BJP is weak (the far east, Kerala, Tamil Nadu).

Thank you.

Harish Nair

***

Dear Newslaundry,

I am writing to you from Paris, a city I call home and that feels a little besieged on several fronts at the moment. I would like to therefore apologise for the slightly pessimistic tone of this mail.

Over the last two weeks, I have found it impossible to contain my sense of horror and revulsion at the brutal killing of a French middle school teacher. I remember as a student how deeply one appreciated teachers who tried to connect the often abstract, cookie-cutter contents of the syllabus to the real world around us. Mr Samuel Paty was doing exactly this when he decided to show those caricatures that sealed his fate. His death comes on the heels of multiple terrorist attacks in this country whose stated aim was to avenge insults to the Prophet.

I wonder what sullies the Prophet’s name more: a few misguided cartoons, or the spilling of innocent blood in his name? The French state is far from blameless in its hounding of minorities, arrogant, racist attitudes, and a pervasive culture of Islamophobia that has only gained ground in this country. At the same time, there is a genuine sense of outrage amongst ordinary Muslims at perceived insults to their faith. Blinding ourselves to either fact would be deeply unhelpful and intellectually dishonest. In the end, I fear acts such as these are only going to deepen the divisions within a society that is finding it increasingly hard to maintain its pluralist character.

Greatly appreciate the work you are doing at Newslaundry, and please keep the Haftas coming.

Thank you,

Nachiket Joshi

***

Abhinandan asked the listeners to check out NL's previous works in the previous episode. I'd like to inform you that I've tried in the past, and as much as I love the old (soon-to-be-updated) website, it isn't really suited for the task. NL's Twitter handle does a good job with its NL archive initiative, but it would be nice if things were more accessible.

So, I'd like to recommend that the NL team compile their favourite pieces (could be their own fav NL work, or other NL pieces that they consider significant) and give us the links in one place. The cheapest, and most convenient, way, I guess, would be to create Instagram story highlights on your IG page. But you can also do videos which also give us the context. Articles on your website (with links) can also do the same context supplying. I hope you're getting what I'm trying to say😅.

Gratitude and love,

Vignesh

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