Hafta letters: Electoral bonds, revolutions in India, ‘Foxification’ of media

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

WrittenBy:NL Team
Date:
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Opening the letter, I apologise for my lack of ability to remember names. I mean no disrespect and disconnected tangents.

I have been a subscriber for a good amount of time and your electoral bonds articles were really fast and good on what I assume was a low budget – so congratulations!

I totally agree with the host on the fact that when criticising (the dictator discussion at the end portion), we must have an idealistic view of the situation. Otherwise, what are we even striving for when we are critiquing? And it’s even more appropriate to criticise from an idealistic viewpoint when the situation has already happened, as we have knowledge and experience from our past to know where it is heading as a collective.

Now, coming to the counter that was given on the show to this argument. It’s only appropriate to bring out the past and things that led up to it when there is a good faith discussion to solve a problem and limit testing it for contingencies. The right-wing uses this “good faith practice” as a means to dodge accountability and it just devolves into what-aboutism. 

I am linking to a playlist for the NL team which explains this practice in a better way. 

I don’t know why no one has caught on to this fact, but what is happening in India has already happened in the US. The only reason it isn’t this one-sided in the US as compared to India is because of their centrist and a few leftist propagandists. India has no propagandist on the other side. (I know comparing US politics to India is not correct as regional parties hold more power in India, but I want to show how the BJP treats its propaganda.) All this Soros media control is originally an antisemitic thing that started in the US. The Foxification of the Indian media is also taken from the US.

I’ll explain a little bit about myself so you can get where I am coming from. I got an internet connection during the early 2000s (jai ho, Indian army). And I just like learning new things. The amount of useless things I know scares me sometimes. I have been reading about world history, world politics and domestic American propaganda for kicks for a long time, until it became a reality in our country too. 

What I observed – and told my sister many times too – is how Arnab uses American propaganda and just Ctrl+V it on his news channels. It started with Fox-like debates and then it just devolved rapidly post 2014. I can’t recall all the parallels but if you can make a list of all the nonsense he (and others) did post 2014, I bet I can provide you with their original US counterparts (you’ll have a free Newsance episode).

Your Let’s Talk About on Israel was very good and I will use it to explain to people the issue. As you can see from above, I am not good at explaining things. One suggestion I would make is to explain and spend more time on the Sykes-Picot agreement and WW1 shenanigans as that was the moment for me which put everything in perspective and brought out the real facts of the matter. It painted the issue more as a freedom struggle rather than an antisemitic one (helped me disconnected from the US and Allied forces propaganda).

Enjoy my Zoomer brain fart!

Comd. Shepard

***

Appreciate Sudipto’s points last Hafta, and I think he was being misunderstood by the rest of the panel. To acknowledge that there is a general trend of sycophancy and dictatorship in our history that brought us here is not to say that what is happening now is okay, nor is it to deny that the scale and methods of today are different. We like to imagine an India pre 2014 as somehow being more secular, more fair. But this wasn’t really ever the case for Dalits, tribals, or even Muslims really, was it? The ugliness is out in the open now, but that doesn't mean it wasn’t under the surface before. Some of it is manufactured, yes, but a lot of it is also pre-existing. 

In general, wanting an end to conflict makes us reach for “viable” and “practical” solutions, which is something familiar that already existed. But most times that was never fair or just to begin with. It’s imperative that we collectively imagine more just and equitable futures, complex as they may be given current scenarios. 

Nithila

***

Hi Newslaundry team,

I have been a big fan of your work and a proud subscriber for the last 8-9 years. Something has been bothering me for the last few days. It is the amount being raised for your NL Sena project Modi 2.0 Report Card –  Rs 6,32,498. Each time I see this figure I wonder why they did not make it Rs 6,32,500? It is just two rupees extra.

I know I am sounding weird, but I feel a sense of discomfort each time I see this figure. I keep wondering why they are not raising extra two rupees and making it an even figure. To the point that I am compelled to write this letter and request an explanation.

Can you please explain – how did you arrive at Rs 6,32,498 and why did you decide to not make it Rs 6,32,500?

Aridaman

***

I’ve got used to hearing many mispronunciations on NL, such as Wed-nes-day for Wen’sday, but why does Abhinandan say Madras with a soft “d”? And why is no one on the panel correcting him? 

Supriya Guha

***

What’s up with the interior design in your studio? Looks like the interior designer, whoever he/she may be, selected the colours right from the German Nazi flag.

On a more serious note, thank you for the investigative pieces on political funding through electoral bonds. I hope SC forces SBI to reveal all information related to EB in the public domain. Fingers crossed.

Cyril

***

You completely glossed over my letter on suicide/murder of Sidharth the student from the Kerala veterinary college. You may check – the story was akin to the Nirbhaya case and made worse by the political angle to it. You haven’t answered how your south correspondent or The News Minute also did not feel this story enough to be discussed on Hafta. Please Google the story. It is astounding and so very tragic. Your partnership with The News Minute should bring up the southern states’ stories but this time, as in earlier times, they are very selective.

Anonymous

***

A few episodes back, there was a conversation around how Hafta subscribers are well read and well informed. I am guessing the suggestion is that hence they are anti-BJP. But there must be enough smart people voting for BJP as well. I see very few honest assessments as to why BJP is popular apart from some lazy analysis like ‘Indians do not value democracy’. This feels like Bollywood directors looking down on their audience because their movie failed at the box office. I am sure caste-privileged, left-leaning people like us reading three newspapers a day are not the only saviours of democracy. Also I hope there are more topics of discussions in Hafta other than just this left vs right debates. 

Prasad

***

Hello NL team,

Given the electoral bonds theme, I have an interesting link to share from my news feed. This talks about the EU’s new rules on transparency and targeting of political advertising. Please have a look before the episode. 

Sending the whole team wishes for the spring! 

Shubham

***

Hi NL team,

Loved Sudipto’s point of view as a fellow Kannadiga. And was happy to hear him talk Tamil 😜 next time, Sudipto, make your points in Kannada, haha. Hindi, English haye haye.

Indian people are not capable of revolution. I am not going to say 1857. A revolution does not need to be bloody. Mayawati, Mamata and even the rise of BJP is revolution enough, don’t you think?

To more more of Hindu atheism (I am not playing with words here, it is Hindu atheism) or the more known “nastik” was a philosophy. The etymology of nastika will take you to carvaka. I am not an expert but this is what my research has come up with due to my own atheistic beliefs.

Can you please have a look at ITC’s e-choupal? And does it really work? Cooperative using innovations.

About Empire podcast, Sirjee William Dalrymple is in Delhi only, you can collaborate with him also.

Dhiraj

***

This one is in reference to episode 474, where the guest was questioning why farmers from only one part of the country are protesting. 

First thing, this question is actually covered in detail by The Red Mike, which did brilliant coverage of this. Secondly, should this question really be one for a farmer to answer? If tomorrow there is a new tax introduced for hospitals, will we start this divide-and-rule on why X hospital is protesting and not Y?

Regardless, this is not even a question of farm laws anymore but of oppressing the rights of citizens. There is a 21-year-old kid who died and frankly, no one was surprised or bothered by it. Heck, I’ll even go ahead and say farmers are in the wrong when it comes to their protests (which they’re not), but they deserve an audience. For years, the government squatted on its promises that it made to farmers previously. Question the government on why it has done jack before we start the nuance of whether farmers’ demands are right or wrong.

Anonymous

***

Hi NL team,

Some thoughts from me on the last Hafta here.

Abhinandan mentioned something around how there is a lack of ideology and used an example of Eklavya and how he gave his thumb without question. To start with, the analogy wasn’t very clear to me so if you can explain your point again, that would be helpful.

The way I did understand what you said makes me slightly disagree with you. I don’t think there is a lack of ideology at play here. The Mahabharata, of course, has different accounts from writers’ perspectives and I have read it quite extensively. Some say Eklavya knew exactly why Dronacharya was asking him for his thumb; he could see the malice in his guru’s mind and “still” gave him his thumb anyway as he was adamant to follow his ideology (which we still see today in our culture, to respect gurus/teachers etc). So, I don’t think it’s a situation where he doesn’t have a strong ideology.

Drawing a comparison to the current world, what today’s ministers lack is self-reflection and thought. So, if you ask them their ideology, they are the first to say “Hindutva” or anything of the sort. But if you ask them their position on economics, markets, welfare, health etc, or whether they are religiously left or right, economically left or right, socially left or right – I am sure they won’t be able to answer. In fact, I am sure quite a few of them just brand everything as “leftist”.

For example, if you look at the BJP’s politics, they may be very hard on right-wing politics on their religious scale but economically, they launch welfare schemes which may say they are more centrist economically. But unlike Eklavya, none of the MPs I feel would be able to have strong opinions about what they stand for. Which we can see with horse-trading anyway.

Lastly, feedback – Tippani has become very irregular. If you have Abhinandan backfilling for Manisha, please shower love on Tippani and get someone to cover for Atul too. It’s the first thing I see on a Wednesday.

Thanks a lot and keep up the good work.

Anonymous 

***

Recently, during one of our English literature classes, we delved into Salman Rushdie’s The Free Radio," where our professor provided historical context, particularly focusing on the forced sterilisation campaign led by Sanjay Gandhi. In her discussion, she asserted that this campaign unfairly targeted a specific community within India, specifically Hindus. I found this assertion troubling and wondered about its veracity, given some prior questionable statements made by the professor.

Previously, our professor has made unsubstantiated claims, such as labelling Arvind Kejriwal as a communist and suggesting that the current government in Karnataka shares communist ideologies. Furthermore, she stated that states governed by communist parties perpetually remain impoverished due to their supposed dependence on poverty. To challenge her assertions, I presented data regarding poverty rates in Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, which seemed to provoke her ire.

Unfortunately, these instances are not isolated incidents. Many professors in our English department at Delhi University seem ill-equipped to deliver accurate information or even proficiently communicate in English. As permanent members of the faculty, their lack of teaching skills is increasingly hindering our educational experience. 

Anonymous

***

Hi NL,

Lots of us have abandoned Twitter (X) for Bluesky, the musky, mucky smell of X is too much for us. Could you guys please at least post your links on Bluesky? 

Shashwati

***

Hi NL team,

Very disappointed with the discussion on electoral bonds on the last Hafta. The panel had done no homework. The SC had never ordered matching of the donors, bonds and recipients, therefore, the very premise of SBI’s extension plea was based on incorrect interpretation of the order. In fact, the gentleman from ADR on the Hafta post the SC order had said that people like them will do the data analysis once disclosed by SBI and EC.

Also, someone from ADR was on The Mojo Story along with Mr Garg where he mentioned that The News Minute has already reported on about 30 companies and their donation patterns. However, he said that the same cannot be presented in court as the accuracy of the report cannot be validated. When people make such claims in interviews, it puts a question on the genuineness of the report as well as the news platform. You guys need to find a better way to present such reports to stakeholders like ADR and other social enterprises/activists.

You need to get Sudipto back. Though I didn't agree with some of the things he said, he however did bring some new perspective and energy into the show.Bandana

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