FACT CHECK

Fake News Busted: A Weekly Report

Fake news and false narratives do a tremendous disservice to all of us. Not only do they hinder good governance and maintenance of law and order but they also adversely affect the quality and security of life of the ordinary citizen. Since we have dwelt on the menace of fake news and false narratives in our editorial We Will Prevail – Fake News Won’t…, published on April 3, here we will go straight to our task and look at the fake news items and/ or false narratives The True Picture has busted, or called out, in the week ending Saturday, April 7.

The True Picture has called out four items of fake news and/ or false narratives in the week ending April 7:

  • Appearance of Amit Shah’s Photo on a post calling for a Bharat Bandh against reservations
  • Attempts at passing of loan write-offs as loan-waivers to claim corporates were being favoured while farmers were being ignored
  • Projecting the decision to switch to lane-length method of measuring highways as an attempt to spice-up statistics
  • Allegation that government was trying to track journalist by issuing them RFID cards in lieu of current PIB accreditation cards
AMIT SHAH’S PHOTO & BHARAT BANDH

A Facebook post from group calling itself “Amit Shah Fans Team” had claimed that there would be a Bharat Bandh on April 10 to protest reservations:

 

The True Picture had busted this as fake news. Our article had also pointed out how Mr Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and those in his government have frequently iterated that not only are there no plans to do away with reservations but that they fully respect the Constitution and the provisions it grants to marginalised sections. In fact, they have made it clear time and again that they are working to strengthen and fulfil those provisions and ensuring the welfare and uplift of marginalised sections.

 

 

The True Picture’s full original article is available here: Know the Truth about Amit Shah’s Photo on Call for Bharat Bandh against Reservations

LOAN WRITE-OFFS VS LOAN WAIVERS

On April 5, Congress’s Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed that the government has granted a Rs 2.4 lakh crore “loan waiver” for “crony capitalists”, to be picked up by his party:

 

Mr Surjewala evidently had made a categorical mistake. The issue is loan write-offs and not loan waivers. The two are not the same. But this categorical mistake was repeated by the Congress party as we can see.

Mr Surjewala’s party colleagues, such as Manish Tewari, too posted tweets which appeared to betray their ignorance about the difference between a loan waiver and a loan write-off:

 

The True Picture had pointed out the error and confusion and explained the difference between loan write-off and loan waiver, beginning with MoS Finance’s Rajya Sabha reply:

 

 

Below is the relevant part of our original article reproduced in full:

 

So, to go by the logic of Mr Tewari, if farm loans were to be “written-off”, farmers’ would see their farmlands auctioned off like the assets of these defaulters.

Loan write-offs then are a regular exercise. Our original article had also reproduced news items from the past to show how loan write-offs, as a regular process, were underway under the UPA government too – moreover, without the current vigilance and legal tools like the Bankruptcy Code, the process was evidently not as rigorous then as it seems to be now.

The True Picture had concluded with the following remarks: “those criticising the government on the matter of loan write-offs by banks do not appear to know the difference between a write-off and a waiver. In a write-off, the borrower/ defaulter is still pursued, with the recovery mechanism kicking in. We may then also question the intent of those – this includes Mr Manish Tewari, Mr Surjewala and the Congress — spreading what appears to be clearly a false narrative on the matter.”

 

The True Picture’s full original article is available here: Loan Write-Offs Vs Loan Waivers: Fake News Being Spread

HIGHWAY MEASUREMENT

 

Article link: https://www.thetruepicture.in/true-picture-highway-measurement/

 

On Tuesday, April 5, 2018, news reports said that the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways was shifting to the lane-length kilometre method to calculate the daily road construction target from the current financial year. Almost immediately, a narrative began circulating that the government was trying to spice up the statistics to show that it was constructing lengthier stretches of highways than its predecessors:

But was the narrative correct? Evidently, it didn’t seem so. In fact, even a little detail from some of the news reports would have said more:

 

 

The main argument from our original article is reproduced below:

 

Some social media users, too, had called out the narrative that was being spread:

 

 

The lane-length method of measuring highways is not only the international standard but it is also supposed to offer a more realistic picture of highway construction – and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had reportedly said the same too:

The True Picture, in its original article had also provided data to show the pace of work in highway construction under the current administration, as measured by the current method. Therefore, the question remained as to whether the narrative spun around the announcement of the shift was a false one.

The True Picture’s full original article is available here: The True Picture on Highway Measurement

RFID CARDS

On Wednesday April 4, in the midst of the still raging debate on fake news, a story appeared in The Print that claimed the government was planning to “track” journalists by issuing them RFID cards in lieu of the existing PIB accreditation cards:

 

 

According to the story, the I&B Ministry was looking to “track” journalists with RFID (radio-frequency identification) cards:

 

The story seemed little more than a scare-mongering tactic stretched beyond logic. The Director General of PIB soon rubbished the claims:

 

 

The Print had replied to DG PIB’s tweet, but its response still missed the core issue of its own apparent spin which clearly emphasised the likelihood of “tracking” of journalists by means of the RFID cards:

 

The Director General of PIB had clearly said there was no question of tracking of journalists. So, what was the RFID fuss about?

For an answer, we reproduce below the relevant section from our original article:

 

It was not surprising then that the story provoked ridicule and laughter on social media. One sample of such is provided below:

 

 

The True Picture’s full original article is available here: ‘Fake News Virus’ now Infects The Print