Why so serious? Image from old satirical article shared as anti-Modi conclave schedule

An image is currently circulating on social media with the claim that an ‘Idea of India Conclave’ to be held in New Delhi has lined up prominent speakers, most with a Left lineage, to discuss ‘anti-Modi’ topics. Among those who have shared it is Twitter user Satish Choubey with the caption:“हरामजादों का सेमिनार का सबजेक्ट देखिये कमीने किस हद तक गिर गये हैं “(See the subject of Hara*****’s seminar and to what extent these bast**** have fallen- translated). Choubey is followed on Twitter by Union Minister Piyush Goyal’s Office’s Twitter account.

The text of the image reeks of sarcasm. It claims that the seminar will begin with lighting of the lamp by the niece of Indian communist revolutionary Charu Majumdar, followed by invocation of ‘Vande Marxism by a group of 45-year-old JNU graduates.’

Topics such as ‘Modi – A Threat to the Idea of India’ and ‘Modi – Evil that Lights a Million Fires’ would be discussed during the day-long seminar, according to the itinerary in the image. It also mentions names of Barkha Dutt, Yogendra Yadav, Arundhati Roy, Rajdeep Sardesai, Kavita Krishnan, Kumar Ketkar and Kashmiri separatists Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Syed Ali Shah Geelani among others as speakers. The image has been shared by social media users on Twitter and Facebook, mostly by right-wing accounts.

Image actually from 2014, published by Newslaundry in a satirical opinion piece

Alt News did a reverse Google image search and found that the picture was shared on Reddit three years ago. Going through the comments section of the post redirected us to the original source of the image, which is part of a sardonic piece written by Anand Ranganathan for Newslaundry. It was published on August 26, 2014.

The image created by Ranganathan was simply meant to be a joke. “You need to attend the Idea of India conclave and find out what these left-wing anti-BJP intellectuals are thinking – what are their plans for the future, so on and so forth,” reads a passage from the article.

Regardless of the satirical intention and the consequent absurdness of the write-up, there are enough clues in the image to betray its falseness.

Firstly, there is no date mentioned as to when the seminar will be held. In the original image from the article, the date is mentioned as August 25, 2014 on the top. However in the image being circulated now, the date is absent.

Secondly, it includes the name of former Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal as one of the speakers and has “(via video link)” written adjacent to his name. Tejpal was in jail on accusations of sexual assault at the time Ranganathan wrote the article. Perhaps, this is why he jocularly included “via video link” in the text.

Thirdly, the picture also includes the name of former Times of India editor Dileep Padgaonkar as one of the speakers. However, Padgaonkar is no more. He passed away in 2016.

However, the ludicrousness of the idea and obvious markers in the image did not prevent some from believing it to be true and sharing it on social media.

Barkha Dutt who’s been listed as one of the participants of the conclave in the satirical post also tweeted the image terming it fake.

The volume and content of fake news under circulation in recent times has made it difficult to sift untruth from truth, and sometimes even sarcasm from seriousness. Any information shared on social media, no matter how seemingly benign, thus ought to be met with a healthy dose of scepticism.

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