Sweta Singh of Aaj Tak got even more famous than she already was as a news anchor with a video clip that showed her speak on the supposedly nano-chip armed, GPS enabled notes to be brought into circulation after the much talked about demonetization in November 2016. The confidence with which Ms. Singh waxed eloquent on the technologically advanced new notes made people laugh. But that was just a part of the complete video and somebody had, just for the fun of it, circulated only the most entertaining part of it. For the purpose of reference, let’s call this video ‘Video A’, and have a look at it.
It was incredibly naive for a journalist to talk like that. But then, one can’t really argue with a video. Apparently, in an attempt to clarify that she was not being quite as naive as she sounded, Ms. Singh and her journalist friends shot another video and posted it online. Before we get to that video, we might note that in the video clip circulated (Video A), nobody is actually laughing at Ms. Singh’s ‘joke’ and one of her colleagues remarks that such a chip would take care of the criticism that the new higher denomination notes would actually breed and encourage corruption rather than reducing it. So, Ms. Singh’s nano-chip statement was received in all seriousness. But let’s have a look at the video they posted to clarify the position, and call it ‘Video B’.
They pretend in this video (Video B) that Video B is just another video being shot for no particular reason, and certainly not for the purpose of clarification of any sort, while they casually discussed the popularity of the previous video (Video A), which went viral for rather unenviable reasons.
Let’s now have a look at the full version of the video (Video C) from which the ‘popular’ clip (Video A) was clipped out, like our journalists friends from Aaj Tak want us to do before passing judgment on them. Very well. Here it is:
In Video B, Ms. Singh insists that we must pay good attention to her statement in Video C that the ‘RBI Guidelines’ are awaited and the things she is going to say is what the WhatsApp messages are telling her, which, she quotes not as a matter of joke but as a matter of fact, and which is why her colleagues take it seriously and one of them even comments in all seriousness as to how the chip is a good idea, like I pointed out earlier. Wait, RBI Guidelines? Really? If the notes did carry nano-chips, would official RBI Guidelines or RBI notifications with respect to the circulation of such new notes make a mention of it? Wouldn’t that be more of a forewarning to the hoarders? And how would the government go ahead with implanting nano-chips in currency notes without addressing the issue of Right to Privacy?
So, even if we pay attention to that disclaimer regarding the RBI Guidelines, it doesn’t really help Ms. Singh’s defense though she did not really need to defend herself because the videos (Video A and Video B) show nothing more than a private conversation among individuals. She was not on air with those claims or rumours, and was not acting as a journalist. In her defense, she was just being a little too hopeful, like many of us might have been back then. And it is alright to be wrong and even naive, and even if you are a journalist. But why post another video that makes things look far worse? That’s even more naive, if not outright juvenile. Relax, Ms. Singh. People have made far fancier claims on video. For instance, Sh. Vishwa Bandhu Gupta, who is a former IRS (Indian Revenue Services) officer. Check it out: