Hafta letters: Sadhguru series, fudging data, and defending cricketers

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

ByNL Team
Hafta letters: Sadhguru series, fudging data, and defending cricketers
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Hi team NL,

In regards to Hafta 328:

While responding to one of the letters, Mehraj and Manisha talked about diversity and the lack of it, and why it can't be an end in itself, instead a means to end the injustices prevailing in the society. While I agree with them that sprinkling minority representatives won't matter unless they genuinely work for the marginalised, my question is, where do we even start to change? As much as we criticise the minority reps, unless they are at the table, they would continue to be on the menu. Perhaps something to include on "let's talk about" as in an unequal and unjust society like ours, this issue needs some in-depth discussion.

While the anti-establishment emotion among the middle class is perhaps at its peak, please consider having some explainer fun videos like "Consti-tuition" on social issues.

Keep up the good work. Stay safe and healthy.

***

Hi NL team,

Hope you are doing well and keeping safe, I see that you have finally released what will be the first of many reads for the series on Indian godmen.

Will you be following up on only Sadhguru or will others like Ramdev also be investigated?

Regardless, be careful and maybe you should prepare a legal fund in advance as Sadhguru's followers get very pissed when criticised even when his pseudoscience is called out. Your old friend String may also have something to say (he apparently worked in Isha Foundation).

I would like to thank Manisha for Newsance as it helped me keep hope in India's media landscape during the SSR shitshow last year. Atul's show is great even if I can't follow it all the time.

Also regarding criticism that you guys only target the BJP, maybe you can have an NL Sena project on the lines of Scroll's "State of States" series to cover opposition-ruled states like Odisha and Telangana.

Regards,

Calvin D

***

Hi team,

The Jaggi story could not have been timed better as the new DMK government is expected to take action against him post the Covid situation. The new finance minister PTR Thiagarajan has been constantly calling him out in his various interviews.

As someone from Coimbatore, I have always wondered how he gained national and international traction despite drawing flak from the people of Coimbatore constantly over the years. The new #FreeTNTemples campaign run by him has more takers from outside the state than from TN and his bhakt followers from ROI thought this is an election issue here. They tried to propagate this on social media as a pro-BJP campaign and failed miserably as it was never an issue here. Though there are many allegations made against the ashram, none have been properly taken forward, maybe owing to his influence with various people in the past governments. High time this is investigated transparently and I am hoping this will happen soon. It will become a huge achievement for the new government if done right.

Also hope you address the various points that were discussed on Discord about Anand's arguments in the recent episodes. Kudos on the great work.

Thanks and regards,

Mathivanan

***

Hi NL team,

Continue the good work, your platform is the only source of political news for me. Just one request: to compile the recommendation data for previous Haftas and make an archive if possible.

Thanks,

Chandramauli Jani

***

Dear team NL,

After months of deliberation, I have finally become a paid subscriber and can proudly say that I pay to keep news free. Keeping the NL Hafta behind the paywall did the trick.

My question is regarding the government's stubbornness in going ahead with the Central Vista project when the country is facing a never seen before crisis. In any mature democracy, such a vanity project would not happen when people are dying due to lack of oxygen and hospital beds. Would like to know the panel's opinion on this.

Keep up the good work.

Regards,

Vivek Munshi

***

Hi NL team,

Keep up the great work!

Would be great if you did some interviews with experts (SC-appointed committee?) who can provide perspective on India's vaccine plan. I live in the UK and am really worried about my family, friends as to when they will receive vaccines realistically. There is a lot of ambiguity around the information available (trusted sources).

As for people interested in the Middle East crisis, wanted to share a small video which provides a good quick summary.

Also, kudos to Manisha and Meghnad for the amazing coverage of the Bengal election. I had already messaged Manisha congratulating her on the great interviews she'd done, but thought I should highlight it again!

Regards,

Debtanay Laha

(NL subscriber for over three years now.)

***

Hi NL team,

Hope you are doing well. Was happy to have my email/feedback replied to on this week's Hafta. And I am happy to say that the research this week on the Tejasvi Surya scandal was top notch. Dhanya did an excellent job and kudos to the whole NL team. As she rightly put it, Tejasvi Surya doesn't deserve any more words and I believe he should be dragged into a criminal court and be prosecuted there.

This week's Hafta was very good and it is refreshing to get a podcast with so many people/different opinions.

Keep up with the independent journalism.

Best regards

Sandeep Patel

***

Hi Newslaundry team,

This is Ashish. I have been a Newslaundry subscriber for the last four years. I am a really big fan of Hafta and all other Newslaundry content and I share it with many of my friends and encourage them to subscribe.

I am also a big fan of TV Newsance and NL Tippani; hats off to Manisha and Atul Sir.

I have only one request. Do consider, please.

Please read the poem attached with the mail in the upcoming Hafta. I think this is most relevant to the present scenario and also the most scratching truth about the current dispensation.

Keep up the good work!!!

Ashish Verma

***

Hello NL team,

I write this email to congratulate Dhanya on correcting Abhinandan for not pronouncing Pinarayi Vijayan’s name properly. I have noticed this quite a few times with Abhinandan, that he does not pronounce South Indian and Maharashtrian names properly.

It comes across as smug and as if Abhinandan is sitting on a high horse, despite him having worked with prominent personalities from across India. It is unfortunate. It is not even difficult. You have to read the name in English to get close to 90-95 percent of the Indian names pronounced correctly with some exceptions like Akomiya or Tamizh (pronounced Tamil) names correctly. He did this a couple of times with Marathi names on the podcast too.

If you want to cater to a pan-Indian audience, the first step is to get their names and the names’ pronunciations correct. Print is one thing, audio is another. Please be mindful. Not everything can be treated in a cavalier manner.

Thankfully other NL Hafta panelists don’t do it. Thanks for pointing it out, Dhanya. Abhinandan needed it.

Warm regards,

Keyshav Mor

***

Hafta team,

Has Anand V seen the letter below? If not, I would appreciate a response from the man.

Also, Anand recently wrote this article. Where is the consideration that limiting obituary space might have been a conscious editorial decision? Where is the consideration of "what will people say?" That is, reluctance to make public deaths due to Covid? If this is the ease with which I am able to poke holes in Anand's writings, what is NL's editorial process doing? Is no one pushing back on this?

I see this during the Hafta as well, where you allow Anand to parrot his crazy idea that Bihar's reported death toll (Covid or otherwise) is in any way comparable to a state like Maharashtra or Tamil Nadu. His BS retort is "all states are underreporting". This is what the bureaucracy or a Trump would say. I am bothered by your lack of pushback against these ideas and am reconsidering my subscription.

Regards,

Eldrich Rebello (pronounced "Eldridge")

Second letter

Hafta team,

I find it strange that there's so little pushback against the idea "to what extent can you fudge data" especially when it comes to Indian deaths. This is the idea parroted by Anand V and your guest Banjot. I've called out Anand in the past and I will do it again now. Raman reminded us all that the majority of Indian deaths aren't in hospitals and aren't even recorded. As did I in an earlier email.

You cannot hide a Bhopal. You can hide deaths on the Bombay local trains. Around 7,000 people were recorded as having died falling off the local trains in Bombay between 2005 and 2015. Around 8,000 people died as a result of the Union Carbide disaster in the subsequent two weeks. The true number in both cases is certainly higher, the only difference is time. A thousands deaths in a day and the world knows; a thousand deaths over a year are invisible.

All that's changed now is that more people are dying and dying quickly. I can't understand why Anand insists that his anecdotal sense of deaths is accurate given that the majority of Indian deaths aren't recorded, forget being medically certified. You just don't know, Anand, and it is high time you admit this – no one does. When you don't have a good handle on how many are dying in a normal year, how can you claim that these areas were "unaffected by the first wave"?

On a related note, Abhinandan, please stop pointing to a handful of crematoriums in Delhi where the number of cremations fell during the pandemic. Devoid of broad context, you do not know whether you are looking at the exception or the norm. Don't confuse the former for the latter.

***

Hi Hafta team,

In Hafta 328, we had a discussion on the situation of Palestinians. Australian indigenous people were referred to in comparison. In the last two centuries, various ethnic groups that lived on the continent have been named aboriginal or indigenous people. They have undergone untold misery at the hands of the settlers. Nearly 80 percent of them perished due to diseases. One whole generation is called "stolen generation" because of the barbaric practice of taking mixed race children away from their mothers for the sake of civilisational education. But now, they are acknowledged as the original owners of the land. No official function commences without the acknowledgement and a traditional welcome. There is an official sorry day. You must show respect to an indigenous person. Aboriginal history and culture is studied at Australian schools. The people are protected but indigenous community has much lower education and longevity.

The vital difference between the indigenous people of Australia and the Palestinians is that while the indigenous people are defenseless, the Palestinians are fighting back. Israel has constantly occupied Palestinian territory and fenced them off with armed guards patrolling. My experience has been that Palestinians live in constant threat of life in inhuman conditions.

Admittedly, the topic is far more complex than what can be written in 200 words.

Best wishes

Abhijit Mukherjee

***

Hi NL team ,

I agree with Abhinandan on people trying to put a positive spin: it is of no use in front of a tragedy unfolding before our eyes. Anecdotal evidence of each individual in our country can't be drowned out by the spin of the propagandist.

I reside in Bangalore South (bigot central) and in one of the areas where 80 percent are upper caste, highly educated, hardcore bhakts. I have been part of the area WhatsApp group for the last three years. Last week, a message was posted stating, "I stand with the great leader and everyone else in the world is against the great leader." I replied, "Dear sir, there are people in this group who have lost people to Covid." To my surprise, the bhakt deleted the post and apologised. First retraction by a bhakt since the invention of WhatsApp.

Indians usually turn to karma to find closure of the death of near and dear ones. What they detest is someone trying to find excuses and pin the blame on someone, or deflect the attention to other things. Propaganda during these trying times is like having a wedding orchestra at a funeral. The death of a loved one is a traumatic event in life and never forgotten. What enrages people is when they see others making a tamasha during their suffering.

Look at the recent LS result in Belgaum. In 2019, the BJP won by a 3.5 lakh margin. In 2021, they won by a mere 5,000. The foundations of the empire might run deep. But the cracks have begun to appear on the wall.

Regards,

Jai Hind

***

Hi Hafta team,

Regarding the discussion on the Israel-Palestine present conflict situation, I have been living in West Jerusalem as research scholar for quite some time and I agree with the main arguments the panel has made: there is a visible power deficit between the two sides which has made this conflict more atrocious for the Palestinians.

One point though, about internal Israeli politics that you guys must have missed because it's not widely covered by international media, is the power tussle.

So, Israel has had four elections in the past three years; every time, the government is toppled because alliances break. In the most recent election, even though Netanyahu's Likud got an overall majority, it couldn't form a government, basically because everybody else in Israeli politics despises him as he has lot corruption allegations (even an indictment) against him.

The liberals/centre-left formed a coalition with the Israeli Arab parties, leading to what would be the first joint Israeli-Arab government in Israeli history. This coalition was supposed take oath around May 12-13. Guess what happened on May 12? The first spark of the present sectarian conflict was lit when there were riots in the Al-Aqsa compound. As the conflict grew, the Arab-Israeli parties then called off the alliance and Netanyahu still remains the acting PM and will probably win the next election based on present sentiments. All of this was basically a power grab.

My regards to the Hafta team, thanks for great work👍

Pritom Sarma

***

Dear NL team,

Cricketers have also done their bit in Covid pandemic. Comparing them with football players is unnecessary. And no there were no cheerleaders. The guest panelist said there were.

Hanuma Vihari is doing tremendous work. Please check his Twitter. Virat Kohli and Anushka have done tremendous service to the society. One of my friends has partnered with Anushka Sharma to teach students. Ashwin and Harbhajan have contributed and recently, Tendulkar donated Rs 1 crore. And many, many more.

We are living in times when a person who posts on social media criticising the government, who retweets SOS messages, is considered a bigger patriot that those who do their work silently without any publicity. Activists need to be a little respectful of the people who do not voice their opinion or display their social service for various reasons.

After all, we are taught that when you donate with the right hand, even the left hand should not know and saying "krishnaarpanam" when donating is a common exercise.

BCCI contributes thousands of crores to the country's economy. There are jersey manufacturers, sports equipment manufacturers, construction labourers. Cricket provides a great advertising platform which boosts the sales of many companies. And there are many more who are benefited by cricket in India.

I don't know what value football has added to India's economy in comparison with cricket.

This argument that 'I did donate more than you' needs to stop. Just because Chhetri decided to give away his Twitter handle does not give a right to downgrade cricketers.

Apart from reporting (which is their job), how many legacy news organisations donated or made a service during the pandemic?

Regards,

Anil Kumar

***

Hi NL team,

Hope you all are well and staying safe. I am a huge admirer of Hafta and of the ground reporting, especially the one done in the case of farmer protests. I have the following three questions:

How do I get more people to support Newslaundry? So far, gifting Hafta episodes and providing news reports such as the one done by Meghnad on parliamentary panel Covid resource shortage did not generate much interest.

Gujarati media such as Gujarat Samachar and Sandesh has done a lot of work in highlighting the underreporting of Covid cases and mismanagement of the government. Can there be a discussion on NL Hafta contrasting the local media of various regions with the national media? Please correct me if I have missed out on such a discussion. One of the Hafta episodes did cover the international reporting but I would also like if there is something similar done with regional media reporting.

Jair Bolsanaro is currently being probed by Brazil's senate. Why is something similar not happening here? Is it because of how our parliament is set up in terms of upper and lower house or is it something else?

I would like to thank the entire NL team for their work and I hope you keep getting all the support. Karare chane is a brilliant snack to have during a long conversation. I hope the Hafta team sits to record the episodes with a bowl of that.

Regards,

Aksh Patel

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