Hafta letters: Geopolitics, burning Ravan effigies, screening of While We Watched

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Hi there 

This is regarding Chandrayaan. I am just in a neutral spot for this. It’s definitely a great moment for the country but as Abhinandan has said the funds could have been used elsewhere, but will they be used? Case in point the Ganga cleaning, going on for years, with funds pumped into it. But has Ganga been cleaned? Or, say schools in rural areas, are they adequate? Are they connected with internet or it’s only on the paper? The funds allocated to useful means are diverted for other ineffective things like advertising, etc. So, if something has been done with the required funds, which has not been achieved by other nations, so just soak in the excitement. Also, for Sena projects, if the starting contribution is kept Rs 500, it will be better. 

(You can skip this part) I want to look into something like the e-KYC going on for PM Kisan Samaan Nidhi for more than two-and-a-half years. This one scheme has become a great headache for the agriculture department all over the nation.  

Syed Abid 

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Request if NL team can arrange for a ‘While We Watched’ screening in Mumbai as well. I am sure there would be enough interested NL subscribers. I am happy to pay too. 

Anonymous 

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Hey there! Long time subscriber, love your work.

Have you considered setting up an NL Sena to fund a climate desk at Newslaundry? It’d mean more in-depth coverage on climate-related stories. 

Also, I wanted to recommend a podcast called Citations Needed. Given that the NL team loves engaging in media critique, I thought you might enjoy this podcast, which focuses on analysing and critiquing US media.

Srijith

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To Manisha, before anyone else points this out, how you pronounced “Kozhikode” was so wrong, yet so innocently funny! Please do check its correct pronunciation.

PS: I know it’s difficult for a non-native Malayali to say that word, thus, the place is also called Calicut. Also, this is not at all coming out of hate or anger, all in love from a Delhi-born Malayali, as I know how people get triggered over names of people and places being pronounced incorrectly. 

Second, I am in absolute awe of Jayashree’s recommendations - they are always the best! Is there any way to tap Jayashree’s insane creative headspace into something more productive and creative for NL subscribers, than what she is currently doing. Just a suggestion and/or innocent request. 

Anyways, love NL and Nikku and what you guys are doing for us mere mortals in today’s times. And also, huge congratulations on 450 episodes of “angrez apna lagaan aur Newslaundry apna hafta kabhi nahi chodte”! Here’s to 450 more. *Cheers*

Abin T Sam

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I wanted to add to the point Abhinandan made about kids witnessing Ravan Dahan. I think it’s the idea of a person being subjected to death by burning for a crime is what makes the whole thing unsuitable for kids. As adults we may have the ability to look at the nuances of a situation but adolescents/kids do not. And I say this from my own understanding of what I thought was bad and how my perception of bad vs good evolved as I grew up. On the Holi fire, we do not burn Holika to show that evil burnt and good survived. Most celebrations are for people to gather and feel a sense of belonging. There has to be a change in the society about its perception of a myth and how they want it to be remembered by the future generations.

Namrata

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Thanks, Manisha, for reading my feedback. In support of Abhinandan’s sense of humour, I think it helps to keep the discussion a bit light, and be optimistic, without compromising on the quality.

It keeps your show different from other news media outlets. So, Abhinandan keep going, you have my support 😁.

On a lighter note, regarding Hafta becoming too much Modi-Modi, I think its reverse psychology that is working on NL. We tell others but for good or bad, it’s Modi-Modi here too sometimes. NL bach ke rehna inse.

Ankita Pareek

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Hi Team NL,

On Ind-Pak matches and the idea that sports should be separated from politics: why is sports tightly interlinked with politics at Wimbledon, UEFA and other sporting events where Russia is banned? This isn’t just one Ukranian player not shaking hands with a Russian, but the athletes/teams of that nation being banned because of a political decision they had no role in.

Conversely, given that the banning of Russia for a year-old war has been largely welcomed, why not the banning of a state sponsor of terrorism whose track record goes back decades? Why should we play a nation that to this day defends its right to aid, abet, train and equip terrorists that act against our civilians? Their funds may have faded, but their intent has not - at least there is no sign of it. 

The BCCI/Gambhir is hypocritical in playing them at ICC events, but at the level of principle, I find nothing wrong with stopping all sporting events with them, including not allowing them at the WC. 

Cordyceps 

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Hi, I’ve been a subscriber since arriving in Canada in 2012 with my McDonald’s paycheque then. About the recent discussion on Canada-India relations: 

The Canadian government accuses India of assassinations on Canadian soil, specifically of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, as per Canadian intelligence agencies. Whether Nijjar was a separatist leader or not, foreign intelligence acting on Canadian soil is unacceptable for the government. 

Moreover, Khalistan leaders exist in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. The Indian consulate in San Francisco was attacked this year, but there was no diplomatic fallout there. 

Lastly, I thought Jagmeet Singh’s influence on Trudeau is overestimated. The NDP supports the Liberals on specific issues like Dental Care, Pharmacare, and paid sick leave. The NDP caucus includes 21 other MPs, and the Khalistan issue may not bring down the government, as Canadian politics are less personality-driven than the US or India’s. 

Hope this added a bit more nuance to the discussion. 

Tushar 

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In the last Hafta discussion, MBS was being discussed and Abhinandan brought up the issue of Muslim bashing in India. I didn’t understand how these two are related except that MBS is the head of a Muslim majority country and is himself a Muslim. I don’t think Abhinandan is biased against Indians who are Muslims, but this implicit connection he made, made me a bit uneasy. I often meet people from different nationalities, and the first and almost always the only identity related question I am asked is where I am from, and the only identity I tell is Indian. I think this is a problem that surfaces in subtle ways and it will remain so unless everyone intuitively understands that there are some Indians who happen to be Muslims, just like most Indians happen to be Hindus, some others happen to be Sikhs, and so on. How our government deals with the head of a Muslim majority country has exactly as much to do with Indians who are Muslims as it would be in the case for any other country. Cheers! 

Syed Rizvi 

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Hi Team! I have a couple of suggestions.

1. If I had known that you were inviting a geopolitics expert to the show, I would have wanted to ask them how the ‘Pentagon documents leak’ in April is currently affecting Ukraine’s counter-offensive. But now, I will have to be content with AS’ explanation featuring maple syrup. If you could let subscribers know in advance who the guests will be and if you could take questions from us to ask them, it would be great. 

2. I like the idea of limiting the number of subscriber emails that you read. But it would be great if you could acknowledge and shortly summarise the emails that you won’t read during the episode. 

PS: It was great to see MP quoted in the Economist article featuring ‘Barky’ Sharma’s show. 

Thank you and keep up the good work!

Anirudh S

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Hello,

I love listening to Hafta but more than that I enjoy the video format (Chota Hafta). Is it possible that full Hafta be uploaded on YouTube or the app for subscribers only? 

Thank you

Vidit Chauhan 

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Dear Newslaundry Team,

I trust this message finds you well. I recently came across a news article stating that all slaughterhouses would be closed due to a Jain festival, during which some Jain individuals observe fast. In response, I posted the following statement on my social media: “Calendar of dietary preferences: The BJP has decided that the entire city must adjust their diets because a handful of Jain folks prefer fasting over feasting. Because obviously, if you enjoy a good steak, you’re just ruining someone’s salad plans.”

This story generated a strong reaction from my friends, many of whom are from Ahmedabad and have Jain background. They expressed their displeasure, with some saying things like, “Thode din ke liye nahi khaoge to mar jaoge kya (Will you die if you don’t eat it for a few days)?” One individual even resorted to abusive language and defended his Islamophobic views by regurgitating the overdone stereotype that all terrorists are Muslims. My view is why should I not eat meat because a few Jain people are fasting. That is like force-feeding goats to the Hindus during Bakrid. 

This situation has left me pondering how people who once had Muslim friends, perhaps still do, and spent their formative years with individuals of different backgrounds, can come to harbour such prejudiced beliefs. How can one grow to resent someone they shared their childhood with, spending five or six years side-by-side? 

On a different note, I’d like to mention an issue with the NL app. When I pause a podcast and leave it paused for about 10-15 minutes, I find that I need to restart the app to resume playback.

Thank you for your attention.

Noaman Khan

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Hi, 

Two observations regarding recent episodes of NL Hafta: 

1. In one episode, Abhinandan pointed out that since people watch Ravan Dahan in Ram Leela, people tend to normalise violence. This is obviously an outrageous conclusion to make. We all watch movies and observe villain/hero characters, and decide for ourselves what to believe in. He obviously wouldn’t have made the same observation on - whether people internalise bloodshed and animal cruelty on the eve of Bakrid or he wouldn’t dare mention people may internalise violence after seeing Jesus put on a crucifixion. 

2. Many in the media/Hafta kept making remarks about Udayanidhi’s statement. He, in a sweeping remark, was asking to wipe the rich tradition of Santana dharma, which encompasses epic literature, festivals, bhakti traditions, Gita, Yoga and other spiritual practices, which are way beyond caste evil. Nobody would have had the problem if he made the distinction between the two. Many people conveniently positioned it as SOLELY a remark on caste, which it wasn’t, and wouldn’t have caused outrage. 

Thanks!

Pawan N Rao

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