Nirmala Sitharaman’s 2019 budget speech has been widely covered by the media. Several news organizations on July 2 reported that Nirmala Sitharaman, on the floor of the Rajya Sabha, claimed that demonetisation had no impact on the Indian economy.
Did Sitharaman Claim That Demonetisation Had No Impact On The Economy?
“Demonetisation had no impact on the Indian economy, and it is still the fastest growing the world, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday—three days before she presents the Union Budget 2019,” a report by Bloomberg Quint read.
However, the truth is that Sitharaman never stated that demonetization had no impact on the Indian economy. If one searches the Rajya Sabha website for questions asked by members on the floor of the House, they can find that Congress leader and MP Digvijaya Singh had earlier inquired about the impact of demonetisation on the Indian economy, MSMEs and employment. To his question, Sitharaman replied that no specific study has been conducted in this regard.
Sitharaman also herself tweeted a clarification, responding to a tweet by NDTV
Where did this heading come from? Not certainly from my answer in the Rajya Sabha. Your story, based on my answer, also, does not have this line. Please watch my answer in the RS or read your copy(sourced from @PTI_News?) itself.
— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) July 2, 2019
NDTV responded saying that the article’s headline was sourced from The Press Trust Of India (PTI), adding that the article had been accordingly updated and the news agency had been intimated regarding the issue.
Respected Ma’am, this was @PTI_News headline, which we immediately changed after you brought this to our notice. Have raised your concerns with PTI so they can make corrections as their headline and story are being used by many other sites. We regret any inconvenience caused.
— NDTV News feed (@ndtvfeed) July 3, 2019
The articles quoting Sitharaman are actually based on a written reply given to Anand Sharma, who had asked about the slowdown in the economy.
Therefore, Sitharaman clearly did not claim that demonetisation had no impact on the Indian economy.
Did Sitharaman Claim Distributing 35,000 Crore LED Bulbs?
Another misinformation spread across the internet said that Nirmala Sitharaman claimed that the government distributed 35,000 crore LED bulbs under the Ujala scheme. Ideally, this would mean that the Modi govt gave about 300 bulbs to each person in India.
This claim is being made by a number of social media users sharing a screenshot from a news segment on business channel CNBC Awaaz. While the photo shows the minister delivering her budget speech, a caption below reads “35,000 crore LED bulb baantein gaye” (35,000 crore LED bulbs were distributed), giving the impression that Sitharaman said these words in her speech.
The whopping number shocked residents, who believed the statement to be true.
However, the truth is that Sitharaman said that under the Ujala scheme, approximately 35 crore LED bulbs were distributed.
Among several others who tweeted the screenshot was Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza, and her tweet was retweeted over 350 times.
देश की 125 करोड़ जनता को 35000 करोड़ एलईडी बल्ब बांटे गए… यानि देश के प्रत्येक व्यक्ति को लगभग 280 बल्ब….
मेरे हिस्से के बल्ब तो मुझे मिले नही क्या आपको अपने हिस्से के LED बल्ब मिले ?#Budget2019 #LED pic.twitter.com/riQV8lXh8U
— Shobha Oza (@Shobha_Oza) July 6, 2019
In fact, believing the news to be true, former Cabinet Minister in Haryana government, Mahender Pratap Singh trolled Sitharaman.
बड़ा घोटाला 35000 करोड़ LED किसको बांटे ?देश की जनता है 125 करोड़ मतलब 280 LED बल्ब प्रति व्यक्ति ये तो मोदी से भी अधिक फेकू निकली।
However, at 1:06:47, in the YouTube video of the Budget 2019 speech, one can clearly hear her saying “approximately 35 crore LEDs have been distributed under Ujala Yojana”. The text speech of the budget also reads “approximately 35 crore LED bulbs”, and not “35,000 crore LEDs”.
Therefore, it can be concluded that Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech did not claim that 35,000 crore LED bulbs were distributed.
Creating or sharing fake news is never justified. We have a responsibility to verify everything that we post on the internet. To ensure that our national debate is healthy and well-informed, each and every one of us has a responsibility of treating what we read with a pinch of salt, a spoonful of doubt, and a flood of research.