NL Hafta


Hafta 273: Kashmiri journalists, Arnab Goswami on Palghar, Ramachandra Guha, and more

In this week’s episode of NL Hafta, Newslaundry’s Abhinandan Sekhri, Raman Kripal, Manisha Pande, Mehraj D Lone, and Anand Vardhan are joined by Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Kashmir Times. Abhinandan asks Anuradha how reporting is being carried out in the valley at the moment. Anuradha says they’re “unable to bring out print editions”, and printed copies aren’t being distributed by hawkers. Barring a few newspapers, she adds, the government has “stopped all ads”. Discussing the few journalists bringing out stories, Anuradha says, “The pandemic is being used as a cover to target them and harass them.” Mehraj agrees, saying: “Journalism has been declared a crime in Kashmir.” He adds that this has been the case for a while, and legal coercion is used to ensure that “self-censorship becomes pervasive”. Manisha comments on how journalists are being “called and questioned” over their stories. Raman brings up the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which empowers those in power to arrest journalists. Anuradha calls the UAPA a “stringent and disproportionate law” since the onus to prove one’s innocence lies on the person booked under the act. Abhinandan brings up how historian Ramachandra Guha moved his column from Hindustan Times. He adds that Guha had accused HT of censoring his column back in 2007-08, but it got no attention since social media was not big at the time. Anand says there are two ways of looking at it. The first is “a matter between a private company and a man who writes for it”, and the second is about what is acceptable and what isn’t in the press. In the first case, he says, “We don’t know what the company has to say about it.” Considering Guha has options for where he could publish his column, Anand doesn’t think Guha represents the “larger scheme of things” for columnists as a professional group. Mehraj points out that the conversation isn’t really about Guha, but about how “a very powerful media organisation decided to censor a piece they didn’t like”. Manisha adds that this shouldn’t be confused with editorial inputs. Moving on to Arnab Goswami’s show on the Palghar lynching, Raman says, “Arnab manufactured the news and made it communal.” Discussing the alleged attack on Goswami, Abhinandan says Goswami’s statement on it “made it seem like there was an attack on his life”. He adds: “And then he says, ‘Now you give me sympathy’. You are taking away what he had done to journalism the night before.” Manisha says Goswami’s introduction of a communal angle into the lynching, when rumours are actually to blame, is “criminally irresponsible, it’s not journalistic, it makes no sense.” The panel also discusses All India Radio’s casual employees losing their livelihood, and the backlash to Tejasvi Surya’s tweets.

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Hafta 302: Biden vs Trump, Bihar election results, and Arnab Goswami’s bail

Timecodes00:00 - Introduction and headlines08:50 - Biden’s win in the US presidential election42:04 - Arnab’s Goswami’s arrest and bail, and freedom of speech01:10:08 - Subscriber letters01:41:42 - RecommendationsThis week on NL Hafta, Newslaundry’s Abhinandan Sekhri, Jayashree Arunachalam, and Anand Vardhan are joined by Joanna Slater, the India bureau chief of the Washington Post.Starting off with the US presidential election and Trump’s pushback against Biden winning, Joanna says there is “no sign whatsoever of any irregularities large enough to change this result”. Anand thinks the “split in political America is quite evident, and it will have a bearing on the next four years”.On the Bihar election results, Abhinandan talks about the possibility of caste being a “primary voting decision-making metric”, and Anand explains that the “consolidations in this election have been between two rival social coalitions”. Jayashree says, “It was interesting that an overwhelming number of women voted for the NDA.” She also thinks the media needs to “change its approach to election coverage”.Abhinandan then brings up press freedom and asks Joanna if we need to relook at freedom of speech. Joanna talks about the First Amendment in the US. On Arnab Goswami getting bail, she adds that was “surprised” when she saw the visuals of him being released from jail.Jayashree says it was a very “political” visual, and emphasises that in this particular incident, “he wasn’t targeted for his reporting or press freedom”. She adds that the law shows a “double standard” and that bail should be the norm. Abhinandan says, “The crowd that came for Arnab cannot be done without the backing of a large political party.” Anand says Goswami has branded himself as “part journalist, part showman, and part performer”.The discussion also spans political and religious conditioning, defining terrorism, what “abetment to suicide” means from a legal point of view, and a lot more.Tune in!RecommendationsJoannaCrash Landing On YouJayashreeSoorarai PottruCollisionThe Last OneAnandBihar: A referendum on Nitish KumarHow Nitish Kumar returned to powerAbhinandanHacking the Perfect Auction

Hafta 301: Arnab Goswami’s arrest, France and Vienna attacks, and the Bihar Assembly election

Timestamps03:16 - Headlines05:31 - Bihar election40:48 - Arnab Goswami arrested by Mumbai police01:03:56 - France and Vienna attacks01:04:48 - Subscriber mails01:06:16 - France And Vienna attacks01:10:17 - Recommendations01:11:13 - Subscriber mails01:12:46 - France and Vienna attacks01:35:43 - Subscriber mails01:57:39 - US presidential election02:00:48 - RecommendationsThis week on NL Hafta, Newslaundry’s Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, and Mehraj Lone are joined by Arfa Khanum, senior editor at the Wire.Starting off with the Bihar Assembly election, Arfa talks about Tejashwi Yadav’s “baggage”, being the son of Lalu Prasad Yadav. Manisha says Bihar was no “paradise” under Lalu, and Mehraj agrees. The panel discusses the coverage and optics of leaders from both marginalised and dominant communities.On the arrest of Republic’s Arnab Goswami, Abhinandan says the “overpowering support” Goswami received from politicians is a first. Mehraj says the case has been made into a freedom of the press issue, instead of a criminal case. The police has been a “tool of politics”, Manisha says, but it’s not a question of press freedom. “Arnab is a politician, not a journalist,” Arfa says.On the attacks in France and Vienna after a French schoolteacher was beheaded for showing his students cartoons of Prophet Mohammad, Arfa calls it a “complex issue”. Discussing notions of xenophobia, Mehraj says France’s laws are “vague”. Abhinandan says, “The real-life consequences of lives being lost in the name of religion need to be considered.”Manisha points out the historical distaste for religion that’s part of France’s culture. Discussing the politics of terrorism, Abhinandan brings out the nuances of situational violence, and says the focus should be on “assimilation”, since religion becomes a “comfort zone”.The discussion also spans the US presidential election, Glenn Greenwald leaving the Intercept, the Sushant Singh Rajput case, and a lot more. Tune in!RecommendationsArfaA Suitable BoyMehrajNew Land Laws Put All of Kashmir up for Sale — by Muzamil JaleelThe Erasure of Mesut ÖzilManishaScam 1992 – The Harshad Mehta StoryHow the Pawar’s Sakal Media and Pune police have been harassing Newslaundry reporterWas Harshad Mehta the mastermind or fall guy of securities scam? A bit of bothAbhinandanHow the Pawar’s Sakal Media and Pune police have been harassing Newslaundry reporterIn defence of liberty: It is time to stand up for individual freedoms, against all challengers

Hafta 300: Bihar Assembly election, France and Islam, and the 2+2 India-US talks

Timestamps:00:00 - Introduction and headlines10:09 - The shooting at Munger and Bihar's election dynamics33:02 - Subscriber letters41:54 - The pope's statement on same-sex civil unions45:55 - College student’s murder in Faridabad, media coverage58:47 - Subscriber letters01:01:49 - The 2+2 meet, Indian-Americans’ influence on the US election01:06:57 - Controversial ABVP leader appointed to AIIMS Madurai board01:13:11 - Subscriber letters01:29:17 - France's culture of mockery and its relationship with the Islamic world01:46:25 - Subscriber letters01:48:16 - RecommendationsThis week on NL Hafta, it’s an all-Newslaundry panel of Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Raman Kirpal, Jayashree Arunachalam and Anand Vardhan.The discussion kicks off with how Covid hasn’t affected voter turnout in the Bihar Assembly election. Anand doesn’t think the turnout of 54.26 percent is “significantly higher” than the past but it’s good enough, given the apprehension that the pandemic would discourage voting. “Far from discouraging voters, it encouraged more to come out,” he says.Talking about Tejashwi Yadav’s electoral campaign, Anand says, “He recognises that the argument of Nitish’s government being corrupt...will not cut any ice after some time. So, he’s trying to infuse political freshness by showing himself as the face of development.” (Note: Abhinandan accidentally refers to Tejashwi Yadav as Tejasvi Surya.)In the context of a student being killed outside her college in Faridabad, Abhinandan brings up the kind of news that makes headlines. He says that since this crime was caught on camera, it led to it going viral on social media. Jayashree comments on the “love jihad” angle, saying: “Whenever a Muslim is involved in a crime, it turns communal...The right-wing ecosystem seizes the opportunity...It also appeals to the Islamophobia in the country, as the villain is a Muslim.”Moving on to developments in France after a schoolteacher was beheaded, Manisha says there are many nuances to what happened. While Abhinandan points out that criticising Islam is not Islamophobia, Manisha explains the power imbalance between the Muslim population and the white population in France. “In a racially divided society like France, the (Arab) population is already alienated and will feel more alienated.” On the other hand, she adds, there’s a long history of satire in France that also needs to be taken into account.The panel also discusses the 2+2 India-US meet, Pope Francis on same-sex civil unions, and a lot more. Listen up!Help us understand what you like, or dislike, about NL Hafta before it goes behind the paywall again. Take the survey here. RecommendationsRamanBasant Kumar’s Bihar reports on NewslaundryArrest in Bhima Koregaon CaseA Suitable BoyAnandPost Mandal Politics in BiharSocial coalitions in Bihar - Part 1 and Part 2Preparing: For DeathJayashreeFat. So?1619Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta storyManishaCharlie Hebdo Is Heir to the French Tradition of Religious MockeryAbhinandanWho Gets To Vote In Florida?I Agree with Mohammad Ahmed SB