Leftist online portal ‘Al News’ that proclaims itself to be a “fact-checker” recently published an article criticising PM Modi’s recent speech where he lauded India’s COVID-19 fight as compared to other developed countries. The article accused the PM quoting data selectively, and to prove PM Modi wrong, ironically Alt News itself quoted selective data.
The article titled as “PM Modi quotes selective data to paint a rosy picture of India’s COVID-19 response” on the leftist rag argued that the statistics had a way of hiding the actual reality, accusing PM Modi of “selectively” quoting the favourable numbers that showed India’s fight against coronavirus in a good light.
PM Modi in his recent speech on India’s management of the coronavirus outbreak had cited that India has 5,500 cases per million as against 25,000 cases per million in the US and Brazil. He further added that death rate at per million population in India is 83 as compared to over 600 in the US, UK and Brazil.
However, these glowing statistics that gave a inspiring picture of the country’s handling of the coronavirus crisis did not sit well with Alt News, who appeared hell bent on disparaging the country’s fight against the COVID-19.
Alt News itself indulges in selectively quoting COVID-19 numbers to criticise PM Modi’s assertions
The article proceeded to criticise the Prime Minister for being selective in quoting the numbers to allege that India is faring well above the other countries in its battle against the coronavirus outbreak. While denouncing PM Modi’s proclamations regarding India’s handling of coronavirus crisis as being “selectively” quoted, Alt News did not refrain from doing exactly the very same thing it accused the Prime Minister of.
In its article, Alt News deviously considered only those numbers and statistics that it could use to discredit PM Modi’s assertions about India’s COVID-19 battle and minimised the achievements accomplished by the nation.
Alt News cites dubious numbers of Asian countries to undermine India’s handling of coronavirus outbreak
‘Cases per million’ is one of the key parameters to determine the pervasiveness of the virus in a particular country. Higher the number, greater is the probability of the majority of the population being affected by it. India’s cases per million is 5,544.
However, just to portray that India is performing worse against other countries, Alt News compared it with the world average of 5,241, which is slightly lower than India’s numbers. Now that there wasn’t much difference between the world average and India’s cases per million, Alt News proceeded to throw in the Asian average of 2,764 to claim that India is struggling in its COVID-19 fight as compared to other countries in the region.
This is a tenuous comparison, given that it has been established by multiple agencies from across the world that China has massively underreported its cases. Besides China, Pakistan, the eternal rental state of Beijing, which is teetering on the edge of a catastrophic financial collapse, has also aped its master, lowballing the number of cases reported in its territory. Only Alt News can expect a country like Pakistan, whose finances are in dire straits, to diligently invest in carrying out coronavirus tests across the country and honestly reporting them.
Similarly, there are some countries in Asia, particularly the dictatorial regimes such as North Korea that have denied the existence of coronavirus outbreak and presented bogus numbers.
In essence, the Asian average of 2,764 is hardly a legitimate figure to attack the Modi government for its handling of the coronavirus crisis as the data from multiple Asian countries are not credible.
Another parameter that was highlighted in the article is ‘Deaths per million’. This again is an important factor that provides details of the lethality of the coronavirus outbreak in a particular country.
India has deaths per million of 84. Now since this number is drastically lower than the global average of 144 and the deaths per million in the United States, UK and Brazil, Alt News again leaned on the fraudulent numbers reported from the other Asian countries to claim the nations in India’s geographical vicinity have fared better than it.
China’s deceptive numbers of its deaths were revealed by the Chinese citizens themselves who suspected that the Chinese Communist Party of withholding the extent of ravage caused by the raging coronavirus in the Mainland. They have pointed out to the outsize number of urns delivered by the Chinese authorities to claim that Beijing’s official numbers were misleading.
Alt News omits to mention Asian numbers when India fared better than regional countries
India has been the country with the second highest testing numbers in the world, behind the United States. However, to make light of this significant achievement, Alt News changed the goal post, claiming that the absolute numbers of tests give a misleading picture and therefore when comparing with others, we should consider tests per thousands if we are to compare it with others.
The article then goes on to claim that US and UK have conducted far more tests per thousand than India while Brazil has done lesser tests per thousand as compared to India. As in the previous two cases, Alt News does not mention the Asian numbers here as they have been lower than that of India, even after fudging the data.
The absolute number of tests conducted provides an overall picture of the extent to which a country has gone to protect its citizens from coronavirus. Countries cannot brazenly lie about the absolute test numbers because they would need to be reconciled with other parameters such as ‘deaths per millions’ and ‘tests per million’ which would easily give away their bogus numbers.
Alt News’ excessive reliance on unreliable data points from Asian countries
One of the key themes of this ‘analysis’ by Alt News is the excessive reliance on dubious numbers emanating from China, Pakistan, North Korea and other Asian countries. When the express purpose of the article was to criticise PM Modi and by extension undermine the country’s fight against the coronavirus outbreak, the authenticity of the data hardly matters.
Alt News started the article with a maxim, “Lies, damned lies and statistics”, to convey that numbers and statistics carry a persuasive power to paint a picture as per one’s liking. Perhaps, who would know it better than Alt News, an online rag which has a history of brazenly lying, selectively quoting and distorting statements, numbers and statistics to push its anti-Modi propaganda.
Rahul Gandhi selectively cites GDP projections to assert Pakistan and Afghanistan handled COVID-19 better than India
However, in this case, Alt News can seek solace in the fact that they are not only ones to legitimise faulty data points and use them to compare India’s management of COVID-19 crisis. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi also didn’t shy away from selectively quoting data to slam the BJP government on its handling of the coronavirus crisis.
A few days back, Gandhi had shared the IMF projections of GDPs of the countries for the financial year 2020-21 to allege that Pakistan and Afghanistan have handled the COVID-19 crisis better than India.
Another solid achievement by the BJP government.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 16, 2020
Even Pakistan and Afghanistan handled Covid better than India. pic.twitter.com/C2kILrvWUG
However, the Gandhi scion was promptly reminded by many that his deduction of Pakistan and Afghanistan being better in handling the COVID-19, solely on the basis of GDP projections, is grossly misplaced.
First learn the difference between absolute numbers and percentage. Second the difference between per capita gdp and country’s GDP. Thirdly during your party’s rule in early 90s per capita gdp of Bangla was more than India’s!— Natarajan நટरा જन (@NTanjore) October 16, 2020
The management of coronavirus crisis involved both, protecting human lives as well as safeguarding country’s economy. Enforcing tight restrictions usually results in corresponding economic hardships. India had been remarkably successful in preserving its human capital, unlike the United States, UK and several other advanced countries, which despite enforcing lockdown faced enormous human casualties to the coronavirus outbreak.
Pakistan and Afghanistan, on the other hand, did not enforce a strict lockdown, nor they had the requisite means to carry out sufficient COVID-19 testing for its citizens, which the discrepancies in their testing numbers and cases eminently suggest. Even Pakistan’s own minister feared that the number of cases in the country might be higher than those reported.
By claiming that Pakistan and Afghanistan did better in tackling COVOD-19 crisis, Rahul Gandhi is not only disparaging India’s fight against coronavirus but also validating the fake numbers put forth by these countries.