THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 20 May 2020 (Faking danger: on fighting fake news (The Hindu))

Faking danger: on fighting fake news (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: National
Prelims level: Fake news
Mains level: Issues and challenges towards solving the fake news problem


  • The frequency with which journalists have been arrested since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is quite disturbing.
  • The reasons given by the police across India for arresting reporters and editors of news portals indicate that special provisions enacted to prevent the spread of rumour during disasters are being used to suppress reporting on political developments and possible governmental corruption.

Arrest of Journalist:

  • The most egregious case involves a criminal provision that governments invariably fall back upon to suppress dissent. The arrest of Dhaval Patel, editor of a news portal in Gujarat, on the serious charge of sedition, is a shocking instance of misuse of criminal laws to intimidate journalists.
  • The case concerned an article speculating that State Chief Minister of Gujarat may be replaced by the ruling party of the state for his alleged inept handling of efforts to combat the pandemic.
  • The report had even named a possible successor. It is befuddling how such a report could amount to sedition, regardless of whether the speculation is true.
  • Oftentimes, the source of such speculation is a disgruntled section of the ruling party itself, and it is excessive to punish reportage with inadequate verification with arrest and prosecution for sedition.
  • Mr. Patel has also been charged under Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act for allegedly spreading panic through a false alarm concerning a disaster.

Misuse of criminal laws:

  • The Editors Guild of India has seen a “growing pattern” in the misuse of criminal laws to intimidate journalists. The concern is not misplaced.
  • In the Andamans, a reporter was arrested for a social media post claiming people who had contacted a COVID-19 positive patient over phone were also being quarantined.
  • In Coimbatore, police arrested a .............................



Prelims Questions:

Q1.  With reference to the ACE2 enzyme, consider the following statements:
1. It responds to the novel coronavirus and enables it to infect the human cell.
2. The new, large study of several thousand patients found men have higher concentrations of ACE2 in their blood than women.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: .....................................


Mains Questions:
Q1.  Use of sedition law to ...............................................