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HomeFact-CheckTop Lies spread by Indian Media in September 2015

Top Lies spread by Indian Media in September 2015

Big Lies:

1. 29 September 2015: The Hindu – PM got the GDP figure wrong

We had a separate story on this issue. The PM while in US had mentioned that India was now a economy with $8 trillion GDP. On PPP basis, which is the preferred method of comparing GDP figures internationally, this figure is the same as the figure issued by IMF in their “World Economic Outlook” report for 2015. The Hindu first showed the nominal GDP which is around $ 2 Trillion (in 2014). But they did not mention here that the corresponding value in PPP terms is $ 7.4 Trillion as per World Bank’s data. Then they claimed that the “latest” available data (from 2011) showed GDP on PPP basis at $ 5.7 Trillion. In doing so they ignored the above mentioned IMF projections for 2015 and also the World Bank report from 2014. Final argument used was that the $ 8 trillion figure was only “estimate” and not “data”, but fact is almost all economic data of such large scale is “estimated” because of size and complexity involved.

210 September 2015: All Media – Meat Ban Narrative

Here media tried to portray a picture that BJP was now trying to impose its cultural agenda by announcing Meat bans during the Jain festival of Paryushan. An image was created that Maharashtra Government started it, and it was followed by other BJP states joining in. But a bit of research showed that such meat bans especially for Paryushan festival, existed in almost all states way before BJP came into power: In Maharashtra since 1964 (Congress rule), in Gujarat since 1960 (Congress rule) and in other states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, from  Congress rules too. Further in the specific case of Maharashtra, this meat ban was imposed by a few civic bodies and no fresh order went from the state Government. We had covered all the aspects of this massive hit-job here.

3. 20 September 2015: IndiaToday group – AAP govt bought onions at Rs 18/kg and sold to Delhiites at Rs 30/kg

We had a separate report on this where we had discussed threadbare how AAP was subjected to this hit-job. In what seems to be a gross misinterpretation of facts , India Today reported that AAP Govt bought onions at Rs 18/kg and sold to Delhiites at Rs 30/kg. This claim was made based on RTI replies. Firstly they did not release the so called RTI replies they saw. Secondly, from what was available in public domain from various sources, it was clear that in fact AAP had bought onions at Rs 32.86/Kg from SFAC and the Rs 18/kg was what SFAC had paid to buy the onions from Mandis.

4. 20 September 2015: India Today – Sonia Gandhi’s statement “Where was PM Modi when Congress was fighting Independence Struggle”

India Today live tweeted a Sonia Gandhi speech where they claimed she had said the above. This was obviously stupid since Modi was not even born at that time. Hence Sonia Gandhi was ridiculed for this. But as the video of the speech was uploaded it was clear that she had said the following and India Today had done a very bad paraphrasing job:

5. 21 September 2015: – Contrary to Narendra Modi’s claim, Khadi Sales Have Not “Doubled”

A fine example of statistical jumla. In his Mann ki Baat address, Modi stated that last year, in October, he had appealed to people to buy more Khadi. He said that he is now happy to report that sales have doubled in the last one year. So, lets understand what Modi has said. He has said, ever since he made the appeal, sales have doubled, which would naturally mean sales have doubled from October 2014 to September 2015, which is the month of his latest Mann k baat. So to verify this claim, one would obviously need data of Khadi sales from October 2013 to September 2014 & October 2014 to September 2015. What factchecker rather cleverly did was instead of analysing this period, they picked up data financial year wise i.e. from April 2014 to March 2015! When one realises this, the entire premise of this “fact check” whatever be the result, falls flat. In fact, if one goes by data produced here, growth in khadi sales “rocketed to a 17.55% growth in sales from October 2014 to March 2015, which is an almost 3 fold increase when compared to the previous corresponding period“. Irrespective of whether this data is correct, has got the story completely wrong.

6 September 2015: India Today – “Govt considering covert ops to take down Dawood,” says Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.

India Today, and interviewer Rahul Kanwal, claimed that Rathore told him that “Govt wasUntitled considering covert ops to take down Dawood”.  This became a big topic of outrage since a minister was openly admitting to covert ops. But no such statement was found when the interview was played. This becomes even more important because India Today had clearly put Rathore’s words in quotes, meaning he had to say the exact thing, bu he did not even come close. Here is a full transcript of the relevant portion. We are still awaiting Rahul Kanwal’s reply to show the exact place where Rathore said those exact words.

7. 1st September 2015: Indian Expresss – Dog hanged in Kerala to mark death anniversary of RSS functionary

A casual reading of the above line would suggest that RSS had hanged a dog to mark the death anniversary of its functionary. The phrase “to mark an ocassion” is usually used  in context of celebrating an event, hence the headline gives this impression. Many people believed it was indeed the RSS who did this. But facts are different. The dog (rather 3 dogs) were killed and hanged by “unknown people” on the death anniversary of an RSS leader. This functionary was killed allegedly by CPM goons, and the dogs were hanged at the exact spot where the functionary had been killed, exactly one year ago. We had reported that Social Media posts indicated that the killing of the dogs could also have been the handiwork of CPM goons. In such a case, the Indian Express headline was grossly misleading.

8. 17 September 2015: India Today – Majid & AR cannot make a movie that is inflammatory and would hurt sentiments of a particular community – Shabana Azmi

Call it constraints of 140 characters, extremely poor paraphrasing or deliberate spin. India Today made a complete hotch-potch of Shabana Azmis’ views  which led to a lot of misinterpretation and outrage. First, see what India Today reported her as saying, as per the screenshot attached. From her statement, it would seem to anyone that Azmi felt that such a film cannot be made if it hurts a community’s sentiments. For this alleged statement she was ridiculed by all and sundry. But when one saw the video in the tweet, one could see she said something totally different:

I have not watched the movie but I can only surmise that it is hardly likely that people of the integrity of A R Rahman and Majid Majidi would make a film that is inflammatory or would hurt the sentiments of a particular community.

Azmi had in fact said the believed they could never make a film which would be inflammatory. But India Today completely twisted her argument. This has become a habit for India Today, of twisting statements of celebrities, after Salim Khan’s last month  and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore as above.

9. 2nd September 2015: NDTV – Scholar MM Kalburgi’s Murder: No Sketches, No Questioning, Preoccupied Cops

Above story was written by Sreenivasan Jain and was published on 2nd September at 2.45pm and update at 3.04pm IST again. One of the claims made by Jain was that the cops had not released the sketches of the assailants.  As at 3.04pm, Jain & NDTV stuck to this claim. Within 2 hours Commissioner of Police Hubli-Dharwad tweeted sketches of the assailants. So was the police forced to act, that too so swiftly, because of Jain’s stellar journalism? Was the tweet by the commissioner the first instance of releasing the sketches? Or were they released offline before this? We do not know. But even upto 6.48 pm, NDTV continued to splash the same news on TV that sketches have not been released. From this it was clear that even assuming the sketches were actually released at 5pm, NDTV did no correct their reporting until almost 2 hours after the incident. Later, NDTV changed the entire report and deleted the part where they said sketches were not released.

10. 2 September 2015: – Marathas collected Zakat only from Muslims.

In a motivated post solely meant to whitewash Aurangzeb’s tyrannical legacy, a point was made that much like the Jizya tax which Aurangzeb levied solely on non-Muslims, the Marathas had a tax called Zakat which was meant only for Muslims. This claim was rebutted by multiple people on social media. Exhibit 1: an extract from the book “Administrative Systems of the Marathas” by Surendra Nath Sen” which clearly says Zakat was collected from all traders irrespective of religion and that it had lost its original meaning of “religious tax”. Exhibit 2: an extract from the book “Advanced Study in the History of Modern India” which again says something similar. Exhibit 3: A research paper titled “A Historical Study of The Economic Policy of Marathas: Trade and Tax” which reiterates above facts. Even the source of original article did not say that Zakat was collected only from Muslims.

11. 4 September 2015: The Hindustan Times (Ram Guha’s column) – No roads named after Shivaji, Maharana Pratap, Ranjit Singh in New Delhi. 

India’s “pre-eminent historian” Ram Guha, wrote an entire piece based on why there are no roads named after the above historical figures in Delhi, and justified the same giving various reasons. Fact is there were three roads amed after these exact same luminaries in New Delhi all along. Eventually after many “alert readers” pointed this out, Hindutsan Tims corrected the story. Ram Guha also admitted his folly on twitter, but amusingly maintained that “his larger point remains”

12. 14th September 2015: Arun Shourie slams Narendra Modi Government

In another example of digital illiteracy of Indian media, Rediff believed that an unverified twitter handle called “@ArunSFan” with barely 2286 followers, was the real handle of former Finance Minister Arun Shourie. This inspite of the fact that the handle clearly mentions in its bio that it is run by “Fans of Arun Shourie” and is a “Parody account”. This handle made some tweets critical of Modi and Rediff was prompt to pounce on them. Later they realised their gaffe.


Miscellaneous Lies:


1. 2 September 2015: Bloomberg – Nitin Gadkari: Will add 1.5 lakh km to national highways over the next 3 months

Another case of grossly poor reporting. Gadkari had said the Government will add 50000 km of National Highways by year-end, thus taking the total to 1.5 lakh km. But Bloomberg misreported it and said that 1.5 lakh kms would be added.

2. 4 September 2015: The Hindu – Greenpeace India’s registration cancelled

This erroneous report in The Hindu calimed “Five months after it suspended its licence to receive foreign donations, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) cancelled the registration of Greenpeace India on Wednesday.” In the following paragraphs it elaborated that this was only a cancellation of FCRA license. This fact was well reported by media and also as per Greenpeace’s own statement too, it was clear that only the FCRA license was cancelled and not “Greenpeace India’s registration”

3. 10 September 2015: Multiple Media houses – Gurgaon police chief on “special” leave

There were multiple news reports like the above which said Gurgaon police chief was going/sent on “special” leave, which the department claimed was “routine”. The aim was to cast aspersions on the absence of the officer in light of the news of the heinous rape case involving a Saudi Diplomat which broke around 9th September. Objecting to such innuendo filled news items, Gurgaon Police department released the leave application and sacntion letters. The letters clearly showed that the leave was applied for on 3rd September, and also granted then, which was much before the rape case came into news. Eventually the officer cut his leave short and resumed investigations.

4. 11 September 2015 –  NDTV: Rakesh Maria investigated the 7/11 blasts. 

In a story which was later edited by NDTV, it was claimed that  Rakesh Maria had investigated the 7/11 blasts which rocked Mumbai. A lawyer who had worked on the case tweeted that this was incorrect after which NDTV changed the story.

5. 7th September 2015: The Hindu – IAS officer bypassed Home secretary and directly went to Home Minister.

In an article focussing on some other bureaucrat, The Hindu made a passing statement that another bureaucrat Anant Kumar Singh, bypassed the home secretary and took a file relating to a transfer, directly to the Home Minister. This charge was rebutted by Singh. He wrote a letter to The Hindu denying the allegations. He clearly mentioned that he scrupulously followed all procedures, never bypassed the Home Secretary and did not violate any such rule in his tenure. The Hindu carried this letter as a “Clarification from ex-Additional Secretary” in one of the inner pages and did not rebut any of his counter-claims


6. 15th September 2015: The Indian Express – Gen V K Singh’s statement at Vishwa Hindi Sammelan

This report appearing under “Delhi Confidential” which is essentially a gossip column claimed that a publisher close to Gen V K Singh could not secure a seat at the Vishwa Hindi Sammelan, because of the Sangh Parivar’s control over the invitee list. Immediately, the report continued to report that later V K Singh “angered Hindi writers by commenting that they attended such gatherings to drink and eat”. The first part, that a publisher friend of V K Singh couldn’t get through was refuted by the General on twitter. He said he had no “favourite publisher” and that the Sammelan was not for publishers. The indirect claim out forth by Indian Express that as a result of this, Singh had an outburst and the the outburst itself, that the writers had come only for only to drink and eat, also seem to be wrong. From this audio clip, it is clear that Singh had in fact said, some people may feel that earlier they would come eat, drink and go, but this time nothing of that sort has happened. So rather than a jibe at the authors present, as presented by Indian Express, it was a jibe at previous such conferences.

7. 17th September 2015: Multiple Media housesBalloons and greetings: Twitter celebrates PM Modi’s birthday

Indian media declared their technological ineptness once again when they declared that Twitter celebrated Modi’s birthday. A casual reading of these reports would suggest that Twitter added colourful balloons to Modi’s Twitter profile, Only because he was India’s PM, because all the reports seemed to suggest this is some extra-ordinary thing happening on twitter. Fact is, Twitter has added this feature for all users. Anyone who enters their birthdate in twitter, would get this new feature on their birthday. But if media houses had highlighted that this a very routine twitter feature available to all and sundry, then  they would have one lest listicle.

8. 17 September 2015: Times of India – Military Secretary asked to go on leave till retirement after allegedly receiving bribe

This news was tweeted from the Times of India handle. The original tweet is now deleted but the text of the tweet was this:

“Military Secretary Lt Gen Rajiv Bhalla has been asked to go on leave till retirement for allegedly receiving bribe from senior officer in Kolkata.”

The Army’s public information twitter handle quickly clarified that the Military Secretary would be rejoining on 18th September and is not going on “leave till retirement” as reported by Times of India. It also called the Times of India tweet “false and malicious”. A good 5 hours after this tweet, Times of India apologised for their mistake. They claimed it was “based on an input from our correspondent” and that they “erred by not verifying it with the Army”.

9. 18 September 2015: Multiple media outlets – Enforcement Directorate reopens National Herald case  which was closed in August

Last month we had shown you how media had reported that the ED had “closed” the National Herald case, when fact was it was never “opened”. The ED had then only temporarily refused to file a new case under PMLA due to technical reasons, and all existing National Herald cases were going on as usual. This month media reported that ED had “reopened” the file, which was “closed” in August. Since the case was never closed, it definitely cannot be reopened.

10. 19 September 2015: Outlook – Factual errors in article stating Gujarat cadre bureaucrats dominate Central Government bureaucracy.

In a series of tweets, senior journalist Ashok Malik plugged multiple holes in this outlook story. First he refers to a list of bureaucrats which Outlook claims consists of “Bureaucrats who have shifted base from Gujarat after Modi became prime minister 15 months ago”. Malik says many of those mentioned in the lists were already in Delhi, even before Modi came to power. He even names some such bureaucrats. Next he goes to the part of the story which says Sanjeev Kumar Singla an Indian Foreign Service officer, was from the Gujarat Cadre. Here Malik points out that Foreign services officers do not have a state cadre, hence the story is again erroneous. Malik also contests the story’s claim that 44 out of the 51 officials empanelled as additional secretaries, belonging to the Gujarat cadre. He says the actual number is 4 and they are from the 1985 batch. He further says that 44 officers in an IAS batch cannot belong to one state.

11. 21 September 2015: Unknown media outlet –  Raveena Tandon’s mother dead

A leading newspaper from Mumbai, in its popular entertainment supplement, apparently reported that Raveena Tandon’s mother had died. The story was eventually deleted hence it cannot be traced but Raveena trashed this story on twitter. She however did not name the media house. Even as Raveena was clearing the air, a bollywood news portal carried a report on the same and specified that the fake news was titled ‘Raveena Tandon Bereaved’

12. 24 September 2015: Indian Express – India sends 7 amendments to Nepal’s constitution

This report claimed that India had communicated 7 amendments to Nepal’s contstituion, to Nepal, via “official channels”. The MEA responded saying clearly that:

The article is incorrect. GOI has not handed over any list of specific Constitutional amendments or changes to the Government of Nepal. Without being prescriptive on specific clauses, and as already stated earlier, we continue to urge that issues on which there are differences should be resolved through dialogue in an atmosphere free from violence, and institutionalized in a manner that would enable broad-based ownership and acceptance.

Indian Express though stuck to their version claiming they had confirmed the same “from their sources”. Going by past claims of sources of Indian Express, one doesnt feel very confident about this story.

January 2015: 7 Lies

February 2015: 8 Lies

March 2015: 9 Lies

April 2015: 18 Lies

May 2015: 20 Lies

June 2015: 20 Lies

July 2015: 27 Lies

August 2015: 25 Lies


Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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