Hafta letters: Gender, pronunciations, Dalai Lama, Karnataka election coverage

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

ByNL Team
Hafta letters: Gender, pronunciations, Dalai Lama, Karnataka election coverage
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Dear NL family ,

I just wanted to check if you guys had the time to see the India Today round table with Captain Gopinath, the founder of Air Deccan. The takedown of the governing party, opposition, media and business houses is epic. The anchor was clearly so uncomfortable hearing the answers and tried his best to deflect by taking the discussion towards their "editorial standards", but was left speechless by the replies he received.

We get carried away by so much noise that we often miss out on hearing things which make sense in the media. I believe the change of any government in the country is made by the rural poor and the marginalised. The urban middle class forever will be stuck in the vortex for whataboutery, a past panelist has made a name for himself using the same standard. The middle and upper class  will not engage in any behaviour which threatens its privilege. They might give up democracy as long as they have internet and AC rooms. The times of Jai and Veeru is no more.


Hi panel, wanted a view from the panel as someone who keeps facing lawsuits. Watching how Fox had to settle defamation cases with Dominion, where do you think is the scope of such lawsuits in India? 

Given the grounds of admission of the case was based on malice where the news anchors repeatedly invited Rudi for interviews and asked right-wing nutters for their views on conspiracy theories. It was clear that the anchors did not themselves peddle the theories, but even engaging people and providing a platform for speaking on conspiracy theories was a case the court wanted to take up, which speaks volumes about the US courts.

Want to hear: Do you think this could be a case in India with any of the media outlets given lot of our media freedom laws were once based on the US? Anand, any thoughts? 

Would also recommend the Economist episode titled "Fox Hunt".


I am a subscriber of Hafta since before Hafta was behind the paywall. 

One of the reasons for coming to NL was Hafta. 

Sorry to say but this podcast has become boring. 

It now sounds like a place for mild RG bashing, a place for Manisha (who is so good in Newsance) trying to be some version of Rajdeep, a place to say we're not the Wire so we do balancing, Abhinandan's spark has been missing in the Hafta (all he does is say Delhi is most cosmopolitan). 

Wanted to thank you for the Sudha Bhardwaj interview, was the best thing! 

Anyways, keep doing the reports. Reporters Without Orders is often very good. Try to bring back the spark in the Hafta. NL Hindi is doing great. All the best! 


In the recent TippaNi, i was shocked to hear Mr Chaurasia's condescending tone while pronouncing Karnataka. Here is what I wrote on that YouTube video:

Since you seem to read comments, let me tell you two things. Rama, yoga and Karnataka are not the same thing. One refers to words in the Hindi language and the other refers to word in the KannaDa language (please note its not KannaD). So, please dont equate the two.

Secondly, Raam (in its original form) is an akaaraant pulling shabd. Since  you seem to know Hindi, I am sure you understand akaaraant. When you say Raam, where is the akaar in the ant? The correct shabdroop of raam is raamah. The anglicised people (whom you seem to hate) call it Raamaa. You call it Raam. I leave it to you decide who is closer to the correct form.

I will also leave you with a small exercise to self introspect whenever you wish to sound arrogant on air. How do you pronounce the following names: Sitharaman, Bommai, Mallya and Palakkad?


Caste-based discrimination has taken root in the United States, particularly in Big Tech companies and government contracts, according to recent reports. California's caste bias Bill and Seattle's resolution to ban caste-based discrimination are positive steps, but they also highlight the extent of the problem. Dalit employees have faced derogatory remarks, microaggressions, and verbal abuse. It is essential to raise awareness and education to combat this issue and ensure that all individuals are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their caste or social status. The passing of such measures in California and Seattle is a step towards promoting social justice and equality, but there is much more work to be done. It is time to take action to address the insidious problem of caste-based discrimination in the United States and to promote equal opportunities for all individuals, regardless of their caste or social status.


Hi team,

Priyankar here. Huge, huge fan of the whole team. Especially of Anand, love your thoughtful and deep comments on all the articles.

As a gay Indian living in the US, who is married to my husband and we have twin boys through surrogacy, I am so proud that we are at a time in India when we are at least talking about gay marriage at the Supreme Court level. Hopefully this will make many young gay folks not feel the need to have to leave their homeland to be their true selves.

If you guys could have an in-depth discussion whenever the decision comes, that will be great.

Missed your Michigan meet, a Philadelphia native here. If you come to the Northeast, holler back.



Hi NL team,

I was actually going to ignore the below letter I sent to you as a Tibetan on April 18 regarding the Dalai Lama controversy because I did not want to go through this again. But the letter from Ramnathan on Halfa 429 convinced me to forward this email to the correct email address as he ignorantly called it an "illegal act". I hope you read this even though the news around this has died. I have mellowed down since then  and an apology from me if you find my words harsh. 


The email:

Hello NL Hafta team,

I ponder about writing this email which is very personal to me and as a subscriber of Newslaundry since 2016, I think it is a perfect platform to share my view on this and I hope you read it. I am sorry that this email is beyond the word limit, but I have to write it as a Tibetan to tell our story to the world if they are listening.

As I sit down to write this letter, I am reading about people taking to the streets of Ladakh, Sikkim, Darjeeling and Tawang expressing their pain and disappointment with the media for spreading one-sided information about the Dalai Lama controversy. I was actually watching the live telecast of the program with my sister on February 28, 2023 when the incident happened, and we were telling each other that the boy was very brave and  fortunate to have received a blessing like this.

Then, after a month, out of nowhere you have this breaking news, and everyone seems to be angry and sharing their point of views without verifying the information and the origin of the video clip – such as your own Meghnad, who I used to respect when he was with Newslaundry for his thorough research. In fact, some were calling for his resignation as a Dalai Lama and this shows how ignorant they are. How can the Dalai Lama resign from being himself? That is social media and Chinese bots are all over the comment sections of news outlets reminding Tibetan people that we are better off living in China-occupied Tibet rather than living under a feudal state and then yeah, CIA narratives, as Jayashree ignorantly mentioned in her conversation. The NYT carried a deep investigative piece in 2021 about how influencers from outside China are paid to glorify China in their social media (link is below).

I can tell you one thing – that Tibetans outside Tibet are constantly monitored by the Chinese government, especially those who have families in Tibet, and I know many who were denied Chinese visas to visit their families in Tibet despite holding American and Canadian passports because they participated in protest marches at the Chinese embassies. Every now and then, you would see reports coming from India that Indian police caught Chinese spies living among Tibetans in India. So that is us, Tibetans living in diaspora, constantly watched and monitored.

I think this kind of controversy is not going to be the last one for HH the Dalai Lama. With Chinese money influences all over the media, he will face similar challenges and condemnation for every action and speech that will hurt the sentiment of woke culture and China will milk the sentiment for their benefits and achieve their goal: to push their agenda on the legitimacy of who gets to appoint the next Dalai Lama.

One positive thing coming from this coverage was that the video clip was telecast in Tibet without censorship to inform Tibetans, especially the younger generation, that the Dalai Lama is a monster and sexual predator. However ironically, it has brought joy to many Tibetans inside Tibet because they could watch the visual of the Dalai Lama on TV which is illegal to do so in Tibet (Tibetans with pictures of Dalai Lama can get up to 10 years of jail sentence in China, Google it). 

I was disappointed with the panel because all I could hear from the discussion was mumbling and everyone agreeing to their mumbling. "Oh, the Dalai Lama should know better because he is well travelled." This shows that you have no clue about how the institution of the Dalai Lama works. I asked this as a subscriber, how difficult is it to get a Tibetan expert on the panel? Delhi has one of the largest Tibetan settlements in India. I heard from the panel that the boy looked uncomfortable in the video, but I saw more nervousness than uncomfortable from the different angles of the video and interviews from the boy and parents after the event that has emerged since then. Even his mother seemed to be nervous when he asked for a hug.

My suggestion for the panel is that when discussing the Dalai Lama and its controversies, it is important to take the role of China in pushing the narratives. I have included a video link in this email if you wish to learn more about the topic and I hope Meghnad gains his sense and does what he is best known for – offering in-depth information and reports rather than pushing Chinese narratives in his twitter.  

Bod Gyalo (Free Tibet),

Thank you.





Why is India's capital so filthy? Delhi's tax collection has been more than enough to cover cleanliness expenses. You step outside either South or Central Delhi and cleanliness levels drop drastically. Why don't we have enough trashbins, spittoons or a mature waste management system? It's clearly not rocket science. How much is BJP's 15-year MCD rule responsible for such a condition?


Abhinandan’s views on the gender issue are cringe-worthy. Interested to see how long he will resist accepting the fact that his views are outdated and simply one of convenience. These genders have not cropped up recently, they’ve existed always. You don’t choose who you are born as. Just put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s identity you are struggling to accept. And by the way lived experiences are formed by who you were raised by, who you are surrounded by or surround yourself with (for adults) and where you live, not age. And these hypothetical children, frazzled by the complexities of gender, probably need to be raised in a different planet away from humans, not planet earth. One shouldn’t raise kids that are full of themselves. I am happy for my three-year-old to learn about genders from this age while learning their ABCs and numbers. I don’t get the issue with that.

Looking forward to the discussions you plan on having on this topic. Keep up the great work!


I actively seek knowledge about my interests. For everything else, I am happy to learn or get information through people and shows I follow or through journalistic media I subscribe to or by serendipity. Marriage equality petitions, discussed in Hafta 430, falls in the latter category. 

So, when Ms Karthikeyan started talking, I was hoping to understand things better. I couldn’t, as her arguments and responses bordered on the vitriolic without having the redeeming foundation of relevant facts and cogency. One expects more from a person in the privileged position of having a platform to speak about matters close to her heart. Discussions such as the one we heard take matters two steps back.

Also, thank you for introducing us to Mr Mitta. I placed an order for his book immediately as, alas, friends and family who are not already subscribers are either apathetic or not-so-secret saffronists.



Hi Abhinandan, 

I was surprised that the recent controversy on the Rs 45 crore spent on Kejriwal’s CM residence got near zero coverage in Newslaundry. I have been an AAP supporter and I was disappointed to hear the news. I searched the NL website but found no articles on this. 

Hafta just made a passing reference to it and Abhinandan justified it saying that this was not only for the residence but also for the office complex. However, even considering that, spending Rs 45 crore on a property which is less than 2,000 square metres is exorbitant. Moreover, it goes against the documented oath of frugality Kejriwal took in 2013. 

Giving zero coverage to this on NL does not show NL in good light. Can we have some reporter investigate this as well?


Hi Team Hafta,

You asked us to not send mails considering your backlog, but I felt this one's necessary.

Abhinandan, you feel kids of 5-6 years are too young to be taught about various genders and sexual orientations in school or, at the very least, you understand why parents in the US are resistent to the idea (please correct me if I'm wrong).

But very often, those parents would inform their kids' worldview with their beliefs – that one can be either male or female. And if we wait till they turn 13 to formally educate them about the realities of gender and sexual orientation, we would be hindered by 7-8 years of conditioning by society. So I'd say it's more socially responsible to introduce children to the existence of the gender spectrum and non-hetero orientations at a young age.

Sure, we might not be able to win all the parents over, but at least their kids will more likely be open-minded. 


Email 2

Hi, my previous mail hit the text limit, so I'm sending this bit separately. You can ignore it if you wish, but I had something to say on Maher's view that calling someone you disagree with a bigot is problematic. 

Yes, with such a reductive articulation, it does seem problematic. But in this case, we are talking about someone who, in spite of evidence, refuses to acknowledge the existence of non gender binary people. It might not be an overt form of bigotry, but bigotry it is.

And in my opinion, to put the onus of the oppressed to tip-toe around the thin skin of the oppressor is what is actually problematic. 


Hello Hafta team,

Thank you for the conversation on marriage equality issue. While Ragamalika's views are valid, however towards the end, it came down to calling people as bigots if they do not agree to their viewpoint, and I'd agree with Abhinandan that it'd break conversations if we go this path. I look forward to more objective content on the same subject, and how it will play out in everyday and complex situations, such as divorces, alimonies, child rearing, or how self-identitification will play out in accessing public spaces like women's compartments in Delhi metro, Mumbai local trains, etc. Thank you! 


Hi Hafta team,

This email is mostly for Abhinandan. It is getting harder and harder for me to discount your behavior towards other genders, be it other women who are in podcast with you or other non-masculine males. Specially in Hafta 430, you were really rude to your guest by not even trying to let them speak and trying to make your point that you are not a bigot.

I would really encourage you to try and think – how would you react to others behaving the same with you? I find it is an issue with our culture that men do not learn to respect women and other genders properly. I have seen and experienced environment where I do not have to feel that I am not being heard or people are not respecting me because I am a women.  I think the quality of NL podcasts will reach a better level if you would not be mansplaining in them. I wish you all the best in learning to be more open-minded. 



Hi Abhinandan, 

I want to re-frame Ragamalika's argument in a way that may be more conversational with yours. For centuries, our societies have been run by cis-het men (without having such terminologies back then) such as Bill Maher, who have continued to hold public space, such that their points of view have become the only ones that the rest of us have to fit in. Raga's point, as I understood, was that in order to break out of these moulds, it is exactly these points of views that we MUST NOT look at the world with. The trans men and women have waited long enough to get a voice, first in the gallows and now behind traditional media's want for more "time to figure this out". We cannot wait anymore till the Mahers of the world feel comfortable – the reason they're hurting is not because of all the sudden "bigot" screaming, it's because they are no longer able to muffle the screams successfully. Of course, I don't mean Maher specifically, but the powers that be, generally.   


Hi Team NL,

Wanted to comment on your story re the RSF report on press freedom. You explain the mechanics of how they arrived at this score, but if the result is that Afghanistan is considered better for journalists than India, then one has to question the mechanics. The same way that if someone ranked football teams and found India to be a better team than Belgium, you would have doubts about the methodology. 

Would you consider sending NL reporters to Afghanistan to be a safer gig than sending Manisha and Atul to Karnataka to cover the election there? Do you truly believe they would be better off reporting in the DRC? Do you truly believe that journalists in Qatar will entertain criticism of the Emir more than Modi does here? All those countries are better than India according to the RSF ranking. So if your answer is "no", then how can this report have any credibility whatsoever?

I think India's press freedom is bad, but this ranking is clearly wild hyperbole and exaggeration



Hi all,

With reference to NRIs being bigoted, I have a theory about that. I have a lot of relatives living internationally and I have found them having the vilest of discussions and circulating anti-Muslim messages on WhatsApp. I think everyone leaving the country suffers from the guilt of moving away and their way of making up for it is by becoming more traditional, religious and far-right in selected aspects of there lives (at least the first-generation settlers). Interestingly, this same phenomenon may be observed in lot of first-generation urban settlers in India. Such people, in their minds, are stuck in a time warp and resist changes more than what another person would. Any thoughts from the panel? 


My question is about the future of economy in a world where AI replaces millions of jobs. If AI causes mass unemployment then people will have lesser money to spend on the goods and services that AI creates, wouldn’t that tank the economy?



1) App has been terrible. Keeps pausing itself. So I haven't followed Hafta for many months. Following Charcha religiously instead and a big fan of Shardool. Also I find the discourse much richer and panelists more informed. (Good thing because it has more grassroot potential: Hindi.)

2) Was disappointed with the one-sided Newsance coverage on Tucker. There's nothing new about him spewing right-wing nonsense and 'conspiracies' (not always so) – that is what made him popular among the Fox base and kept Murdoch happy. It would have been important to mention that he was the only mainstream anchor who gave space to anti-war and anti-US imperialist voices (such as Aaron Mate, Matt Taibbi, Pulitzer winner Glenn Greenwald, RFK Jr). He was the only one giving space to Julian Assange news and supporting the cause. Could these be the real reasons for his firing?

- The Ex-PSU Guy, got frustrated with the political environment and doing MBA in Europe now (propaganda not much better here)

This is for Manisha, making sure the smelly cheese from Europe (that you once dismissed for Europe's treatment of Indian passports and hope not for its taste) has reached you safely :) Would love to see you as well with Abhinandan in the next London meet-up. Keep up the great work! 

Thanks Abhinandan for the London meet-up. And for being so transparent in your answers, as always. Looking forward to the NL collaborations you mentioned. Also would be keen to know how the Ideas for India conference went and if a recording of it is available on the internet?



Hi NL team,

Loved the recent Hafta. The insight into the conflict in Manipur was particularly interesting. On a different note: I tried contributing to NL Sena on the app. The banking OTP page times out when I switch screens to get OTP, making completing the transaction impossible. I had to go and do it on the website. Tech team should fix this.



I am a subscriber for over a year now. I never miss an episode of Hafta. Kudos to Manisha, Atul and the News Minute team as well for an excellent coverage of the Karnataka election. There was some noise about Uniform Civil Code by BJP in the Karnataka election even though it didn't get much traction. There is a lot of misinformation around UCC from both left and right. Will UCC become the new "Ram Mandir" issue in the 2024 LS election for the BJP?


Hello NL,

The Kerala Story drama pissed me off a fair bit last week, especially after the video you guys put out from the cinema in Delhi.

My question is, don't you think rather than ban it, Kerala should have sought a defamation case against the director? If Rahul can be convicted so easily with a couple words, an entire film full of misinformation and deliberate deception can be easily taken apart in court to prove defamation and the burden of malice. Would love your thoughts on the same. Keep up the great work as always.



Hello Hafta, thank you for covering the Manipur issue. I wanted to point out that most coverage on this issue have sided the cause of Kukis without much homework of what the situation of Meiteis are on ground. Just because Manipur has a BJP government, and most Meiteis happen to be Hindus, it is easy to side and sympathise with the so-called minority victims. However, we must also discuss how Meiteis, who are a majority, but hardly one, have been at the receiving end of all woes in the state. It is also important to point out that BJP in Manipur doesn't have Hindu identity/majoritarian politics, and Meiteis have Muslim and Christian communities too, and in fact, one of the Kuki MLAs has his full support for the BJP in his interview with Karan Thapar.

I am not a BJP supporter but I wanted to point out that unfortunately, no one is properly covering what Meiteis' concerns are. We need to examine both the cases. It is easy to play a victim, but not being at the receiving end. 



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