Hafta 277: India-Nepal border dispute, Covid-19 cases at Zee News, Cyclone Amphan, and more


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In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri is joined by our in-house team of Raman Kirpal, Mehraj D Lone, Manisha Pande and Anand Vardhan.

Discussing the recent border dispute between India and Nepal, Anand describes the dispute’s historical context and the causes of the current fracas. Mehraj argues that this could be attributed to India’s “projection of power” since the start of the new millennium, which might have become less effective after a decade-long slowdown in economic growth.

Mehraj adds that “our national imagination, especially the kind that the BJP and the Hindutva camp has...can’t accept that we are equal with these people. You have to project power, you have to project greatness. But the basis of that greatness is no longer there. Because your own economy is struggling.” Abhinandan says: “As long as Covid is dominating the world, these will be just side acts.”

The panel shifts to the controversy over the Congress providing the Uttar Pradesh government with buses to transport migrant workers. Abhinandan says, “I am no fan of the Congress, but here I think there is a lot of monkey balancing [by the media]. What the UP government is doing is disgusting.” Mehraj agrees, deploring the government’s general treatment of migrant workers.

Moving on to the finance minister’s announcements over the past week, Mehraj says the government should have put more money in the hands of the people. Raman says, “You introduced Aadhaar. You made it compulsory for people to open bank accounts. But when the time has come to transfer money, you aren’t doing it.”

Anand suggests that the government focused on structural reforms. However, he acknowledges Abhinandan’s point about “the lack of policy imagination in offering immediate succour”. In response to a subscriber email, the panel also discusses conservatism in India, and Anand argues that the ideology is essentially “continuity with change”.

Finally, the panel talks about the Covid-19 cases at Zee News, and Newslaundry’s recent report about the cluster. Abhinandan says the employees who tested positive “might not get the sympathy that they should get, because of how Sudhir Chaudhary and other people like him have positioned themselves. That is a sad outcome.” Manisha is more optimistic, hoping that “people will make the distinction between Sudhir and regular Zee workers who are living alone or living with family.”

The panel also talks about Cyclone Amphan, Barkha Dutt’s ground reporting during the pandemic, and the arrest of Rwanda genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga.

For this and much more, tune in!

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