Friday, May 4, 2012

Economics Of Deception


Transparency! It’s something that the news media demands from everyone; particularly public officials, businesses and other institutions. This particular news item, although not from India, makes fascinating reading. In response to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rulings that require TV stations to keep a log and publicly declare political ads received by them there have been strong objections. And guess who’s objecting? The TV channels and the media themselves! “Meet the Media Companies Lobbying Against Transparency” would not be very different if the article were to be written for the Indian media. It is the news media that of late has been guilty of sacrificing transparency, especially when it comes to reporting about Gujarat. Naturally, given that Narendra Modi is the CM, a good number of agenda-driven journalists try their best to drive a stake through the Gujarat story. On May 2 we had another such extraordinary deception, this time on the economics and the growth story of Gujarat.

It’s not even a month since the social media put an end to the career of Abhishek Singhvi when the MSM chose to hide behind legalese. This time it was the turn of journalists who were bent on twisting Gujarat’s economic growth story to be dealt a severe blow by keen observers on the net. So let me quickly run a summary of the story from Kartikeya Tanna who wrote this in Firstpost (Excerpts):

Yesterday the nation woke up to several articles belittling the Gujarat growth story. Relying primarily on the Business Standard op-ed by AK Bhattacharya placing Gujarat’s average growth rate between 2003-04 and 2011-12 at 6.3%, Rediff published a state-wide comparison by the same author quoting similar data, while Soutik Biswas  in a BBC Asia cynical op-ed popped the question whether, in view of this revelation, the Gujarat story was a “myth” and Modi a “spinmeister”…. though the 6.3% rate “puzzled” Bhattacharya, he did not quite bother to double-check. Worse, both columnists ended up making several conclusions and raising severe doubts on how and why Gujarat lagged behind. This led many intellectuals and commentators to gloat over how Bhattacharya had “punctured” Gujarat’s growth claims. Modi was accused of “peddling” the Gujarat myth. Many independent online forums picked up these articles and continue to host them. And, all of that was based on a serious error of fact. Fact, not inference.

Then as has happened often in the recent past, all hell broke loose on Twitter. Vijay (@centerofright) busted this grossly incorrect assertion by pointing out the data available on the Planning Commission’s website. It so turns out that the 6.3% figure peddled around by many was, in fact, the growth rate of Jharkhand. Gujarat’s average growth rate over the past eight years has been 10.08%. Repeated efforts by Twitterati to point this out to Business Standard, Rediff and BBC Asia resulted in corrected versions of the articles being put up on the websites. Bhattacharya substantially modified the analysis from statements like “the performance of Gujarat in this period is a puzzle” and “how does one explain Gujarat” to “Gujarat’s story is well-known and shows what sustained growth-oriented policies can do to a state’s economic fortunes”. Biswas had a bigger problem. Having chosen a rather direct title in undermining Gujarat’s growth, he had to change the title from “Is Gujarat’s red-hot economy a myth?” to “Gujarat IS a red-hot economy”  stating how he “had also wondered whether there was something amiss with the data on Gujarat in the Business Standard article”.

The screen shots and the original articles and the revised ones can be viewed here, detailed by @centerofright (Vijay). The idea that the Gujarat story is a myth or mystery because its growth is 6% (even if a false number) and that other states like Maharashtra, Harayana etc. had higher growth is first and foremost mere academics. Numbers never tell the whole story but economics writers do make sense out of them. In this case though, they made nonsense out of numbers. Tanna has been kind to the writers and probably treats the blunders as ‘honest mistakes’. I don’t see any honest mistake. When quoting numbers it is not only the job of the journalist but also that of the editor of a journal to double-check facts. The double-digit growth story of Gujarat has been around long enough to ring alarm bells for these journos when they came up with 6%. And to be deliberately peddling a story with wrong numbers can only be ‘motivated’. AK Bhattacharya didn’t write his piece in Filmfare or Cosmopolitan, he wrote his piece in a business journal. These guys are supposed to keep a watch on numbers even in their sleep. What about Soutik Biswas of the BBC? He comes out as an absolute dunderhead.

Economic stories ARE often deceptive
It’s a cardinal sin in statistics to use second-hand information as the foundation of your entire thesis. This is what Soutik Biswas is guilty of. But hey, this was probably second-hand information that was handy for him to rubbish Gujarat and Narendra Modi. He is the economics version of Teesta Setalvad or Shabnam Hashmi or even Sanjiv Bhatt. The fact that Biswas had no intention but to simply paint Modi as hiding behind fake numbers is evident from the title of his bullshit itself: “Is Gujarat’s red-hot economy a myth?”. Usually, titles with a question mark are used by journalists who don’t care about facts. The second-hand liar, on being pointed out facts, quickly goes on to change the title to the exact opposite of his original one: “Gujarat IS a red-hot economy”.

Regardless of these foolish articles and foolish journalists there’s another angle to the story which most of these willful deceivers miss. It’s called ‘Experience’. Be it a restaurant, a rail company or an airline, people’s association with these is not driven merely by numbers. It’s the experience they go through that decides their opinions and relationships. Any marketer would tell you that customers buy and involve in enduring relationships because of this ‘experience’. I guess neither Bhattacharya nor Biswas understand that ordinary people don’t form opinions based on numbers, not even accurate ones. Kiran Shaw, the renowned businesswoman from Bangalore recently tweeted (May 3): “After putting up with B'lore's awful roads, its a pleasure to drive on Ahmedabad's roads. Wish Ktka's BJP Govt cd learn from Modi's BJP Govt”. That’s an ‘experience’ which mere numbers won’t tell you.

Fact remains, except for motivated liars, most people who visit Gujarat go through a very different experience than in many other parts of India. The govt is not in your face every day in Gujarat. Tribals are not in turmoil. Average Gujarati families live in decent homes with decent incomes. Your newspapers don’t headline the daily murders and crimes as routine. The girl child has more programmes than the rest. Your daughter, your wife or sister or mother is not under constant threat from goons on the streets. Immigrants from other states are not treated as unwanted intruders. Farmers are not killing themselves leaving dying declarations blaming some govt. Can it get better? Sure, Gujarat has many faults and problems of its own but hatred spewed by the media, either by fake stories or hate by numbers, is of their own imagination.

The other fact also is that the lies on other fronts have failed. The NDTVs, the CNN-IBNs, the Teestas and Bhatts have failed with their game of untruths and hate. All the fictitious cases haven’t found any merit so far in courts. What’s left to puncture? Maybe the Gujarat growth story is the last resort of the scoundrels. Of course, these stories aren't the first. You've had social scientologists like Dipankar Gupta or eminent distortians like Ramchandra Guha peddling such in the past. It’s an election year in Gujarat. But unlike the 2002 riots period and after there is a watchdog over the MSM. Social media doesn’t allow peddling of lies anymore. 

I started with a note on ‘transparency’ aversion of the media. On a different note here’s a report that further sounds a warning to MSM: “CNN Loses Half Its Viewers:  Corporate Media Downhill Plunge Continues As Alternative Media Explodes”. India’s net users are set to grow from the current 10 million to 200 million by 2014. So if the Indian MSM doesn’t get its act right soon and stop spreading lies or suppressing truth they will end up the second choice for news and facts. We’ve had a taste of social lies in the past by the Modi and Gujarat haters and now we have economics of deception. These won’t pass anymore.

33 comments :

  1. The fourth estate is getting replaced with internet from media in the first place. No educated middle class believe; lie, more the lies and media in the degrees of comparison. Therefore, it is hightime for the liars to turn back how the Godra incident has obscured the preceding event and the former was as a resultant to vent their anger. But the liar mongers take the common as fools to buy whatever they disseminate which is indeed the mouthpiece of the corrupt cong at the center- drives whatever possible to tarnish Hindus. The corrupt cong indulges in all cavalier mode to fool the nation by spreading all canards and fulminations. Therefore, the problem of Kashmir pundits, the Brahmins of TN and the Hindus of Gujarat need not be learnt through media but in myriad ways which may be noted.

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  2. Respect to you sir.... What a tight fist slap on the face of these Touts.... These people are fed up with your good work and that was evident yesterday from the tweet of CNNIBN reporter bhavatoshsingh !! Looking forward to more of such articles which exposes the lies of media touts ..

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  3. Brilliant as usual.You have ripped them apart with facts.Modiji comes out a giant in front of these dwarfs who hide behind lies.Thanx for this wonderful article.Radha Raju

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  4. I would just love to see the Slimes and the Hindustan Slimes, along with a host of rotten TV channels bite the dust. Most political articles/ stories on any day of the week shows distinct bias. I no longer read newspapers or watch news; I get it all off the internet and I post my comments wherever I deem fit.
    The putrid Kkkangress lurches from one fiasco to the next. Getting Pronab Mukharjee out ob the bhay phor the yang phyuchaar generashaan eej dephinitely going to phale becoj the middleaged moron son bhil be pooshed out bhy the bhoters.

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  5. Yes, Gujarat has many faults and problems of its own. The biggest problem is the people's high expectations. They will not settle for anything less than what they have now. The Government has to overwork to meet their expectations, as is evident from the number of roads being resurfaced just before monsoon. Gujaratis now will not tolerate even minor flaws, which would be normal in other states. Fortunately for the Government, gujaratis do not mind paying the highest electricity cost, road toll charges, high water costs, high municipal taxes, etc. Because they get good bijli, sadak, pani 24X7, 365 days. All due to the 6.3% growth rate?

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  6. A tight slap the MSM deserved, and a tight slap it was. Brilliant article Ravi.

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  7. As Gujarat Elections closes in, expect more such "Honest Mistakes" from those meant to exist and also make a living with Economics and Numbers.
    Funny when a group of journos on the Social Media starting saying that Tweeples see conspiracy where none exist and it was a honest error. To quote Calamur and many others who sprang to her defense - "why should you see everything as a conspiracy - Editor in Chief is not God, It is plain and honest mistake" I haven't till date seen any Honest Errors creeping in when quoting any CONgi leader or CONg ruled states. So much for "Honest" errors.
    A daily that is in the "Business" of business and economics making such a humongous blunder cannot be just written off as "honest mistake" A botched up attempt to discredit a performing Administrator if not exposed by vigilant Vijay (@CenterofRight)would have been quoted/blogged and made viral by plethora of other hangers-on (rediff, bbc etc already got into the act). I hope BBC, Rediff and others who use such sources henceforth exercise adequate care before hosting such deliberately misleading and "honestly erroneous" contents :)
    As you have rightly concluded, viewership/readership of MSM is fast declining. I am dreading the day when these MSM barge into realms of Social Media (I see it inevitable for their survival). As a corporatized lobby these folks would start converting this platform into their propaganda machine. Pray Twitter/Facebook ensures sufficient safeguards from this kind of coup (this appears more real threat than Shekhar Gupta touted Coup)

    Great work my dear friend. Admiration multiplied yet again.

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  8. Game plan is now clear.The crooked congis are targetting journalists/journals/media which still has some credibility,buy them off and make them write "paid articles".Foul mouthing of rajdeep,barkha or arnab has reached epic propotions that now it looks like the congis are latching on to bhattacharyas and shekarguptas thinking their writing will provide credibility.Alas, social media is quickly putting an end to the farce.Another thing I always suspected is that BBC encourages journalists from India who are clones of white way of thinking and behaving native bhadraloks or babbaloks as they are called in singapore, give them exposure so that they will project "white" view of the world.Soutik is a prostitue of another kind and he thinks we are fools when he wrote this - "Gujarat IS a red-hot economy” stating how he “had also wondered whether there was something amiss with the data on Gujarat in the Business Standard article”." He is not only deceitful but also arrogant.The world is changing fast , credibility of CNN/BBC has eroded in many parts of the world who were affected by their jaundiced stories.Blogs like Mediacrooks,Bharathkalyan and the centreofright are doing excellent contribution to bring home the truth.May this tribe expand, be more assertive and also provide enough substance to make reading an enlightening experience.Finally southik's instant latching on to Gujrat misinformation tells me how many people within the country and abroad afraid of NAMO gaining wider acceptance.What NAMO has done in GUJRAT is real,amazing and a story which will positively kindly the cockles of even his worst enemy to tend his path to positive development.Imagine if all the BJP ruled states accept the effectiveness of NAMO's methodology so are the other states.This country will be a shining example very soon.Let us work for a shining India based on real development/honesty/equality.

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  9. Awesome stuff to put them into the docks... Thanks so much for opening up your and every Indians third eye :)

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  10. MSM have lost me for one !.. fab article as usual...

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  11. 1>excellent slap.. this is certainly not a honest error. gujarat elections which around the corner induced this honest error.
    if this is regarded as honest error by msm,msm must drop these columnists,for their incompetence.
    can we expect a punishment for this "honest errror" from msm,their association? what is the punishment that the editors guild propose for the honest error and "honest error"
    2>one more "lie" was tweeted few months gack by sickulars earlier ..that was related to human deveolpment index parameters. hope that is also included somewhere .
    by
    @straighthindu

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  12. I know of yet another group of baiters who neither play with figures or deny the Gujarat growth story. They propound another theory that Gujarat was already a developed state even before Modi took charge.But they do not dish out any figures of annual growth just not to puncture their own belief.This idea had quite of few takers in the media.

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  13. Now that CON’s, their paid and corrupt NGO's, IPS's & the media have ran out of their gas on their malicious campaign to sully the towering image of NaMo, they are seriously into their new venomous campaign of puncturing the Gujarat's Growth theory. While one must admit that it is well neigh impossible to eradicate completely the ills of hunger, poverty, mal-nutrition, illiteracy, infant mortality etc., no one can dispute the fact the State of Gujarat has registered a double digit growth in GDP on YOY basis starting from a high base inspite severe adversities like lack of central support, absence of liquor income ( as in the case of many other states which contribute as high as 15-20 % to their annual budget), lack of water resources etc., No one can dispute the fact there has been no major riots since 2002 which used to be daily routine before. Yet, these venom spewing insects keep spreading malaise and lies. The more they try the more they will have rotten egg on their faces.

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  14. Hey.. I've been following this blog for a while now and can point out now what piece of news (almost all) in our MSM is propaganda. If they're not downplaying Modi, they're glorifying incompetent fools like Rahul Gandhi and Omar Abdulla. Even worse, they have a 30 minue special on CHIKNI CHAMELI!!! You're also right about alternate independent media being more forthright and honest in their reporting. However, the idiot box still is a powerfull medium to force opinions on millions of innocents/fools. The powers that be realize the potential of the social media and its no wonder they want all possible curbs and controls on it. Even before we reach the 200 million mark, we are being persecuted for posting comments and cartoons on our walls and to our friends. As we get closer to the 2014 general elections, they will get more desperate.

    The Gujarat story is well known and with SC exonerating Modi, the paid character assasins of the MSM have little ground left to play on. This wasnt the first time and it definitely isnt going to be the last of spurious data, wrong/distorted facts being used to their end. But what is surprising is that even a medium such as the BBC has let it happen. Not to say that the BBC has always been honest (caught red handed about the tower 7 collapse on 9/11), but the simple fact that numbers were not checked and verified is a disgrace.

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  15. I have noticed that Modi's media detractors are usually Bengalis. (Pranoy Roy, Sagarika Ghosh, Barka Dutt, Arnab Goswami, etc). Look at the culprits named in this article - Bhattacharya, Biswas, Dipankar Gupta, Guha.

    No wonder Modi stole Nano factory away from Bengal.. ;-)

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    Replies
    1. Barkha Dutt is Punjabi. Rajdeep is a Konkani.On the other hand Swapan Dasgupta is Bengali. Let's stop labelling.

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    2. Sorry ; a fact is a fact boss....commie inculcation runs deep

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    3. Dutt is the royal princess of Journalism. Carrying the mantle of family...............Mummmy.

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    4. Ram Guha is tamilian !! masquerading in a bong surname !!!

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    5. If he really is a tamil brahmin,his name should have been Ramachandran guhan but must have changed it as ramachandra Guha

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    6. Labelling them as Punjabi / Marathi etc is pointless. That will only end up with divisions among ourselves.

      The common thread may be a "liberal arts education" at a certain minority institution (ref. "Valson Thampu") in Delhi University.

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    7. What Ramachandra Guha wrote about his Alma Mater in 2007 was quoted in Live Mint (March 2012). An institution that shapes much, as all agree.

      If Guha was Guhan how does that change anything ? Wasn't Devdawson Devadasan, wasn't Valson Valsan ?

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  16. A hard hitting commentary on today's journalists. One can excuse a left leaning Sociologist or a Historian for his jaundiced view of Gujarat (a state that dominates stock market, bullion/diamond, trade & industry). Their limited vision allows them to see only wealth accumulation when they see Gujarat. But, what about the MSM? This week's BS & BBC episode clearly establishe that they are bent upon shoving only mistruths down peoples' throats. Just today morning the TOI-let paper headlined its front page with -"Modi plants party man to IIM-A". Plant??? Is Modi secretively planting a mole?? What kind of language is that? MSM's biased reporting & twisted statistics while reporting on Gujarat (and NaMo in particular) makes one believe that what you mentioned about CNN may soon be true for India media. Some time back you posted "Why MSM wants social media dead". That, I think is a big hope- a vibrant social media. Thanks for leading the campaign.

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  17. You rip them open so well! Is there a hiding place for them? In this age of SM, vigilant bloggers, how long can MSM play with facts and paint falsehood as the gospel truth?

    As you say rightly, if they don't mend their ways, there will be no way for them than shutting shop. Shouldn't we pray for that to happen soon?

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  18. There was quite an uproar in the twitter.

    i did complaint to BBC UK. they have a very good contact sheet for complain on their website but haven't heard from them yet.

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  19. @Shiv: It is pointless to classify them this way, and
    cause divisions amongst ourselves.
    Most of them are apparently 'educated' at the same elite
    liberal arts institution (ref. Valsan Thampu ?)
    in Delhi University !

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    1. I think you are referring to origin of "Guha".I made that point because many outside TN will not know that Tambam's have the name "Guhan".Nothing more to it than that.I don't sneer at someone's decision on how their name should be spelled.It is an individual's choice.Ramachandra Guha in my opinion is a confused person, he needs only a certificate!!

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    2. Dear Shiv,

      Confusion that might be paying Mr Guha well I suppose! Economics of Deception Ha ha ha.

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  20. " He is the economics version of Teesta Setalvad or Shabnam Hashmi or even Sanjiv Bhatt. "

    i am loving it .marvelous once again

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  21. Ranvir,

    being a class of educated, hardworking ,middle class,tax paying citizens..we yearn to see India reach the height that it richly deserves.Alas what we have is a cynical, polarizing,corrupt set of politicians..ably aided by their
    faithful servants in media !
    They sensationalize trivial stuff & all in the name of "BREAKING NEWS "!
    Inaguration of the largest Salar Park to generate much needed elcticity for India is NOT news ..but Modi shaking hands with Nitish is BREAKING news !

    Noam Chomsky is RIGHT when he says that the most narcotic drug in the world is the MASS MEDIA !

    Thanks to your website..we have a forum to share thoughts & deciphere the hidden, mass propogonda of the paid main stream media .
    Keep up the great work .Our best wishes from a large silent majority is ALWAYS with you.

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  22. For those who want to know and others who can't help it, here is Guha in his own words "Well, my great-grandfather moved from a village in Kumbakonam to Bangalore. My father whose full name is Subramaniam Rama Das Guha was named for the hunter chieftain who ferries Rama and Sita across the river. I should have been G. Ramachandra, but, growing up in the North, 'Guha' became a surname."

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  23. In last couple of weeks, the MSM is deeply scared. Despite licking the feets of corrupt regime, one or other media house is breaking news of their misdeeds and now judiciary, politicians and beurocrats all want to fix media, all the very same people, with whom MSM has gone after political opponents of current regime in general and Narendra Modi in particular. Latest issue of Outlook has very interesting point, where in its main story at one place, in a reluctant way (last point in row), has admitted that biased reporting of media, referring Modi in particular, has impacted its credit and people have turned against it. Coming from publication, that is claim to have its office at 10 Janpath, this is quite a statement. Outlook has shown honesty to admit why MSM is fast losing its credibility with people, a must read. I wish this hounding of media by current dispensation will act as an eye-opener for our media.

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  24. present india media is worse than prostitute,who sell body but give good service expecting customer back but india media mint money being mute ,moreover beg money more to present positive stories giving any iota of space for analyse to check actual data, whole harakiri of data is being played by just to sell their soul ,body and ethic of journalism which seems no where in present setup shame whole sold media who have totally become liability on innocent mind who consider gospal what comes on media

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