Hafta letters: Reportage on Sandeshkhali, reactions to Ram Mandir, Hafta timings

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

WrittenBy:NL Team
Date:
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Hello team,

Regarding Shardool, I agree with the point that "not everyone happy on Jan 22 is a bigot or a Modi supporter". However, this guy Shardool plugs in his fake narrative whenever he comes on the podcast.

Several months back, it was "atheists never getting in power" about which I wrote a factual response, but that letter was never included in the podcast. And this time, it's his "organic movement".

If you consider NL subscribers to be learned people, don't bring in misinformed individuals in such charcha who peddle their half-baked personal theories. Thanks.

Rajeev

***

This is the first time I am writing, I believe.

I was extremely disappointed by the opinions expressed on the Ram Mandir episode. I was positively repulsed by the entire event since the SC judgement and hopefully I am not in a total minority. Also the justification later that people are not well-read is kind of shameful with people who are casually religious, which might be the majority who are also gullible in my opinion. It was kind of expected later when I thought about it, as the diversity within your organisation is still not up to par which would need drastic improvement. It would be interesting to see a more marginalised set talking about the event with respect to caste, class beliefs etc. It really felt like a TV debate with no one shouting. The neutrality was really disarming and really, you should bring more folks like Prof Ravikant who was forthcoming with his sarcasm and expect more guests like that. More power to you! Pick up those pitchforks more often!!!

Vijay

***

Hi NL team,

Congratulations on completing 12 years. End of this year will be my decade long association with NL. I have been meaning to write this a few weeks ago but I waited for thoughts to settle down. This is in support of what Shardool and many others feel about Ram Mandir.

My letter is addressed to people who expect well-read and well-meaning people to not feel good or celebratory about Ram Mandir. You can’t expect people to suppress their joyous feeling because you don’t feel that way. You can’t expect them to feel sad about the Babri demolition at the time when the grand temple of one of the most revered deities at his birthplace is taking place.

World history is full of injustices. People in power will always take advantage of these fault-lines. Ram Mandir issue is not manufactured by the BJP-RSS. They have just been riding the wave. I am aware of the BJP-RSS hate politics and do not approve of it. But my heart was full of emotion when the pran prathishta was happening. I am a practising Hindu. I was born in Brahmin family, I follow most of the rituals including Yagnopavita. I am well aware of untouchability practiced by my ancestors. But I am not like them and I shouldn't be expected to feel the burden of that when I practise my rituals. We even have a son whose name is Raam. Do all of the above make me a bigot? Hell no. If this kind of thought continues then I am afraid that in future, my son will have to be so defensive and have to say "My name is Raam and I am not a bigot".

It is becoming increasingly challenging to be liberal practising Hindu like me (who I believe is the majority of the population) to be able to share their opinion. We will most likely antagonise people from one side or another. And this is exactly why most of us choose to remain silent and hence called the silent majority.

Our younger NL subscribers who feel outraged on what people like me and Shardool are feeling will perhaps understand this later in their lives. I am not very articulate like many of our friends but I hope you get the crux of what I am trying to tell.

Keep up the good work.

Kind regards,

Silent Majority

(Bhavesh)

***

Hi NL team! Belated happy birthday to you!

Wanted to comment on the discussion in Hafta 469 on the consecration of Ram temple in Ayodhya. It was disappointing that there was no significant pushback to Anand's reasoning of the widespread celebration on Jan 22. If, as per Anand, the celebration by people with no strong political views was due to the "sense of justice" that they were feeling, why didn't the demand by Arvind Kejriwal of putting picture of Laxmi and Ganesha on the currency notes gain traction among the people? It would have liberated India from the tyranny of secularism.

Consider this: Indians in general love festivals, events, celebrations. This is more so in the age of social media where people are constantly looking for something to post on their social media handles. Add to that the BJP's complete capture of the means of communication. They created a buzz around the consecration. When I post a picture of Lord Ram, you would want to do the same!

Many people with no strong political views banged thaalis and taalis during Covid. Many people participated in the cleanliness drives in the early days of Swachch Bharat mission. Jan 22 was no different.

I thought Anand was reading too much into the widespread celebration of Jan 22. If a BJP spokesperson talks this civilisational wound and the sense of justice stuff, it is understandable. It is sad when independent commentators like Anand give legitimacy to such narratives.

Shardool has all the right to be happy but please remember the temple was built after demolishing a mosque. The riots before and after that have resulted in the killing of hundreds of people. The demolition  strengthened the politics which wants to stigmatize and isolate a significant chunk of the population of our country.

I noticed NL struggles to find someone to talk on Maharashtra politics. I would like to suggest an expert, Suhas Palshikar. Please invite him whenever you discuss Maharashtra politics next time.

Also I'm glad that NL has started NL Sena project on the key schemes of this government. I'm excited to read the reports. Will be contributing to the project.

Keep up the good work!

Regards,

Anonymous

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A query, complaint and a comment.

Query: In your upcoming Modi 2.0 report card, would you be reporting whether the beneficiaries also includes people who are not traditional votaries of the BJP (Muslims, Jatav Dalits etc), as that would tell whether institutional discrimination exist or not?

Complaint: In your last Hafta, AM Jigneshji's voice was not the same level as other speakers, I had to increase the volume whenever he spoke.

Comment: Giving full support to Shardool when it comes to Ram Mandir inauguration. Matters of faith are abstract, complex and personal, no person should be judged on these things without talking to them personally.

Faith can create terrorists, can raze down mosques, and can lead to the following of Ram Rahim Singh Insan. One needs to see if faith breaches any laws and with the SC giving legitimacy to the Ram Mandir, there is no factual basis for criticising the temple. One can criticise the judgement that gave it legitimacy.

T-800

***

Dear NL,

I agree with Manisha's view that Muslim women must be at the forefront of reforms concerning polygamy. Anas's arguments focusing on hypothetical consent situations minimise the often harsh realities women face under this practice. Jayashree suggesting that banning polygamy now is disingenuous due to current political actions on the Uniform Civil Code seems contradictory. If we acknowledge the harms polygamy can inflict, any move towards reform – regardless of origin – is positive.

It's worth noting a significant parallel: the British banning of sati. While imposed by colonial rulers, this reform ended a horrific practice, even with opposition from orthodox Hindus. Similarly, banning polygamy now serves the greater good, regardless of broader political agendas. I commend Manisha for her insights. While I respect Anas and Jayashree's contributions, political arguments defending polygamy risk undermining the very real experiences of women within affected communities.

Parinay

***

In a country where Modi has already ostracised Muslims and now there is a clear campaign of hate against Sikhs, can he really continue to just ride on that hardcore Hindu vote to continue winning? Modi is not getting the vote in Punjab anytime soon but it does appear that he doesn't care.

Or is the plan to just win these elections, through delimitation make everything but the cowbelt obsolete and then rule forever?

Anonymous

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Hi Team NL,

Recently, there was a story from a place called Sandeshkhali in West Bengal where hundreds of women including Dalits were allegedly raped and tortured in a TMC party office for several days and their male relatives beaten up by the party when they protested. Somehow such a horrifying story was not worthy of mention in the Hafta headlines or Newsance or even in the entirety of NL's website, but a French journo being expelled from India was. I agree the expulsion is a problem, but am interested why Sandeshkhali was deemed unworthy of note.

This is deeply disappointing from a news organisation that regularly criticises Godi media when they don't cover similar stories about Brij Bhushan Singh or Manipur.

And here's a report from a non-Godi source.

Cordyceps

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Hi NL team,

Another stellar episode as usual. Please make it a standard practice to have young reporters (either yours or other independent media houses) on Hafta as often as possible. It's great to hear voices like Sumedha, who put in the hard work and get insightful reportage. As an aside, refreshing to hear from someone who doesn't have a foot (or half) in the grave already like most of us old lot. Please try to get Nikhil Wagle or his son Parth who is also a wonderful journalist to speak about the political situation in Maharashtra, and the physical assault that took place. My dear state is where I think the final battle of BJP's cultural project will be fought as we gave rise to a Godse, but also Ambedkar and Phule. Best wishes  to everyone!

Kartik

***

In recent times the Hafta gets put out as late as 1 or 2 pm on Saturday. This is quite problematic for early risers like me who have to wait inordinately for the podcast to be published. I understand you may have your own marketing logic/algorithm which perhaps suggests that the best time to release it is afternoon and you may also not want to clash with Newsance, but can't you just publish it silently whilst promoting it later?

Aishwarya

***

Love the work.. keep it up.

1) For the upcoming election, who are the major political figures that we are interviewing? (People that matter in power and in opposition seem to be missing from Newslaundry in-depth/long-format interviews.)

2) Curious to know your take on what Prashant Kishor has been doing in Bihar. He is giving interviews on every channel, but again Newslaundry is missing. Are we purposely not engaging with him?

3) What is your take on Lallantop's work and Saurabh's journalism?

Neil

***

Listening to Sumedha’s story about her colleague breaking down made me realise once again how important public funded media is. Like Abhi said, there are only two views to any story: (1) of the government and (2) the other side (in most cases, the actual truth). And if we do not fund the media, we will NEVER know the truth! Like Ravish says, we will ALWAYS know if the government has done something good (because they have an entire ministry for that) but we will never know if they have done something wrong unless there is a media that isn't funded by them to tell us the truth.

This alone should send shivers down our spines, to realise that WE WILL NEVER KNOW THE TRUTH unless public-funded media tells us. Abhi, you should start saying "when the public pays, the public gets to know the truth, else you'll only know what the govt. wants you to know".

What a scary situation if we just pause and think for a while. Thank you guys for doing what you guys do. I, for one, cannot thank you enough!

Abin T Sam

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The Khalistan incident in Bengal with the IPS officer might be the first high-profile incident that made the news but since the farmer protests ended, there have been quite a few cases of Sikhs being approached and either taunted or questioned about Khalistan (it has happened to a few of my friends as well). It's the same playbook that's used for Muslims, where dedicated Twitter accounts are formed for fear-mongering with out-of-context clips about Khalistan. There is a concerted effort from these right-wing accounts to do the same thing they have already done Muslims and create an environment of hate.

I almost worry what's going to happen with this farmer protest intensifying already

Anonymous

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