Hafta letters: Caste discrimination, Khalistan questions, a poem on Hathras

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

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Dear panel,

1) Abhinandan mentioned Sacheen Littlefeather and her appearance at the Oscars. But you should also mention there is a dispute regarding her ancestry and that it is alleged she lied about being Native American. See here.

2) Abhinandan mentioned that India has not been able to solve the caste problem as compared to the US which progressed so far on racism. But do you really think caste is as simple as racism? Bbecause in the USA, it's just whites vs Blacks while in India, it's not only Brahmin vs Dalits. There are many intermediate castes in between. Even amongst OBCs and SCs, there are several groups that discriminate against each other. Do you really believe the caste problem can be easily solved even though the system is really complex?  

3) Lastly, I had a question to all the panelists. Do you have good friends that have total opposite political opinions as yours?



Abhinandan queried, "Even if the governor was wrong and Uddhav wins, will Shinde continue as CM?"

Raman sir answered, "There will be fresh elections."

That is incorrect. This precise issue was argued before the Supreme Court.

UT's lawyers said: (1) SC can quash the letter from the governor calling for a trust vote; (2) Since the SC allowed a floor test subject to ongoing proceedings, if the final outcome is in UT's favour, the Shinde faction has to digorge all benefits received the from the interim orders + either (1) or (2) would restore UT as CM.

Shinde’s lawyers replied: Since UT resigned and never faced a floor test, (1) governor’s decision has become academic; (2) UT cannot take benefit of SC's interim order, since it was premised only on the floor test happening + SC cannot undo a CM’s voluntary resignation.

Many other complex issues are intertwined. Can’t summarise here. At best, by-elections will be held if the Shinde faction is disqualified by the SC. But that may happen notwithstanding the decision on the governor’s actions and Shinde remaining CM.

Email 2

Re: Hafta 425, I would request you to please discuss this ground report done by Samdish Bhatia. Some portions are so heartbreaking! If this is what our national capital is in 2023, I shudder to think what's happening elsewhere.



This is on Hafta 424. I don't agree with the guest. I am really fed up of people saying it's BJP or related to Rama. Please read up on Alluri Sita Ram Raju. He's one of the freedom fighters from the Telugu region. Also, please don't think whoever carries a bow is related to Rama. Please look at his statues.

Also, in the launch before the shoot of RRR, it was claimed it's a fictional story. If Rajamouli claims it's either a real story or related to the BJP, he is definitely in a soup.

Please look at the biographical film of Alluri Sita Rama Raju. His attire is same as shown in RRR. The moment where Bhima gives Alluri this attire is something every Telugu person connects with. That's why it is part of the film which everyone missed.

It's not like I like Rajamouli's work. Lots of unnecessary violence in his movies.

Email 2

Sorry for my previous outburst email. It was a instinctive email while hearing the Hafta on RRR. The irony here is the actual name of the freedom fighter is Rama and he's wearing saffron as he chose to be a sanyas. I don't want someone to sideline a tribal freedom fighter with a BJP narrative. Talking about it gives more fuel to their narrative (if it exists). I feel 90 percent of Andhra/Telangana people will not look at it through a communal lens.

Big kudos to the whole team. I am a fan of Manisha's Newsance. Introduction and subscription to Newslaundry happened only because of that.



Hello to everyone at Newslaundry

I understand the need for news outlets to put content behind a paywall to generate non advertising revenue. 

As a consumer, one is forced to subscribe to multiple outlets, even if one only wants to access one or two articles a few times a year. Like what happens in the case of reading an article from some of the foreign news outlets. Living in India, I may not want to subscribe to an American or English outlet but still want to read an occasional article. 

What I'm getting at is, why don't subscription driven platforms have the option of paying to access individual pieces rather than full-fledged subscriptions? I was wondering if you'll have some insight into this.

I know the Wire used to give an option of donating if you liked a particular article but it's not quite the same as subscribing to an article.

Is it a business decision, or hard to implement, or perhaps regulatory constraints?

Thank you for the work, stay true, stay honest!



Dear Abhinandan,

The SVB bank collapse precipitated due to the bank-run brought around by rising interest rates and falling yields of their long-term bonds, but you simply cannot absolve the bank managers of failing in discharging their jobs.

The risk of falling bond yields and start-ups needing their money was apparent from last year. But the bank management simply failed to take notice of this and take appropriate action, like slowly selling shares to build liquidity. 

This calls in question the competency of the bankers and thus in turn questions the criteria by which the bankers were selected. And without a doubt, diversity was one of the important criteria. Not acknowledging that is a very partisan and political spin on facts, quite like when many leftist intellectuals declared that #BlackLivesMatter protests could not become super spreader events for Covid.

Email 2

Abhinandan, you are right that the debate should not be about reservation vs merit, but the debate has to be about reservation vs suitability for a job. 

Bringing privilege in the reservation debate is muddying the waters and is strawmanning the opposite site. The questions should be about discrimination and violence vs job suitability and freedom to choose your employee/coworker. 

Focusing on reserving jobs for the upwardly mobile people who already have enough "privilege" to pay high fees for coaching institutes takes away the focus from the violence and discrimination happening in villages every day and is an easy copout for caste-politics (it’s easier to protest for quotas than to punish the criminals from dominant castes). Similarly, in urban settings, the problem of savarna bigotry against other castes can only be solved by inter-caste marriages, shaming the bigots, and raising the consciousness of people. Reservation would not help it and in fact would breed resentment.



Hi! I am from Kochi and we have had a massive landfill fire that had sent pollution numbers to the range of top cities; but the main pollutants being dangerous carcinogens. There is a lot of corruption and backchannel mangle-ups here, with the common man at the receiving end. I hope you guys can catch up on this sometime soon before the heat dies down.

PS: I love Hafta and Newsance and try to follow Charcha, etc. More English and South-inclusive items, please. Thanks for keeping me awake at my night shifts.

PPS: Meet you at Kochi!



Hi team

Great work as always. Two suggestions:

1) Get Mehraj on Hafta for the Kashmir journalist crackdown. Anuradha Bhasin may also be a good option.

2) Let's Talk About for climate change. Busting myths, what has been done so far, kya kuch hua hai/kitna bacha hai.

Climate change reporting is a great area for NL to grow.




Hi NL team,

On the reservation vs merit issue, wanted to look at it from another angle.

Recently Open AI released GPT4, an AI model that among other things outperforms 60-90 percent of people in exams like LSAT, US bar rxams, GRE and AP exams in the US. They didn't test it with Indian exams but the results are probably going to be similar. 

Now GPT doesn't really "know" or "understand" the underlying subjects. And yet, if you accept the "marks=merit" argument, then this model is more meritorious than many humans who DO understand the subjects. 

The notion that marks measure merit was never a strong one to begin with, but GPT4's results pose a serious challenge who believe in that notion.

Exterminate the Daleks


Hi NL team,

Kudos to you guys on the Hafta podcast. I'm a regular listener, and enjoy your discussions. There are many times when your opinions on subjects have left me fuming, but that's ultimately a good thing, as it makes sure I don't end up in an echo chamber.

Please pass on my appreciation to Atul for his interview with Amritpal. It's a good example on how to confront your subjects on their viewpoints with grace. I do wish he had explicitly called out the separatist for his Sikh supremacist ideology, something he justifies by citing the toxic Hindu supremacist viewpoint. Just a personal opinion of mine, which takes nothing away from the interview. Also, did you gain any new insight about Amritpal through the interview? For what it's worth, I got an opportunistic huckster vibe from him.

I hope you dedicate some time to this situation in Punjab in subsequent haftas. The information on the '80s militancy makes me nervous.

Keep up the good work.



This letter is in the context of discussions on caste-based discrimination in Hafta with activists Somnath Waghmare and Sumit Chauhan. Both of them spoke forcefully, but the dichotomy of “us” and “them” in their thought process might only help to perpetuate the simmering tension. There is no denying that caste-based discrimination is a serious disease. It has even managed to permeate through religious boundaries. I suggest a Hafta segment to examine whether our remedial actions have taken us in the desired direction. For example, we should question whether reservation in college admissions and jobs or laws to protect the marginalised have the potential to get rid of the disease eventually. Can caste-based “reverse” discrimination be a solution to challenges posed by the legacy of caste-based discrimination or it merely helps to get one group even with the other group, and further perpetuate the “us” vs “them” conflict that, eventually, manifests in several ugly forms?



What are Abhinandan's views on new-age politicians such as Atishi Marlena (Delhi's new education minister) and P Thiagarajan (Tamil Nadu's finance minister)?



I am a long-time subscriber and generally write letters with my name but for this I would like to be anonymous.

Ashwin in his letter in Hafta 422 almost declined Khalistani activities in Brisbane (and Australia) on the basis that only one news portal carried the news. Well, I too have lived in Brisbane for more than 15 years and I can tell that recent events are true and factful.

Since the last few months, there have been organised efforts to revive the movement. They vandalised three Hindu temples in Melbourne. They beat up a few Indian Australians at the site of the Khalistani referendum. In Brisbane, they twice vandalised and posted Khalistani flags on the Indian consulate and threatened some consulate staff over the phone. It was forced to shut down. They then vandalised a Hindu temple in Brisbane followed by the Khalistani referendum here.

The motives are very dirty. The graffiti on temples was "1984 Sikh riots, Modi the murder". Doesn't make sense, right? I've seen a truck with a huge banner that reads "60 indigenous Sikhs were burnt alive by Hindu Brahmins in India".

Well, for the mainstream media, these are not their national issues. Hence they wouldn't spare resources for these stories.

Now about The Australia Today, yes, it is a news portal where the staffcould be majoritarian. But I didn't find anything wrong with their facts. People can judge by themselves (see website here).

In short, it is not propaganda. The resurrection of Khalistani separatists is real and their Hinduphobic activities scare temple-goers and their families in India.

A few photos attached of their banner and graffiti vandalism on the temple wall.


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There are numerous videos as well. Long story short, let's put aside your bias and condemn this dangerous group.



Hi Newslaundry team,

I read your reports and stories everyday to understand what's going in our country. You have a great team and a good system to make fair and good use of your resources. Thanks for your work. Sometime I feel bad for not being able to support you enough financially. I used to hear Ravish Kumar and he introduced me to you guys and other independent media house such as PARI, Down To Earth, and others. On Hafta and Charcha, I heard you guys are going to make a documentary about the Hathras case. I didn't know where to share this but I wrote a poem a little while back on the same topic and I am sharing with you. Dedicated to Hathras victims and all other people going through this.

Poem is attached below. Excuse me, non-Hindi speakers, for not translating to English. 

Here's the poem.

All the best.


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