Hafta letters: Newslaundry tax ‘survey’, prospects of regional parties, Taliban’s ‘cruelty index’

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Regarding the power of bureaucracy.

I moved out of India when I turned 40. Now that I look back, maybe I took the decision unconsciously after an encounter with bureaucrats on Facebook. These were my schoolmates and I was venting about a bad experience I’d had with the police. The kind of blowback I got left me flabbergasted. I had to decide whether I wanted to be subject to the whims of these pompous, self-serving people who had complete power over all aspects of my life. I realized how little agency I had as a citizen in my own country. Better to be a second-grade person in a first-world country than a first-grade citizen in a third-world country. At least their public servants respect taxpayers.


Hi Newslaundry team,

I am a big fan of your work. Keep going, and more power to you all. I have two suggestions.

  1. Can you please start discussing issues which might not be in the news currently but are of significance to a big chunk of the population, i.e. unemployment, economy, poor standard of education, rural-urban divide, water conservation, climate change etc.

  2. While discussing an issue, can you also invite a foreign expert or journalist who sees the issue from an outsider's perspective.



Hi Abhinandan,

This must have been a really stressful week, and though I don't always agree with all the opinions of NL, I think it is extremely important to support NL as you are actually doing real journalism. On a lighter note, it is impressive that you upheld the "NL apna Hafta kabhi nahi chodte" slogan a day after the IT "survey".

Wanted to comment on why regional parties don't do well nationally. Fully agree that a more successful regional party is unlikely to succeed nationally, but I am less bullish on AAP. Mainly because AAP, like most parties, is built on the popularity of Arvind Kejriwal, who is governing a tiny state. If AAP takes any other state (say Punjab), then that leader automatically overshadows Arvind. So the interest of AAP is somewhat against the interest of its main leader, i.e. the leader has an incentive to not let it grow. That's my theory, maybe I am more cynical or less informed as I don't live in Delhi. Would like to hear your thoughts though, as you are more knowledgeable. By the way, the TMC will hit the same problem if they go beyond Tripura to states like Uttar Pradesh.

The other point about the US government versus the Indian government – it's the institutions that are stronger in the US. Power is so diffused that even Donald Trump, after trying his best, with the GOP's help and a friendly Supreme Court, couldn't override the election. It's tough to imagine the system could withstand such an attack if the same thing happened in India.

Wishing you all the best through these harsh times,



Hi all,

I have been waiting for the analysis of who owns the Indian media that I believe you have planned. I ask because ever since I found out that Lallantop is at least partly owned by India Today, if not fully, I cannot imagine it being honest. They have taken quite a “centrist” take on the farmer protests, often forgetting how the bills were passed. I know someone at Lallantop did a great documentary about the protests but that was it. I think it was part of keeping up the “unbiased” mask.

I write this to Hafta because Manisha seemed quite impressed with their Uttar Pradesh election coverage. I can’t believe the people who bring us Aaj Tak will allow anyone to bring me any honest report. But I am asking you guys because this is not my subject and it certainly is yours.

Kapil Sharma


Loved Chintan’s piece on Ujjwala scheme. Thank you so much.

Anonymous Kumar



Love your platform. I’m a subscriber for 4 or 5 years now. I was on the liberator subscription while it lasted and now I am on the basic one. I was wondering what I needed to do to get a beta version of your app and a private feed for Hafta so that I am able to listen to it from my podcast player.

I understand you have some long-term vision for it, but if I upgrade my membership, will I be able to use these features today?




I'm writing in after the “survey” conducted by the IT department. Hopefully, the unintentional “free press” that you received increased your subscription numbers. Happy to hear of Mehraj's international sojourn, but will surely miss his insights on the show.

I recently visited the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC and remembered what Abhinandan said regarding the purpose of a memorial. This museum is spread across four floors with the events leading up to the Holocaust and the actual horrors, told in the most emotive and respectful manner. On the ground floor is the Hall of Remembrance, a large space, intentionally sparse, allowing for people to sit in quiet reflection. I agree that the Jallianwallah Bagh renovation missed an opportunity to offer the same to our people. I'm sure though that any understated aesthetic that would have been planned was overruled in favour of the most sensory overloaded design. Sigh!!!

Anyways, as always, love the work you do, and best wishes for the rest of the year.

Keith Rebelo


Hi team,

Thanks for reading and answering my last Hafta letter. This is my second letter about previous week's Hafta. The Jallianwala Bagh renovation – sorry to say I don't agree with Manisha on this. A sombre place shouldn't be converted into a music and dance show. Not sure if you have visited the Kargil memorial, I have. No one does any show there, the army men tell the story and we always have goosebumps. Charcha guest Hridayesh has said it with so much clarity. So yes I am strictly against renovation, it should be restored.

Thanks again and keep fighting the good fight .



Dear NL team,

I am a long-time subscriber and supporter of the NL news model.

It’s often observed that whenever there is a critical opinion on Islam or Islamic traditions, Mehraj comes with context-based explanation. I have no doubt that he is perhaps the most eligible to comment on issues related to Islam amongst the usual NL panel. But I think his mind blocks his otherwise very sharp intellect when he tries to defend those verses in the last Hafta. 😊

I will explain why. I was born and raised in an ecosystem where I get to chat with many scholars of ancient Hindu scriptures. With them I have often argued about a few problematic verses in Manu Smriti and Ram Charit Manas about Shudras and women. Believe me every time I find some problematic text, they will have specific context-based genuine arguments in favour of why it was written the way it is.

So, when Mehraj argues that the Quran’s text has a specific purpose and context (which I don’t doubt) but it is the interpreters and the followers who misuse it, isn’t it the case with pretty much all religious texts? Majority of Hindus have never read Manu Smriti in their life. But few problems are ingrained in our culture because few things were written that way. Similarly, one can’t easily dismiss that the text in Quran has nothing to do with some problems in Islamic cultures.

Damn word count. Went beyond 200. Anyway, I just wanted to point out Mehraj’s possible confirmation bias. Keep up the good work.

Bhavesh Bhatt


Hi NL team,

I could not stop my urge to write another letter after my previous letter wasn't read or mentioned at all. That letter was sent prior to the podcasts on religion being published. There I argued the same thing that was discussed in episode 1.

I also wanted to share my annoyance when the "cruelty index" of the Taliban was discussed. 2w. I felt the same level of annoyance when Alt News spent donors' money in-fact finding the timestamp of Talibani videos.

Is there any need to find nuances and objectivity in how the Taliban shall be criticised?

Also, when you invite religious scholars for the next part of the podcast (I don't think you should) ask them this question to test their openness for discussion: "Which points from your religious text do you think can be challenged?".

There is no point in inviting "scholars" who are hardwired into their belief system.

I shouldn’t be distracted by panellists' opinions as I don’t pay for them. I pay for news to be free and fair. Keep up the good work.

Bhavesh Bhatt


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