Hafta letters: Brand Rahul and Modi's beard, SEBI and CNBC anchor, WhatsApp privacy policy

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

ByNL Team
Hafta letters: Brand Rahul and Modi's beard, SEBI and CNBC anchor, WhatsApp privacy policy
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Hi Hafta team,

A recent subscriber from Germany and have been a fan of your work on YouTube for a very long time. You guys are doing a great job of exposing the Godi media and the current facist regime. Love Manisha's TV Newsance and Abhi's "karare channe" (please say it once again in the future podcasts). As an NRI, I can say how many of the NRIs living here have no idea about the sad state that our country is in right now, and how brainwashed they are with Modi and Hindutva propaganda. I hope independent media houses like you can bring out the truth. The least I could do is to be a subscriber and spread the word about independent journalism.

Eagerly waiting for the "godman exposé".

Keep up the great work!!!

Love

Karthik

***

This is in response to the discussion on SEBI and the CNBC anchor.

What the CNBC Awaaz anchor was doing is commonly done to create liquidity in a stock to provide an exit to big players. Because the quantity large investors hold is huge, it cannot be traded in a normal trading session (because of less liquidity), and the stock has to be traded within a price range to make profit. If an investor wants to sell 1,000 shares and buyers are available for only 500 shares, then to attract more buyers, the stock will be recommended on various platforms by that investor (even through brokers).

SEBI has not done anything significant to protect retail investors from this and other types of market manipulations. SEBI imposed a Rs 70 crore penalty on Reliance Industries and Mukesh Ambani for fraudulent trading; in my opinion, to Reliance, this is just the transaction fee they had to pay on the huge profit they made through fraudulent trading. Market manipulation is one of the reasons why common retail investors don’t make money in the stock market and SEBI is not taking enough measures to stop it.

Sucheta Dalal’s video on SEBI’s actions on insider trading:

Regards,

Omkar Tawde

***

Hi NL team,

Last Hafta went into some anti-vax territory. Please try to be careful about such topics. While political, it is not the same as discussing BJP or Rahul Gandhi. The damage to public health is immediate. It is important to question processes not being followed and data not being made available. But the anti-vaccination views were much broader and too vague. They should not be given expression on a public forum like NL Hafta.

On a different note, there had been discussions on whether Modi voters are responsible for the hate politics in India or whether they themselves are a victim of the propaganda. Manisha and other Hafta members seem to support the latter. I would like to strongly object. If a segment of population is gullible and cannot be held responsible for their votes, shouldn't one take take away their votes? Yes, that is a ridiculous position to argue, but isn't that a logical conclusion of your position? Since many of these supporters are upper caste Hindus, they do not suffer the bad consequences of the hate being unleashed. The minimum cost they should suffer is to be called out for their support of hate politics.

Thanks,

Mohit Singh

***

Dear Abhinandan,

I am writing to you to bring to your notice what I consider to be a worthwhile story. It is about the funds being collected for the Ram Janmabhoomi temple.

I live in a small town in western Uttar Pradesh and here, the Ram Janmbhoomi trust people have been collecting large amounts from businesses. In my own family, an amount of Rs 2 lakh has been raised and it’s not only this town, but I have my relatives living in Rudrapur and they have confirmed the same. Think about the magnitude of this collection. I was wondering if you could consider a Sena project on the amount being collected and where all this could be exactly going.

I would also mention I have been an ardent supporter and an NL subscriber for the past one year and I have been loving your work ever since. It's not only your podcast (that I have so gotten addicted to, by the way) but your reports and NL Sena projects are just phenomenal. Please keep up the great work!!

Faithful subscriber,

Anand

PS: A big salute to Manisha for all the crap she watches for us!! You are my favourite. And also congratulations on your wedding.

***

Hi everyone,

There was a long discussion on the implications of the new WhatsApp privacy policy in one of the recent NL Haftas, and all that I could hear was confused estimates from all sides. I wish there was some research done on it, if it was to be discussed at all, otherwise we just end up listening to uninformed opinions.

(I have expectations from you guys, not just as a paying subscriber but as a silent supporter of quality news discussions, which I really appreciate you all for.)

How the new WhatsApp privacy policy works is when you ACCEPT it, you give WhatsApp permission to share your behaviour with/towards WhatsApp business accounts, with Facebook, so that the content you view on your respective Facebook walls is further customised to serve their advertisers (called sponsors). There was a weak allusion to Cambridge Analytica by Mehraj when he said, "They also collected data like this to do... I don’t know what.” So, what they did (also) was online behaviour analysis, based on which they pumped in sponsored content to people who were prejudiced of/vulnerable to a certain type of ideology/content.

This WhatsApp thing can be as dangerous as Cambridge Analytica in future, by influencing online user behaviour and slyly nudging people to watch content which is inspired by that behaviour. For example, some of my unfortunate acquaintances who subscribe to the (militant) Hindutva ideology and LIKE pages that threaten to share pictures of deities 10 times or bad things would happen to them, or generally guilt-trap them into LIKING a martyr’s picture, end up getting many sleazy video recommendations, bordering on soft porn. Sleaze owners are obviously paying Facebook to show their videos (to the idiots who’d LIKE just about anything in the name of dress code – ochre or camouflage green) and the average time those horny patriots spend on Facebook increases manifold, thus also increasing their opportunity to show more sponsored content. They (on a LIKE rampage) have no idea about the algorithm that’s working behind it, but they seem pleasantly obliged.

Right now, WhatsApp marketing is at a nascent stage in India and those who usually use it here are businesses like banks, OTAs, online ticketing platforms like BookMyShow, etc. But this new addition in the privacy policy suggests that this is about to explode big and I anticipate many more players entering WhatsApp marketing for business.

Unfortunately, privacy at such a nuanced level is a first world concern. With most of our beloved bigots (in the family) already dancing to the political tune and constantly sharing home-developed nuskhas for osteoporosis with each other, this changes or worsens nothing.

Regards,

Siddharth M Joshi (a Kumaoni high-five to Manisha. Congrats on the wedding)

***

Hello NL team,

In Hafta 312, Aunindyo got into the vaccine operation and the biology behind it. It's better to have an expert giving an opinion. He also questioned the need for a Covid-recovered patient to be vaccinated. Raman and Manisha also said they won't take the vaccine.

Let's consider a hypothetical scenario where a person decides not to take Covaxin after listening to Hafta, ends up getting Covid, and one of his/her family members dies. Now, I'm not saying that he/she should take the Covaxin vaccine. It's better for an expert to comment on it and the personal opinions of panelists will have an influence over people.

Secondly, in one of the episodes, Abhinandan said liberals don't speak about issues hijacked by the Hindu right-wing. It's very important for the liberals to speak about the issues faced by Hindus. I have lived for 21 years of my life in a Muslim-dominated and AIMIM-ruled locality in Hyderabad. My mother used to receive invitations to attend Islamic conferences and sometimes, I found packets of meat outside my house. We finally left the locality and moved to a better place.

While my 21 years there weren't bad and we made many Muslim friends, there are some issues which need to be addressed.

MIM MLAs were clearly very powerful and used to barge into police stations to release their supporters. I needn't specially mention about Akbar Owaisi. I was a huge Modi supporter till 2019 only because of my experiences with the AIMIM. But now, I want Modi to be removed. The Hindu right-wing does very little for Hindu rights and is mostly bigoted and did nothing for the Kashmiri Pandits either. I feel if the liberal media still speaks about Hindu issues like the way Newslaundry does, it would be a good place to live in. I find it funny how many liberals in India look up to Asad Owaisi. Owaisi-ruled localities are the most backward in Hyderabad. There's drainage on the road and they are very filthy.

Abhinandan and Anand are my favourite panelists. They're highly educated but their thoughts are fresh as well. I stopped posting my feelings on social media after Nikku (Abhinandan) said social media is the worst place for discourse, and it has improved my mental health as I now don't have to reply to utter idiots.

Wish you all the success and I hope you become as powerful as the New York Times one day

Thanks,

Anil Kumar

***

Hi team,

Big fan of the work that you guys do and a long-time follower and recent subscriber (there’s only so much you can take of Abhinandan’s daily pay-to-keep-news-free spiel without feeling guilty :D, though on a serious note, it’s because of all the wonderful work being done by the team).

There are quite a few things I wanted to discuss with you, but it would be difficult to contain in 200 words. So, here goes nothing. None of these are poignant thoughts so as to warrant what I’m suggesting next: could break it down into three individual letters and pepper them through the next 10 Haftas! :P

Marriage leave:

I think it’s a ridiculous idea! For one, marriage is a choice one makes to voluntarily disrupt one’s life. You’re fine, with or without it. Irony is, I’m also married, but it’s something my partner and I decided we needed to do just to keep people around happy (majboori). But that was my own decision, and my absence for that was deducted from my leave balance. If we’re looking at marriage leave, then why stop at marriage, in that case? Also have “baby’s-first-step leave” or “baby-is-teenager-now-oh-so-many-problems-adolescence-pangs leave”.

My issue, actually, is not with marriage, but how employers perceive “leaves”. You may be doing it in jest to Manisha, but I do know of many employers who don’t allow their people to take leaves, who make it such a big deal, where you have to justify why you want to take leave and who and what. Leaves are a reward for all the effort one puts in, and no one should question why one wants to take some time off. Manisha has more than earned her leaves (she should get at least one month “Arnab-Amish-Navika hangover” leave”) and whether she wants to use her leaves for marriage or for travel or for just chilling at home is none of our business (as long as she had enough leaves in hand).

Brand Rahul

In response to the discussion on Rahul Gandhi in Hafta 312, Aunindyo mentioned how Rahul Gandhi and the Congress “need” to tap into brand “Gandhi”. I have to completely disagree with that. It is that brand “Gandhi” that has resulted in their downfall and it is at such low respectability that there will be no coming out of that. There comes a time when all brands need to review their brand identity and possibly reset or change direction, and this is that time for Congress. And that means if the Congress has to re-emerge, they need to clear the Gandhi-stench and build a more credible, merit-based system, and not rely on a disinterested, entitled, out-of-touch prince. With Ahmad Patel and Motilal Vora gone, now may be the best time for reset. Tbh, I’ve never understood how and what sway the Gandhis have on Congress (aisa kya hai inmein that no one goes against them?).

Modi beard

Since you guys also spoke about Modi being a bigger brand than BJP, I feel this whole lockdown makeover is also part of building and leveraging that brand. He’s putting on a more sadhu-like look slowly and will surely, in the future, start adding saffron to this current white and golden attire, more so for the international community. It is to get them accustomed to the “Hindu rashtra look” (he’s already started with Jair Bolsanaro [sigh], who compared vaccine delivery to Hanuman vatika booti or something). Before the next elections or midway through his 2024-2029 stint, Modi will slowly take sanyas and hand over his reigns to Yogi – that’s the end game of all of this. Conspiracy theory!

It would be great if some of your next NL Sena projects could be around climate-related things. I, for one, am really worried about the indiscriminate construction going on in the hills of Uttarakhand. My partner is a native of Pauri and each time we go there, the only thing we notice is how the mountains are being broken up to accommodate roads and buildings, which result in frequent landslides. There seems to be mindless development going on there which, I think, will result in irreparable damage and more Kedarnath-like incidents in the future. It’s a fragile ecosystem that could soon reach its tipping point.

Thanks for all the work that you do; we will continue supporting you in your fight against Big Media and their bullying tactics. This country needs more outlets like yours who constantly, logically, question things. Keep up the awesome work.

Nitin Krishna Menon

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