Dubai: A series of allegations against Indian Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, posted on Twitter, were retracted by a senior Indian journalist after the facts were refuted by a fact-checking website and questioned by other journalists.
Earlier this week, Bharti Jain, a senior journalist, tweeted a series of allegations on Sen’s tenure as the chancellor of Nalanda Univesrity in India, accusing him of financial misconduct and nepotism.
Over five tweets, Jain alleged that Sen had receive a salary of Rs500,000 per month (Dh26,498) along with perks and appointed academic staff like the three daughters sf India’s former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh. In her final tweet she wrote: “After 2014, when Modi arrived, all these fraud were stopped and Amartya Sen was thrown out of Nalanda University. Since that day Amartya Sen began his trenchant criticism of Modi’s economic agenda.”
When other Indian journalists questioned Jain on the source of the information, she responded that they were government sources.
Indian fact-checking website AltNews contacted Sen and provided fact-checks on all the allegations that were made. Several other Indian media outlets also picked up the issue, with many reports stating that similar allegation had been circulating on Whatsapp.
After the backlash, Jain deleted the tweets and posted an apology and retraction on May 2.
Social media reaction
While many journalists and social media users called Jain brave for issuing a clearly-worded apology, others felt that it was not enough.
Tweep @Essarzed wrote: “Wonderful, ma’am. It takes courage to admit publicly like that. You’re a credit to your (usually) noble profession. Wish some more of your colleagues take inspiration from you, and at least search for their own dormant conscience.”
However, other social media users felt that apologies were not enough to curb the issue of fake news.
Tweep @kurup62 wrote: “Apologies don’t work when the damage is done. As a journalist it’s your duty to state true facts.”
Twitter user @RajivKumarSin17 who said that he had shared the information in the tweets, because of her profile, wrote: “Please don’t tweet based on information, rather check the facts before bringing into public domain.”
Who is Amartya sen and what is Nalanda University?
Amartya Sen is an economist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his contributions to welfare economics in 1998. A year later, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour in India.
Nalanda University was created by a special Act of the Indian Parliament in 2010, inspired by the historical Nalanda, which was one of the first five univesrities in the world, situation in Bihar, India, built in 400 AD. Amartya Sen was appointed the founding chancellor and withdrew his candidature for a second term in 2015.