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NL Hafta

NL Hafta

Author: Newslaundry

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Weekly wrap of events of the week peppered with context, commentary and opinion by a superstar panel.

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39 Episodes
In this episode of NL Hafta, Newslaundry’s Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande and Mehraj D Lone are joined by Arfa Khanum, senior editor at The Wire. Kicking off with the Aam Aadmi Party’s involvement — or lack of it — in the aftermath of the Delhi violence, Arfa says she’s very surprised. She says she’s heard that the party “is punishing its voters who just voted them back to power for the third consecutive time”. Mehraj asks why the state government seems to have outsourced its own work to third parties. Manisha recalls many volunteers said they didn’t see many AAP workers on the ground in the early days after the violence. The panel then discusses patriotism. Abhinandan says he doesn’t see the value in patriotism. “It doesn’t have a place in the 21st century,” he says. Manisha describes patriotism as a “value of oneness”. Arfa says her country is her people, and standing up for minority rights that are being trampled is “real patriotism”. Mehraj points out how movements like the BJP and the Sangh Parivar have “blurred the distinction between nationalism and patriotism”. Moving on to the coronavirus pandemic, the panel debate whether the frenzy around it is justified. Mehraj quotes the scientific community’s consensus that this is serious, “since the human body hasn’t encountered it before”. In the context of the dismal state of India’s healthcare system, he says: “This is what you should prepare for, this is why you need robust healthcare.” The conversation also spans the media’s coverage of the pandemic, and the panellists agree that Indian authorities have done a decent job of dealing with it — unlike the US. Ending with Jyotiraditya Scindia’s defection to the BJP, Mehraj says, “This is a symptom of a dying party.” He says theCongress has become a party of grifters and there’s nothing binding their people together unlike the BJP. Manisha disagrees, saying the Congress could revive, “only if we remove the Gandhis”. Abhinandan says “Gandhi” is the party’s ideology and it’s nothing without his name. The panel agrees that Scindia will not have any future in the BJP. They also discuss the relationship between caste and power and institutions, women in the media, and a lot more. Tune in!
In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Raman Kirpal, Anand Vardhan, and Mehraj D Lone of Newslaundry are joined by Kapil Komireddi, author and journalist. They start with a discussion on the Delhi violence. Abhinandan asks the panellists how precisely they will describe what happened. Was it “riot” or “pogrom”? Kapil believes it was more than a riot and, had it continued to escalate, could have become a pogrom. Anand sees it purely as communal violence and a confrontation between supporters and opponents of the citizenship law. Mehraj prefers the term “communal carnage”. Talking about the foreign media’s coverage of the violence, Kapil says there’s a lack of nuance. “When a piece is written in Delhi and sent to London or New York for editing, I think the editors add their own language, they compress language, nuance somehow gets eliminated from that coverage,” he adds. He, however, rejects the suggestion that such coverage is a conspiracy to defame India. “I think India is supplying enough material to people who dislike the country,” he argues. Kapil goes on to question Narendra Modi’s competence as a leader, “For weeks, Gujarat burnt around him and he did nothing. In Delhi, in the capital of the country, the city burnt for three days and again he was incompetent, he could not do anything. So the defining characteristic of the prime minister is incompetence.” Speaking about how the violence started, Raman says, “I think prima facie, it was deliberate. It was started with some intentions to teach a lesson.” He adds that Muslims retaliated where they were in large numbers, making it a full-blown riot. About the police’s role, he says, “There are few brilliant individuals in any institution. But let us face it, on those three days, these men in khaki, they behaved like Hindus.” Anand, however, argues that it is early to say the police were incompetent considering the sequence of the events is still unclear. He says, “The cause and effect relationship, what caused it, is still very hazy.” Mehraj disagrees. “If we have to find the truth, we have to go beyond these institutions, beyond the police,” he says. “This is a police that not only sided with the rioters but was complicit in the violence”. He notes that the police actively destroyed CCTV cameras to ensure there was no evidence of their actions. The panel then discuss the coronavirus pandemic. “It seems a lot more alarming but when you see the age-wise break-up of fatality, for a young fit person, this is like a flu that goes away,” Abhinandan says, initiating the conversation. Mehraj, however, points out that the fatality rate being low doesn’t mean that the threat isn’t severe for a country like India, where “without a proper healthcare system, you are asking for disaster.” They also discuss the suspension of seven Congress MPs, Justice S Muralidhar’s transfer from the Delhi High Court to Punjab, freedom of speech, and much more. Tune in!
In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Mehraj D Lone, and Raman Kirpal of Newslaundry are joined by Neha Dixit, journalist and professor at Ashoka University. The podcast starts with a discussion on media reports on the Delhi riots. Neha says, “Lots of people are claiming that their relatives are missing. Dead bodies have been dumped at the hospital with no identification made since the investigation officers are too busy to get the post-mortem started. So the death toll will still go up.” Talking about the overnight transfer of Justice S Muralidhar, Abhinandan says, “It is rather alarming the brazenness with which the state is carrying out whatever their project is.“ Manisha reasons why the violence is centred in North East Delhi, saying, ”This is where Amit shah gave his ‘Shaheen bagh ko jhatka lagega’ speech, along with a large number of unemployed youth from both sides present there.” Regarding the Delhi police’s inaction during the riots, Abhinandan says this “disrespect” now for the police will outlast Modi and Shah. “The police have shot themselves in the foot.” Mehraj talks about the judiciary’s role in the violence. “If you go back and see books and reports on instances of communal violence since 1947...if you take the names of the places away, you can’t tell one from the other,” he says. “Everywhere, the police has sided with the rioters and the judiciary has been stacked against the victims. The only difference this time is that everything is being recorded on camera.” Raman believes the riots were orchestrated. ”The circumstantial evidence, so far, are strongly indicating that the people who orchestrated all this came from the border areas,” he tells the panel. The panel also discusses the media coverage of Trump’s visit, the Delhi government’s inaction during the violence, #MeToo in India, and more. Tune in!
In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Mehraj D Lone, and Anand Vardhan of Newslaundry are joined by Shelly Walia, senior editor at the Quint. Rather surprisingly, this episode kicks off with a healthy debate on whether litti chokha belongs to Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. The panellists then engage in an extended discussion on their favourite regional delicacies. Mehraj finally ends the discussion with a tongue-in-cheek remark: “Vegetarian and delicacy don’t go together in the same sentence.” Shelly then turns to the subject of Amulya Leona, a young woman from Karnataka, being slapped with a sedition case for saying “Pakistan Zindabad” at an AIMIM rally in Hyderabad. Mehraj explains how this issue pertains to which side of the free speech debate one stands on. Shelly argues that the BJP latches onto such statements to divert attention from real problems. “Just think of the things that you got to hear before the Delhi election when it was constantly, like, India, Pakistan, Muslim, Hindu, current puhuch jayega and goli maaro. The kind of shit that is being said by our ministers...and here is a 20-year-old ‘woke’ woman who says something like that and we call her idiotic. I don’t think that’s a fair thing because I just feel things are going off track.” Abhinandan disagrees, arguing that every protest can’t be about everything. “If every protest becomes bhadaas nikalna, then the repercussions will also be bhadaas nikalne wala,” he says. While Mehraj bats for absolute freedom to say whatever one wants, Abhinandan puts the AIMIM at fault for not vetting what was to be spoken from their stage. “I think it is a dumb thing to give platform to someone like that to make a fool of themselves. Of course, the person has the right to make a fool of themselves, but is that good for the movement I am fighting for?” On Donald Trump’s visit and the possibility that there won’t be a trade agreement, Anand opines that the fact the US president is visiting India alone is a symbolic step towards de-hyphenating India-Pakistan. “We are in a phase where the big power and the emerging power equations would be more guarded by complex interdependence rather than clear takeaways from each other.” Bringing in a less discussed nuance, Abhinandan argues that Trump’s visit will refuel the BJP’s discourse which has been dulled by its electoral loss in Delhi. The panellists also talk about AAP legislator Saurabh Bharadwaj organising monthly Hanuman Chalisa prayers in his constituency, and his demand for erecting a Hanuman statue at the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya; the Supreme Court’s order granting women permanent commission in the Army; the importance of formal education; the New York Times publishing an article by Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani; and much more. Tune in!
In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande and Mehraj D Lone of Newslaundry are joined by Kaveree Bamzai, author and former editor of India Today, and Sanjay Rajoura, stand-up comedian and a member of Aisi Taisi Democracy. This episode was recorded live at Bedlam, Hauz Khas Village, Delhi. Mehraj kicked off the discussion explaining the recent Supreme Court judgement on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, and what it means for Dalits and Adivasis subjected to hate crimes. Speaking about the Delhi election, Kavaree says, “We were too excited by the fact that Delhi did not vote for the BJP, but what is worrying is how migrant-dominated northeast Delhi overwhelmingly voted for them.” She adds that the normalisation by the media of binaries such as “tukde tukde gang versus the rest of us” worries her. Abhinandan asks Sanjay why he feels his political commentary and that of fellow comedians isn’t making much difference when it comes to changing the minds of voters. “I don't have any such notion that what I am saying on stage will make any difference or have any kind of impact, neither do I have any intention of doing so,” Sanjay replies. “My aim is to make sure that the question stays alive.” Talking about contemporary trends in world politics and how they reflect in the Indian context, Mehraj argues that technocratic centrism is always just one crisis away from enabling an authoritarian takeover as has happened in the UK, US and Brazil, and that Aam Aadmi Party is destined for a similar fate if they do start providing an ideological alternative. On the controversy over the film Shikara, Manisha says, “I find the expectations from creative people to live up to political expectations to be tedious. The issue was actually that of marketing as they tried to sell the movie as ‘the untold story of kashmiri pandits’.” The panellists then fielded questions from members of the live audience, all of whom were Newslaundry subscribers since it was a subscriber-only event. Tune in!
In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Mehraj D Lone, and Anand Vardhan of Newslaundry are joined by journalist Faye D’souza They discuss the issue of Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah being slapped with the Public Safety Act. Mehraj gives the historical context of the draconian law and what its application entails. Faye says laws like the PSA are emergency laws and "we are obviously no longer in an emergency". “If you join all of these dots, the suggestion that because people are making statements in your opposition you’re going to keep them in detention is actually very worrying for a democracy,” she adds. Abhinandan expresses his concern over Prime Minister Narendra Modi using a quote from a satirical website to denounce Abdullah. "When the PM says something that's a headline on a satire website, it shows the level of politics we have gone into now,” he remarks. Faye points out that the government has not provided any evidence that the Kashmiri leaders intended to incite violence. Even if they wanted to mobilise people to protest in case they were released, it would be their democratic right. Abhinandan then discusses comedian Kunal Kamra’s ambush of Republic TV boss Arnab Goswami with Prateek Goyal, Newslaundry's correspondent based in Pune. Prateek argues that by tweeting a mildly abusive rant against Goswami, Kamra did what he accuses Goswami of. Abhinandan, on the other hand, sticks to his argument that people in positions of power need to be held accountable for their conduct. Anand adds to the discussion saying one should stick to more formal language in such instances, especially in public. “The language of his heckling, in my view, was in poor taste," he says, referring to Kamra. Faye chimes in, “Apart from the legal aspect, there’s the ethical grey that our country seems to have discarded.” Manisha says people need to file civil defamation suits against mediapersons who daily demonise them. “If you are going to keep saying something that puts lives in jeopardy, it’s no joke anymore,” she says. “And you can't keep appealing to their good sense.” Moving on to the next big news, Manisha expresses sadness that the Delhi election discourse does not include pollution as a major issue. On the TV coverage of the election, she says, “I don't think anywhere in the world it is possible for people – and blame for this is on the media – to be so careless about something so important.” The panellists also discuss Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's singing of Hanuman Chalisa. Faye articulates her displeasure at the fact that it was a journalist who asked Kejriwal to recite the prayer. “The credibility of that news network and the journalist went completely down the drain,” she says. In the context of the Aam Aadmi Party's campaign rhetoric, Mehraj argues, "If you’re competing for the hardcore Hindu vote with the BJP, you are not going to get that. Because the BJP has a monopoly on that.” Reflecting the panel's collective displeasure at the Delhi election discourse, Anand opines, “Speaking from a distance of approximately a thousand kilometres in Bihar, I think the election’s coverage has been quite disproportionate to its importance in national politics.” The panellists also talk about how religion has long played a role in India’s electoral politics, the Shiv Sena's shifting ideological positions, and much more.
In this episode of NL Hafta, Manisha Pande, Raman Kirpal, Mehraj D Lone and Madhu Trehan are joined by Vivek Kaul, an author who’s been writing a series on the Union Budget for Newslaundry. Vivek starts the conversation with the 2020 Budget and the Economic Survey. “What used to be a remarkably esoteric document suddenly became very readable,” he says. Vivek says the invariable economic slowdown India is witnessing is a result of a lack of investments. He speculates that the reason for this might be the fact that it’s incredibly hard to carry out any economic activity in India right now, and blames this on operational issues. Mehraj brings up the huge tax cut the government gave mega corporations a few months ago, and wonders why this hasn’t resulted in a jump in investments. Vivek responds, “When a corporate invests, they hope to see a return on their investment, but there has been a consumption dip.” Madhu chimes in, “I’m wondering about the inconvenience that so many traders complain about when they talk about the problems that GST and such have caused them. But they then turn around and express their vehement support for Modi.” Manisha asks: “How much are people driven by the economy, actually, as opposed to ideas?” Madhu calls this a “psychological disconnect between your vote and your daily troubles”. Moving on to the big news of the week, Manisha talks about how Kunal Kamra gave Arnab Goswami “the Republic TV treatment” on an IndiGo flight. Manisha likes the term Abhinandan used in his piece on the incident — “ambush monologue” — and asks Madhu, “How many times have you been accosted by viewers?” “Thousands!” Madhu responds, talking about being waylaid in planes, washrooms, and even restaurants and parties. “Especially after the contempt of court thing,” she adds, “but I don’t object to it.” Madhu then explains how journalists write in a public space and that the public have a right to argue with reporters, and it is a journalist’s responsibility to deal with it. In the context of the ethics of Kunal’s actions, Mehraj queries whether Arnab can even be called a journalist. “Technically Radio Rwanda was considered journalism as well,” he points out. “And because there is no culture of accountability in this country, we just let this happen.” The panel also discusses the shooting at Jamia Nagar, Sharjeel Imam’s sedition case, Prashant Kishore’s ousting from the JDU, and much more. Tune in!
In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Anand Vardhan, and Mehraj D Lone of Newslaundry are joined by Advaita Kala, novelist and commentator. They talk about the impending Delhi election and the nomination process. In a strange turn of events, Chief Minister Arvind Kerjriwal’s nomination almost didn’t happen because of a backlog of almost a hundred people filing their papers before him. “I mean it was clearly a tactic to delay or harass him or try to ensure he doesn’t contest,” Abhinandan argues. On Kejriwal’s Times Now “town hall”, held earlier this week, Abhinandan wonders if it could be called that. “Did the audience get to ask questions?” he asks. “Someone should tell them that if you do it in a hall doesn’t make it a town hall.” Mehraj points out that criticising raving TV anchors such as RSS (Rahul Shivshankar), Navika Kumar and Arnab Goswami is easy. “These channels, these media organisations are owned by some very wealthy, very rich, very influential people. Why is nobody holding them accountable for this?” Abhinandan notes the BJP’s no-holds-barred campaign strategy in Delhi, citing the hoardings put up by the party across the city. “They are showing things like triple talaq, CAA, surgical strikes,” he says, wondering how smart it’s strategically, “So, desh badlaa ab Delhi badlenge. But none of these things actually address development issues for Delhi!” Anand is convinced that this is because the BJP recognises AAP’s hold on Delhi. “National elections are a combination of addressing tangible and intangible issues but municipal elections focus on the tangible,” he says, noting the BJP doesn’t have much grounds to campaign on development issues in Delhi. Admiring AAP’s smart election tactics, Advaita notes, “We haven’t seen a level of vitriol and nastiness. And that’s because Kejriwal has stuck to, you know, the work that he has done. And on the ground, I do see appreciation for the work that he has done.” In a sidebar on reports of Amazon head Jeff Bezos’s phone being hacked by the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, Manisha muses about the likely motivations for the hack. “It’s because of the Washington Post. MBS was upset with the Post’s reporting, so he leaked Bezos’s affair to the National Enquirer…Turns out he had been sending him WhatsApp viruses.” Mehraj notes the irony of Amazon’s boss being hacked while “running one of the world’s largest surveillance companies”. The panel also discuss the coronavirus in China and the legitimacy of what the Hindu nationalist blog OpIndia publishes as “reporting”, and offer some meta news analysis. Tune in!
In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Raman Kirpal, and Mehraj D Lone of Newslaundry are joined by Anuradha Bhasin of Kashmir Times. Abhinandan begins the discussion by asking Anuradha about the significance of the arrest of Davinder Singh, a deputy superintendent of police in Kashmir, along with two militants he was ferrying in his private car. She responds that Singh has a shady record. “Obviously these people are not operating on their own,” she adds, “That there’s somebody patronising them, to which level and how deep does this go, these are very vital questions.” Abhinandan agrees, “It is not unheard of for governments to use militants or other people, or even the armed forces.” On whether Singh’s is a case of a cop gone rogue, Raman argues, “If nothing comes out, let’s say in the next two months, three months, then obviously the government has something to hide.” Mehraj doesn’t buy the argument of the cop gone rogue. It’s preposterous, he says. Pointing out that there’s evidence of Singh enjoying patronage, he adds, “A person who is admitting in an interview, on record to a journalist, that he tortured people is sent as a peacekeeper.” Talking about the Indian media’s silence on the matter, Manisha remarks, “I thought it was very fascinating that there was complete silence from this ecosystem for about 24 hours till Sambit Patra gave his press conference blaming the Congress.” Abhinandan believes that it wasn’t a case of the media ignoring the story, it was them being told not to talk about it. Discussing India Today’s JNU sting, Abhinandan expresses his discomfort with the news channel’s “monkey balancing” act on the matter. “Dude, one party was trying to break people’s heads with hammers and hiding their faces doing it, the other party was pulling cables and not hiding their faces doing it.” Mehraj adds that the leftist students were disrupting services which is a legitimate form of protest. Anuradha agrees, saying the whole balancing act was disproportionate. On the ethics of sting, Raman says, “I always say that a sting can be part of an investigation, but it can’t be an investigation in itself.” Manisha’s concern is with the idea of stinging the lowest common denominator. “I would be happy if you sting the VC, sting the Delhi police guy who was incharge, sting the top ABVP guys.” Mehraj echoes her view, noting the Indian media usually go after small fry. The panel also discuss the hanging of Nirbhaya’s rapists becoming a campaign issue in Delhi, Bipin Rawat’s remarks about deradicalisation centres, and much more. Tune in!
In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Anand Vardhan, and Mehraj D Lone of Newslaundry are joined by Rohan Venkataramakrishnan from Scroll. The episode also features three Newslaundry subscribers, Dhiraj Krishna Kumar, S.Harikrishnan and Jefferson Simon. Abhinandan begins the podcast by asking subscribers why they chose to subscribe to Newslaundry. The trio also shares feedback about areas where Newslaundry can improve. Moving to the violence in Jawaharlal Nehru University, Rohan gives a blow by blow account of how he was roughed up by middle-aged, saffron-clad men while he was reporting, while personnel from the Delhi police looked on. Expressing his sympathy towards students who had nothing to do with the incident, Anand notes, “Loss of one year is costly for them. Perhaps more costly than a fee hike”. Manisha, on the other hand, thinks Anand’s view is a misreading of what actually happened. She emphasizes how the on-campus scuffle changed when men from outside entered the university, pointing to a criminal conspiracy. Dhiraj seconds Manisha and believes that it was unacceptable. Speaking on the role of the police in JNU violence, Abhinandan says,“ The police’s culpability and involvement in this is so clear.” Meanwhile, Mehraj backs the protest carried by the students and adds, “As long as there is no violence, it is a pretty legitimate form of protest”. Rohan agrees and adds,” Sure, we can discuss JNU separately. But what was happening outside that gate was a law and order situation. That mob, if they wanted to do something else, they had the impunity to.” The panel also talks about Kanhaiya Kumar’s oratory skills, Deepika Padukone’s JNU visit, and Delhi elections among other things. Tune in!
This episode of NL Hafta is hosted by Manisha Pande, who is joined by Mehraj D Lone, Raman Kirpal and Meghnad S of Newslaundry. Manisha starts by asking her colleagues about their highs and lows of the year gone by and their hopes for 2020. They all identify the protests against the new citizenship law as a high and mostly the police’s brutality against the protesters and the government’s indifference as a low. Manisha sums up her highlight of the year thus, “Ordinary people doing ordinary acts of resistance.” She cites as an example the many lawyers who gave legal support for the detained protesters. Talking about Narendra Modi’s speech where he urged Indians protesting against the citizenship law to protest against Pakistan instead, Meghnad exclaims, “We are heading towards a genocide because the signs are all there. We have seen in history how it works.” On Modi and his claims, Raman says, “In recent times, I have not seen any other leader speaking lies through his teeth.” Delving into why the government is not taking a more sensible approach, Manisha argues, “We aren’t doing anything to push Pakistan to be more responsible towards its minorities because that would mean we have to be more responsible towards our minorities.” In a brief discussion on Jaggi Vasudev’s remarks on the citizenship law, Mehraj feels the reason his remarks were amplified by Modi and Amit Shah was because he is a prominent Hindu religious leaders who can speak fluently in English and, thus, can connect with the elite. On Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s poem Hum Dekhengae being denounced as “anti-Hindu”, Mehraj says this happens when we “decontextualise stuff”. Faiz, he points out, is talking of a communist revolution. He adds, “In our daily lives, in the art we create, the words we speak, we use idioms, metaphors that come from the culture we live in.” The panel also discuss the assassination of the Iranian military general Qassem Suleimani by the US, and how it could make the Middle East even more volatile. Tune in!
In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Anand Vardhan, and Mehraj D Lone of Newslaundry are joined by Aditya Menon from The Quint. They begin with a discussion on BJP’s offensive tweet about the Tamil icon EV Ramasamy Periyar. Pointing out the reason for BJP’s dislike for Periyar, Aditya notes, “It's the Periyar legacy that is preventing the BJP from growing in Tamil Nadu, so they do want to attack the icon somehow.” Mehraj joins in and says it is more to do with ideology than political point-scoring. Talking about Narendra Modi’s mega rally kicking off the Delhi election campaign, Abhinandan expresses disgust at the messaging that asked people to come and thank Modi. About the falsehoods in the prime minister’s speech for which he was widely criticised, Anand argues that it had to be full of bombast given the prime minister was in a mood for tactical retreat. On the Jharkhand election, Manisha says she was impressed by Hemant Soren and how he campaigned and took on the incumbent chief minister, Raghubar Das. Aditya sheds light on the tactics used by Soren’s campaign team which portrayed him as being humble as opposed to Das. On the subject of Soren winning the election by running a campaign focused on local issues, Mehraj says, “That I think is the only turf that you can fight the BJP on right now, hyperlocal issues.” Talking about the protests against the citizenship law, Manisha notes that they have largely been peaceful. But this has been completely whitewashed by the media. She adds that this has been used to justify the police’s brutal response. Anand jumps in to speak on behalf of the police, “The police does not share all information with the media also.” The panel also discuss the Delhi cold, Centrism, and more. Tune in!
In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Raman Kirpal, Meghnad S and Mehraj D Lone of Newslaundry are joined by Betwa Sharma, Politics Editor at HuffPost India. They begin with a discussion on the nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Talking about the timing of the protests, Betwa says, “If you had actually built that momentum, maybe the bill wasn’t gonna get passed in the first place.'' Meghnad echoes her view. On the violent police crackdown in Jamia Millia Islamia University and elsewhere, Mehraj points out, “Police are doing this because they know they are not going to be held accountable. In fact, some of them might get rewards and promotions.” He also wonders why anybody in a democracy should need the police’s permission to stage a protest. Raman, discussing the media’s reporting of popular movements, points out, “As reporters, we need to go back to the field and do a deep dive and that's what we have been doing.” As he narrates how Newslaundry reporter Veena Nair ended up on a bus filled with protesters detained by the police, Betwa expresses her dilemma about the extent to which a journalist should be involved in a story. Meghnad says, referring to Veena, “I think her first person account of how she did this is also important where she is the story but she is also doing the story.” Speaking about the Data Protection Bill, Abhinandan says, “Complete privacy I don’t think is possible in today's age.” The question, however, is to what extent personal data of citizens should be available to governments or corporations. The panel also discuss a Pakistani court’s sentencing of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to death for treason. Tune in!
In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Anand Vardhan and Mehraj D Lone of Newslaundry are joined by author and journalist Samrat X. They begin with a discussion on the Citizenship Amendment Bill that has garnered massive attention in the media. Abhinandan questions whether the BJP had anticipated the reaction to the passage of the law. Mehraj responds, “Maybe they even figured this in their calculations and are fine with it. I mean like in Kashmir, they are fine with what happens in Kashmir as long as they get the votes elsewhere." Manisha points to the misconception that persecuted minorities in Afghanistan and Bangladesh can find refugee in India after this law comes into force. Manisha also says she was extremely disappointed that the opposition did not corner Amit Shah in the Parliament over the Citizenship Bill. Talking of the Anaj Mandi fire and its media coverage, Anand says, “I think it has to do with the media’s imagination of the public. In that imagination, the only profitable binary is State versus something or government versus something." He says though there was an air of horror around the incident, because the owner was an ordinary citizen and the people killed were also ordinary citizens, they didn't matter to the media. Samrat adds, “We have an imagination of the poor, where poor lead a miserable life and often die miserable deaths." The panel also discuss the public demand for death penalty to rapists, the British election, and much more. Tune in!
In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Raman Kirpal and Mehraj D Lone of Newslaundry are joined by Joanna Slater, the India Bureau Chief of The Washington Post. They begin with a discussion on the gangrape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad, and the subsequent killing of the four accused by the police. Delving on the psyche of the rapists, Abhinandan says, “I could not believe they actually plotted this all evening. I mean with the intention that they just wanna have sex and they would rape a woman and kill her.” On the police’s shooting of the four accused men, Mehraj talks about the culture of impunity that exists in this country and the lack of accountability. Raman adds that the mindset for lynching the rapists was already out there. Pointing a finger at the media discourse surrounding this case, Manisha remarks, “One thing that’s really disturbing in cases like these is how the media frenzy just takes over any sane discourse.” By way of example, she mentions TV anchors who ran hashtags calling for the death of the alleged rapists. On the Citizenship Amendment Bill, Mehraj explains how the BJP is selling it as a measure that would help the millions of Hindus left out of the National Register of Citizens in Assam but how it might actually only add to their misery. Speaking about US President Donald Trump’s impeachment process, Joanna says, “From the kind of polling that I have seen from afar it seems the percentage of people who say that he should be impeached and removed has gone up over the course of this process. So it is changing some people’s mind on that.” On senior Congress leader P Chidambaram being released on bail in the INX Media case, Raman argues, “This has come across as political vendetta. There is not really any case against him in the INOX Media case – and that comes out really clearly.” The panel also discusses the Unnao rape case, the falling GDP in September, the Delhi University teachers’ protest against the anticipated sacking of adhoc teachers, and much more. Tune in!
In this episode of Hafta, host Abhinandan Sekhri, Raman Kirpal, Manisha Pande and Meghnad S are joined by Sudhir Suryawanshi, the man behind Katta News, the only media outlet that managed to sift through the chaos during the Maharashtra political crisis. The panel discusses the Maharashtra political drama, Pragya Thakur’s recent remark on Nathuram Godse in Lok Sabha, the controversial Transgender Persons Bill, among other things. Uddhav Thackrey was sworn in as chief minister of Maharashtra after a failed attempt by Ajit Pawar to split Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party. Katta News, managed by Suryawanshi had announced Ajit’s coup two days in advance. Suryawanshi gives us insights on Maharashtra political drama and how Maha Vikas Aghadi (Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP alliance) came to power. On the Godse row, Manisha says, “There is genuinely an active push now to turn the narrative on Godse as a patriot and you can see this in the way his supporters have reacted on Twitter to Pragya’s remark .” Meghnad retorts saying, “This is not just about twitter trolls but the way news channels are calling them on panels and normalising whatever they are saying, that is problematic. So, now twitter trolls are not just on twitter anymore.” On the government’s plan to move a Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill, Abhinandan says, “I think this is a way to kind of try and get control on digital publications which they have the least control over. They can control satellite channels and newspapers much better than digital. I think it’s going to backfire.” Speaking on the Transgender Persons Bill, Meghnad says, “The whole law-making process is so male-dominated. Like when men make laws about women they’re insensitive, when they make laws about LGBT+ community, they are inhuman.” They also discuss the removal of SPG cover for Gandhi family and much more.
In this episode of Hafta, host Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Meghnad S are joined by freelance journalists, Nitin Sethi and Vrinda Gopinath. The panel discusses the big news of the week -- electoral bonds, Pragya Thakur’s nomination on parliamentary defence panel, massive protests by JNU students, among other things. Speaking on the issue of electoral bonds, Nitin Sethi says, “If you pay for journalism, journalism will respond to your requirements and desires and expectations. Similarly, for politics. This is why electoral bonds is such a big issue. Because if you want politics to be responsible to citizens then you can’t have corporates paying for politics. You need to have transparency. You need to have answerability to citizens.” Abhinandan says, “This pretty much implicates the government for lying to the Parliament, ministries and the Election Commission.” On Pragya Thakur’s nomination to the Parliamentary Defence Committee, the panel wonders which committee the Bhopal MP should have been ideally given. Meghnad argues that the decision should not whip up outrage as he reasons, “This was a natural course of action that was supposed to happen.” They also discuss the recent JNU protests. Manisha argues, “I think this just needs to be drummed into everyone, of all the tax that is collected only three per cent is personal income tax. 70-80% taxes are indirect taxes which everyone, even the poor pay for it. So, you are not running the country.” While Vrinda says, “I think it’s very obvious that it’s JNU that they are after. There are hundreds of other universities but they want to finish JNU because they think it is the fountainhead of all your radical, rebellious, leftist thought.” The episode also features a discussion on the announcement of nation-wide NRC by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Rajya Sabha, water impurity issue in Delhi, and more.
In this episode, the usual Hafta gang of Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Mehraj D Lone, Anand Vardhan and Madhu Trehan is joined by Alok Prasanna Kumar, a senior resident fellow at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy. The podcast begins with the panellists airing their views on the Ayodhya verdict and the Sabarimala issue. While discussing the Supreme Court’s verdict on Ayodhya, Alok says, “The burden of proof falls on both people and both sides have to prove this claim. What the Supreme court has said is quite puzzling.” He points out that the Muslims had been offering namaaz on that particular piece of land since 1857 and that one could not deny their claim to the particular part of that property. Speaking on the Sabarimala issue, he suggests, “You cannot, by law, impose a certain kind of religious prohibition that goes against the constitutional principles.” Speaking about an email by a subscriber about political advertising on Twitter, Mehraj comments, “One person shouldn't have the power to decide what goes and doesn’t go on social media platforms”. He thinks it is ‘undemocratic’. The panel then moves on to discuss the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance in Maharashtra and the political logistics of the coalition. The discussion was sparked by an opinion piece that suggested the trio has fallen into a trap laid down by Amit Shah. The panel disagrees. The panel also discusses the air pollution in Delhi and JNU protests among other things Listen in! There’s more.
In this episode of Hafta, host Abhinandan Sekhri is joined by Newslaundry’s Madhu Trehan, Manisha Pande and Mehraj D Lone as well as two guests, Shreeshan Venkatesh, editorial head at CarbonCopy, and Vivek, a Newslaundry subscriber who is a journalist based in Chennai. The discussion kicks off on the recent study by Climate Central, a news organisation in the United States, which estimates that coastal cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai will be underwater by 2050. “It is not a new projection, rather it is a new estimate of the impacts of earlier projections,” notes Shreeshan. He points out that this scenario is with “moderate cuts” to emissions, when the real picture is much worse. Speaking about the ongoing clash between police and lawyers in Delhi, Madhu says, “Why do the lawyers believe they need special treatment? The way they have taken the law into their hands, beaten up cops, they really seem to think they are above the law.” Manisha adds, “Police brutality is a fact. But I don’t know if those cops who are protesting have indulged in it, so I would be sympathetic to them. I won’t judge them by the actions of their entire tribe.” Speaking about India’s decision to pull out of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Vivek says, “I think there is a sense of uncompetitive behaviour in the Indian industry because we are protecting them from the competition.” Mehraj points to the ideological aspect of such trade deals. “If you go back in history, there have been similar agreements like NAFTA that have been disastrous. Such deals are the reason for Latin America’s backlash against neoliberalism that has destroyed their economies.” The panel also discuss the revocation of the writer Aatish Taseer’s Overseas Citizenship of India card, North India’s air pollution, and more. Tune in!
In this episode of Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Madhu Trehan, Manisha Pande and Mehraj D Lone of Newslaundry are joined by Suhasini Haidar, national and diplomatic affairs editor of The Hindu. The panel discusses a range of issues that made news this week. They start with the controversial visit of a delegation of the European Members of Parliament to Kashmir earlier this week. “I think it was a case of misplaced priorities as far as the government is concerned,” Suhasini says. She questions why the government used an obscure think tank rather than one of its own agencies to invite the delegation. Could it be that Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t care about what the international press says about him? Suhasini disagrees, “I don’t think that is true. I definitely think they were tracking very closely what happened in the international media, particularly before Modi went to the US because they were worried about the kind of coverage that was coming out.” They move on to discuss the WhatsApp snooping row. Mehraj is of the view that Ravi Shankar Prasad, who said the government has sought a response from WhatsApp, is “passing the buck” when the messaging platform itself is a victim in this instance. Suhasini says, “I think WhatsApp has been passing the buck as well. Why do they have a software that is so easy to hack?” Speaking about the deteriorating air quality in Delhi and its coverage in the media, Manisha says, “When journalists are only going to talk about this as an issue around Diwali, then you are just minimising the scope of the problem.” Suhasini and Mehraj point towards the systemic causes of the problem that are rarely talked about.
Comments (12)

Suraj Hinduja

This is the best Podcast... I have been listening to this for 5 years now.. it's a pleasure subscribing to such wonderful people and the content is unmatched.

Mar 21st

Arun Ram

Episode 242 is incorrectly loaded. Can some one please correct it

Sep 28th

Shivam Chaturvedi

When is this week’s hafta coming around ?

Sep 8th

Apurva Mehta

Why do I have to pay twice to listen to this? I'm already a Newslaundry subscriber. Now I have to pay $6.99 per month at cast box also?

Aug 17th

Abhijit Kenavdekar

Disappointed with the news that I have to pay to listen to this

Aug 1st

Yogesh Kanekar

I can't access episode after 284 of 4th January

Feb 20th

Yogesh Kanekar

Why such a long gap between today's date and latest podcast

Dec 14th

Swap Nil

Seems like News Laundry is fed by Congress...No thanks, I'm unsubscribing

Dec 13th


Leftist Propaganda!!

Dec 9th

Akash Sahu

Too long, cut it down to 30 minutes.

Oct 26th

Rituraj Singh Rathore

subscribed by mistake

Oct 6th

shirish kirtiwar

It is strange. I'm seeing latest episodes in YouTube. Rather than having it on this podcast.

Aug 3rd
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