Hafta letters: Lens on Palestine, southern states, Modi voters

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

WrittenBy:NL Team
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I do not like being mischaracterised, hence this. 

“Balance” is a dirty word apparently. While I disagree with that idea, I understand what you’re saying, including when you declare a commitment to facts and honesty. Neither of those are balanced.

But I do not agree with this idea that to be thoughtful is to be insincere or fake. Please be yourselves, but are you sure that you can only self-actualise by letting your mouths run ahead of your thoughts? I don’t know what Farqul got from my earlier mail.

Re Israel: Apart from that she’s on the side of Palestine, and Israel is the oppressor, I have no idea what Jayashree thinks or why. How should Israel handle the issue? Given how things are, not how they ought to have been in the 20s.

Also, I was amused at the difference between how you see environmental regulations and media regulations. They’re not the same, and the government is doing both badly. But you're asking for more of one, and less of the other. How does that work?



Hello Abhinandan, Manisha, Anand, Jayashree, and Raman sir.

Hafta has been my go-to weekend podcast since subscribing to Newslaundry a couple of years back. 

Continue to be yourself, and independent to provide your authentic opinion on matters of national interest. Will continue to listen whether I agree or disagree; eventually you all help me form my own independent opinion.

Now, to a topic that may not be of national interest but has to be of national curiosity ie what's going on with Shehla Rashid. Can people independently change their opinion so much? Is there any inside scoop you could share or this is my first time watching someone’s evolution from radical independence of college politics to compromises of life after college. I hope she is at peace with her current trajectory.

Recommendation: Sudhir Mishra’s Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. Felt it was cliched but now could not stop thinking about it while seeing the paths of Kanhaiya, Shehla and Umar.




Hi Hafta team,

I am a very-long-time follower and subscriber of NL.

Painful reminder on Andhra Pradesh from my side. "It looks like you are fans of Jagan Reddy” or I am wrong, and AP is governed superbly. I am saying this because NL, The Wire and others have done no stories on the AP government for the last four years. In one of the episodes, Manisha wants Jagan to be the PM candidate from the united opposition bloc. 

Only Raman sir talks some truth, and has understanding on AP. But the promised stories on cases on CBN have not come yet. I assume, if an important opposition leader was jailed in any of the BJP-ruled states, all of the northern India’s media would have gone berserk. Please see assembly sessions of AP to get a taste of what’s happening. Even The News Minute has more stories written about the opposition party than on the government.



I see your rants on KCR for advertising, but I feel you missed a key point here. Delhi news agencies mostly focus on a few states. Even your news agency covers only one region from the south (Chennai by Jayashree – this was before your partnership with The News Minute).

Through advertisements, the government had to highlight the fact that nine of its 10 districts officially classified as poor and ‘backward’ in 2014 are no longer backward.

Another reason KCR lost the elections is due to bad press. Do you know who Revanth Reddy is and his background and how he tried to destabilise the KCR govt and was caught?

Please read this news article.



This letter is addressed to Abhinandan. I emailed you on your gmail id as well. I am a subscriber of Newslaundry, and listen to Hafta every week without fail. 

This is in reference to Hafta 462, where you asked interested subscribers to email you to discuss/debate about the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. Basically, I am interested.

To briefly introduce myself, I have been living here in Israel for almost three years now. I am pursuing my PhD at the prestigious Technion here. I would be happy to share my perspective literally from the ground.

I look forward to hearing from you.



Hafta 462: While you were discussing caste survey, reservation and how it might not be that useful as government jobs are shrinking, we should also consider the reservation in educational institutions. Though government jobs are shrinking, many students from OBC,SC, and ST communities will benefit from reservation in colleges/universities, and in a state like Tamil Nadu, where private colleges follow reservation (I’m not sure about other states; please add that info if you know), it is still very helpful for many students from backward and marginalised classes.



Regarding the success of the movie Animal, which was very briefly touched upon in the previous podcast, I do think there's a bigger question that needs to be asked on why such a massive population would want to watch such a movie and even cheer for it. 

It’s very easy to say that Indian men are just misogynists, and hence are cheering for it because there’s seemingly a lot more to this. Just like there is to the rise of Andrew Tates of the world.

Coming to our country, why do people still gyrate towards that one man even though religious radicalism has just become a feature.

Why does India vote for Modi?

Why does a movie like Animal work? Maybe the answers to these questions will show us more where things went wrong.



Hi, I’m writing in concern with a letter last week, about having a longer timeframe for Sena projects. I completely agree with the letter. 

If you know there will be a project that you will launch, you should put it online as soon as possible. As you are a subscriber-based company, I assume that most of the contributors are also subscribers. 

Having a longer period to contribute means we can donate more often leading to hopefully more topped up Sena projects, especially for larger projects like the election fund. I would recommend that the more money you need for a project, the earlier you should put it up and then spam us every week on every podcast and video. Maybe say things like “If every subscriber pays Rs100, then we can easily top the project” to sucker us in!

Keep up the amazing work!

Godwin Madho


When Manisha read out my email last week, she skipped the crucial part of my question about Zionism that I hoped would be addressed – perhaps because the letter was too long, so I'll keep this one to the point:

Given that Zionism by definition necessitates the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians (because there is no other way to establish a Jewish ethno-state in Palestine which is Zionism’s stated goal), does she still object to people saying “Zionism is evil”.




Regarding the discussion on the reasons for recent electoral success of the BJP, a few have tended to downplay the role of the media. 

They think all these people can’t just be going by what the media says, they must of course be having a mind of their own too. But my personal experience has been different. 

I did my PG from a premier institute of India, and in my department there was a very renowned senior surgeon who was supposed to be the best surgeon of our field. He had that aura and used to be followed by an entourage of consultants and residents eager to please him. Every resident who joins our department readily gets the same impression. 

Once I realised he was nothing more than a mediocre surgeon or even worse, and I tried telling this to my colleagues. Sadly, though they could see what’s happening, it was as if they didn’t want to believe it! Like, if so many people are saying he is so good there must be some truth to it! 

It’s as if their minds can’t wrap around the fact that the whole thing could be a big fat lie. I think that’s what our media has achieved in terms of our current leader. Making him so big and so good that people can’t accept that it could be otherwise, even when things are in front of them.



One of the most touching, insightful and fulfilling interviews I have seen or heard in a long time was with Banojyotsna Lahiri, Umar Khalid's partner, who I wasn't aware of. 

It helps us understand the struggles of people, especially young people, whose loved ones have been persecuted and incarcerated for political reasons – that too for several years. 

Banojyotsna and Umar have managed to be a normal couple despite the iron bars separating them. She is an epitome of grace and courage, in a way that he himself is. 

Newslaundry’s Sumedha Mittal has done an excellent job of bringing out the interview for us. Strangely, the interview did for me what Abhinandan’s numerous entreats couldn't – I contributed to the Election Fund.

I recommend this interview to all your viewers/listeners. Please give it some more visibility on your YouTube channel, website and app, if feasible.

Dr Sudipt Roy


Dear Hafta Team - thank you for your work.

In my opinion, the reason why the Israel/Palestine conflict resonates so widely is that so many other histories have some commonality with it – or can be projected onto it.

Opposed to Nazis?  Check.

Are you antisemitic? Check.

Opposed to colonialism? Check.

Are you a Muslim? Check.

Do you hate Muslims? Check.

Is Israel’s founding the fulfilment of biblical prophecy? Check


We all look at it through our own lens, and this to some extent warps our understanding of it. (I admit that thinking about Palestine gives me a break from thinking about Muslims in India – in some ways it is relaxing.)

For that reason, I suggest that you interview journalists or activists who work directly in that space rather than having some kind of discussion with subscribers. Some such experts and activists are:

Norman Finkelstein (wordy, but excellent)

Max Blumenthal of the Grayzone

Noura Erakat

Ali Abuniman (Electronic Intifada)

Amira Hass (Haaretz, the only Israeli journalist who has lived in Gaza while reporting on it)

Gideon Levy (Haaretz)

Any of these can give you a magisterial view of the conflict and its current dynamics.

Warm regards,



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