In a historic first, India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft’s Vikram lander touched down near the moon’s little-explored south pole at 6.04 pm on August 23.

Following the incident, a clip from a BBC World News bulletin went viral on social media where the discussants can be seen talking about the justification behind a third-world country like India spending so much money on scientific explorations like moon missions and not on addressing apparently more pressing needs like eradicating poverty. The presenter can be heard saying: “Something to be thought of, India the country which has extreme poverty more than 700 million Indians don’t have access to a toilet, should I really be spending this amount of money on a space program.” (Archive)

A Twitter user named Megh Updates (@MeghUpdates) shared the clip saying this is what the BBC had to say about Chandrayaan 3. Readers should note that the user Megh Updates frequently shares misinformation on Twitter.

The tweet has received 40 Lakh views and has been retweeted over 5,000 times.

Another user, Hassan Sajwani (@HSajwanization), tweeted the clip and wrote the “low level anchor” was “obviously trying to insult India”.

Industrialist Anand Mahindra (@anandmahindra) quote tweeted Megh Update and explained at length how “our poverty was a result of decades of colonial rule which systematically plundered the wealth of an entire subcontinent.” His tweet has been viewed over 30 Lakh times.

Some media outlets, too, ran stories on the supposed remarks by the BBC on Chandrayaan 3. Times Now said in their headline: ‘Focus On Poor, Not On Space,’ BBC’s ‘Classist’ Comment on India After Chandrayaan 3 Success.’ Mint ran a story focusing on Mahindra’s take on the BBC bulletin. The headline said, ‘Chandrayaan-3: Anand Mahindra slams British anchor for remarks about India’s poverty, toilets, says ‘it helps restore…’

India TV published a report, the subhead of which said, ‘Chandrayaan-3: Anand Mahindra slammed BBC anchor who questioned Chandryaan-3’s spending despite poverty in India.’ Another outlet named ran a report where they said referring to the viral video, “The anchor had raised the question of whether India should allocate significant funds to a space program the scale of Chandrayaan-3.”

Hindi news outlet oneindia also published a report. The headline said, “चंद्रयान-3 पर BBC एंकर ने किया भारत की गरीबी-टॉयलेट का जिक्र, आनंद महिंद्रा ने कायदे से धो डाला” (BBC anchor mentioned India’s poverty and toilets in connection with Chandrayaan 3, Anand Mahindra replied in style).

Zee News said in its report, “आनंद महिंद्रा ने बीबीसी एंकर के उस सवाल का जवाब दिया कि क्या भारत को वास्तव में चंद्रयान-3 के अंतरिक्ष कार्यक्रम पर पैसा खर्च करना चाहिए.” (Anand Mahindra replied to the question raised by the BBC anchor whether India should spend money on space program,mes like Chandrayaan 3.)

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Fact Check

We noted the words ‘Videsh TV’ written on the bottom right corner of the viral video. Taking a cue from this, we performed a search on YouTube and found that the video was uploaded on a channel named Videsh TV on July 22, 2019. The title says: BBC REACTION ON CHANDRAYAAN 2 :700 MILLION INDIANS DON’T HAVE TOILET WHY INDIA SPEND MONEY ON SPACE

At the 32-second mark onward, the words ‘Chandrayaan-2, India launches second moon mission’ can be seen as a kicker at the bottom of the screen.

We also noted that in a tweet, the BBC News Press Team @BBCNewsPR clarified that the viral video is not related to India’s recent moon mission. This is an old clip from 2019, they said in the tweet.

BBC’s former India digital head and currently editorial lead – African languages & English for Africa division Mukesh Sharma, too, tweeted saying the clip was not related to the Chandrayaan 3 mission.

The actual BBC bulletin on the landing of Chandrayaan 3 on the lunar surface can be found here.

To conclude, the viral clip where the BBC presenter questions the justification of Indian’s moon mission in view of ‘poverty’ is not related to the Chandrayaan 3 mission. The viral video is part of BBC’s bulletin on the unsuccessful Chandrayaan 2 mission from July 2019.


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About the Author

Indradeep, a journalist with over 10 years' experience in print and digital media, is a Senior Editor at Alt News. Earlier, he has worked with The Times of India and The Wire. Politics and literature are among his areas of interest.