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Fake News Busted: A Weekly Report

Author:
Publication: The True Picture.in
Date: April 8, 2018
URL:      https://www.thetruepicture.in/fake-news-busted-a-weekly-report/

Fake news and false narratives do a tremendous disservice to all of us.   Not only do they hinder good governance and maintenance of law and   order but they also adversely affect the quality and security of life of the   ordinary citizen. Since we have dwelt on the menace of fake news and   false narratives in our editorial We Will Prevail – Fake News Won’t…,   published on April 3, here we will go straight to our task and look at the   fake news items and/ or false narratives The True Picture has busted, or   called out, in the week ending Saturday, April 7.

The True Picture has called out four items of fake news and/ or false   narratives in the week ending April 7:

- Appearance of Amit Shah’s Photo on a post calling for a Bharat Bandh against reservations

- Attempts at passing of loan write-offs as loan-waivers to claim corporates were being favoured while farmers were being ignored

- Projecting the decision to switch to lane-length method of measuring highways as an attempt to spice-up statistics

- Allegation that government was trying to track journalist by issuing them RFID cards in lieu of current PIB accreditation cards

AMIT SHAH’S PHOTO & BHARAT BANDH

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The True Picture @The_truepicture
Know the truth about Amit Shah's photo on call for Bharat Bandh against reservations
#Fake News:
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A Facebook post from group calling itself “Amit Shah Fans Team” had claimed that there would be a Bharat Bandh on April 10 to protest reservations:
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 Amit shah Fans Team
2 April at 21:11
आरक्षण हाटाओ देश बचाओ
10 अप्रेल भारत बंद
GEN+OBC
आरक्षण मुर्दाबाद
कितने लोग है तैयार
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The True Picture had busted this as fake news. Our article had also pointed out how Mr Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and those in his government have frequently iterated that not only are there no plans to do away with reservations but that they fully respect the Constitution and the provisions it grants to marginalised sections. In fact, they have made it clear time and again that they are working to strengthen and  fulfil those provisions and ensuring the welfare and uplift of marginalised sections.

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Amit Shah @AmitShah
The script is now old…before every election, the same vested interest groups start spreading panic about reservations. BJP’s stand is clear, which I am once again stating- we fully believe in the Constitution given by Babasaheb and the rights it has given to SC/ST communities.
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Amit Shah @AmitShah
PM @narendramodi met MPs belonging to the SC communities and assured them that the Government is doing everything to protect the rights and wellbeing of our Dalit sisters and brothers.
12:51 AM - 3 Apr 2018
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The True Picture’s full original article is available here: Know the Truth about Amit Shah’s Photo on Call for Bharat Bandh against Reservations

LOAN WRITE-OFFS VS LOAN WAIVERS
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The True picture @the_truepicture
Our story on how @rssurjewala, @Manish tewari, @Nidhi and other have been spreading misinformation on loan write-offs, passing them off as loan waivers !
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On April 5, Congress’s Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed that the government has granted a Rs 2.4 lakh crore “loan waiver” for “crony capitalists”, to be picked up by his party:
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Randeep Singh Surjewala @rssurjewala
Cat is finally out of the bag!
Modiji’s definition of ‘Acche Din’!
Modi Govt made a ₹2,40,000 Cr loan waiver for crony corporates as the distressed farmers, unemployed youth & SC/ST are sidelined & persecuted.
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Congress @INCIndia
"The much-touted phrase of PM Modi seems to now sound like khoob Khaaunga, aur Khoob Khilaunga."
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Mr Surjewala evidently had made a categorical mistake. The issue is loan write-offs and not loan waivers. The two are not the same. But this categorical mistake was repeated by the Congress party as we can see. Mr Surjewala’s party colleagues, such as Manish Tewari, too posted tweets which appeared to betray their ignorance about the difference between a loan waiver and a loan write-off:

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Manish Tewari @ManishTewari
The NDA/BJP Govt between 1st April 2014 & 30th September 2017 wrote off 2 lakh,41 thousand  nine hundred and eleven crores of Loans taken by DHANPASHUS,( OLIGARCHS). However it can not write off  the Loans of Poor farmers committing Suicide or even small businessmen&Traders.
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GOVERNMENT OF INDIA

MINISTRY OF FINANCE

RAJYA SABIIA

QUESTION NO 4062

ANSWERED ON 03.04.2018

Writing  off loans of crony corporates

4062

Shri Ritabrata Banerjee

Will the Minister of FINANCE be pleased to state :-

a) whether it is a fact that 2.4 lakh crore amount of Public Sector Banks (PSBs) loans of crony corporate have been written off by the present Union Government till September. 2017; and

b) if so, the details thereof corporate house-wise and the reasons therefor?

ANSWER

THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE

(a) and (b): As per Reserve Bank of India (.1) data on global operations. Public Sector Banks have written-off (including compromise) an amount of Rs. 2,41,911 crore from financial year 201 15 till September 2017.

Writing-off of non-performing assets is a regular exercise conducted by banks to clean up their balance sheet, and achieving taxation efficiency. Writing off of loans is done.inter-alia, for tax benefit and capital optimisation. Borrowers of such written off loans continue to be liable for repayment. Recovery of dues takes place on ongoing basis under legal mechanisnis, which inclu4 inter-alia.the Securitintion andReconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, Debts Recovery Tribunals and Lob Adalats. Therefore, write-off does not benefit borrowers.

RBI has apprised that borrower-wise credit information is not available for disclosure under secti 45E of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. Section 45E provides that credit information submitted by a bank shall  be treated as confidential and not to be published or otherwise disclose ...........................................................................................

The True Picture had pointed out the error and confusion and explained the difference between loan write-off and loan waiver, beginning with MoS Finance’s Rajya Sabha reply: 

Below is the relevant part of our original article reproduced in full:
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The highlighted part of the reply offers the answer and explanation: Not only is writing-off of non-performing assets a regular exercise conducted by banks to smoothen processes and achieve efficiency but it is not a waiving of the borrowers' liabilities. As the reply says: 
"Borrowers of such written off loans continue to be liable for repayment." The reply further elaborates that -Recovery of dues takes place on ongoing basis under legal mechanisms... Therefore, write-off does not benefit borrowers." So, that is the basic difference between a waiver and a write-off that seems to have been overlooked or not understood by Mr Tewari — and certainly by Mr Surjewala. A write-off is not a waiver. A debt write-off or write-down is not debt forgiveness. It only means that the bank does not treat the loan as a normal asset any more. It is a procedural tool to clean up the balance sheet and increase operational efficiency. The debtor is still pursued and the bank has the recovery mechanism at its disposal.

How is this done? At the end of the process, if the money cannot be recovered, the debtors' assets too can be auctioned/ sold off. If we look for examples, there are Essar Steel, Bhushan Steel, etc. These are companies which have gone to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) whereby the auctioning of their assets has been going on, with periodic hearings and so on.
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So, to go by the logic of Mr Tewari, if farm loans were to be “written- off”, farmers’ would see their farmlands auctioned off like the assets of these defaulters.

Loan write-offs then are a regular exercise. Our original article had also reproduced news items from the past to show how loan write-offs, as a regular process, were underway under the UPA government too – moreover, without the current vigilance and legal tools like the Bankruptcy Code, the process was evidently not as rigorous then as it seems to be now.

The True Picture had concluded with the following remarks: “those criticising the government on the matter of loan write-offs by banks do not appear to know the difference between a write-off and a waiver. In a  write-off, the borrower/ defaulter is still pursued, with the recovery mechanism kicking in. We may then also question the intent of those – this includes Mr Manish Tewari, Mr Surjewala and the Congress — spreading what appears to be clearly a false narrative on the matter.”
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HIGHWAY MEASUREMENT

The True Picture @the_truepicture
What is the True Picture on the way Road Construction length will be calculated? We investigate:
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On Tuesday, April 5, 2018, news reports said that the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways was shifting to the lane-length kilometre method to calculate the daily road construction target from the current financial
year. Almost immediately, a narrative began circulating that the government was trying to spice up the statistics to show that it was constructing lengthier stretches of highways than its predecessors:
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My Fellow Indians @MyFellowIndians
Under UPA  : 1 KM of  4 Lane highway counted as 1 KM constructed
Under @narendramodi : 1 KM of 4 lane highway counted as 4 KM constructed.
#Pakodanomics now being applied to Highways construction too 
@sanjayuvacha
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Jairaj P @jairajp
After #FekuNomics restated the way GDP is calculated, Now new 
method for Highways…❗
A 10km Road that was counted as 10km so far will now be 20km if 2-lane; 40km if 4-lane; 60kn if 6-lane & so on… #Jumla ‘vikas’ of Highways before 2019 elections…😛😝
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Manimugdha Sharma @quizzicalguy
After changing the method of calculating GDP, the Modi government has now changed the method of measuring highways. So 4 lanes of a 1km road would be counted as 4km. By next year, we will have this govt claim that it built the most roads in India's history
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But was the narrative correct? Evidently, it didn’t seem so. In fact, even a little detail from some of the news reports would have said more:
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Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on Tuesday announced that the daily road construction target for the current financial year will be calculated asa per lane length kilometer formula practised worldwide.

"world over the road construction is calculated as per this formula, "Union road minister Nitin Gadkari said.

For instance if a 14-lane highway is being constructed, the total linear of the 14 lanes is considered at the times of calculating the length of road build. At present, in india whether it is a 4- lane, 6- lane or an 8- lane highwat, it is considered as one lane.
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The main argument from our original article is reproduced below:
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What India is switching to is the standard international practice of measuring highway length by lane kilometres, moving away from the hitherto 'linear length' model of calculating highway length. Therefore, not only Is there no evident element of spicing up or fabricating data on road construction, as Implied by the tweets above, but the switch actually brings India In line with more uniform global standards. There Is no evidence or ground to believe that highway construction, so far, under the current administration — i.e. over the last nearly 4 years — will be recalculated retrospectively to change the figures to show the current government in a good light! Highway length constructed in these 4 years has been calculated by the linear length formula, as it had been done under the last administration too.
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Some social media users, too, had called out the narrative that was being spread:
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Aashish Chandorkar @c_aashish
This is how fake news is spread - using ambiguous tweet wording and ofc people don't click links.

Lane kms method (international standards) will be used *in future* to measure road building activity. Roads built in the last 4 years have all been compared like to like.
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The lane-length method of measuring highways is not only the international standard but it is also supposed to offer a more realistic picture of highway construction – and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had reportedly said the same too:
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This to more realistic assessment of the total length that has been constructed. It is an internationally adopted nom...., countries like United States follows this standard.
- Ninit Gadkari

Nitin Gadkari specified that when the road construction target for 2017-2018 will be set done on the basis of lane kilometer method.

The road constructed during 2017-2018 comes to 34,378 km against 9,829 km if counted by the old linear method.
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The True Picture, in its original article had also provided data to show the pace of work in highway construction under the current administration, as measured by the current method. Therefore, the question remained as to whether the narrative spun around the announcement of the shift was a false one.

RFID CARDS
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The True Picture @the_truepicture
'Fake News Virus' now lnfects @The PrintIndia?
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On Wednesday April 4, in the midst of the still raging debate on fake news, a story appeared in The Print that claimed the government was planning to “track” journalists by issuing them RFID cards in lieu of the existing PIB accreditation cards:

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The Print
Smriti Irani's I & B ministry media unit wants to track movement of journalists through RFID
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According to the story, the I&B Ministry was looking to “track” journalists with RFID (radio-frequency identification) cards:

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New Delhi: The Press Information Bureau, the  central government's nodal body for official communication, is working on ro osal to track the movement of journalists at government buildings an o ces hrough radio-frequency identification (RFID) cards, ThePrint has learnt.
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The story seemed little more than a scare-mongering tactic stretched beyond logic. The Director General of PIB soon rubbished the claims:
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Frank Noronha @DG_PIB
This is totally incorrect/false/fake. There is no such instructions given to me by the Hon’ble Minister of I&B to track movement of journalists through RFID cards. Outright figment of imagination. !
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The Print had replied to DG PIB’s tweet, but its response still missed the core issue of its own apparent spin which clearly emphasised the likelihood of “tracking” of journalists by means of the RFID cards:
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ThePrint@ThePrintIndia
You are denying what the report doesn’t say. It doesn’t claim these were the minister’s instructions to you. The media unit of I&B ministry sent the proposal to MHA. You have confirmed it in the report as a proposal that was under consideration. We stand by our report.
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The Director General of PIB had clearly said there was no question of tracking of journalists. So, what was the RFID fuss about?

For an answer, we reproduce below the relevant section from our original article:

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What actually seems to be a simple move to do away with the clumsiness of accreditation cards and to shift to a smart system has morphed into a narrative on "tracking the movement of journalists". At almost every workplace or entry-exit interface, smart cards or RFIDs are now the norm. Is there any reason why this should not be the norm on government premises as well?
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It was not surprising then that the story provoked ridicule and laughter on social media. One sample of such is provided below:

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Sanjay Dixit संजय @Sanjay_Dixit
My degree in technology and Masters in software is a waste. Journos know something that I never did - that if you gave somebody an RFID actuated access card for your building, you could track him on the earth and the moon as well.
He bhagwan...kahan phans gaya...
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The True Picture’s full original article is available here: ‘Fake News Virus’ now Infects The Print

 
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