Hafta letters: Yeh Bhi Theek Hai, RSS podcast, privilege of bail

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

WrittenBy:NL Team
Date:
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I listened to the first two episodes of Yeh Bhi Theek Hai podcast and, frankly, I found them quite underwhelming. Particularly, the flow of discussion did not feel coherent. In the second episode, the topic of respecting elders was just odd and not interesting at all. This might just be me, but my expectations from NL are higher than this. Your ground reports and journalistic work are excellent, you don’t need to ride on the popularity of YouTubers and comedians.

You will always have my support. Thanks for the brilliant work.

ND

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Dear panel,

I have a request: If you plan to do a series on science in Indian scriptures, I would like to contribute to that as I have read much content regarding that as a hobby. I am a scientist working in India so I think I may be able to help in this regard. Also, one point about the NEP controversy. I read this document; I looked through the part about Manusmriti. The document does not recommend teaching about caste, but it says there are certain things mentioned like "injunctions to the effect of prohibiting the spilling of pollutants, leftovers, blood or poison in water; spitting in water; urinating on the streets or in the barns; defecating/urinating in fields" which would be useful for students. Is teaching this in your opinion wrong even though it is mentioned in Manusmriti?

Regards,

AK

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Hello NL team,

Why don't you do Akash Banerjee SNL-type YouTube live? One of my observations is that when you answer paid questions for a non-subscriber it will help Abhinandan's constant reiteration of the ‘pay to keep news free’ cause. Also, I would like to see some ground reporting from Telangana where TRS is going after two national parties, which have a very strong foothold, to get a 3rd term. Not to forget Mr RS Praveen Kumar of BSP who is also gaining a lot of popularity. Loved the new show Ye Bhi Theek Hai.

Syed

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Hi all,

I recently listened to the first episode of Let's Talk About: RSS and think it is superb. I have used this to try to entice a couple of friends to become NL subscribers. One suggestion: for a new visitor to your website, it's actually not easy to see that these exist. One has to scroll all the way to the bottom. Perhaps a different layout could help make your fantastic content more discoverable. Your social share plugin also auto directs to the web version of FB rather than the app, meaning people need to sign in to FB again. Very few people will bother (I don't). Great work as always.

Rishi

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Hi Manisha,

The new season of Only Murders in the Building is out. Waiting for your recommendation about it.

Thanks,

Inder

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Hi NL team,

I have a criticism of the Hafta 389 Uber case discussion. Honestly, it was a bit difficult to follow the chain of thought and the discussion seemed to take many detours without any initial discussion of what actually the issue was. I think it would have been great to present an overview of the issue at the start similar to what Jayashree did for OPS, EPS issue. Keep up the good work.

Thanks, Mohit

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The BORI, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, in Pune was set up in 1917 to research ancient Indian writings. Their version of the Critical Edition of Mahabharata is considered the benchmark – it came after decades of work on many scripts beyond sanskrit, with scholars from across the world. I had attended a course and the academics involved were quite sensible. You should reach out to them for the Let’s Talk About episode you guys mentioned.

Sonali Singh

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On ancient/traditional wisdom: It’s a good thing people want to learn more but I’m wary of their source of information and how it’s interpreted. Someone I know in the US got really into Jaggi Vasudev right before Covid and he did all the ayurvedic preventive herbal formulas. Told all his friends and family back in India to try them during the 2nd wave of Covid. When they refused, he got angry and said why Indians don’t trust their own culture and blindly believe western medicine.

Also I want to second the recommendation of the book Viral from a subscriber’s letter last week. I listened to an interview with the author. She’s a biologist and she got trolled badly for raising a valid question. Many in the science/medical field were too scared to speak against WHO and CDC. So, we end up with only those who are not directly in the field giving what’s considered “unpopular” opinion which turned out to be correct. One of them is Zeynep Tufekci. Her columns in NYT are worth checking out.

Anonymous

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Hi NL team

First time writing to Hafta. Greatly appreciate the programming, though I’m going to miss Meghnad from the panel. The latest YBTH is a great addition.

With rest to LTA on RSS, I have to make three points:

1. Please bring on Mr Shamshul Islam, who is a great researcher on RSS material. No discussion on RSS would be complete without his input.

2. The podcast mostly ignored the elephant in the room: the role of Mr Amit Shah in the current rise of BJP-RSS. Was it deliberate or oversight?

3. Previous RSS affiliations should not be seen as cast in stone as of Mr Prabhu Chawla, Mr Chaurasia, Mr Rajat Sharma, et al, and it is possible to break from it as is the case with Mr Shardul Katyaan. Either that or Mr Katyaan is a 'sleeper cell' .

Second, please point me to relevant contributions/episodes of Mr Ranganatham at NL.

Lastly, the app updates on Apple are getting a little annoying as it wants to update every time I start the app. (The latest one being 0.8.3, I think.)

Bharat Mata Ki Jai!

Stay safe,

Caged Parrot

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1. Manisha suggested that colonisation caused deracination that caused the disconnect with our culture. How much of it could be attributed to the fact that a lot of our culture relied mostly on oral traditions passed on to the select few?

By conservative estimates, Indian civilization has flourished since 4,000BC and we don't have any early manuscripts of written Sanskrit, probably not until Panini (~600BC).

2. While the app is good, the podcast player tends to lose history if left unattended for a day. Could it be possible to make it remember the timestamp where we left the podcast? Or provide RSS feeds for all paywall stuff (I know it is a lot of work. Just asking).

Thanks for indulging me :)

Anonymous

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Hello again,

I was wondering if anyone on the NL team could enlighten me as to the purpose of starting the Yeh Bhi Theek Hai podcast? Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I feel like NL resources could have been better utilised funding a deep investigative story or another podcast series like Let's Talk About. Frankly, Kamra’s and Rajoura's takes were really disappointing and there was nothing new said that hasn't been said 20 years ago, especially as it concerns religion.

Loved listening to Let's Talk About: RSS. Really well-made and using subscriber inputs added a nice touch. More LTA and less Kamra and co. As always, striving for upward mobility.

Thanks,

Ankur Sen

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In the last Hafta, Abhinandhan misconstrued my letter. In that 3-part letter, I had underlined the fact that the plight of lakhs of undertrials does not negate what folks like Mohammed Zubair suffer due to state vendetta – obviously their illegal arrests should be condemned. I was alluding to the shallowness of the media discourse on judiciary, I was trying to nudge you guys to refrain from doing that. NL to its credit has not fallen in this trap of viewing every legal case from an ideological lense. I appreciate NL for doing a story on the FCRA notice that Rana Ayubb received last year; that story was an attempt to explain various intricacies of FCRA Act.

Manisha said in response to my letter that in 2020 the manner in which SC handled Arnab Goswami's case was unprecedented. No, it was not. Liberal critics (polemicists) of SC say his case was heard on a Saturday (SC does not function on Saturday). They make this ingenious argument by not revealing a nugget that in 2020, SC also heard journalist Vinod Dua's petition for relief in a sedition case on Saturday – he was granted protection from arrest on that day. In 2020, there were 77 such cases that were listed urgently in SC during the lockdown alone.

Yesterday, Zubair finally came out of jail after he was granted interim bail in all UP cases by the Supreme Court. In that bail order, it categorically stated that Zubair's release must take place within 2-3 hours – such a direction is not given in an ordinary bail order. This is not the only unusual thing that the court did in Zubair's case. I assume none of you would have noticed what happened on July 18: his petition was not listed, so his lawyer made an oral mention before Justice DY Chandrachud, who was initially reluctant to hear the petition but, after repeated requests from the lawyer, agreed to hear the petition after 15-20 minutes. In order to do this extraordinary act, the court postponed all the pending cases of the day to July 22.

I am not doing monkey balancing by equating Arnab's case with Zubair's case, I am merely making a point that courts in India can go to any extent to safeguard liberty of people who can afford to hire big shot lawyers. Well-meaning folks often lament when a prominent journalist who is speaking "truth to power" and questioning a " fascist state" is denied bail. We (upper middle class) do not even realise that to get a matter listed urgently in an Indian court is a privilege itself, a court granting bail or not is a secondary issue. To put things in perspective I end my long letter with data on pendency of bail matters in India: as on December 18, 2020, 931 cases relating to bail were pending in the Supreme Court whereas the number of pending bail applications in high courts and lower courts was 91,568 and 1,96, 861 respectively.

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