Hafta letters: Influencer collaborations, religion and MP urination case

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Hi team! I loved the Hafta episode on right-wing influencers. I have noticed a lot of similar ones popping up on YouTube. They seem to have a similar formula where they peddle conspiracy theories first – the ‘Vedic sages flew spaceships’ type. They slowly start to hate mongering and get more political. 

With the meteoric rise in Indian content creation, I believe that these types of influencers are going to increase in number and receive more patronage. Their content might also get more extreme due to their efforts to stay relevant. Maybe you should start watching them early on with a show like Newsance? I would be very interested in that. (Although this might finally switch off your sanity).

I believe you guys and The Deshbhakt, and also other ‘like-minded’ influencers, should collaborate more. Thank you and keep up your good work!

Anirudh S

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As long-time observers of politics and media, I wonder what you think about the following:

– Are we misreading the media and the courts’ support for the government? Celebrated past interventions (Kesavananda Bharati, Goenka’s Indian Express) were seemingly on the side of the conservative status quo and an elite opposition to the coercive redistribution of Nehru and Indira. So, maybe the media (especially media owners) don’t feel the same need to oppose? Same for the still-elite justices, who are PLUs to the man.

– Could our sense of diminishing civil rights be because most people (including journalists) have grown up under weak governments? The coalition era was probably a good time only because the state couldn’t do as much to impose its will. Abhinandan will argue that we should hold governments to a 21st century standard. But maybe this ‘progress’ was always only at the surface?

I would be grateful for your opinions on this video, that led to this mail. 

Vijay

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Please do not bring religious leaders or interpreters on the NL platform. They have enough platforms already. NL should be the last place to invite such a discussion.

People who study theology could be more interesting to listen to than these self-proclaimed religious leaders for the sake of amusement. 

It’s mind-boggling to me how educated, progressive-minded individuals in the 21st century practice any religion, and Islam especially. 

I think the educated and progressive practicing Muslims should read ‘Why I am not a Muslim’ by Ibn Warraq (not the writer’s actual name). 

Why is this yearning so strong among educated, progressive Muslims to justify and uphold an outdated text like the Quran. I think it is this lack of dissent or critical voices in the Muslim community that will take their community, and this world, down (along with other religious extremists of course). Why should one go to one interpreter over another and just ignore what’s practiced in reality. Utterly illogical suggestion. 

Arthi

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I don’t agree with Abhinandan that symbolism is significant at all, at a social level. It is a political strategy. I really liked the interpretation of Ravish commenting on men, especially upper caste men. 

Aabha

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In the discussion on Modi’s visit to the USA, the most basic thing was missed: What does India want from this relationship, or this visit in particular? It is hard to gauge whether Indian foreign policy is successful or failing, unless it is articulated what its aims are. In contrast, the US media and its government discuss and argue its goals vigorously. Therefore, it is not surprising that all discussions, including on NL Hafta, focused on what the US wants. As far as India is concerned, does it want a closer defence or economic collaboration, and to what extent given the China factor? Should India push the US to allow more immigration from India and make it easier for the US companies to outsource services to India? 

On the question raised in the discussion: why are western leaders hobnobbing with Modi? The answer is simple. India is getting what its government wants the most: Tamasha. The question for India and its citizens is whether the tamasha is in their interest and what cost is it coming at?

Mohit Singh 

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Hi Team NL,

On the MP urination issue: Chouhan’s stunt is only optics. What will Chouhan do about the *system* that made both the victim and Shukla think that Shukla could urinate with impunity? Obviously, nothing. Shukla will probably be out soon, called a “sanskari Brahmin” and garlanded for a great job. Already the victim has been *convinced* to request Shukla's release.

Panellists said “not all MP men” are urinating like this, which made me wonder: will there be a movie made, titled “The MP Story”, which insinuates that armies of MP men are going around peeing on tribals? Will PM/Motabhai ever promote such a movie and will other states give it tax-free status? Will “towering news personalities” stereotype MP on primetime as the land of peeing on tribals? The answer is again obvious, and speaks volumes about which states it is okay to demonise and which it is not.

Cordyceps

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Hi NL Team,

Although I have been following NL regularly on YouTube since 2019, and did contribute to a couple of NL Sena projects, I never became a subscriber. When I started listening to Chota Hafta, I was always left wanting for more. So, now I’m no longer a muffatkhor (Abhinandan’s shaming is effective; keep at it).

With the takeover of NDTV, the TV space has now truly been captured and the ruling dispensation is making inroads into the internet as we have seen with the Beerbiceps episode (and Hafta 439 was spectacular). Although, I have to give it to Rahul Gandhi’s SM team to have started this with his Bharat Jodo Yatra. His latest videos with truck drivers, and also Manipur visit were actually very well-curated. Probably for the first time, I’m seeing the BJP play catch up with the Congress on their communications strategy. Hats off to both of them - one for identifying the whitespace (Congress) and the other for not being complacent (BJP). I reckon this space will only heat up with upcoming general elections to levels we can’t even imagine now. I would like to suggest NL Team to keep an eye on this as I’m guessing your subscriber demographic has already left the TV space and are more exposed to the YouTube medium, so this would be of key interest to us.

Currently, I’m going through previous Hafta episodes and have to appreciate the concept of getting various SMEs to speak. NL Hafta, is simply, sui generis. Claps. And Anand, you’re the rockstar. 

Best,

Aditya

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I was surprised on hearing such regressive rhetoric from Abhinandan about agreeing with an email saying that Muslims should be apologetic in response to the hatred directed against them. 

Starting from the US war on terror, the media has built an anti-Muslim narrative to justify the invasion and killing of the hundreds of thousands of muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. In response to western atrocities, the population is galvanised by the more extreme elements on the political spectrum.  

Moderate voices are silenced by censorship or force.

Also, what does a Muslim in the West have to do with foreign governments, yet they are impacted the most by Islamophobia. The notion that a section of a community must apologise for extreme elements is silly as no one would (rightly) expect Hindus travelling to foreign countries to apologise for the Modi government. 

There are many muslim foundations such as the Aga Khan Foundation that do remarkable development work in many countries, including India, but are never highlighted because they do not fit the extreme narrative. Also regardless of their undemocratic governments, the gulf countries exhibit more religious harmony than certain parts of India. I agree there are regressive governments in the Middle East and South Asia but one should be able to think critically and not broad brush complex issues.

Sonia S

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