Did Diksha Shinde Get Selected As Panellist For NASA Fellowship? Here Is An Explanation!

Image Credit: ANI

The Logical Indian Crew

Did Diksha Shinde Get Selected As Panellist For NASA Fellowship? Here Is An Explanation!

Several Indian media outlets reported that a class 10 student has secured a panellist position on 'NASA's MSI Fellowships Virtual Panel'. The Logical Indian Fact Check team verifies the claim.

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Last week, several Indian media outlets reported that a 14-year-old school-going girl Diksha Shinde, resident of Aurangabad, Maharashtra, has secured a panellist position on 'NASA's MSI Fellowships Virtual Panel'.

The Indian news agency ANI shared the information through Twitter on 19 August evening.

Credit: ANI

The news became viral in no time, and afterwards, netizens began to suspect the authenticity of the news. Later, to add credibility to Diksha Shinde's news, ANI shared pictures of purported certificates by NASA for her achievement and screengrabs of her email conversation with NASA's MSI team.

Image Credit: ANI


Image Credit: ANI

See the archived version of the ANI thread here.

Based on ANI report, several other websites such as Livemint, Times Now, She The People, The Economic Times, News18 English, India Times, DNA, Newstrack, Asianet, etc., amplified this information without further verification.

However, the news did not go well with netizens, and they began raising questions on the authenticity of the claims made in Diksha Shinde's story.

Later, Smita Prakash, the editor of ANI, wrote on Twitter that they stand by their story and it isn't fake.

Image Credit: Twitter

See the archive version of the thread here.

Claim:

Diksha Shinde got selected as a panellist for NASA's MSI Fellowships Virtual Panel.

Fact Check:

The story claims that Diksha Shinde has secured a panellist position on 'NASA's MSI Fellowships Virtual Panel'. MSI is an abbreviation for Minority Serving Institution of higher education which serves the US's minority population.

We looked for NASA's eligibility criteria for fellowship activity 2021. One of the requirements among several is that the applicant must be a US citizen or a national with a bachelor's degree before 31 August 2021.

Credits: NASA

Diksha Shinde is an Indian and is currently in 10th standard, which makes her ineligible for the fellowship.

Fact-checking website Alt News contacted NASA spokesperson through email. The spokesperson replied, "In May 2021, NASA's Office of STEM Engagement sought applications through a third-party service for expert panellists to review a series of proposals and applications for NASA Fellowships with Minority-Serving Institutions. Diksha Shinde was selected as a panellist based on false information regarding her background and credentials. NASA is currently reviewing the process of verifying potential panellists' backgrounds. The matter has also been referred to the agency's Office of Inspector General."

We also observed the pictures and screengrabs shared by ANI to authenticate Diksha Shinde's story. The certificate by NASA for Shinde's achievement mentions' Jim Bridenstine' and 'James Frederick' designated as 'CEO and President' and 'Department Chair' respectively.

Image Credit: NASA

We found that Jim Bridenstine and James Frederick is the same person who served as the 13th Administrator of NASA from 23 April 2018 to 20 January 2021.

James Frederick "Jim" Bridenstine was appointed by former US President Donald Trump and is succeeded by Bill Nelson.

We also found that there are no such designations as 'CEO and President' and 'Department Chair' in NASA. The highest title in the agency is Administrator and Deputy Administrator, among other people in NASA.

Diksha Shinde uploaded a certificate of nomination on LinkedIn. It mentioned the scholarship amount of $25000 from the American Astronomical Society. Netizens alleged that it is fake and resembles a Canva template.

Twitter user Mhaskr also alleged the design and letters of the teen's 'Certificate of Achievement' published by the news agency ANI, is made using Canva templates. The similarity can be seen in the picture below.

Image Credit: ANI

The certificate mentions Jackie Faherty as 'Astrophysics department head'. Faherty clarified on Twitter that her name had been used on the certificate without her knowledge.


Image Credit: ANI

One of the screengrabs by ANI shows that Shinde's paper 'We Live In Black Hole?' was accepted by the International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research (IJSER). We found her paper on the journal's website, but it has no link to NASA. IJSER is listed as a 'potential predatory scholarly open-access journal' on Jeffrey Beall's website. Jeffrey Beall first coined the term predatory journals, which means the published journals do not follow the proper academic standards for publishing.

Image Credit: IJSER

The Wire reported in 2016 about research fraud and mentioned, "IJSER publishes across nearly all disciplines, which is another known marker of a fake journal. In many cases, the articles are nonsensical. Many are plagiarised or are crude copy-and-paste efforts. And this is just one journal among thousands that are operating to serve academics from around the world."

All the tweets made by ANI have been deleted, proving that Diksha Shinde's story was fake and resulted because ANI reported the story without verifying.

However, Diksha Shinde was indeed selected as a panellist for NASA's MSI Fellowships Virtual Panel but on false information regarding her background and credentials. NASA has neither presented her any fellowship nor asked her to write any scientific research paper.

Alt News has covered this story in detail, it can be read here.

If you have any news that you believe needs to be fact-checked, please email us at factcheck@thelogicalindian.com or WhatsApp at 6364000343.

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Contributors Suggest Correction
Writer : Jakir Hassan
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Editor : Bharat Nayak
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Creatives : Jakir Hassan

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