In an interesting study by MIT, it was found out that people are 70% more likely to retweet and share ‘fake’ news than one holding merit. But having been often on its receiving end, India and its nation-building conglomerates don’t need MIT to tell them how destructive fake news can be.
The country has witnessed its fair share of downfalls largely attributed to rumour-mongering and political propaganda in the media. After all, no rise to power within the nation, be it of an individual or an organisation, is left untouched by detractors ready to defame at the drop of a penny. These aforementioned detractors of India Inc. seek only to mislead the public, erode investor sentiment, and make the market volatile.
With the cloud of national elections looming large, political propagandists seek to flex their muscles and strike down nation builders such as Tata or Adani in their wake – all with the use of spreading misinformation via media, social media and the growing influence of Whatsapp in the country.
And if you haven’t guessed it already, this can have dire consequences threatening a massive economic collapse. One only needs to cast a glance at examples from recent history that corroborates the previous statement.
A tweet by AP in 2013 which claimed that an explosion has caused grievous injury to then president Barrack Obama caused US$130 billion decline in stock value within minutes! In the same year in China, a detractor of construction giant Zoomlion bribed a media reporter to fabricate stories around Zoomlion’s financial dealings, leading to widespread negative sentiment around the firm and a 26.9% fall in stock value.
Closer home, this year, the implementation of RERA and GST proved to be hard-hitting for housing finance companies. But false media reports surrounding DHFL defaulting on loan repayments caused a 60% slump in shares. This was closely followed by E-Commerce company, Infibeam losing 71% of its market value due to the spread of a fake Whatsapp message creating nuisance value by spreading rumours among the investors.
So widespread are the roots of propaganda and rumour-mongering in India that even Tata and Adani Group – corporates that have played a significant role in nation building, GDP growth and job generation – have come under unwarranted fire of late. Despite being publically vocal and transparent about being an internationally credible debt-servicing conglomerate with investment-grade assets, the Adani Group is constantly targeted by the media by false reportage of its accruing debts or the false inability to pay them.
In light of the recent Supreme Court verdict enabling Adani Group and Tata Power to seek amendment in their PPA and thus revise the hitherto low electricity tariffs in order to smoothen the recent fuel price burden, certain news outlets and journalists with vested interests have incorrectly cited the conglomerates’ power plants as NPA.
For instance, a digital publication went to the extent of saying that the Adani Group had defaulted on its debts even as the facts of the matter are available at the public domain. Even the lenders have clarified that the conglomerate has been duly serving its debts and there were no defaults. Such inflammatory rhetoric often disturbs the overall market sentiments in India and paint a turbulent picture for the country in the eyes of global investors.
Unfortunately, such mud-slinging not only tarnishes the name of the democracy’s fourth pillar i.e. the media but also puts the country’s economy and future of its people on the line. These detractors fail to realise that companies such as Tata and Adani which have played a crucial role in growing economic infrastructure and social development of the country can come to a standstill with one lie – along with the millions of people associated and impacted through them.
It is imperative now to stop these lies in their tracks and do our bit for India Inc. By being responsible and informed citizens of the country, we can use our word to change the narrative and do our research to find out the truth.
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