As the Tablighi Jamaat which met in Delhi at Nizamuddin during the first 2 weeks of March has become the epicentre of the Novel Coronavirus spread in the country, media has started reporting how much of the total Covid-19 cases in the country is related to the congregation. In this regard. India Today’s news director Rahul Kanwal had posted an infographic on Twitter last night, but now he has deleted that post, raising speculations on why he did that.
The infographic, prepared by India Today’s so-called ‘Data Intelligence Unit’, which is known to prepare totally misleading and illogical infographics, had an image of a skullcap and a mask, with two pie diagrams making up a face. Later Kanwal posted the infographic with difference image, without the skullcap reference. The Tablighi Jamaat is a Muslim religious congregation, and this jamaat has contributed to almost one-third of coronavirus positive cases in India. Therefore, although it may be accused of Islamophobia, the image used in the earlier infographic was representative of the situation.
While Rahul Kanwal or others associated with India Today generally don’t delete completely misleading charts, the fact that he deleted this one has raised the suspicion that he did this due to criticism of Islamophobia from the usual suspects.
While Kanwal was attacked by Islamists accusing him of Islamophobia for the graphic, he came under attack from right wing social media after he deleted the tweet, accusing him of not having enough courage to tell the truth. Replying to one such tweet, Rahul Kanwal came up with a strange reply, as he said that he deleted the earlier infographic as the spelling of ‘nearly’ was wrong in. Although it is correct that the word as spelled as ‘neary’ in that, it does not explain why the entire infographic had to be changed due to one typo.
Although it is most likely that the earlier chart was deleted due to accusations of Islamophobia, the chart prepared by India Today Data Intelligence Unit had more serious flaws than a typo, which Rahul Kanwal has completely missed. The chart said that new cases of Covid-19 in India during 1-3 April was 1,162, while the total confirmed cases in the country was also mentioned as 1,162. In the revised chart, the DIU has corrected the total number to 2,301.
Later Kanwal realised his error and tweeted about the same. But it still doe not explain the complete change of the infographic removing earlier imagery. They could have just updated the earlier graphic with correct spelling and number, but instead, they prepared a completely new graphic, removing the art of skullcap.
Both the charts also mention unnecessary data points, perhaps to make it look data heavy to show the ‘intelligence’ of DIU. While the chart says the share of Tablighi Jamaat in new positive cases in the country is 56%, it also mentions that it is ‘almost 60%’. Similarly, it says that share of the Islamic group in the total positive cases for India is 28%, and nearly 30%. When the infographic is already giving the exact numbers, to give ‘nearly’, and ‘almost’ numbers are completely unnecessary.