Hafta letters: Vaccines and 'emergency use', UP's compulsory bond for doctors, casteism

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ByNL Team
Hafta letters: Vaccines and 'emergency use', UP's compulsory bond for doctors, casteism
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Hi NL team,

Now that you got me into reading via recommendations, so please kindly accept this ghazal recommendation of Mirza Ghalib sung by Vinod Sehgal saab.

"Koi din gar zindagaani aur hai..." (This will be an Urdu nazam for a change in one of your NL podcast Hafta/Awful & Awesome.)

Great going, NL. Always look forward to all of NL reportage.

Duagoah (In need of your prayers),

Mazhar Ali

***

Hi NL Hafta team,

I noticed one thing regarding the Hafta playback especially when Anand speaks.

For example:

In episode 310, at 40:19: Abhinandan was talking about tribal human mentality, to keep on supporting their camp no matter what, even if they don't agree with their conduct.

Suddenly at 40:45, Anand started talking about foreign policy implications which was discussed sometime earlier in the podcast.

Then, from 42:08, Abhinandan asks Jayashree to comment on his tribal psych hypothesis, completely ignoring Anand.

I have noticed this in multiple episodes, not sure if it is a technical glitch.

Thanks

Abhishek Gupta

***

Dear Hafta panelists,

I have a couple of comments on the discussion on Covid-19 vaccine approval which was discussed today. There were so many discussions on the media channels about this topic, but many missed the forest for the trees. Allow me to make a few points (hopefully staying within the word limit).

Covaxin may turn out to be a good vaccine, after all. We just do not know that yet. However:

(a) There is nothing called "emergency approval in abundance of caution in public interest" or even "restricted emergency use" in our laws and regulations. We just made this up. The fact that we stayed quiet when they did the same thing with drugs like Itolizumab, Favipiravir etc earlier this year gave the drug regulator the confidence that they can pull this off.

(b) We are now beginning to see severe adverse events (like the death in Bhopal) which are often not reported and followed up properly. We have a history of this, as you said, with the HPV trials. There is no accountability for those who blatantly violate established guardrails like informed consent. And no one seems to care about this.

(c) Many discussions in the media appeared to have not even done basic homework and figured out what questions to ask. Here is a Twitter thread in this context:

Best wishes

Dinesh Thakur

***

Hi,

I'm Rahul Dixit and I'm a doctor by profession.

This is in response to the last NL Hafta regarding the issue of a compulsory bond period which is present in certain states.

I'd like to bring to your notice that the Yogi government in UP has made the bond period 10 years post PG from this session. Now, what baffles me is the fact that there are not enough posts in government service if you plan to induct every resident for 10 years. So, most possibly, we would be expected to work in an area of need rather than an area of training (for example, a paediatrician like me can be made to work as a general practitioner), which is stupid to begin with.

Also, once the 10 years will be up, the doctor will be searching for jobs at the age of 40 because he never had the chance to create a practice in his prime, while another trained from the neighbouring state and working in the area wouldn't have the same issue.

As for the discussion about the government having the right to impose such bonds because of providing subsidised education, for one, I agree with Manisha that it is not a favour but the government's responsibility. And secondly, the residents in medical colleges are made to work many times over their abilities, like getting to go back to your room for not more than 2-3 hours a day, at times working more than 72 hours at a stretch with no sleep.

In fact, the government benefits by getting the job of five doctors done from one, and paying him even less than a full-time doctor.

There are many other issues that I can't write about in such little space. The crux being the government makes such half-baked policies to hide their inadequacies, rather than creating real solutions.

Rahul Dixit

***

Please do not read out this email or at least do not read out my name.

I just wanted to say that these emails make me so proud of you all. In these bleak times, every time I feel disheartened about my country, I just think about great past and present Newslaundry reporters. They are the true rockstars. The dedication Nidhi, Akanksha, Ayush, and Basant (just to name a few) and others have shown toward reporting and facts fills me with hope. Same is my feeling towards the Newslaundary alums such as Rohin, Amit and Arnub.

One small suggestion, please sometime include them in your NL Hafta panels too. Additionally, please move Meghnad to Hafta from Charcha as I think language acts as a barrier there for him to be able to articulate his views.

Keep doing the amazing work. Proud of you all.

***

Dear Newslaundry team,

Thank you for your amazing work! Here's wishing you many more subscribers in the new year!

In Abhinandan's interview with Amod Kanth, there was a mismatch in audio levels - the guest's volume was lower. I noticed this also in one of the previous Haftas - the one around two weeks ago I guess. It would be good if you're able to fix this.

Thanks and regards,

Uma K

***

Hi Newslaundry Hafta team,

I am writing in response to the discussion on the US Capitol riots in last weeks Hafta.

First of all, getting news about Trump from CNN is like getting news about the Modi government from Times Now. CNN is not an objective news channel. And as far as the riots were concerned, it was terrible and there is no equivalence between it and the BLM riots seen last summer. Looting and stealing from stores (which by the way was widespread and tamped down in the liberal media) does not compare with an attack on the seat of US governance.

As far as Indians behind Trump: It’s a fallacy to suggest that Hindu nationalists who are supporting Modi are the only people supporting Trump. For instance, the guy who was waving the Indian flag at the capitol was a Malayali Christian who is a Congress supporter. The number of Indian Americans supporting the Republicans was increasing even before Trump. There are a number of local factors for it. For example, when the Democrats want to increase taxes on the rich, the Indian American community - which is the richest in the country - is impacted disproportionately. When the liberals want to use race as a criterion for admissions in public universities instead of mainly academic records, Indian American kids who are enrolled in numbers far superior to their population percentage will take a big hit etc etc.. A lot of the proposed liberal policies, except for immigration, work against Indian Americans. Therefore, there are a multitude of reasons on why someone votes for somebody even a Trump. Reducing it to “oh ya he is a bigot” or Modi supporter is just stupid.

PS: Abhinandan, please stop putting Jayashree on the spot regarding issues in Kerala. She is a Tamilian living sometimes in Karnataka but it seems that you expect her to be the expert on all things south of the Vindhyas including other South Indian languages. By the way, Varthamanam, the name of the recent Mallu movie in censor trouble, means “talk” or “conversation” in Malayalam and not “news” as Jayashree had said.

Harish Nair

***

Hi NL Hafta team,

Greetings for the new year.

Thanks for all the great work your team has been doing and special mention to Nidhi Suresh for her work on the Hathras tragedy and farmer protests.

This mail is in context of Hafta 308/309.

To answer the question, what if, like IMA and AFMC, IITs and NITs mandate to serve the country for a specific time duration? I am convinced that in no time, parallel educational institutions owned by the rich and powerful ministers will crop up. These ministers will do everything in their power to dilute the foundations of government-funded institutions while ensuring exorbitant fee structures are set in their institutions (look at the Indian medical colleges). This will add to economic disparity in the country where students from rich backgrounds studying in private colleges will get recruited in top organisations (due to better training and ability to work abroad) while meritorious students from humble backgrounds who rely on subsidies studying in government colleges will have mediocre domestic placements or would be absorbed by the government.

I was "TRIGGERED" when Abhinandan announced that he has not taken any leaves this year. Exactly THIS has ruined India's work culture and ethics where just because a manager does not have any personal life, he/she expects subordinates to work 10-12 hours in a day and makes faces when employees ask for their rightfully earned leaves. In some of the western organisations, managers are reprimanded if their subordinates fail to take a minimum number of leave annually. There are countries like France who are moving towards four days working in a week and there is a country like ours where 50 hours/week of work is being normalised.

Manisha (and Abhinandan too) has every right to take two more weeks of leaves because first, she deserves it and second, marriage is a life-altering event! :) It's the organisation's responsibility to ensure that it has sufficient employees to cover for each other while they have a sound mental health required for top quality work.

Juzar Bharmal

***

Hi everyone,

I am a Newslaundry subscriber from Pune currently based in Switzerland. I am an avid listener of the NL Hafta English and Hindi and I also appreciate TV Newsance a lot. I think Manisha is going to do this show for at least the next 6-10 years. I hope God blesses her and her Newsance team with good health to deflect all the negativity.

So, the reason I write is manifold, but the trigger is Caravan magazine's cover story this month - The Hindu Hoax: How upper-castes invented a Hindu Majority - and also the Madras High Court judgement rejecting a caste census in 2021.

The article in Caravan is closely linked to the judgement above and also encompasses Gandhi, Vivekananda and the question of casteism. My complaint is that none of the panelists on the podcast talked about either the article or the judgement and I don't remember that you guys ever discussed Vivekananda's casteism and even racism against South Indians, which Caravan has brought before my eyes, or our eyes, should you choose to go through it.

Could you please have a read into the article and dig a little deeper into the Madras High Court judgement and include this topic as a major topic in NL Hafta 311 or 312? From Gandhi asking the erstwhile sewage cleaning caste "Bhangis" to adopt scientific methods to assess the upper-caste faeces and suggesting them to not endeavour for wealth, to Vivekananda saying Aryan blood justifies the creation of caste as means to preserve the Aryan race and that the "non-Hindu" castes are very much a part of Hinduism for without them there is no Hinduism. All this information has rarely ever been seen in our textbooks. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who is especially revered in Pune, was anti-women empowerment and opposed the abolition of caste. I would recommend discussing Gandhi, Vivekananda and Tilak's views versus that of Jyotiba Phule and his torchbearer Ambedkar in the Hafta.

The Hafta audience is enlightened and I am sure most are anti caste system and pro affirmative action like reservation. I think the condition of the oppressed classes has improved a lot in the last 70 years and that there is a long way to go to still improve. But there is an increase in a pro backward caste narrative in alternative English media, so I think it has to be discussed in the NL Hafta and I request you to please do it. We will learn a lot.

As a suggestion, why not make a Dalit and a tribal voice compulsory in all English and Hafta episodes? It might sound casteist but if all castes are equal, why not give good representation? It will give a good vibrancy to the podcast and also spread the message through action. Please think over it.

Regarding legal funds, it would be nice if we could see a real-time meter to see existing fund levels and projected fund requirements so that whenever we want, we could keep topping it up. This is a damn good idea, I think, and whoever is really loyal can contribute there. Maybe you can give a small perk for contributors to the legal fund because that is where your biggest unforecast expense will come from.

Thanks for reading this message and keep up the good work.

I might resend this message if my request regarding the casteism of upper caste "freedom fighters" is not considered favourably. It is not a threat, it is just that I am super passionate and I know the Hafta fanbase is huge, so I have to compete.

Many regards,

Keyshav Mor

***

Hi Mr Sekhri,

Hope this mail finds you Covid-free. I am writing because the Hafta discussion on love jihad was too difficult to resist responding to. I should warn you that my views are controversial.

Ever since this love jihad bill made news, there has been a unilateral collective outrage from the Left/liberal junta (which was evident in the Hafta as well as in the NL Recess with Konkona) and I too have participated in this outrage through my armchair activism (by tweeting religiously on the matter, no pun intended!). But I should thank the panel for helping me confront and articulate what was causing a sub-conscious sense of unease, and this is what it is.

I think conversion for the sake of love/marriage should be banned. Period. I am all for inter-caste/inter-religious marriages (I moved to Bombay to meet and marry Shah Rukh!) but in my opinion, a union which is a culmination of love should be unconditional, like love itself. And conversion is a condition. An inherently unfair condition selectively imposed by a handful of religions, primarily Islam and Christianity.

Again, I have to state that I have nothing against any religion, my two bestest friends are Catholic and Bohra Muslim, but Hinduism, at least what I know of it, requires no ritualistic conversion, especially for a woman (Muslim, Christian, Parsi or anything else) before she marries a Hindu man. And I think this is the burning issue - the conversion of women (more so than men). Why should a woman convert when she marries a Muslim man? Why does the religion demand it? Christianity demands it too, just that Islam carries the perception of being the more aggressive religion. I think this is the genesis of the law, to stop conversion. And I grudgingly have to admit that I endorse it.

I saw the interview of this Hindu girl who says she has willingly converted after marrying a Muslim man (you may have seen this interview, I hope you have, I am not able to find it now, you can ask Manisha, she mentioned it and might have the link) and when the interviewer asked her husband why he didn't convert for her, he said he was happy to, but she wouldn't "let" him. So why did he "let" her?? Why couldn't he be more vociferous, vehement and effective in stopping her conversion? This kind of passive complicity gets my goat.

I'll give you another example where men behave like dickheads: karwa chauth. I'll admit that I find it ridiculously romantic, for which I hold Aditya Chopra fully accountable (damn DDLJ) but I know so many men/boys who say, "I don't force her, she keeps it out of her own accord". Arre, you stop it then, na! Or you also fast (like Raj did for Simran). But do they? NO.

I digress. And also wonder, if religion is inciting the conversion, is sexism abetting it? Jayashree mentioned that she is against the love jihad law because it is rooted in treating women like property, Hindu property that is being claimed by Muslims and therefore needs to be returned. But isn’t conversion also doing exactly that? When property is sold, you go to the registrar’s office to change the title deed, isn’t that what you are doing in a conversion? So, if the love jihad bill is trying to “reclaim” the women which I agree is fucked up, it is still Step 2! Step 1 that has already designated the woman to the same league as property is the conversion itself!

I recently started following the Instagram handle @indialoveproject. Do check it out, it was birthed in response to the love jihad bill. It is wonderfully heart-warming and full of old-school romance stories of interfaith couples. But even there, you'll see that the common thread that weaves through these difficult unions is the absence of conversion! In some of these stories, both parties have denounced religion or have adopted both religions, but I don’t recall reading one where only the bride/wife converted and the husband did not. Now one can safely assume that the people featured in these stories are clearly privileged and belong to the top two percent of the country. This is where I’d like to introduce education and income as consideration factors before we summarily write off the love jihad bill.

Women in India are far behind in being sufficiently represented in the workforce, and for the large part continue to be stay-at-home wives/mothers while men assume the role of breadwinners. So, here we have an aggressive religion that demands an almost oppressive obeisance to its one God, and the embracing of its customs and practices. Add to this the fact that a woman is most probably going to be dependent on her spouse after marriage to provide for her and their offspring – there is economic, moral, societal and self-guilt-induced pressure on her to convert.

Now, what I am about to say next may sound elitist, but hear me out. I want to go back to education and the couples in the India Love Project. What education has successfully accomplished is to establish the themes of feminism and acceptance, and the overruling of social stigma. These are yet to trickle down to the lower income groups which means that a woman seeking to marry a Muslim man has to combat not just religious and economic pressure, but an anachronistic (and dare I say chauvinistic) social construct that is yet to be rid if its prejudices by education

Let’s come back to love jihad, I know that this is a figment of the torrid imagination of the Sanghis and is utterly baseless, ridiculous and fucked up. Even if there is a one-off Altaf masquerading as an Amit to patao a Pinky, I suspect it is more because he is crushing on her and it is very very unlikely that he is part of a giant nexus of Muslim boys trying to seduce Hindu girls with the intent to mass convert them. Such nonsense. I even doubt if this Altaf is after a Pinky when Muslim women are clearly hotter. I do however can believe young Hindu girls falling for hot, hirsute Muslim boys 😊 We definitely got the raw deal in Partition, all the hot genes have gone to Pakistan and Fawad Khan is proof of that. Thank God we at least have Shah Rukh.

What other points did I want to make, I have now completely distracted myself with Fawad. But yes, in conclusion I want to say that I welcome the love jihad bill, I don’t think it's stripping women of their agency. I see it as a preventive measure to halt conversion. Of course, I could fall completely flat on my face because I haven’t read the bill and we all know that interpretation and execution is what will determine if this is what I think it is or if it is another horrible anti-Muslim initiative like CAA

I want to make one last observation. I think this bill is receiving misdirected hate. The beef we all have is with Adityanath. He is vile and despicable and because we all hate him, we obviously and rightfully distrust and denounce anything that he puts forth. I wonder if this bill, if proposed as a simple anti-conversion ordinance, say by a neutral politician like say Shashi Tharoor, completely de-linked from the concept of love jihad, would receive so much pushback?

I am curious to see what the NL Sena project throws up on this matter.

Bye, Mr Sekhri.

Aishwarya Mahesh

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