A couple of days back, Rahul Gandhi, in yet another new avatar – this time digital – ready to take on the BJP, took a jibe at the Yogi Government by quoting alleged news reports about the Uttar Pradesh government slashing the funds allocated for education in its latest financial budget:
Great move CM Yogi – next you can save some more money by closing all the hospitalshttps://t.co/1CCqrb5crf
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) July 15, 2017
The report was based on a news copy circulated by the news agency Press Trust of India (PTI), which claimed that the Yogi government had drastically cut the budgetary allocation for secondary and higher education in the state.
According to the report, the Akhilesh government had allocated Rs 9,990 crore for secondary education in the 2016-17 fiscal, but this had been slashed down to just Rs 576 crore by the Yogi government in its annual 2017-18 budget.
The Higher Education too had allegedly received a cut of Rs 2,469.73, after the allocation was just Rs 272.77 crore as compared to Rs 2,742 crore in the last fiscal.
The claims made in the news report raised some serious questions about the logic behind the Yogi government’s decision as education is the pillar to support any modern society. Since the report was filed by a well known news agency PTI, it was taken as a gospel truth the media and carried on various platforms.
But as it turns out, this report was a case of a malicious fake news spread by the PTI. A website named “The True Picture” was among the first ones to fact check the PTI’s claims and found them baseless.
As it turns out, getting the numbers of budgetary allocation was quite easy, which somehow people at PTI could not find. There is an official website for Uttar Pradesh budget at budget.up.nic.in and all the information, including from previous budgets, is easily available there with a few clicks.
And that’s what some Twitter users too did and they figured out how PTI report was wrong. There was actually a sharp increase in the allocations for education budget across various sub-heads:
I went through the UP Budget documents to find out if the news of drastic budget cuts for education are true. Here’s what i found pic.twitter.com/XpZV1QokLE
— Dibyasundar Nayak (@dibyabttb) July 16, 2017
Now that the truth is out that PTI published a fake news report, which was used by Rahul Gandhi to take pot shots at the Yogi government, media outlets are making it appear like a political fight between BJP and Rahul Gandhi, instead of telling their readers that the news agency they subscribe to is run by incompetent journalists.
Once the truth was out, media published news reports titled – ‘Total budget for education in UP is 25.4% higher’: Adityanath government refutes Rahul Gandhi’s claim – but this is misleading in itself as Rahul Gandhi’s claim was based on news reports, not on his own imagination. Why does the media find it so tough to accept that they erred?
This isn’t the only time PTI has been caught spreading fake news. On 30th June, the PTI had come out with a news feed which claimed that the former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had planned the 2016 surgical strikes in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir due to an “insulting question” of a TV news anchor. The said question was posed to the Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and the Defence Minister saw it on TV.
This in itself was hard to believe that a Defence Minister will plan a full blown assault in an enemy controlled territory to nurse a bruised ego of a colleague. Soon enough the PTI came out with a correction (which obviously did not make the kind of headlines the original fake news did) that stated that Parrikar had actually said that he had felt insulted by a June 4, 2015 ambush on an Indian Army convoy, by the north-eastern militant group NSCN-K. The surgical strike in POK was reportedly planned after that, and not after any TV journalist’s “insulting question”.
Now it remains to be seen if the PTI comes out with a similar token correction regarding the fake news about the UP government’s budget allocation.