The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in its research found, “A rising tide of nationalism in India is driving ordinary citizens to spread the fake news”. The research says about India, “Facts were less important to some than the emotional desire to bolster national identity”.
In its bid to fight the menace of fake news, the BBC launched on November 12, a project with a major focus on global media literacy, panel debates in India, hackathons exploring tech solutions and a special season of programming.
The research emphasized on the subdued voice of the ordinary Indian citizen. But the panellist chosen by BBC shows a different story altogether. Dhruv Rathee is a pro-AAP video blogger who has been involved in spreading fake news. Dhruv Rathee got sued for defamation by a software engineer and BJP volunteer Vikas Pandey.
In a document released by Vikas Pandey, he has enumerated how Dhruv Rathee allegedly defamed Pandey by making tall and malicious allegations without providing any substantive proof. Vikas Pandey has shared this information via his twitter handle @MODIfiedVikas.
During Kerala floods, Dhruv Rathee went on to claim that BJP ruled states have not allocated even a rupee in the form of assistance for flood-hit Kerala. These kinds of tweets are misleading the people and BBC has rightly proved in its research that such Twitteratis play with the emotions of ordinary people and spread fake news in order to gain political and personal advantages.
Swara Bhasker is also embroiled in controversies as she took actions on a news portal for publishing reports about her. To be precise, Bhasker recently had sent defamation notices to OpIndia over articles it published about her and this goes on to bolster the notion that Bhasker herself is not the champion of tolerance. Controversies have become synonymous to Swara Bhasker and her short career seems to be built on controversies rather than real talent. Her message on Padmavat was considered as a desperate attempt to get the media attention.
This is quite unfortunate that BBC is making such half-hearted attempts to tackle the growing menace of fake news with people who have a stellar reputation of playing fast and loose with facts. The motive of such conferences can be questioned at every level if the actions of its panelist are questionable itself. BBC shouldn’t waste its research rather choose someone who is credible and can be trusted by ordinary people. It seems BBC is trying to play with the emotions of people by giving such people the stage. The BBC should have looked for other options rather than allowing Dhruv Rathee and Swara Bhasker to occupy the stage.