India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a second term last May despite a 45-year high unemployment rate. Do Indian voters not care about their jobs and incomes? Do they care more about Hindu nationalism than about economic well-being? Or is Modi winning by distributing patronage in a socialist way? Beyond these conventional explanations, there may be another one: ‘fake news’. Perhaps people think the economy is doing okay. In this talk, Shivam Vij, journalist visiting from Delhi, India, will share his experiences of the role of ‘fake news’ and WhatsApp in Modi’s electoral success in India. Vij is Contributing Editor to the Indian news website, ThePrint.in.
In light of the Delhi pogrom, Kashmir communication shutdown, and a broader Hindu nationalist agenda that spreads ‘fake news’, we ask what is the role of the journalist today?