Hafta Letters: Role of religion, YouTube ads, and a Netflix recommendation

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

ByNL Team
Hafta Letters: Role of religion, YouTube ads, and a Netflix recommendation
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Dear Dhobis,

I just renewed my subscription today and instantly regretted it. Your panel’s discussion on “religion, boon or bane” was inane and rambling to say the least. Religion is the easiest, fastest way to mobilise mobs and money.

I agree with Hridayesh wholly: Jai Shri Ram is the new Allah-o-Akbar.

Please stick to relevant topics and leave Dharmic topics to Aastha and Co.


Kamal Murthy


Hi NL team,

I was expecting a few more reports regarding Delhi riots, and what happened with the young guy who was jailed for walking with a girl. There’s a lacuna regarding follow up of cases. Am saying this keeping in mind Nidhi's follow-up report on the Hathras case.

Manisha’s Newsance was awesome with epic-level roasting. I wish the courtroom proceedings were posted live by Bar & Bench. It would have been fun to hear “karare chane” from the judges.

If we ever meet, I might talk like we have been great friends since forever, all thanks to the podcasts.

Keep up the great work and the humour,

Shehba Fathima

P.S: I would like to know what Mehraj’s sources of knowledge regarding Islam are.


Hi team,

I agree that the Left has pussyfooted on Islamic fundamentalism for very long. One of the refreshing things about Islam was equality which is not true right now, caste system is very much part of the Muslim society today. I was astonished when a Muslim roommate once said, “He is no ordinary Muslim but a Qureshi.” The caste system has eroded the Islamic faith in India.

Liberals in my own household have said things like “it’s the right of a Muslim woman to wear burqa”. When we advocate such stupidity we empower idiots who might say it’s okay for Hindu women to commit sati.

I also see the Leftists making a distinction between Rajiv Gandhi and Narendra Modi; one gave 1984, the other 2002. My utterances are not Islamophobia but we are empowering the current dispensation by being economical with the truth.

Marriage among first cousins, Shia-Sunni conflict, caste system, genital mutilation, polygamy within the Muslim societies are not in tune with 21st century.

During the discussion on the France beheadings, the responses from Mehraj and the Muslim guest who came on the show were very disappointing. If somebody makes fun of my mother I won’t be killing the person, that was the argument made. We all need to grow a thicker skin.


Nitesh Pandey


Dear Team NL Hafta,

I found Episode 315 one of the most invigorating discussions in recent times.

When the discussion veered towards religion, I was particularly interested because I have grown from being a believer to an atheist to now somewhere between an agnostic and curious to explore religion. Having said that I have maintained that religion is the biggest weapon of mass destruction.

I mean, just look at what’s happening in our country right now. Goons, hooligans, loonies are visiting homes “extorting” money for the Ram Mandir! While these people haven’t made an appearance where I live (if they do, I think I should say, “Please make a mandir for mahapurush Modiji, kyunki “Modi hai tou mumkin hai”. 😐), what's the guarantee they won’t be here anytime soon, or carry their demands at traffic signals, at markets, at workplaces, just about everywhere? Don’t even get me started on the crap that is “love jihad”. How can we allow religion to dictate our lives? Doesn’t it bother you, Team Hafta? Where does one draw the line?

Luckily, I don't live or work with people who incessantly propagate their faith, but as a person born in privilege who has always enjoyed social capital, I find myself questioning the very basis of religion.

Also, as much as I ramble about religion taking us over, I think places of worship have a certain charm because of the architecture, the food, and people so deep in their faith. They are the ones who make a place worth visiting. If the questioning among you find yourselves in a similar situation, what do you do?

Apologies for the long email, but this episode was really, really good. Thank you for compelling me to think. I also hope you got to read Md Kaif’s piece in the Indian Express. I thought it was quite moving. Here’s the link.


Shreya Sethuraman

P.S: I think Raman Sir has an extremely soothing voice. Would he consider doing guided meditations and/or Sleep Stories on Insight Timer?


Hi Hafta team,

After being an on-and-off monthly subscriber, I’ve finally purchased an annual subscription. Super stoked about that! I love Hafta, and it’s always playing in the background even if I am doing mundane things.

I was wondering if you guys could discuss Wasim Jaffer, why he was branded communal, and how much water those allegations hold. This issue could also be a great way to look into deeper issues within our country’s cricket boards and the corruption existing within sport bodies in general.

I don’t know about the other subscribers, but I know I would be deeply interested in reading a long investigative piece, or even a series of articles about this.

Keep up the good work!

Sania Aziz Rahman


Hey NL Hafta team,

I agree when Newslaundry claims to be free of advertising and I understand how advertisements can affect the editorial process. But today I want to give a case in favor of ads, not as sponsors but on YouTube.

On YouTube, AdSense doesn’t work like regular media where a particular advertiser comes and gives you money and thus can affect the discourse. As you already know, YouTube will display ads to your viewers which will get more money to NL while not affecting your journalism. You can criticise xyz company and they – if not them then some other – will still have ads in your videos.

While not having ads gives users a better experience, having ads on YouTube through a platform just gets NL more money to maintain its expenses while not affecting how the editorial process works. Yes, it adds an incentive to get more views which gets you more money, but it doesn’t bring in partiality toward any company.

Waiting to hear your thoughts,

Hardeep Asrani


Hi team,

Came across this article and it reminded me of some of the Hafta debates around the France terror attacks from last year.

I’m not gonna pretend like I know a whole lot about France. I've only been once on holiday, but one trip to Paris and it’s hard to miss the level of segregation. Like Ahmedabad has Muslim ghettos, Paris too has Muslim/ Black ghettos...just without the riots.

As a media/entertainment professional trying to roll out diversity and inclusion initiatives across EMEA, the number of obstacles you face to do/measure anything in France is ridiculous. There is this culture of denying race and diversity of any kind, because recognising difference and trying to understand historical/systemic issues is equated to denouncing secularity/equality.

Recently the mayor of Paris was fined for being “too feminist”.

Can you be truly secular/equal if it only ever benefits the old straight white man? Maybe the value needs to shift from equality to equity?

Many of these issues are transferable to India as well – upper caste people feeling wronged by reservations, Hindu khatre mein hain, etc...I thought these articles made for a very interesting read and would love to hear more discussions around this topic in a future Hafta.

Hope everyone on the team is doing well!


Amrita Roy

P.S: If you haven't watched Lupin on Netflix, watch it!


Hi NL team,

I am writing this with a sense of bewilderment and despair at the happenings of the past week.

I think we talk a lot about journalists being incompetent (which is true in a lot of cases), their credibility, and lack of integrity in reporting. But a lot less is spoken about the public’s appetite for mediocrity. The Rihanna episode has only reaffirmed the state of mind of the general Indian news consumer. The willingness to accept any airheaded theory that the establishment comes up with as gospel is just staggering. The kind of audience I am referring to is not the IT Cell troll, but your seemingly sane garden variety upper middle class diplomat or an engineer, doctor. It’s either that the bigotry has made it so hard they have just lost the ability to comprehend or the privilege makes you so ignorant that you are just blind. And so much for all that education!

It’s not just the government building a narrative and the public falling for it anymore, but more so with people pretending and indulging in willful ignorance. This is akin to the flat earthers and the QAnon brand of conspiracy theories flouted in the US. I wonder if there is an odd sense of comfort associated with the belief or it’s a kind of delusion where you think you know a secret that most don’t. But it’s interesting that the worldview of someone seemingly educated is mostly framed around falsehoods more out of choice than compulsion.

Would love to hear the panel's thoughts. Thanks and keep up the good work.


Sandeep Ghatikar


Dear NL team,

I started following Newslaundry and became a subscriber in December 2020. Since then I have enjoyed the amazing reports, Newsance and the podcasts. I really like Atul, Meghnad, Basant, Nidhi, and Manisha a lot. On Hafta, I really find Raman sir’s and Mehraj’s bits the most enlightening. Keep up the good work! I have shared many articles and videos from NL to my friends and family, and am trying to get you as many subscriptions as possible.

I come from the group of “apolitical” turned “political” people given how the state of the country has become. I am now embarrassed of how I, in the past, proudly stated that I was apolitical and I seriously now think that it was just a veiled attempt to describe laziness. If you live in a society, you must be politically conscious to understand what’s happening around you. When people say Modi is a unanimous choice, it is only the half truth because I know for sure that there is a huge chunk of population, the “corporate zombies” who simply do not follow politics and are least bothered of what's happening. I was one of them and my life revolved around the office, what I was doing on the weekend, and the latest sale on Zara. So, that majority of the supreme leader is actually a farce. I also think that there is again a chunk of population, especially everyday aunties and uncles, who simply consume news from Facebook. My own mother was a supporter of Modi and would relay the news she saw on Facebook to me. It is after I took it upon myself to educate her and got her hooked to Ravish Kumar's Prime Time that she has started judging everything critically and forming her own opinions.

I read an article in the Caravan recently about Sachin Tendulkar and how he has been an opportunist, irrespective of who the establishment was. The Caravan article has beautifully put together my thoughts on the subject that he is simply timid and lacks the moral courage to do the right thing. I have never liked Tendulkar and have similar views as Abhinandan does on the topic. I think it is important to understand that actors or sportsmen should never be equated to “hero/heroine” because that term represents something else entirely. For me, a hero would be Bhagat Singh, Azad, Babu Jagjivan Ram, Savitri Phule, Charan Singh, and not the likes of Sachin or Akshay Kumar. We should recognize the difference between the two terms.

Since I don’t want to go beyond the word limit, I will end here. Abhinandan, I think you need to stop calling yourself “old” every chance you get. Forty six is not old at all and frankly you look like 34-35, so please stop. I think you are quite hot and as SRK said. “You have it, you flaunt it.”

Cheers to you all!!!

Tapish Malik


Hi dear people at Newslaundry,

Warm Greetings from Swati.

Thank you for this time’s Hafta 315, it gave me the kind of conversation I would like to be part of, even as a listener. Listening to this conversation made me feel connected to the issues that matter to me and that there are others to whom these issues matter as well.

Hridayesh Joshi's contribution to Hafta this time is welcome.

Thanks Mehraj for your recommendation of the article on income inequalities in India. It is important to bring to notice the fact that income distribution in India is hugely skewed and general perception about the size of and purchasing power of the Indian middle class is far from reality. Although too many people identify themselves as middle class, in terms of financial capacity not as many are able to provide any sensible boost to demand for goods and services of mass consumption. This is a reality we have often parked aside from discussion on India's economy.

In response to Swapneel’s letter, Raman sir and Abhinandan interacted with him through the podcast. This felt good. Such things add a lot of value to Hafta.

Any time anyone puts cricket in the “non-sports” category, I am happy. Thank you Abhinandan for mentioning that about cricket, yet again. To me cricket means a very noisy insect, which has antennas much longer than the rest of its body (हिंदी में झिंगूर ).

Raman sir described the old Tehri. It reminded me of my visit in May 2001, while the dam was being constructed.

I had managed to take a few photos on my old non-digital SLR camera, from the car window, as our car waited in traffic. While taking a photo, a little ahead of the board which said “Photography Prohibited”, I kept wondering if I was clicking a photo to capture humans daring the nature? Or was I capturing the moment of me daring the state, prohibiting photography?

The huge monstrosity of Tehri dam under construction, the mountains in the area, and Sundarlal Bahuguna's hut right in front of the dam site has been an image in my head. The memory of that image and discussion during Hafta of the current environmental disaster went hand in hand.

The discussion about dams in Uttarakhand, power projects and environmental consequences could be developed into a good story or as an explainer. Thanks Hridayesh Joshi and dear Manisha for mentioning the concerns of the local people.

Thanks again everyone at Newslaundry, you all are doing fabulous work.

Swati Vaidya

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