Multiple international media organizations are reporting on the coronavirus crisis that has hit India badly. From the oxygen crisis to the increase in cremations/burials due to coronavirus pandemic, the coverage on international media has severely criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi's handling of the crisis. The opinion pieces of The Guardian, Washington Post, The New York Times, Dailymail UK all held PM Modi accountable for the COVID-crisis in India.
Amid the backdrop of the second wave coronavirus crisis, an article went viral on social media on May 11, 2021, which had the headline, "PM Modi has been working hard; don't get trapped in the opposition barbs." This article was shared by many BJP leaders, including Union Ministers.
Amit Malviya, national in-charge of BJP's information and technology department, shared the article with the caption, "Death is big news, recovery is not. Do we know that more than 85% people recover without hospitalization and only 5% need critical care. But the larger debate in the country is not about recovery or death: it is about who should be blamed for the pandemic."
Union Ministers like Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, BJP MP Dr Jitendra Singh who holds multiple ministries in Centre, Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur, Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy, Minister of Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi, tweeted the article.
What Does The Article Shared by Union Ministers say?
The article published by The Daily Guardian spoke about how PM Modi is working 'silently' when India is struck in crisis, without participating in any political slugfest. The article also speaks about the popular rhetoric that Congress-led Central government built only one All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the expansion of AIIMS happened under BJP government (this claim has been earlier debunked by Alt News). Overall, the article argues about how Prime Minister Narendra Modi is working in silence irrespective of the criticism from the opposition and international media. The article also says Modi's critics are focusing more on deaths and are ignoring the recoveries.
With a name similar to The Guardian, a well renowned and respected British media site, the viral site gives an impression that it is a respected website which is saying that PM works really hard.
SG Suryah, the BJP Spokesperson from Tamil Nadu, also quoted a tweet and said that it is not a fake website but run by NewsX.
All About The Daily Guardian:
The Logical Indian looked up for the authenticity of the website on ICANN and found that it is registered under the parent organization, ITV Network. ITV Network is the parent company of News X, India News, The Sunday Guardian, Aaj Samaj and inkhabar.com.
To understand the bias of The Daily Guardian, we looked into the opinion pieces published by the website. Below are some of the other opinion pieces published on the website to portray that PM Modi is efficiently tackling the coronavirus pandemic in India.
Also, the sister organisation of The Daily Guardian, i.e., The Sunday Guardian, had published a piece of fake news on April 14, 2018, on the infamous Kathua rape, which was debunked by Boom on April 16, 2018.
NewsX had earlier covered the 'Mega Launch' of The Daily Guardian in which BJP leader Kirit Somaya was seen congratulating the network.
Also, an exclusive interview with the Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari was published by the website on April 30, 2020, despite being a new venture. The interview was published with the headline, "Corona crisis can be a blessing in disguise to attract FDI leaving China: Nitin Gadkari."
What Do We Know About The Author Of The Viral Opinion Piece?
The opinion piece is written by Sudesh Verma. He is the author of the book Narendra Modi the Gamechanger. According to Verma's blog, he is a Panelist spokesperson from the BJP. He is also seen speaking in favour of the BJP in the media debate.
Also, Aaj Tak had earlier tweeted that a Philippines media house has written a piece of PM Modi, in which he has been lauded. There is a Philipino media website that exists with the same name, The Daily Guardian. Later, Aaj Tak deleted the Tweet, while the article is still there and the headline just mentions that a piece is published on an English website, and the term Philippines is completely omitted from the article.
Similarly, another website, The Australia Today, came into the picture. The Twitter Bio of the site mentions, "News and Opinions from Australia and the world focused on Multicultural communities." The Twitter account of the website was made in January 2021.
We found that most of the contents were the narratives that are popular among the right-wing ideologues; for example, the one published on May 12, which has the title, "Besides COVID-19, India is also fighting with vulture journalists, who are spreading more panic and despair than pandemic".
We searched for the details of the website on Whois-lookup. The IP location is New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, and is registered under the name, Jitarth Jai Bharadwaj.
We looked at the Twitter profile of Jitarth Jai Bhardwaj and found he is followed by Kapil Mishra. The bio also mentioned that he previously worked with NewsX, News18India, and Zee News.
An Australian journalist, James Oaten, took to Twitter to inform that the website was not an Australian news publication. He tweeted, "This is NOT a real Australian news publication. But it appears to be doing the rounds on WhatsApp.
Hence, we can conclude that the two articles praising Narendra Modi and criticising journalists for their roles on coronavirus are mere propaganda.
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