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The Drift of Headlines & Hashtags

'Salma' gets quoted by Sabrina, who gets quoted by Afrina,
who gets quoted by... and then LIES evolute to TRUTH
~ Mediacrooks

India, the world’s largest democracy, witnesses massive electoral exercises that shape the nation’s political landscape. Amidst this democratic fervour, journalism plays a pivotal role in informing and engaging citizens. The symbiotic relationship between Indian elections, journalism and revenue, while presenting huge opportunities for media organisations, leaves the citizen in utter chaos & confused state. 

Obviously the journalism industry is enjoying the peak season and every player is busy making the most out of it. If we thought newspapers & news magazines survive on our subscription and commercial revenues, think again! News Journalism industry in particular, Print & Electronic both, are able to cover their entire revenue budget for a few years from one single election. In fact, small time web-mags and regional newspapers survive on revenues only from Elections.

#Election2024: Modi’s Contempt For Environment … 

In such an emotive and charged-up political scenario across the nation, it is quite normal that we find such headlines all over the place every single day across Print & Media News platforms. The reason why I would bring this particular one to discuss on a blog-post here is interesting. Readers are advised that this will be a long-form post so do stay on till the very end to get the full context. 

Social or NGO industry even today is the fastest growing sector as India still remains under the category of a ‘developing’ nation. The ‘developed’ world through these NGOs desperatly want to ‘help’ India achieve its status as a ‘Developed’ nation, as per their lens (point of view). And they will continue to do so until such time the objective is achieved. This subject deserves to be discussed over yet another long-form post so stay tuned for one. 

The NGO industry started growing at an exponential growth during the nineties, much earlier than the Decade of Decay (2004-2014). To get a historical post-independence perspective on how the NGO sector evolved in India, readers may like to read an earlier post of June’ 2014 from this blog titled: India NGOnized. The author tracks the development & growth of the NGO sector from 25,000 odd NGOs in 1990 to 2 Million by 2004, by which time India was officially NGOnized with the introduction of NAC (National Advisory Council). This body of NAC was formed immediately upon taking over the charge of PMO by Sonia Gandhi - WFH (Work from home), officially by Dr. Manmohan Singh as PM. 

In recent times a new breed of Web-magazines have cropped up in the NGO space. They are basically the mouthpiece of this ever growing Social (NGO) Sector. These web-mags help spread the word, tom-tom (read popularise) and talk about each other’s achievements in the Social Sector. Along the way, time-to-time, they also peddle an agenda and help the Activism industry by plugging certain articles. After all they also need to survive and sustain. Activism industry rides on the Social Sector industry - sometimes even as the primary product. All this is fine and must be allowed the space to co-exist in a vibrant democracy like India. 

But there is a problem when they start taking the innocent, unsuspecting and well-intentioned reader for a jolly good ride. Almost to the point of insulting & questioning the basic common sense and awareness of the reader. Let us see how? 

First, the Headlines: 

100% guaranteed clickbait for headlines for such articles is the use of the word ‘MODI’. In this age of ‘2-minute’ news updates, Headline makes all the difference. And #Modi makes it workable across the globe today. Reason & the reality is very simple: you love him, you hate him, you can't ignore him. 

Content comes much later, and that is what we shall talk about next. Let us start with the opening para where the author clearly exposed himself. 

The public at large and the media in particular have mostly glossed over issues that have a direct connection to their lives, but global concern has been far more realistic. 
Climate change and life-threatening atmospheric pollution are not subjects that can be brushed under the carpet. 
(Bold accent mine) 

Would like to highlight global concern as the first key-word to be noted. Furthermore, the author comments that India as a nation glossed over life-threatening subjects such as Climate change and atmospheric pollution

Climate change and atmospheric pollution are typical highly productive key-words that can be found in almost all such articles as it provides global visibility & platforms. It would not be an over-statement if we call it a sort of ‘Tool-Kit’ for such journalism. 

Next up is the most obvious - serve your masters & get paid! 

Colonial Sepoy 

Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 
Wikipedia states and I quote: The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is a method of quantifying and numerically marking the environmental performance of a state's policies. 

EPI, as it is widely known, is developed jointly by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Columbia University Earth Institute. 

Below is the extract of article where author shares gems of data with unquestioned loyalty and blind faith in the western sources such as EPI-2022 from the Yale and Columbia university:

This drastic fall in India’s ecological standing is best encapsulated in the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), an international ranking system that measures the environmental health and sustainability of countries. According to EPI 2022, India ranked the lowest among 180 countries, after Vietnam (178), Bangladesh (177), and Pakistan (176). With an overall score of 18.9, India is at the bottom of all countries with low scores across a range of critical landmarks. 

India ranks 155/180 in 2014, falls to 177/180 in 2019 and right at the Bottom in 2022, below Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam & Myanmar - Brilliant! 

Someone throws India on the mat in front of you and you are not only happy acknowledging it at face-value, but also pedal along, with zero self-pride. This kind of unquestionable slavery and the typical colonial sepoy mindset of the Social Sector in India must be called out even if it costs them their survival. 

So, firstly you are a slave of western research data as you take international ranking system of EPI at face value; Secondly, you are dishonest to the core as a journalist since your article has completely, in your very own words, ‘glossed over’ the fact that India had immediately issued a rebuttal on Environmental Performance Index 2022: Calling out ‘Biased metrics, biased weights’ as follows: 

The MoEF&CC issued a statement saying that many of the indicators used by EPI 2022 are “based on unfounded assumptions”. 
The ministry has said it does not accept the analysis and conclusions, and that “some of these indicators used for assessing performance are extrapolated and based on surmises and unscientific methods”. 
“There is no specific rationale that has been adopted for selection of weights. It seems it is based on publishing agency’s choice, which is not suitable for a global index,” the statement added. 
“No indicator talks about renewable energy, energy efficiency and process optimisation. 
The selection of indicators is biased and incomplete,”

But your master was still honest enough with an update - quoting from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: 

In 2022, India was ranked last in the list and rejected the low ranking. As per a statement issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), it claimed that several indicators used in the calculation were based on unfounded assumptions and unscientific methods. 

'Salma' gets quoted by ‘Sabrina’

When the research falls short of hard data and / or one has to follow a predetermined narrative, the usual practice is to quote one-another (Salma-Sabrina) from your own network, and peddle them as ‘sources’. 

Below are two such extracts from this article where - ‘Sabrina’, resorts to quoting unauthenticated and opinionated texts as ‘sources’ - ‘Salma’. 

Researchers Manju Menon and Kanchi Kohli say that the EIA, since its adoption in 1994, has been “a thorn in the flesh” of both corporates and environmentalists. 


Rajeev Suri wrote in Down to Earth magazine: “Since the BJP came into power in 2014, it has put ‘operation dismantle’ into motion. The BJP scarcely conceals its contempt for the environment, working assiduously to dismantle environment protection, which is considered an impediment to development and a stumbling block in the path of ease of doing business.” 

Data first, Narrative Later 

A well researched article with unbiased journalism is clearly visible when the author starts with facts & data, interprets them into a well drafted easy to understand content, followed by a balanced unbiased conclusion. Gold standard for brilliant journalism is ‘Data first, Narrative later’. 

Let us look at some of the extracts where the author has failed (read ‘glossed over’) to be honest with factual and complete data. 

In March 2021, the MoEFCC issued a revised draft policy on evaluating the environmental impact of large projects. The draft EIA notification, which is meant to replace the 2006 regulations currently in use, will legally grant industrial, mining and infrastructure projects access to land, water, forests and other environmental resources or bar them based on environmental viability. 

Without resorting to any opinions and counter arguments, let us just read the actual text reproduced below from the corresponding EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) Notification of March 2021: 

―(x) Notwithstanding anything contained above, the projects where construction and commissioning of proposed activities have not been completed within the validity period of the Environmental Clearance (EC) and a fresh application for EC has been submitted due to expiry of the said period of the EC, the concerned Expert Appraisal Committee or State Level Expert Committee, as the case may be, may exempt the requirement of public hearing subject to the condition that the project has been implemented not less than fifty percentage in its physical form or construction.‖. [F.No. 22-37/2020-IA.III] GEETA MENON, Jt. Secy. Note : The principal notification was published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part II, Section 3, Sub-section (ii) vide number S.O. 1533 (E), dated the 14th September, 2006 and was last amended vide the notification number S.O. 980(E), dated 2nd March, 2021.
(Bold accent mine)

The author has conveniently ‘glossed over’ the most important fact under the notification that the said amendment applies only to those “incomplete projects where not less than fifty percent work has been completed”. 

Let us look at one more similar example in the extract below: 

In 2023, the MoEFCC notified an amendment to the EIA Rules, exempting highway projects of strategic and defence importance, which are 100 km from the Line of Control, among other locations, from an environmental clearance before construction. 

WRONG! There is no record of any such MoEFCC amendment notification issued in 2023. Clearly the author has been in a great rush to push the predetermined narrative. It is the Author’s contempt or wilful disregard towards facts, that he plugs misleading incomplete information in his article. 

However, for the records, the correct reference would be to the EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) Notification issued in July 2022 instead, actual text of which is reproduced below:

And whereas, the Highway projects related to defence and strategic importance in border States are sensitive in nature and in many cases need to be executed on priority keeping in view strategic, defence and security considerations and in this regard, the Central Government deems it necessary to exempt such projects from the requirement of Environmental Clearance in the border areas subject to specified Standard Operating Procedure along with standard environmental safeguards for such projects for self-compliance by the Agency executing such projects; (iv) against item 7(f), in column (5), under the heading Note, the existing para shall be numbered as “(i)” thereof and after the para (i) as so numbered, the following shall be inserted, namely:- “(ii) All Highway projects are exempted upto 100 km from line of control or border subject to compliance of Standard Operating Procedure notified in this regard from time to time.

Clearly the author did not bother to fact-check even the exact timeline of notification, obviously the contents shared in the article are just half-truths. 

Char Dham Yatra Route: Article calls it Himalayan trouble 

The construction of this Yatra route has been in the news due to the disregard for environmental rules and the indiscriminate felling of forests. 

Yet again, while raising environmental concerns and may be rightly so, the author rides on polemics such as ‘disregard for rules’ etc. The author should have been honest enough to mention the National Security angle as well to the controversy, as per the Supreme Court judgement in the matter as follows: 

The court noted that there is no malafide in the application filed by the Ministry of Defence to widen the roads for the operational requirement of the armed forces 

The bench said this court can't second-guess the infrastructural needs of armed forces. The top court also constituted an oversight committee, led by former Supreme Court judge Justice A K Sikri, to ensure all remedial measures are taken in the interest of the environment and the recommendations of the high-power committee are implemented in the project. 

For every policy, especially covering large infra projects, there are always two sides (Pros & Cons) to it, but to keep ranting & feeding activism based on one side of the Policy is clearly agenda peddling and misleading the reader. 

Plagiarised Article

A simple run through a plagiarism check tool on this article throws up the following results - 

The author blatantly copy-paste content & data without any citation from old articles, from sources like: ThePrint, Newsclick, Scroll, TheHindu, MSN etc. 

Hardcore anti-Modi Leftist electronic media ‘The Print’ & ‘Scroll’ are already exposed of their agenda based journalism and bias beyond any discussion here. 

NewsClick is the same Chinese WebRag whose Founder and HR head are behind bars right now. 

The Delhi Police has told a court here that NewsClick founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha infused funds from China into India to stoke and sustain the 2020 Delhi riots, carry out a disinformation campaign on Covid-19, stoke the farmers' protest and indulge in outright terror funding in Kashmir. 

And guess what? The main body of the article used for replugging the content dates exactly around the last LS Elections 2019. So basically just change the hashtags and keep recycling the same old content, taking innocent readers for a jolly good ride. 

Why would someone replug / repost an article Environment is the most under-reported disaster of Narendra Modi government dated 19th April’ 2019 from The Print (#Election2019) with even more toxic headlines on 30th April’ 2024 (#Election2024)?

The reader would get the drift here. 

The author in his zeal & excitement to recycle the contents of #Election2019 article of the fake-news peddler, Modi-hater, YouTuber Dhruv Rathee, under the new hashtag of #Election2024 did not even bother to fact-check the developments during the last five years. 

This is a classic case of dirty Yellow Journalism practised by the Social Sector mouthpiece during the peak of election time. If this is not paid and agenda based media then what is?