Hafta letters: Afghanistan crisis, national identity, climate change

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

ByNL Team
Hafta letters: Afghanistan crisis, national identity, climate change
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In Hafta 339, Mehraj argued that a large and diverse country like India should not have been a single country in the first place. There are various historical factors that have led to India becoming a single political entity, the freedom movement being the most important of those. Gandhi and INC built a large movement which drew thinkers and activists from all parts of India (including the southern states). Also this idea that just because a territory has a diverse population, it should not be a single country comes dangerously close to the two-nation theory propagated by Savarkar, Golwalkar and Jinnah.

Mehraj also says India being one entity only serves the interest of the upper caste elite. However, caste as a concept predates the “Republic of India”. Before Independence, India was divided into several kingdoms. Many rulers, including the Turks and the Mughals, ruled over large parts of India. But in all those regimes caste continued to occupy a central place in the social life of people. Even after the Partition, caste continued to exist in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Therefore, there is really nothing which proves that India not being a single entity would have reduced caste-based discrimination.

I wait for Hafta and Newsance every Saturday. Even though I disagree with most of the things Anand and Mehraj say, their arguments give food for thought. Raman and Manisha are the most balanced and Abhinandan's rants are the heart and soul of Hafta.

Akshat Bhushan



In NL Hafta 341, you mentioned you are getting an Afghan reporter. My request is to ask the following questions or if you can.

1. How much does the Taliban benefit from the drug trade?

2. How much will the Belt and Road Project help opium trade, considering that most of the opium makes its way to Europe.

3. The Taliban were not a part of previous governments even when they could be. Is there a change this time?

4. Did the USA and the Afghan government underestimate the funding to the Taliban via poppy plantations?

5. Is this a classical example of the common man not knowing that his poppy addiction is causing havoc in other parts of the world?


Aviral Tiwari


Hello NL,

Great job interviewing the Afghan MP. When are you going to interview a Taliban spokesperson?




Hi NL Hafta team,

A short email regarding cancel culture and its criticism from the left. Please see this letter from last year that was signed by many on the left, including Noam Chomsky. It generated significant debate when it first appeared.



Sorry if this has already been suggested but it would be great if NL can run a series to cover things that have passed us by. The 1970s Uttarakhand issue, for example.

I love what Jayashree said about the Hindu and their Bombay unit taking out spicy underworld stories and missing the real stories. Their film section was filled with fanboys and fangirls of filmwallas who were happy to take out three-page film puff pieces disguised as “interviews” close to a big film release. Like Nikku says, it is just about access and nothing else in Bollywood. There was a joke on Twitter that if you want to get a job/writing gig with the Hindu Bombay, just retweet everything their film team puts up. You are right if you guess that I didn’t get one and yes, I didn’t RT anything.

Much love for everything you all are doing.

NL forever.


Hi NL team,

I am a big fan of your work and have been a subscriber for a few years now. I find the content across podcasts to be informative and relatable. Well done to the full team. I do have one grievance with Hafta, which I think has been pointed out earlier as well. The number of interruptions that people make while someone else is making their point has annoyingly gone up. Manisha and Abhinandan are most guilty of it. If you all listen to Ep 342, you will see what I am saying. I find this disrespectful to the person who is speaking and headed towards the TV debates we all want to avoid gravitating towards. Hope you take it in the right spirit.

Keep up the good work.

Harpreet Singh


Hi NL Team,

I really appreciate the amazing work you guys do. However, I was deeply disappointed that you guys did not cover the IPCC report on climate change in detail. Irrespective of nationality, class, political leanings, the findings of the report are a warning to the entire humanity, and I hope you guys do an explainer or some articles that describe the key takeaways from the report. It is a dense report but I would urge the team to really look into this.

I would also recommend everyone watch the series of videos by Project Drawdown on climate solutions 101. This project is a coalition by scientists and entrepreneurs to combat climate change. Situation is dire. I think the issue is, we do not see the problem as an immediate problem, maybe as people are not aware of how bad things are. It rained in Greenland last week for the first time in records. Read this article for more info. I hope the NL team does some reports about climate change in more detail.

Deepam Gupta


Hi NL Team,

Great work.

I just wanted to respond to both a subscriber comment last week and the religion podcast regarding Islam. As a society we need to reassess how we see minority communities. More often than not, the examples of a "Good Muslim" or a "Good Dalit" or a "Good Adivasi" are examples of colonised Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis. A Hindu continues to be a good citizen despite being conservative, whereas minority communities are asked to shed some of their identity for "assimilation". In reference to the subscriber’s comments, the examples of Islamic scholars highlight my point further. Our conversation needs to begin with the lowest common denominator. ScoopWhoop did a bit called Dharam Sankat on this. Would love to hear Mehraj’s thoughts on this.

Thank you.



Hi Team,

I am writing to you regarding the discussion related to the Afghan army in Episode 342. A lot of you discussed the Afghan army not putting up a fight because of either prior negotiations or just their inability or unwillingness to do so. I have been reading a lot of analysis and commentary coming out of Afghanistan as well as the western media and it says a major reason is corruption. It has been reported that a lot of money, instead of being poured into the training of the Afghan army, was being given to defense contractors. There have also been reports of overreporting of the number of soldiers in the Afghan army by around 100 percent to get more money from the Americans.

Would love to hear the panel’s views on this. Love Hafta and Newslaundry. Keep doing the good work and take care of yourselves.

Aman Seth


Hi Hafta team,

I love listening to Hafta and eagerly wait for Tippani and Newsance.

My recent disappointment is with the comment by Anand about MJ Akbar, that he doesn’t have any strong opinion and he loves his work also. I found it is very enabling to these powerful people who don't get any repercussions as it is. Why is it important to praise them as well?

Thanks. Keep up the good work.



Hi NL Team,

Thanks for the wonderful show. Really love the free-wheeling discussions and a fair bit of sensibility and freshness. In the last Hafta on Afghanistan, a point was made that for Indians, Afghans are more acceptable than the Rohingya refugees as they have more money. This is far from the truth as Afghanistan is in the bottom five poorest countries. The reason is that we Indians accept fairer-skinned and better-built Afghans over dark and short Rohingyas. Even though Bangladesh has a higher per capita income than India now, in the eyes of most Indians, Pakistani people would be better placed than Bangladeshis for similar reasons.

The second reason for accepting Afghan refugees is to rub the nose of Pakistan while rejecting the Rohingya is like stopping Bangladeshis and not showing the Myanmar military junta in bad light since they give support against the Northeast terrorist groups.

Thoughts of the group on the same?

Jashan Gill

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