Hafta letters: Language and Hindi imposition, moonlighting, freebie culture

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Hi NL team. You all do a great job. However, the model currently in place is very limiting. I don't see anything wrong in taking advertisements as long as you control who is in. I do consume a lot of good content on public media that is ad driven, but still is good and not compromised because it's ad paid. NL can still ask for donations but let the platform be free to allow the voice to really spread.

Absolutely sad to hear wonderful people leaving the NL team but I can understand their emotions. Right now, I am confused if I am paying as a donation or really paying for the content. Does not fit either of them correctly. After all this, I will still try to keep up my subscription.

Jeeth

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Hi team,

On Hafta 399, everyone had an agenda. Amrit against RSS, Abhinandan against other news organisations (Firstpost). We come here to listen to issues from people who are not prejudiced. Lastly, podcasts in the app start from the beginning if you leave midway. I have a Disruptor subscription. I'm ready to pay the difference for a subscription with RSS feed. Please guide. The app is really frustrating.

Gautam Moharil

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Dear Hafta team,

I have been regularly listening to your podcast religiously ever since I subscribed. Really loved the insights from Sunny and Amrit and it feels scary and embarrassing with what is happening in the UK and US. This podcast and A&A make me miss home a lot less. Keep doing the amazing work. You got this, Newslaundry!

Love from London,

Sean

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Hello everyone!

A lot of people criticise Abhinandan for being a liberal and a free market person but we must really appreciate that, despite that, he has employed leftists like Meghraj and Rayshree and doesn't censure them. This is a very rare thing and this is what makes Newslaundry so unique.

Also, you guys were discussing home ownership. Almost everyone I know in Mumbai owns a house that they inherited or bought with inherited money. I don't see how anyone can afford a nice 3-4 BHK in Mumbai unless they get into the most prestigious colleges in India and even then wil have to buy on a long-term EMI.

Question for Abhinandan: If you had pursued a conventional career and been a sellout, you could have possibly made over 100 crore by now. My understanding is you don't even own a house in Delhi. You never regret being principled and giving up so much money?

Anonymous

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I watched a play, Annie Londonberry. She spins fantastic tales (true and untrue) with tabloids of the 1800s. News was always about spin and adverts, isn't it? Thoughts?

On moonlighting, eight-hour contracting is a factory era monolith. What matters is the employee using his eight hours for quality work. Now, if he/she indulges in corporate espionage, termination and legal notice. Thoughts? Besides, have you heard of background checks – what they do?

Have you heard of Udemy/YouTube? Baat niyat ki hai, if employee wants to learn, they will learn from all these. They do not need mentors or networking sessions.

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Which brings me to the question, what the F have you been doing to make it better? Do you hold learning sessions online with Madhu/others?

Seen the same rants in three sectors: utilities, oil and gas. The new generation has to change for us, we will not change for them. The new gen says, I have other professions to choose from, bye.

Dhiraj

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Hey all,

This is regarding something Mehraj said about the UK government being responsible for colonial policies after a while instead of royals and so we shouldn't lay the blame of it on them. I don't blame Mehraj in particular for it since it's a narrative I've seen from multiple people in the US too. I do agree to a certain extent, but the royalty has symbolic power which they can use to assuage these narratives which they actively choose not to. It's hard to absolve them of all blame when they're casually wearing plundered jewels as tradition and pretending that they were "gifted". So, while I don't lay the blame of colonialism on Elizabeth herself, I don't blame people being indifferent about her death (celebrating it is a bit in bad taste but still it's not a big deal to me)

Siddhant Banerjee

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On the Wipro case, Raman and Abhinandan made sense. Raman also had facts – so much for non-Gen Xers.

As a former HR professional (I managed such matters in a large MNC in India), I would be shocked if any company here allows dual employment on full-time employment and doesn't have conflict of interest clauses (merely perusing contracts isn't enough, there are internally published policies that cannot all be put into an offer letter).

If you don't like the terms, quit or negotiate a fixed-term/equivalent contract, or take companies to court if you believe clauses contravene the law or are unfair (no whining about how time-consuming/unfruitful it would be). In between stints of FTE at the company, I worked part-time as a contract worker as I was running an art gallery; others worked as consultants with multiple companies. Yes, different types of contracts should be available, but if there is talent supply for those who agree to standard terms, why would companies make the effort?

Sonali Singh

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Hi team, long-time subscriber.

Responding to the discussion on moonlighting on Hafta 399. While I agree with the principle of adhering to contracts (and on that, I found myself agreeing with Jayashree), the way contracts are designed are quite arbitrary. Abhinandan's monologue made it sound like organisations are magnanimous entities offering opportunities en masse to people (and that they own you) and people don’t recognise that magnanimity and are unfairly taking advantage of them.

Hardly the case. While, in most cases, organisations specify working hours in a contract, most people end up working more hours to meet "deadlines", show "high performance", for "ratings" – all of which are tied to salary and employment. And why do people work more hours? Because they’re competing with others who have both intellectual privilege and social privilege in general. The system is designed as such. The arguments made it sound like a simple give and take – it is not. This needs a more nuanced discussion.

Nitin

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Hi NL team,

Congratulations on the excellent work you are doing. I especially like Ms Pande's shows and analysis and Mr Sekhri's interviews.

This is about Hafta 398, a minor point about the UK. The official name of the UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain is the biggest of the British isles and it comprises England, Wales and Scotland, while the island of Ireland comprises North Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. I felt this was not clear from the discussion with Professor Kapila.

Thanks!

Manjil Saikia

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I believe democracies around the world will fall because eventually democracy won't be able to survive automation. It's inevitable. Most people either already recognise this or will recognise this soon enough, and so you won't have many people fighting for democracy. The fight will be to get your people in power permanently.

Would love to know the panel's view on the above.

Rajaraj (fake name to hide my identity)

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Dear panel,

On moonlighting last week, you brought up good points from both sides. But what did not come up was the context of personal time/space. What anyone does with their personal time and space is literally not an employer's business intellectually and legally. The question to be asked is, of those who were fired, did they steal any IP? Note: Lines of code is not IP as the same can be found over the internet. An IP theft could be if someone zipped up the entire NL app and sold it.

The bigger point is I know friends and colleagues who have been fired by top IT companies simply because they refused to work weekends or do graveyard shifts. I know people who refused to work for clients during Diwali and were fired by New Year during performance review processes, citing failure to build client relationships. The industry is unregulated and outside labour laws. IT in India to me is the wet dream of most American companies to do the worst to employees that they cannot do in their own country!

Satwik Banerjee

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Hi Hafta team,

Last week I heard in passing from Jayashree regarding Leicester that Hinduphobia is a made-up term and is a very recent phenomenon by RW groups. This is untrue. There is a history of this usage with Hindus (including Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains) looked at with particular intersectional disdain of race and religion in the West since the 1400s compared to brown-skin folks of Abrahamic heritage who faced race.

I quote from the Seattle Star in 1907 after the Bellingham riots: "Have you seen the Hindus huddling together on the waste of the flats or silently as their very Buddhist idols."

There is enough literature to show the disgusting manner in which Hindu rituals, mode of prayer and habits have been described in western publications long before 1947 or any modern Hindutva. I would suggest the panel be better informed before callously throwing out statements. I would suggest reading the book Heathen by Kathryn Lum that explores some of these themes.

Ankur Sen

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In Hafta 399, NL in-house panellists, in the middle of a discussion on PFI, suddenly started commenting on the observations of a Supreme Court bench on hate speech on TV. Sadly, the whole discussion happened on an observation that is a clickbait headline: "TV channels chief medium of hate speech".

As per my opinion, the most relevant observations of the bench are as follows:

"The problem is we don't have a regulatory mechanism for TV. I believe that all channels were fined heavily in England. We don't have that system here. Law means sanction, sanctions must be effected…The problem is that they are not being dealt with firmly. If sanctions are effected this will go"

Significantly the bench also observed that it will consider laying down some guidelines which will hold the field until the legislature comes up with a law on the matter.

Koshik Singh

Email 2

One of the Hafta panellists said oral observations do not matter at all. I agree that oral observations are most irrelevant. But the panellist forgot the tell listeners the matter has not been disposed and it has been posted for disposal on November 23, 2022 and the judgement is likely to be reserved on that day. The Hafta panel should have opined on this question: "Guidelines of apex court to regulate broadcast media (it may appoint a committee) will be detrimental to media, or court invervention is the need of the hour since self-regulation has failed completely".

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Guys, brilliant as always. But I feel Mehraj should tone down his blatant bias when it comes to matters related to Muslims or Islam.

Three instances: What happened in Leicester was state-backed Hindutva violence as opposed to autonomous Muslim groups? Mehraj jumped at this and implied quite clearly that Islam in Britain was never state-backed. Pakistan, Egypt, and even the Saudis have had a major role in militant Islam in the UK. Leicester had a major ISPR-backed propaganda element to it.

AU

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Abhinandan has mentioned that Newslaundry subscriptions are stagnating and the trend is the same in the wider online news industry. Relying on subscriptions is one of the hardest ways to run an organisation and kudos to all who are trying to do it.

But it seems news gathering in India is more expensive than in the first world. I recently clicked on an article in Scroll and it requested me to donate $200 for reading it and supporting them. Guardian, that works on a similar model, seems to be happy with a $25 donation if you ever land there. Newslaundry's yearly subscription is Rs 3,000. In contrast, New York Times offers a yearly subscription is less than half that amount in India. A subscription of monthly magazine Caravan costs more than the weekly magazine New Yorker.

What gives?

Mohit Singh

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Manisha, you have not travelled south India. Jayashree, you have not travelled out of Tamil Nadu. LOL, I did that.

I am from Karnataka. Go to South Canara, North Canara, Sullia – the languages spokenthere are Tulu and Konkani, and Kodagu Bashe in Coorg. And doing my engineering in Mysore, I was asked to speak in Kannada. I used to politely say, "Come to Mangalore, speak in Tulu, and I will speak Kannada."

At the height of the Cauvery issue when I started to get a job, Tamilians in Chennai refused to understand English or Kannada. My point is, it goes both ways. And I preferred to go to Rajasthan. Now here, my Rajasthani colleagues were very keen to learn English from me. It brought progress.

Abhinandan, read Richard Eaton's India in the Persianate Age. It explains what Sanskrit and Persian mean to the Indian subcontinent. Have a spare, give me your postal address. Get Richard on the podcast, it will dispel so many wrong notions including Ghazni and the destruction of Somnath.

Dhiraj

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Last December, a friend and I spent three weeks in Arunachal driving through most major valleys from east to west (on a roadtrip from Bangalore*). We learned its tribes and sub-tribes (26 are major, ie over 5,000 people) have their own languages (NOT dialects). And Hindi has emerged as the common one to communicate with each other. Perhaps the need was exacerbated by army personnel, a majority of whom might be from north of the Narmada.

In contrast, broken English was better for communication in Meghalaya in 2015, even in rural parts. Perhaps it's because Meghalaya has three major tribes and languages, not 110+, or has/had more English teachers, tourists and missionaires?

Anyway, Hindi's imposition in the south will be cultural hegemony. Even if people in TN (or England) speak versions of Tamil (or English), the main language is one. Hindi (or French) will be irrelevant for most inhabitants. And those who move out will learn based on their aspirations.

*a plug for my travelogue on TeamBHP!

Sonali Singh

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Hello NL team,

First of all, congratulations on reaching a milestone of 400 episodes of NL Hafta.

I wanted to rant about Manisha and Jayashree's awkward exchange of words on language imposition. During my schooling in the early 1990s, we had three choices to pick from – either you select Hindi, Telugu or Urdu as your first language followed by vice versa second language. This is where the roots of language begin, at least for me.

One language cannot be a political imposition. It has to begin with your education curriculum. I'm born and raised in Hyderabad and can speak, write and read fluent Telugu, Hindi, English and can communicate in Kannada and Tamil a little bit. But when it comes to Tamil Nadu (by the way, TN, KA and undivided AP [AP and TS]) of the olden days, people knew Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam to most extent but they refused to speak other than their native language. But in return, they expect us to speak theirs.

Also, from what I was taught by my ancestors, Telugu was the earth south language.

Syed

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Really surprised by Manisha's certainty that Hindi could be spoken by people in villages in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

In my village in AP, I – Delhi educated who can't speak his mother tongue – started speaking to a kid my age in Hindi, and I remember the blank smile of the other. I didn't understand why the kid did not get it. My dad whacked me round the head and asked me to speak in English instead.

I think it is a very urban, Hindi-speaking, Bollywood-watching population that has the expectation that people will respond to Hindi.

In the US, they have two official languages as the Spanish population is growing. In Spain, it is Spanish (forced by the fascist Franco's regime) but in Catalonia, they still speak Catalan. I just returned from Sardinia (Gramsci was from there) and they have their own language which is completely different from Italian which was forced on them.

Keep up the awesome work.

Srikanth Viswanatha

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You need a longer discussion on PFI. Manisha does a good job on Newsance separating media narrative from actual allegations. But how should a state/society deal with an organisation of this sort?

1) It does not respect the rules of the road. In hartal-prone Kerala, there has always been an understanding that certain items are off-limits – milk vans, ambulances, doctors going to hospital. The PFI stones those as well.

2) Unlike the Sangh affiliates, the PFI does not have separate verticals for indoctrination, organisation, street power and actual criminal conspiracy. Much easier to ban and much harder to combat politically.

3) Like the Sangh, its public pronouncements (democracy, socialism) are not borne out by their message to cadre, which keep leaking out.

4) Not "conservative" viz IUML/Jamiat-e-Ulema (notwithstanding Mehraj's claims). The PFI takes the Jamaat-e-Islami which is, as far as I know, quite close to the Muslim Brotherhood – socialism/social justice via Islam.

Anonymous

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Hey team,

Your mobile website has been a disappointment with The Media Rumble notification coming in the way of the miniplayer. The player cannot be opened or restored.

Sometimes your website behaves as Manisha and Anand, whataboutery and illogical talk.

Somraj Mukherjee

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This is specifically for Raman sir because other than him and Manisha, everyone else is just pelo-ing gyan which I can do as well. Why on earth will you keep referring to Mamata where you should be aware of her association with not just BJP but RSS as well from late 1990s and then the current state of Bengal, especially the education sector?

AND TO THE REST OF THE PANEL, JUST BECAUSE I DO NOT LIKE MODI DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN I WILL LIKE MAMATA.

To Abhinandan: You might think of collaborating with YouTubers who are doing amazing jobs at the state-level. Have a section in the Hafta for 20 minutes from different regions and you can club it via regions like east, west, north and south so you do not keep antagonising people like me who are as concerned about his or her state like the country.

I can suggest one for Bengal: Polumi from Hotat Jodi Uthlo Katha. I am not giving you suggestions on how to run your business but as a subscriber, this makes me really mad.

Auro

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Hi NL team

My letter is in response to Abhinandan's remark on origins of Sanskrit and Tamil (episode 400).

India’s old language is Prakrit and not Sanskrit. Script of Pali and Dhammi (incorrectly to be Brhami or from the mouth of Brahma). Shaivite school could only emerge after AdiShankar in 8th century ACE whereas Pali was found inscribed by Asok in 3rd century BCE on rocks. Proto-Sanskrit emerges after that as Buddhist hybrid Sanskrit, and Sanskrit could only be finalised after the emergence of Nagri script finalised as Devnargri between 1000-1200 ACE. Can we continue to believe that Sanskrit literature came first, its grammar second, and script last?

Such ideas need to be reviewed and NL has some in-house expertise. I request you to go through the links below. If of interest, then invite Science Journey Channel for Media Rumble even at this late stage.

Thanks,

History of Pali and Dhammi

Untold History of Vikramaditya

Caged Parrot Unchained

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Hey everyone! Congrats on the 400th episode.

Last week's discussion on Hindi imposition missed one key point which is behind this vehement opposition to Hindi imposition from different camps. Making Hindi the national language or the only official language gives an unfair advantage to the native speakers as they have grown up speaking it at home and elsewhere. Whereas for a non-native speaker from TN, Kerala etc, Hindi is a second language that is as different from their mother tongue as English. In the future, this can lead to further changes like Hindi being made the primary language of preference in jobs etc, then native Hindi speakers will have an advantage over the others. This basically makes the non-Hindi speakers second class citizens. When we say use English as the link language, it is as alien to the Hindi speaker as it is to the others. All are equally placed to start with. And as a bonus, it is also a global link language.

Regards,

Mathivanan

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In case you are asking questions to a guest, it could be a good idea if Abhinandan lets the panellists start the discussion with their questions. Many times, the discussions turn interesting only after the guest acknowledges Abhinandan's forcefully culled out questions/comments/words from his travel or film or young reporter or DU or hostel days. Apply the logic of TV news – if I am giving you my time, why should you torture me with your stale views? Would you be interested in knowing about my life and past in a podcast that takes a critical jab at the news ecosystem? If nothing meaningful is asked right up, the conversation for the next 10 minutes dips right away.

Abhinav

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Re the discussion on the imposition of Hindi, pushing Hindi as the sole link language smacks of arrogance and the assumption that people and culture south of the Vindhyas don't matter to the ruling elite in Delhi.

Of course one should learn any language they wish, and they do. Tens of thousands of south Indians have learnt Hindi when they have to live and work in the North as have the tens and thousands of Biharis and Assamese migrant workers who have acquired a working knowledge of Tamil for working in Tamil Nadu. That comes naturally and the narrative that Hindi takes primacy over any other language is insulting as is the assumption that everyone understands Hindi. I feel for Jayashree in the panel when the other members unconsciously lapse into Hindi.

India is not a "nation" as the US, UK or France. India is a federal republic and a union of states as per the constitution. It can at best be compared to the European Union and as a union of nations with distinct languages and cultures.

Venu Parthiban

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Thanks for the work you are doing!!

I was born in UP, brought up in Chennai. Hindi is not nature for Tamil-speaking people, neither is English. Life will be a lot easier for kids if they have to learn just a single language outside their language family. In fact, Sanskrit and English (from proto-Indo-European language) are more related than Tamil and Sanskrit. Mother/matru, brother/bhratha, agni/ignite etc have the same origin. These are words used in Tamil that are from Sanskrit but that is because of geographical relation and not language. There is a genre of Tamil songs called gaana.

Sanskrit is a difficult language, beautiful but difficult. It is not a natural language that can evolve. The very word Sam+Krut means manufactured/refined, the languages that existed before that was Prakrit which means natural. It was the language of the elites because of its strict grammar. Usually languages that are lenient evolve and are adopted easily.

Pankaj Kumar Yadav

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The discussion over freebie culture lacks nuance as there’s no clarity in terms of how big these polls promises are from a historical context. Interestingly, Delhi is the only state ending with a budget surplus anyway which shows freebies aren’t to blame here.

NL should work on a story which contextualises these promises and how much the state is spending on freebies on a historic context. Comparing to other countries would be useful too.

Aryan

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Hi, I feel like many subscribers are confused that you have shows with a big comedian like Kunal Kamra on your website but have not been able to retain reporters like Meghnad and Nidhi because you weren't able to match the competitor's pay.

Can you please clarify if you are just hosting Kunal Kamra and not paying him anything? If you are paying him at the expense of reporters, it really brings into question what your priorities are.

Anonymous

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Hi team,

Feedback on the new show:

I just wanted to request you guys to please look into the possibility of a weekly show that gives insight into a specific topic, something on the lines of Shekhar Gupta's Cut The Clutter. I know you wouldn't want to copy the same thing but I know you guys can do this in your own way.

PS: I like the laundry puns you use for your shows and I would like to see more.

Best regards,

Kartikay

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Request for a 'Let's Talk About PFI'.

Really enjoyed the conversation about PFI on last week's Hafta and would absolutely love if they were featured in a Let's Talk About. There is a lot of noise about them in the news, but it's hard for a normal person like me to figure what they are, what they aren't and where they came from.

Also, do you accept editorials from subscribers? I suffer from bipolar disorder and have for a decade now. There isn't too much awareness about mental health conditions other than depression/anxiety in our media, so I'd like to submit an article on this topic if it's possible.

Been following Newslaundry since 2012. I'm a huge fan of your work and want this model of media financing to succeed.

Regards,

Rahul

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