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Infodemic hit rural and urban India during Covid: Anurag Thakur

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New Delhi, Sep 25 (Agency) Calling attention to the problem of infodemic, especially in terms of Covid-19, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur on Saturday said that during pandemic, India has faced a dual information challenge which affected both the urban and rural populations alike.

“Domestically, India faced a dual information challenge in the wake of the pandemic. On one end of the spectrum, the urban population faced the challenge of rapid spread of misleading and fake information through social media and other smart phone applications. On the other end, we had people in rural and remote areas, where last mile communication varied from region to region with multiple regional languages,” Thakur said while addressing a virtual ‘Summit for Information and Democracy’ on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) organised at the Consulate General of France, New York on Friday.

The General Assembly has proclaimed this year, by consensus, October 24-31 as ‘Global Media and information Literacy week’ to address concerns about the exponential spread and proliferation of disinformation and misinformation, through imparting media literacy skills.

“While the world is battling the pandemic, the task of combating the equally damaging “Infodemic” also presents a challenge to Member States. It is important that the issue of Infodemic is addressed at the highest level. We are pleased to be a founding member and signatory of the “International Partnership for Information and Democracy,” he said.

The minister also shared India’s swift response to this infodemic crisis. “The Government of India responded to these challenges through swift and clear communication, based on science and facts. Ensuring regular and authentic flow of information has been an important policy component of the Indian response to counter misinformation, fake news and false narratives. We held daily press briefings on the coronavirus which was widely disseminated through TV News, print, radio and social media.”

“India’s Press Information Bureau was actively involved in debunking fake narratives and news through its various platforms. We also used the power of humour to inform the Indian public on various issues,” he further said, adding, “a transparent, timely and trust worthy flow of information furthers democracy and allows our citizens to take informed decisions. India firmly believes in this.”

Along with being among the co-sponsors of a similar resolution in UNESCO, India was among the core group of countries which piloted the resolution on infodemic.

India was also among the co-authors of a first of its kind Cross-Regional Statement on “Infodemic” in the context of Covid and has actively supported the UN Department of Global Communication’s “verified” and “pledge to pause” initiatives. (Agency)

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