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.


There is ‘no good Brexit’ for UK car parts boss

A Mini on the assembly line in Oxford, UK. Car-sector companies are shaking up manufacturing processes because of fears that Brexit will make trade harder. (AFP)
Updated 51 min 36 sec ago
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There is ‘no good Brexit’ for UK car parts boss

CANNOCK: “There is no good Brexit!” insists Greg McDonald, chief executive of Goodfish Group, a UK-based company making plastic components for the country’s key car sector.

The small company, nestled in the Midlands not far from Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, sells one third of its products to mainland Europe, with weekly shipments to Poland and one every 10 days to the Czech Republic.

In addition, most of what the group sells in the UK ends up being shipped overseas.

To help Brexit-proof the business — and the whole auto industry is worried about potential disruption at ports — Goodfish is looking at possibly setting up production facilities in central or eastern Europe.

“It’s our way of combating potential loss of business and also (ensuring) future growth,” McDonald, 56, told AFP.

“If you’re a business owner and all your investment and all your wealth is tied up in your business, which is mostly the case (here), you don’t wait to be told by the politicians what the final outcome is.

“You make plans to address the situation as you see it,” said McDonald, who has lived in France, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland.

Goodfish is not alone among car-sector companies shaking up manufacturing processes because of fears Brexit will ultimately make trade harder.

The industry body, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), has blamed Brexit uncertainty for plunging UK investment, warning about the harmful impact of new, post-Brexit customs controls.

The Midlands is home to 40 percent of the UK’s 186,000 auto sector workers, including Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), which has already taken the plunge into Europe.

JLR recently opened a €1.4-billion ($1.6-billion) factory in Nitra, western Slovakia, its first in continental Europe ahead of Britain’s planned EU departure on March 29.

UK companies’ manufacturing processes are complicated by the need to import raw materials, which have become more expensive owing to a sliding pound — caused in turn by Brexit jitters.

“Of course we’re suffering from weak sterling because of the fears of Brexit,” McDonald said.

UK manufacturers who have survived previous difficult financial cycles “are the exporters,” McDonald pointed out.

A young company with 125 staff, Goodfish was founded in 2010 and has annual turnover of more than £10 million ($12.8 million).

How it builds on its success is likely to depend largely on the final terms of the UK’s post-Brexit trade agreements.

The draft document agreed with Brussels this week states that during a transition period ending on Dec. 31, 2020, EU law will apply to give businesses time to prepare for new ties.

This means the UK will continue to participate in the EU Customs Union and the Single Market.

It allows Britain continued market access to the remaining 27 EU countries but it must respect the rules on free movement of goods, capital, services and labor without having any say in EU decision-making.

“Of course a customs union gets around most of the problems but having to follow the rules of the EU without actually having any say on what these rules are — that’s definitely a worse position” than now, McDonald said.