India’s supposed intellectuals might want to opine on the economy, military strategy, and global geopolitics, but they regularly seem to fall for the most banal of fake news.
Prashant Bhushan, widely considered an intellectual in leftist circles, today shared a letter supposedly written by India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. The letter, written on what looked like Ajit Doval’s letterhead and bearing his signature, seemed to compliment the Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand for promoting RSS ideology. “NSA Doval, complimenting the Chief Secy Uttarakhand for organizing the Kumbh Mela & unashamedly asking him to promote the RSS ideology!!,” Bhushan angrily tweeted.
Now there are several giveaways in the letter which make it apparent it’s a fake — the clarity of the text is completely different for the letterhead and the body, making it obvious that the text has been photoshopped onto a letterhead. The fonts are also different in different places, and the tone of the letter isn’t anything a government official would ever write. But that didn’t stop top lawyer Prashant Bhushan from sharing it to his 2.1 million followers.
In fact, long before Bhushan had shared the letter, it had already been established as fake. After the letter had been doing rounds on Whatsapp, the letter had been debunked as being fake by Dainik Bhaskar and Hindustan Times. Government officials had also responded. “NSA Doval has not written any letter lauding Kumbh Mela conduct,” govt officials had told ANI.
But Prashant Bhushan clearly couldn’t even be bothered to even Google the authenticity of letter before sharing it with his millions of followers. This raises serious questions on Bhushan and other intellectuals of his ilk — if they regularly fall prey to fake news that can be debunked on the internet, can they be trusted when they make grand pronouncements on governance and the economy?
Update: Prashant Bhushan has deleted the tweet. We’ve now replaced his tweet with a screenshot.