Hafta letters: Journalists on Congress, Indians and accents, Babones interview

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Hi Abhinandan,

I loved the Babones interview. Gore ko sahi aukat dikhaya. Your sarcasm and intelligence went right through him! Keep up the good work!



Hello everyone,

I have been wanting to write for too long. You all are doing such amazing work. Thanks and stay strong.

I have always been critical and against paywalls; I also wrote when you were deciding to get Hafta behind paywall. A lot has happened since then and while I do understand the need for you to do so, I'm still against paywalls for simple reason that they restrict someone from accessing that knowledge which, on most days, was acquired using publicly available material or means.

Anyway, I'm writing to suggest possibly to have a three-month (or a time of your choosing) hold over paywall content and then making it outside paywall so everyone could access it. Also, each time you publish paywall content, schedule a social media post to publish when the content goes out of the paywall with, say, #NLArchive.

Among other things, this will help potential subscribers discover premium content that you have.

PS: On year-end Hafta, you were talking about fave NL pieces. Mine is your two-part series on Cauvery (Ponni) (see here and here).

Dheeraj DK


This letter pertains to Abhinandan Sekhri's response to letters regarding the Babones interview in the last podcast of 2022. You said that if we don't interrogate thoroughly we also risk losing space, the sale of NDTV being an example.

As a social science researcher and having been in the media for only two years many, many moons ago, I am tied between listening (giving space) and then responding, engaging to the extent that one can handle the madness and the utter lack of intellect, and the other being to fight and take back space upfront. 

Both methods are necessary. I guess my question is to the NL team – when does one decide not to engage and when does one decide to engage? Would it be possible to talk about strategies and tactics to deal with the madness and noise? to not cede space and mind. 

Eveleen K


I am no politics expert and DO NOT want to pretend to be one and what I am going to say is purely on what I heard the panelists discussed.

It seemed to me that the BJP is playing the long game of first tapping into the base that does not like Dravidian politics because they may not be making headway in trying to tap into ones that like it. I guess they are first trying to find people who hate Dravidian politics and then build its way up through horse-trading and all other shenanigans, like most right-wing parties do all over the world. First make something unpalatable part of the discussion until that becomes palatable, and then connect that one thing to everything else and then (hopefully) power. Didn't work for Geert Wilders in the Netherlands or Marie Le Pen in France, but did work for Giorgia Meloni. However, everyone progressed a lot from where they started. Where do you think this one is headed?

Anuni Nonymous


Happy new year, NL team. Loved the Babones interview, Abhinandan.

I would like to know the views of this panel (especially from Manisha and Raman) about journalists participating in Bharat Jodo Yatra or openly praising RaGa ‘s looks, stamina and whatnot like godi media does for Modi. I would have understood if they were praising some concrete achievements or policies of a Congress government in some state. If the regime changes in the future, what are the chances of these journalists becoming cosy with the next government? I know it is still difficult for them to match Arnab or Gullu. I feel that most of these journalists are Congress-leaning always but during UPA 2 (except Ravish), they found it difficult to defend and started pretending neutral. It became very easy for them to "speak truth to power’"after few years of Modi. Now, slowly, they are showing their preferences while pretending to be neutral. Your thoughts? 

Keep up the good work. 



I have been living in Europe for many years and do have an American accent when talking to people here, even though I have never been to the US. I think it's because most people understand American accents due to their movies and shows and using that just makes it easier to communicate, or I will have to repeat everything to people here.

During my initial days, I had to repeat everything to white people here because they couldn't catch my South Indian accent and then sub-consciously I realised that using an fake American accent makes two-way communication easier with them. And eventually, that is what language is for, I feel. Now it has just become a part of me, but I don't use that accent when brown people are around for the same reason – it's easier to make them understand me when I am not using my fake American accent.

Just giving a perspective. I could still have an inferiority complex or be subservient to the white skin.

Fake Accent Walla


One year back in some entertainment podcast, a person remarked that (and I paraphrase) "I cringed when I watched RRR" and "I feel embarrassed when I know non-Indians are watching RRR". When I heard this, I felt, "bhai, what self-hate you have". If non-Indians make fun of it or don't like it, tennu ki, apna mast reh.

And then last week I heard the same person lecturing that we Indians are so enamored of white skin. One year ago, he was feeling embarrassed because he was concerned about what non-Indians will think of us after watching RRR (which non-Indians are showering with awards).

And last week, when people criticised an interview of his, he lashed out at Indians for putting white people on a pedestal.

What kind of hypocrisy is that? For reference to who this person is, see this link.



I've got a suggestion for a documentary idea that will be highly impactful and increase viewership. 

It's about the illegal mining of mica that is still carried out in Jharkhand and Bihar. Mica is an element that makes products shiny and shimmery, it can be found in everyday cosmetics, paints, and even in shiny cars and phones. 

At these illegal mines (there are roughly 1,000 in Jharkhand), child labuor is extensively used, with an estimated 22,000 children working seven days a week with no access to schooling. Additionally, there are 20-30 deaths per month and it's worth noting that India is the largest producer of mica, accounting for about 60 percent of the world's supply.  I stumbled upon this issue while researching new-age global cosmetic companies that claim to be using natural ingredients despite knowing where mica is being sourced from. 

I'm sure you guys can reach out to both sides of the story and stitch it together like Johnny Harris or Vox Explained



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