India's propaganda machine is responsible for disinformation that is so factually inaccurate, it is costing people's lives.
India arrests over 50 journalists for reporting on the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of those arrested are independent journalists based out of rural India, where 60 percent of the population resides.
Modi’s government has done a disservice to the people of India and the belated censorship of honest journalists and the rapid spread of fake news has cost many Indian lives. Independent journalists and news outlets critical of Modi’s response were met with threats, limitations were placed on their mobility, and First Information Report (FIR) charges were laid on them. From the start of the pandemic Modi’s government downplayed the severity of the virus and underreported the death count. Godi Media was complicit in spreading Modi’s narrative.
Before the first lockdown, Modi met with news executives to urge them to produce inspiring and positive stories of the government’s response to the pandemic. Modi’s message was heard by these news outlets and they published uncritical pieces on the government’s pandemic “strategy.”
The Caravan examined the pandemic coverage of the news outlets present at Modi’s conference. It found that the reporting lacked coverage of the government’s poor pandemic preparations and the terrible implementation of the lockdown. The Caravan also looked at the Indian Express and found that while they reported on COVID-19 deaths, it did so in a way that resolved the government of any accountability.
A combination of censorship and control of media contributed to the spread of fake news.