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.


‘Get prices down’ Trump tells OPEC

Updated 20 September 2018
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‘Get prices down’ Trump tells OPEC

  • Trump highlights US security role in region
  • Comments come ahead of oil producers meeting in Algeria

LONDON: US president Donald Trump urged OPEC to lower crude prices on Thursday while reminding Mideast oil exporters of US security support.
He made his remarks on Twitter ahead of a keenly awaited meeting of OPEC countries and its allies in Algiers this weekend as pressure mounts on them to prevent a spike in prices caused by the reimposition of oil sanctions on Iran.
“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!” he tweeted.
“We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!”
Despite the threat, the group and its allies are unlikely to agree to an official increase in output, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing OPEC sources.
In June they agreed to increase production by about one million barrels per day (bpd). That decision was was spurred by a recovery in oil prices, in part caused by OPEC and its partners agreeing to lower production since 2017.
Known as OPEC+, the group of oil producers which includes Russia are due to meet on Sunday in Algiers to look at how to allocate the additional one million bpd within its quote a framework.
OPEC sources told Reuters that there was no immediate plan for any official action as such a move would require OPEC to hold what it calls an extraordinary meeting, which is not on the table.
Oil prices slipped after Trumps remarks, with Brent crude shedding 40 cents to $79 a barrel in early afternoon trade in London while US light crude was unchanged at about $71.12.
Brent had been trading at around $80 on expectations that global supplies would come under pressure from the introduction of US sanctions on Iranian crude exports on Nov. 4.
Some countries has already started to halt imports from Tehran ahead of that deadline, leading analysts to speculate about how much spare capacity there is in the Middle East to compensate for the loss of Iranian exports as well as how much of that spare capacity can be easily brought online after years of under-investment in the industry.
Analysts expect oil to trend higher and through the $80 barrier as the deadline for US sanctions approaches.
“Brent is definitely fighting the $80 line, wanting to break above,” said SEB Markets chief commodities analyst Bjarne Schieldrop, Reuters reported. “But this is likely going to break very soon.”