India Tomorrow part 1: fake news and the battle for information

Fake news is a problem facing society across the world. The rise of social media platforms allows people to disseminate information freely. Stories can go viral, even if they’re not true. And there have been a number of cases where they have stoked fears and fuelled violence in India.

In this, the first episode of India Tomorrow, a series from The Conversation’s Anthill podcast, we explore how fake news and the battle for information shapes politics in India.

We speak to Amogh Sharma, a PhD researcher at the University of Oxford, about the way that fake news stokes existing tensions in Indian society. We also find out what motivates the internet trolls fighting for and against current prime minister, Narendra Modi.

Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP, is extremely effective at digital campaigning. Subir Sinha, Indian politics expert at SOAS, University of London, outlines how the party won the battle for information in the 2014 elections and why it is well placed to do so again in 2019. He explains how Modi successfully taps into people’s emotions and has cultivated an image as a strong and charismatic leader.

Gurpreet Mahajan, a politics professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, tells us how Modi’s politics plays into the global trend of populism. And how the violence that has been fuelled by fake news in recent years has deeper social roots.

We also speak to Swadesh Singh from the University of Delhi. He heads up Academics for Namo, which brings together academics and thought leaders who believe Modi is the best candidate for leading India into a better future.

You can read the transcript of this episode here.

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Credits

The Anthill is produced by Gemma Ware and Annabel Bligh. Editing by Alex Portfelix. Thank you to City, University of London’s Department of Journalism for letting us use their studios to record The Anthill.

Picture source: EPA-EFE/Harish Tyagi.

Music: Intervention by Lee Rosevere, Flying Cat & Sitar by Tranko, and Endeavour by Jahzzar. All via Free Music Archive.

News clips from CNN-News18.