India Twitter backlash over confusing graphic

Crowds protest against a fuel price hike in Kolkata on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 11 September 2018
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India Twitter backlash over confusing graphic

  • Social media outcry over misleading graphic
  • Fuel price hike provokes popular anger

NEW DELHI: The rising price of fuel has hurt the Indian economy in general and low earners in particular and while past governments have usually cut fuel taxes when international oil prices risen, the Modi’s administration has so far blamed global factors, such as Turkey’s economic crisis.
As Indians’ anger grows over record fuel prices, the ruling party is getting advice on social media to seek lessons in mathematics and graphic design after it posted a bar-chart graphic that showed fuel prices lower than in prior years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing criticism for not doing enough to cut fuel taxes that account for more than a third of retail petrol and diesel prices, which have soared to record highs this month.
Twitter users on Tuesday derided Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the graphic, which showed the price of petrol in New Delhi, the capital, at 80.7 rupees a liter, while using an arrow showing a drop of 13 percent, rather than a rise, to compare it to a price of 71.4 rupees four years ago.
Titled “Truth of Hike,” the graphic included Modi’s picture and used four bars to show petrol price rises since 2004, but represented the current, higher price with a smaller bar.
The post was retweeted 2,100 times, attracted 3,200 comments and figured on primetime news shows after it was posted late on Monday, becoming the butt of jokes on social media, with some users questioning how 80 rupees could be less than 70.
Amit Malviya, the chief of the BJP’s information technology cell, said the graphic was not being interpreted correctly and was aimed only at showing that the 13 percent increase since 2014 was lower than in previous years.
“It may sound paradoxical, but that is what it is,” Malviya told Reuters.
Twitter users were unconvinced.
Zaineb Hakim joked on the social network, “Based on this graph, you are all entitled to a full refund from the mathematics department of the school you graduated from, assuming you did attend one.”
Another user, Jas Oberoi, wrote, “Modiji needs to spend taxpayers’ money on a better infographic provider. This is outrageous,” referring to the prime minister with a honorific suffix.
Past governments have usually cut fuel taxes when international oil prices shot up, but Modi’s administration has so far blamed global factors, such as Turkey’s economic crisis.
The fuel price hike has also furnished ammunition for the opposition Congress party to criticize Modi ahead of general elections next year. On Monday, protests against the high prices shut down many businesses, government offices and schools.
The Congress countered the BJP’s graphic with its own, showing a crying Bollywood actor looking at the graphic and retweeting inverted versions of the BJP chart.


Huawei secretly helped North Korea build, maintain wireless network: Washington Post

Updated 2 min 45 sec ago
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Huawei secretly helped North Korea build, maintain wireless network: Washington Post

WASHINGTON: Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., the Chinese company put on a US black list because of national security concerns, secretly helped North Korea build and maintain its commercial wireless network, the Washington Post reported on Monday, citing sources and internal documents.
The Chinese telecommunications giant partnered with a state-owned Chinese firm, Panda International Information Technology Co. Ltd., on a number of projects in North Korea over at least eight years, the Post reported.
Such a move would raise questions of whether Huawei, which has used US technology in its components, violated American export controls to furnish North Korea with equipment, according to the Post.
The United States put Huawei on a blacklist in May, citing national security concerns. The move banned US companies from selling most US parts and components to Huawei without special licenses but President Donald Trump said last month American firms could resume sales in a bid to restart trade talks with Beijing.
Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said in a statement to the Washington Post it had “no business presence” in North Korea. It was not immediately possible to reach the Panda Group.
The Commerce Department, which also did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has investigated possible links between Huawei and North Korea since 2016 but has not publicly connected the two, the Post said.
Huawei and Panda vacated their Pyongyang office in the first half of 2016, the newspaper reported.